That's one question posed in the afternoon mailbox, although it looks like the Japanese playmaker could soon be on his way. Plus, tipping Palace to go down under Warnock...
Plenty of fall out from Manchester United's shambolic 4-0 League Cup defeat, plus thoughts on Van Persie, Arsenal strikers, Benik Afobe, Celtic and Astroturf...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Fair F*cks To Jose
Defending is a valid tactic, even if it's for 90 minutes. Chelsea did this today, and they did it magnificently. The space between their 6 yard and 30 yard(ish) lines was theirs. They obviated Liverpool's greatest strength. That strength, eventually realised and capitalised upon so excellently in the past 15 games, is the ability to find space behind the opponent's defensive line and exploit it with pace. What Chelsea did was to defend so deep throughout the game so that there was no space to exploit.
Time after time, Liverpool played through balls, clever chips and the like as if the players could run onto them and exploit space. There was no space. Their tactic failed. Chelsea dominated the 6-30(ish) yard space. They didn't have to match Liverpool for pace, as pace is less relevant if there is no space to enable players to take advantage of that pace. They had to take advantage of Liverpool in terms of attitude, concentration, defensive organisation and strength. These are Chelsea's strengths, and Liverpool's weaknesses, and they took advantage impeccably.
With whom does the fault lie? Probably no-one. Mourinho outwitted Rogers. He's a better manager and can handle the big moments better. There's no shame in this. Morinho is one of the world's best. His team is fantastic (weakened my ****...I counted at least £100 million worth of players on his bench), and, quite frankly, Liverpool have only ever had one manager in the past 25 years who could outwit and defeat him (as two semi-finals in 2005 and 2007 showed).
Yes, I'm disappointed, but not really surprised. I really would be made up if Liverpool won it, but the title is now City's to throw away, and, ultimately, I'm OK with that. City are an excellent team and Liverpool have done far better than anyone with a bit of sense thought they would do, and they did it far better with flair, style, an awful defence and an ability to scare the living daylights out of their fans like few other teams can. Well done Liverpool.
CW1981 (Liverpool fan)
And The Inevitable Backlash
I really hope that no Chelsea fan takes pride in that performance. Don't get me wrong I'm all for tactics for the team in front of you but the negativity, gamesmanship and time wasting was truly, truly shameful. Never mind what Jose said last week THAT was bringing the game into disrepute.
Carl (not impressed that the goals came in time added on for the time wasting) the Welsh
...I think that Chelsea came and set up to play a negative counter attacking game because it was going to be the most effective strategy against Liverpool. Due to a slice of good fortune, it worked and Chelsea deserve the credit for the win.
But hearing "Another Jose Mourinho masterclass!" from the commentators really had me puzzled. Really? That was considered a masterclass? I never heard that said about Tony Pulis' Stoke City and they were very good at almost exactly the same thing. I'd argue that I've seen better such "masterclasses" done by Stoke in the past and Sam Allardyce's Bolton.
I don't disagree that Chelsea deserved the win but I don't think that time wasting and bus-parking really requires such heavy praise.
...Please do not make this out to be some Jose masterclass. Jose instructed his team to play deep and hit on the counter attack. That everyone understood from the first minute of kick-off.
However, the goal and therefore the match was decided as a result of a mistake.
These matches are generally very tight affairs where a piece of brilliance or a mistake settles the game. It was Liverpools' turn to make that mistake and that's how simple the analysis is.
However, for all that 200 million spent on players and having the likes of Oscar, Willian on the bench, to resort to that sort of time wasting from the first minute of kick-off is quite embarrassing.
Sid, LFC, India.
Liverpool The Let Down
The sad thing about this defeat is that we saw Chelsea's tactics a mile off and did nothing to prepare for it. In big games Chelsea stifle. They don't dominate you, they won't outplay you, they will disrupt the play and hit you on the beak when they can.
The fact that we played into their hands and had no answers for their gameplan is the most annoying thing because Brendan is clever enough to have counteracted it. We were so one dimensional that we resembled Arsenal, in that we never evolved in the game when what we tried clearly wasn't working.
