Sterling Stuff And Other Friendly Thoughts

We have one reader reaching conclusions from last night's friendly while we have others discussing Romelu Lukaku's move to Everton. Oh and some swearing...

Last Updated: 31/07/14 at 11:21

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Happy About Lukaku But...
So, it's official. Everton have splurged north of £24m on Lukaku. I'm happy we've been able to sign a striker, and slightly surprised Chelsea let him come this early in the window given we play them on 30th August - I thought they'd make us wait until after that game at Goodison.

As has been noted Lukaku is a very accomplished highlights player. The chap who the other day referred to the three min compilation of Neville highlights on YouTube showcasing the perfect defensive midfielder must have had Romelu in mind. He scored great goals and looked unbelievably good at times for us last season, but also spent a fair few hours unable to trap simple balls and looking lost as well. To be fair, he's young and if he continues to develop as he did at the same pace (compare him for WBA in the 12-13 season to at us for the 13-14 season) then it'll be money well spent. Plus, we have a good record in loaning players for a season and then making the transfer permanent the following one (Kev Campbell, Arteta and Pienaar over the last 15 years).

It did get me wondering though, with such an outlay for a club who have only finished in the top four once in the Premiership era (when such prices have become "acceptable") is this the most money spent bearing in mind club's relevant performance? Only Spurs have a similar record in terms of league positions and a similar outlay on Lamela, and that didn't go well, although internal politics I'm not fully aware of probably played their part there. The likes of Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal can afford to pay top dollar because of their consistent league performances for more than a decade, whilst Chelsea and Man City are skewed by their respective financial backing. The Premiership must be the only league in the world where a club likely to finish sixth can afford to pay such an amount on one player.

I'm not trying to be negative, like I said, I think he's got every chance of continuing his upward trajectory at us. I guess I'm just accepting now that we are one of those clubs who add to the financial doping and disparity of modern football by spending so much money on a single player.
Matt, EFC, London (does this mean we get to feature in more '16 conclusions'???)

Chelsea And Everton Both Lose

Is this really a good transfer for either party? From Chelsea's perspective, this was not a move they wanted to make. On paper, Lukaku would have been an excellent back up to Costa, both unproven and, frankly, likely to pick up a fair number of suspensions. Having already sold Mata, Luiz and De Bruyne for the best part of £100 million, the cash is not something Chelsea require. Nor is there substantial value in the market that Chelsea will be able to sign a replacement without regressing back into their transfer policies of the past - inflated fees for players with no resale value.

But equally, Chelsea have managed to squeeze every penny out of Everton, and a flat fee of £28 million is far better business than the originally touted £24m rising to £30m with add-on that may well never have been met. Can Everton really put that kind of money into a single player without damaging their other options? I've always been concerned that Lukaku lacks a couple of things (touch, willingness to fight) that will make him a genuinely world-class player. On this basis, I can't help but think Lukaku won't turn a huge profit for Everton in the future.

I'm happy to be wrong on all of this. Chelsea might just reinvest in Pogba, Bamford might turn into a world-beater, and in three years Lukaku might move to Spain for big money. But really, I can't help but feel it's of limited long-term value to both parties.
Adam, Nottingham

Jose Gave Up Too Early

Whilst Everton fans will be understandably delighted at the signing of Romelu Lukaku (even at £28mil which is a touch on the heavy side), I can't escape the feeling that Jose Mourinho has given up too early on the player.

This is a guy who, at 21 years of age, has already scored 65 league goals in 149 games at a very impressive rate of nearly one in two. He has had two fantastic seasons in the Premier League, proving he can score goals and seemed primed to take the next step on at Chelsea.

When this guy develops and matures into himself and his massive frame, he will be one of the top centre-forwards in Europe.

But what did Jose do? He replaced Drogba's replacement with Drogba. Seems like a very backward step by Chelsea. I bet they will be making a bid for him in two years at much higher than the £28mil Everton paid.

Seems Jose has decided you can't teach the new Drog old tricks.

I only wish United had gone in for him.
DC, Dublin

Liverpool Not 'Doing A Spurs'

Enough already of the Liverpool 'doing a Spurs' bit. Liverpool played through the majority of last season with largely the same XI players. Small tweaks were made here and there. Resting Sterling for Coutinho every so often and visa-versa for example. Every pundit and so-called expert watching last season said pretty much the same thing, that Liverpool needed to add depth to a thin squad to compete in the Champions League alongside the league. It was always accepted by the club and fans that at least five new faces were needed to beef up the squad. Now it's happening they are accused of 'doing a Spurs'. And the argument is peddled and peddled and peddled until it becomes 'fact'.

The best player is gone yes, but that is the only common link to Spurs of last summer. Spurs bought players based on names and reputations before worrying how they would fit into the manager's system. The manager allegedly had little say in many of these signings. Liverpool have signed their number one defensive target to hopefully shore up a rocky defence. Have signed Lallana, for admittedly a lot of money, but has been bought to fit into a well-established fluid system. Lambert has been brought in to add depth and add a plan B when they inevitably come up against the odd bus at Anfield next season. All three of these have Premier League experience. Lallana was in last season's team of the season.

