Keep the emails coming to email@example.com…
Winter fixture list could be Man City’s downfall
Stijn (It’s bloody December tomorrow) Amsterdam.
Assume and make and ass out of u and me and all that….
Let’s flip your assumption and say UTD win and City draw this week-end. The lead is then ‘only’ 6 points. The Premier League is far more competitive than Ligue Un. From Sat 18th Nov to Sat 6th Jan, City will play 15 games. (as a comparison PSG will play 9) The Christmas / New Year fixtures can often see a runaway leader fall back, as they are forced to rotate more often (am aware this can work against chasing teams as well..). City still have to play Utd x 2 , Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs & Arsenal x 1 (Arsenal & Chelsea back to back and then Utd & Spurs back to back). Its only November.
That’s what gives.
Neil (City will win it though!) here there and everywhere.
A few midweek thoughts…no Salah…
I’ve sobered up considerably now and have a few thoughts about last night that aren’t Mo Salah related and how wonderful he is.
With our squad recovering from injuries, we had a very nice bench last night as well as a decent starting line-up. It was also nice to see Klopp make subs before the 88th minute that positively influenced a match. Supposed squad depth only works if you use it, after all.
Why do I feel like they just show the same interview with Mark Hughes after he plays us? “Started bad, grew into game, needed luck, no help from officials.” Rinse. Repeat.
Who’d have thought Sterling would be an emerging world-class talent? Well, me (and quite a few others). Never got why we acted like we were ripping City off when they bought him. One of the best young players in the world and he’s only going to keep getting better.
On to another young talent in Renato Sanches. Poor lad will now be written off by this country’s media and pundits forever. Why did he go to Swansea? He needs to be around better players to develop not at a relegation fodder team.
Spurs, the media darlings, are below Burnley. Their win ratio without Alderweireld is garbage and they’re gonna miss him for a lot of games between now and January. Pochettino needs to figure out a way out of this slump or the odds on him being sacked will be getting slashed rapidly.
Kris, LFC, Wirral
The West Ham way
Had to respond to this excellent email this morning.
I’m a Liverpool fan, we had our issues with bad owners and I don’t think it takes too much for any club to end up going the same way.
I’ve always had a soft spot for West Ham, a historic commitment to playing great football going forwards, exciting players (when they weren’t being poached), and an approach to defending as an “optional extra” made them great entertainment. How very different it all seems now.
Hopefully some of these issues get sorted quickly, but with that ownership and management I wouldn’t hold my breath…
Gareth ( LFC) Happy for Raheem Sterling
Another run of the mill Etihad trip
**I have a lot of love for Southampton. But I was expecting them to come out and play, and to be fair although they should have scored three times from set-pieces, it was all they seemed to rely on and they lacked positivity in open play. And time-wasting after 5 minutes. Please. Could be fun too to see Guardiola do the post-match hairdryer treatment on Jesse Lingard.
**People were leaving with ten minutes to go. Life ban for them please. We have enough empty seats on a mid-week as it is.
**Raheem Sterling, genuinely enjoying his football and leading a line of fine English talent at this moment; uninhibited, sharp, skilful. See also Kane, Rashford, Loftus-Cheek, maybe Foden to come? (Unfulfilled time on the bench and a loan move to Aston Villa not withstanding) It’s just a shame that Southgate will suck all this joie de vivre out come Russia.
**Every ‘footie idiot’ goal makes me feel warm. Maybe it’s the feeling that somewhere in a dive pub over pints of wine, TalkSport ‘journalists’ and Stan Collymore are eating humble pie. And speaking of warm, hopefully our Sheikh can invest in heated seats for the South Stand….?
**We should be used to last minute get out of jail cards, (Wembley 99, Aguerooooo etc). But even with a sizeable lead at the top of the league, smashing all records, playing the best football we’ve ever seen, a late winner still creates that sense of primal urge within old blokes in caps to hug and hi-five me and shout in each others faces. It wouldn’t be allowed in any other walk of life other than football. And indeed if we scored in the 32nd minute from say, a Jesus tap in to make it 3-0, it wouldn’t emit that sense of crazy, hyper-tension emotion.