Regardless of what happens, I'm proud of my team this season. I guess this was a stark reminder that there is still plenty of work to be done. Well done to Chelsea too. Proving it's not about the size of your boat, it's the motion in the ocean.
...That was pretty miserable. I don't mind that Gerrard slipped up but his trying to transform into Gerrard Mark 2005 was frustrating because he isn't and hasn't been that player for a long time. Frankly there were players on the pitch more capable and likely to score than him but he kept shooting or trying to carry on his runs into the box. The latter was frustrating because it broke our shape and nobody was on the edge ready to break up counter attacks or recycle the ball.
That all said, should Gerrard have wiped out Ba outside the box? I'm not sure we would have held out for the draw with 10 men but I think we would have made a good go of it. Once we conceded we never looked like getting back in. Had he done it close to the halfway line he may have even avoided a red card since Skrtel was in line with Ba (though miles to the right)...the referee may have bottled sending off the captain of the home team given the atmosphere perhaps it was worth a go.
It was fairly clear there was no space between the lines to run so what were Liverpool meant to do to score? I am still scratching my head here and not sure how many/any teams could have scored against this Chelsea side. Shots from distance was the easy option which we took, crosses with tiny attackers against giant defenders was never going to work. I guess even Mourinho accepts there isn't a lot you can do to counter the style given his draw with West Ham earlier in the season.
I remember reading that Ferguson used to make his players train constantly to improve their play in that final ten minutes phase of the game where the other team is holding desperately to something. This partly will have explained all the goals they scored so late on but today Liverpool didn't look like they had any idea how to cope with this game plan. Perhaps a worrying foresight into next season when teams are perhaps a bit more prepared for what we will want to throw at them?
We now need to beat Palace away which will be tricky enough but we need Everton to not check out for their holidays despite the fact they've got nothing left to play for and try to win a match. I hear Roberto Martinez likes Starbucks and he's the sort of smart sophisticated chap I imagine to read the mailbox so Bobby hear this: if you beat City next weekend I will buy you Starbucks. Not a coffee. The whole f**king chain.
...If we couldn't beat a weakened Chelsea side at home, we probably don't deserve to win the title. We didn't even need a win, mind. They defended magnificently throughout and took advantage of our slip-ups. They won fair and square. Our paucity of quality alternatives on the bench meant that we couldn't change things up too. We have been breathtaking on the counter throughout this season, but with time on the ball and a lack of space to run into, we only had sterile domination. How do you counter-attack when the other side do not commit players forward.
It's disappointing because I had almost forgotten what it felt like to lose after 11 consecutive wins. It f***ing sucks. This season may or may not be our season, but the potential for next season - almost like a broken record now - is very promising. It's been an amazing season that has exceeded all expectations, regardless of what happens.
Dominic, LFC, Singapore
Oh Hey, Didn't See You There Mr Angry
For a website that has a section dedicated to media types like Adrian Durham who seem to spout nonsense just to get footy fans to bite a bait, F365 comes across supremely hypocritical in allowing Daniel Storey to do exactly that in his 16 Conclusions article. Let's look at some choice quotes;
"whilst the neutral (as if such term ever applies) may prefer the flowing, attacking play demonstrated by Liverpool in recent months, there is much to be enjoyed in a team sticking to a plan with discipline and grit."
Yes, you'd be spot on Danny boy...if the team you was writing about was a middle-to-bottom table one rather than one comprised of world class players who cost over £100million. This was not a Crystal Palace, a plucky underdog doing what's within their limits to beat a big team. This was f*cking Chelsea for crying out loud!
"but once again he (Mourinho) had the last laugh, a scenario Jose has enjoyed too often for it to be considered fortunate."
Is that a Premier League and Champions League trophy Jose has in his hands? Oh my bad, it's two pennies he's robbing together because he has won nought this season yet.
"In fact, given the meticulous nature of Mourinho's plan, he perhaps completed his greatest achievement yet - he made the ugly seem beautiful."