More unknown are Lazar Markovic and Emre Can. Heaven forbid clubs should purchase the odd unknown quantity here and there. Isn't that what scouting is for? Both have shown early in pre-season that with the right coaching and progress could become very important players. But guess what, nobody really knows yet so let's just wait and see, how about that? Finally Origi has been bought for the 2015/16 season now to stop other clubs getting there first. So please naysayers, explain how this is doing a Spurs? If Liverpool flop next season then the finger will be pointed at selling Suarez. Granted players of that quality are hard, or impossible to replace. But I have a crazy idea, how about seeing how it plays out first before jumping on lazy Twitter-led bandwagons?
Rick, Brighton

You're Just Jealous...

I was mildly surprised by the straightforward Liverpool bantz in this evening's mailbox. I guess with the introduction to THE live blog the quality and quantity of mails must drop a bit.

When I look at players bought so far (courtesy of Don Dada) what I see is:

Rickie Lambert (£4m, Southampton) Plan B
Adam Lallana (£25m, Southampton) Better than Luis Alberto
Emre Can (£10m, Bayer Leverkusen) Like-for-like replacement for Gerrard
Lazar Markovic (£20m, Benfica) Not Iago Aspas
Dejan Lovren (£20m, Southampton) Potential world-class partnership with Sahko
Divock Origi (£10m, Lille). Even on loan he's better than Iago Aspas

So yes you can attract a higher caliber of player when you play in the Champions League. It's not like they signed an out-of-shape teenager and an uncapped Spaniard for a combined fee of 54 million pounds.
Brian (Jealousy is the highest form of flattery) LFC

Thoughts On Man City v Liverpool

Took in Manchester City vs Liverpool last night. Here are a few thoughts:

* Credit firstly has to go to both teams for what was an entertaining game in what is after all a glorified friendly (not a big fan of that phrase but needs must). It's almost as if the players were carrying on the spirit of the World Cup with both teams playing with flair and fearlessness.

* The game was played at incredibly fast pace for a pre-season friendly where some players were only just back from holidays. It hinted at my belief that the supreme fitness and athleticism of modern day footballers will mean the general pace of the game will increase rapidly over the next few years. Speaking of pace...

* The only thing that would stop Jesus Navas from running 100 metres under 10 seconds is technique. The boy is just pure speed personified. He burns up and down that wing tirelessly. He was a constant threat. What a player to have in your armoury when the opposition is tiring.

* Fernando looks really good. Decent pace and comfortable on the ball. He put himself around and broke up play without lunging tackles.

* I can't say the same for Enrique. Perhaps it's the long time out with injury but that shouldn't contribute to naive play. Left-back is a position Liverpool need to have a serious look at.

* Coutinho looked sharp and his dribbling ability sets him apart from most of his teammates now that Suarez is gone. I predict he will have a much better season than last.

* Sterling's all-round play has truly blossomed over the last season. His finishing is as good as any winger in the EPL at the moment. When his age is taken into consideration, it makes his talent that much more admirable. England fans are looking at Barkley and Wilshere (who will likely end up a wasted talent) as the future of the national team but I reckon Sterling is the guy they should pin more hope on. He's about to gain even more experience next season with the Champions League which will likely give him the edge over Barkley.

* Impressed with the US fans turn out and their enthusiasm for the game. Not saying that to patronise at all but watching the match at home and seeing a mostly packed stadium adds to the viewer experience so kudos to them.

* All in all the match was worth staying up for and a good advert to those in the stands that might not get what this soccer malarky is all about. Credit to the managers for allowing their players to play in a full-blooded fashion when it's easier to be scared of injuries.
Seyi (still not sure which is better for penalties - a short or long run-up) LFC

Mails On Swearing

Have to agree with Dom S. I once got sent off in an under 15's match for shouting "that's f**king handball ref" when a blatant handball happened in the area from a corner we were attacking. I got a four-week ban and a £35 fine (about 4 weeks' wages from my paper round!!)

Was I right to do so, no. Was my punishment disproportionate to the offence? Yes. Did I do it again? No. Did I win Manager's Player of the Year? Yes (not relevant but still my most proud sporting achievement!)

How can a 15-year-old recieve such a harsh punishment when the top professionals recieve nothing for far more serious breaches of the same offence? If players knew they would be sent off for abusive language, it would stop, almost instantly.

...As an ex-local league ref, I can only agree with the need for consistency. If there is an Assessor on the sidelines (the Gods who judge us fit for promotion) and you DON'T send someone off, you get bounced back down to the Dog & Duck league. And yet, every televised match shows endless examples of what I couldn't get away with.

Personally, I used my discretion and judgement. A frustrated FFS would probably merit a glare and 'calm down' gesture. A vein-bulging rant (esp. at me) would get the full treatment. I only had two cast-iron red card offences: spitting at an opponent and using the C word to me. That is Cheat, by the way.

Probably why I retired as a mid-level ref!
Duckman (B*stard in Black), London

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really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
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m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

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ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

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Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

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