We do a Newcastle and blow it, we may win the league by 20 points. Either way, may the rich, bat-shit mental tapestry of football continue.
Lines of succession
Steven Chicken’s article on Premier League clubs and their lack of forward planning made for interesting reading. I think that one reason why clubs tend to lurch from one style to another without anything resembling a coherent style was summed up by Steve Parish, when it first emerged that Crystal Palace were planning to approach Sam Allardyce. He spoke of “turning the dial back the other way”, away from a possession-based style and towards a safety-first, counterattack style. In this respect, it’s understandable that clubs make such drastic changes, and also why the manager tends to carry the can. If something isn’t working, try a different approach, and bring in someone who can do a better job of teaching the new preferred method.
However, I think that the main reason that English clubs don’t have the line of succession that some European clubs do is down to the mindset of the managers themselves. It’s always seemed like European managers (more often head coaches) are more like project managers, people brought in for a specific purpose and for a fixed term, usually 3-5 years, before they move on to another project somewhere else, and are replaced by someone who has identified and readied to take over at that point. Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti are good examples of this, as managers whose successes at a club seemingly don’t have too much of an effect on their willingness to stick around, even if poor form still results in the sack. In contrast, British managers often seem to take the mentality that as soon as they get a job, their main priority is to simply keep it as long as possible, or to make it as difficult as possible to be got rid of. Compare, if you will, Guardiola announcing he was leaving Bayern Munich during the winter break, with Alan Pardew spending the day before the FA Cup Final negotiating himself a new contract, largely to make it more difficult for him to be binned. When the British manager is replaced, it’s usually with the team in dire straits and with a new manager having little to no time to prepare the players.
The power that clubs have, and the way they are run as businesses, means it’s incredibly difficult for the FA to tell them how to operate. However, should they ever decide to do something about either managerial turnover or development of managers, maybe this could be a solution: any club who changes managers during the season has a transfer embargo for the next transfer window. The only exceptions are if the manager resigns (and doesn’t get any compensation), or if the replacement has been employed by the club for a minimum of one year. It’s entirely impractical in real life, I realise, but it would have teams thinking more carefully about their recruitment and encourage a longer-term strategy. While the likes of Allardyce and Harry Redknapp would no doubt bemoan not being able to spend their way out of trouble, it would still make them attractive candidates because of their man-management and motivational skills. Something for everyone, perhaps.
Promoting from within
Long-time reader, first time mailer.
Interesting article by Steven Chicken today. I like the idea of Football Clubs planning ahead and promoting from within, but evidence from my own dearly beloved Colchester tells me it’s not a guaranteed winner.
The club, in recent years, has consciously tried to become self-sufficient both in terms of player recruitment (via our excellent academy) and by promoting managers from the reserve and youth team set ups. In that time, we’ve been, battling relegation from league one, actually relegated from league one and failing to trouble the league two play-off places via a brief stint in the relegation zone in league two. I’m not quite ready to call it a winning strategy just yet.
In fact, there have been points in the last few years, when I’ve yearned for a gnarled, embittered, total bastard with a thousand league games under his impressively large belt to come in and terrify our pacey and technically neat little lads into actually doing some defending.
I guess I’m saying, you’re only ever a bit of failure away from Sam Allardyce being the answer.
Why can’t we get carried away?
Getting a bit tired of everyone moaning at the media for fawning over Manchester City. I can almost understand if you are a Utd fan but ultimately even Utd fans should realise that City, right now, are something special.
44 goals scored, 12 above second. 9 goals against, only Utd are 1 ahead. They are playing some of the best attacking football we have seen in the Premier League. They have 2 of the greatest and most intellegent creative players we have seen on these shores, one of the best strikers we have seen and one of the best managers in Europe (Sterling is proof alone).