No mate, that really is ugly no matter how much chocolate you spread on sh*t. Look at Real Madrid's performance against Bayern to see how winning while conceding plenty of possession can be made to look beautiful.
"A full Premier League debut (for Kalas at Anfield, against the league leaders and alongside not John Terry or Gary Cahill but Branislav Ivanovic."
Hun! Say it ain't so!. What, Ivanovic, that top quality player who is actually originally a centre-back and is arguably one of the best three defenders in the league? Poor Kalas.
I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture. Here's what I'm gonna do Dan. I'm gonna get a live-size doll of a naked Mourinho, erection and all, and a tub of vaseline sent to the F365 towers. That way you can really go to town with your love for the Special One.
I'm all for acknowledging the virtues of a tactical plan, but to talk as if a team that cost half a billion should be applauded for parking a freight train against a squad not as good as theirs is a joke. But yeah, well done Mr Storey, you got a Liverpool fan to bite.
Seyi (got a feeling karma is coming back to get Liverpool for indulging Suarez) LFC.
If My Auntie Had A...
As a Liverpool fan I have to try very hard not to sound like a bitter old scouser after the loss to Chelsea (I hope other mailboxers do the same) but do have to take issue with your 16 conclusions.
Were it not for Gerrard's calamitous error, all signs point to the fact that the game would have ended 0-0. Effectively dashing Chelsea's hopes in the league, while not doing Liverpool so much harm.
Mourinho appeared to have masterminded nothing other than stopping Liverpool scoring. Would you have been quite so gushing with praise for him if this were the result?
Well Done Phil Dowd
The Mailbox is regularly full of people (rightly in my view) complaining about a football culture where it's considered the 'right' thing to do to go down in the box at the slightest touch. The retort is that it's pragmatic if referees might otherwise be in two minds.
In the Sunderland v Cardiff game, Phil Dowd showed exactly what we need from referees if this pragmatic but awful approach from pundits, managers, players and fans alike is to be overcome. His decision to reward Connor Wickham for standing up with the opportunity to try and score from advantage, but then bringing play back for the penalty and red card when the advantage failed to materialise, is both correct and likely to encourage sporting behaviour. Hopefully, had Wickham scored, he would have still brandished the red.
The controversey regarding the decision of a penalty as opposed to a free kick outside the box shouldn't affect the fact that this was the right approach to advantage in the box.
When the referees get something right, we ought to highlight it, and demand it as a common standard amongst all of our referees. If we got that in this instance, we could maybe start moving away from the idea of what is basically diving as being the 'right' thing to do.
James, Reading FC, Leeds
I know all the talk is going to be about Liverpool losing and all but I just have to mention the amazing turnaround Sunderland has had. Bottom of the table the entire year for the most part and to get 7 points out of their last few games is unbelievable.
One more win and I would have to say they are pretty much guaranteed top premier league football next year.
There can't be many more exciting climaxes to a season than at the bottom of the Conference on Saturday.
Hereford United needed to win away at Aldershot while hoping Chester City didn't win at home to unmotivated mid-table Salisbury Town. After 14 minutes, it was all over, Chester were leading, then by 36 both games had turned around and the miracle was on.
Come 76, it was really all over. Chester were winning 2-1 and Aldershot had pegged us back to 1-1. And so it stayed as I got ready to go out to my daughter's concert, until suddenly, in the 87th minute, Chester were back level again.
But we still needed to score one more and that wasn't going to - wait! 2-1, 2 bloody 1, scored by Danny Rose's cousin Michael Rankine no less. We clung on for five more minutes for another season of poverty-stricken drama and I was late for the concert.
Who says watching football on Ceefax is dull?
Andrew (shame about Tottenham mind) Warmington
'Connor Wickham to be man of the match'
Degsy you genius son of a b*tch.
Shehzad Ghias, MUFC, nyc (Connor Wickham for England)
Ending With A Zing
So , Blarney Rodgers thinks Chelsea parked two buses does he?
I think he's confused, the open top one was reversing back into its parking bay for another 25-year wait.