Whether or not they bought the league (not that big a different spend to Utd…) they are playing sexy entertaining football. Pep is turning Sterling into a genuine world class player just in time for a world cup year. I don’t see what’s not to like?
Rob A (they don’t even have unlikable players…) AFC
1) Great to see Solanke start. Players need games to develop and Klopp is willing to provide that. He played well. Some nice touches and a lovely assist. Should have done better with his chance but he’s developing.
2) A lot of changes from Klopp but it paid off. Good to see the squad can cope with rotation.
3) Moreno. When will it end? Diving in again, out of position and looked a liability. I could cope with that if he was bombing forward and providing goals/assists. Seriously, what has Andy Robertson done wrong?
4) I read a comment that said Mignolet was only shown a yellow card because that was fairer to Stoke. To give him a red would give Liverpool an advantage. That comment is a) funny b) fairly accurate. What on earth was he doing? Joking aside, he deserved to be sent off. A 3 game ban would have been welcome.
5) Seriously. How good is Salah? Changed the game when he came on. He is on fire at the moment. If this is what can come to expect from him it’s the best bit of business we’ve done since Suarez.
6) The Ox is settling in well. Not sure you’ll ever convince me he was worth what we paid but a useful player to have.
7) We look better without Henderson.
8) Defence was a shambles. Panicked, mistakes and very lucky not to concede. Better teams will and have punish them.
9) Given Virgil Van Dijk’s own goal, does this mean Liverpool defenders are now making mistakes before we’ve even signed them?
Mike, LFC, Dubai
A few wishes for your new Albion reign. 1) Please play Claudio Yacob. He’s great, and no-one gets past our Claudio. 2) Please abandon the 3-man defensive midfield at home. None tend to get forward regularly or shift up as a unit which invites pressure on us all game and gives no decent support to the winger/s or striker/s. 3) Please find Oliver Burke from behind whatever sofa he’s found himself. 4) Please please please get us playing on the front foot and on the deck again. Especially at home. Please.
To the mailboxer the other day who asked why we are called the Baggies – no-one is actually sure. It has been suggested that this comes from the shorts worn by the players, other suggest it was due to the overalls worn by our supporters some of whom used to come straight from the factories, but our historian from what I can find on t’internet suggests that some fans at one end of our ground used to pay for tickets with money collected in bags. These folks became known as “the bag men” and that, over time, has been corrupted to “the Baggies.” This is still debated, so if any Albion fans want to correct me then please do.
Rich (genuine thanks and good wishes to Pulis but time to depart; welcome Pardew), Cambridge.
How the tables have turned
I’ve noticed Paul Murphy seems to have been writing into the Mailbox quite a lot lately, usually in response to the undue praise he feels City have been getting this season.
It’s true that City haven’t been at their brilliant best in the last couple of games and have needed what some might call “lucky” late goals to convert draws into wins, but still, if you can’t praise a team when they’ve won 19 matches in a row, when the hell can you?
Funny thing is, I’ll bet my life Paul has called City fans “bitter” in the past but my oh my, how the tables have turned.
Dan (the ironing is delicious) MCFC
In my defence
My vitriol at City is more at the media and the fawning to be honest, my mums side of the family are Blue so I can’t begrudge them their current superiority, what I do get annoyed at is the simple fact that even when City are lucky (diving, deflections, OGs etc) they get praise while when United were at it that was Fergie time, dodgy (bought) refs, an FA agenda etc. City are far and away the best side in the league currently but they haven’t won anything yet and the over reaction to every game is pathetic, last night they were lucky (yes I know Fergie time etc) but where did the 5 minutes come from? no major delays or injuries yet City score in the 96th minute with the very last kick of the game (sign of champions and all that). As for Sterling I have always stuck up for the lad, especially after the Sun’s hatchet job on him, just wish he could do the same for England.
Paul Murphy, Manchester