Keep sending those Mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s been a very good week for them, top work.
Fair play to James Milner
Wow. Who saw this coming?
James Milner. The player who, at the start of the season, we all dismissed as being ‘useful’, which somehow simultaneously also meant ‘useless’, The player who was always noted for ‘putting his shift in’, yet never saw this translated into achievement or results. Hell, my pub quiz team name every week is James Milner (genuinely), as we would always come nowhere near the top but nowhere near the bottom either. Nice, reliable, decent.
It’s refreshing to see journalists acknowledging that either:
– Milner wasn’t really all that bad; or
– Milner has significantly improved under Klopp.
It’s probably a bit of both, to be fair – Klopp enjoys his high-pressing, attacking football which suits Milner’s work ethic, and he did show plenty of talent at Aston Villa and Man City, which many seem to have forgotten (remember James Milner vs Bayern Munich?). But I feel the question now is – where does Milner fit in with England?
Yes, he said he was considering his future with the squad if he couldn’t contribute (before being paradoxically made captain for the heroic defeat against the Netherlands a couple of days later). But who should start ahead of him in midfield this Summer?
Hodgson will probably field one of two formations. Either a wide three of Welbeck / Kane / Rooney or Vardy, with Alli sat behind and two holding midfielders, or a midfield diamond, with Alli or Rooney at the front. In both situations, who would usurp Milner’s position? Yes, Eric Dier is probably a better shout, in terms of potential for the future if not being a completely better player – but in both scenarios there are at least two midfield spots open. Does this mean that England’s forward six players in France should be Kane / Welbeck / Rooney or Vardy / Alli / Milner / Dier?
The only real arguments seem to be for:
– Wilshire, who still isn’t playing senior football
– Henderson, who also remains injured and, ultimately, probably isn’t as good as Milner is at the moment?
As such, after being dropped from the starting line up at the World Cup, is Milner going to be a starting player for the second Euros running? That’s a bloody useful tin opener that. Maybe one of the ones that also has a bottle opener on the side, or a corkscrew or something.
And the best thing about saying these things? It makes me optimistic for England, not pessimistic. As long as he isn’t on corners.
…I have always been against James Milner in any England team but if he plays for England like he did last night I would welcome him in.
The biggest testament I can give to Klopp is that he’s made Milner look like a very good footballer! He was my MoM last night.
Steve (France 3 – 1 England in the final L) Coatsworth
And what about Lallana too
Last night’s victory will live long in many memories and be hailed as a Klopp masterclass, but the key to this success came from midfield. Emre Can and James Milner were absolutely fantastic. Against good opposition they ran the show. Milner is owed many apologies and should not face any derision if placed into the England starting line up (not the choice I’d make but I can definitely see why Roy would). Can is an absolute monster. At such a young age he has room to refine his game and become a colossus.
But it’s the transformation of Lallana that interested me the most. A player I (among many others) believed just wasn’t good enough has become a definite starter. Always getting into dangerous areas, defending from the front and winning the ball all over the pitch. His transformation is equal to that of Lovren. Both now look to be worth the inflated price paid.
Klopp’s pressing and team ethic will always be praised but his man management is second to none. To have polished so many turds so hard they became gems. Football alchemy.
Martin (loved Sturridge’s celebration) Jackson
The internet took on Kolo, and lost
I don’t think I’ve ever gone from indifference to sheer love for a football player in the way I have done for Kolo Toure. When LFC signed Kolo it was one of those ‘meh’ squad signings; after all he had been warming Man City’s bench for years. Like most, I thought he had cashed out on the game, living off past glories. He became an internet meme sensation (an indicator of his resurgence is the lack of Kolo memes on my twitter feed today). There was a point in the game last night when a Villarreal player was 1-1 in the box with Toure. It felt like Toure was about to concede a pen as he was done for pace. But, thankfully, Toure tumbled to the ground first, pre-emptively. No pen, goal kick. Had that been Skrtel or someone like Gomez, quite possibly a penalty and 1-1: Villarreal get their away goal.
As time passes, and our Kolo gets slower and more experienced, he seems to become more reliable, and knowing he does not have many games left in his career, seems to savour every minute on the pitch. With Carragher and Stevie long gone, we need players who know what it’s like to lift trophies. I hope he starts in the final. Jurgen get him signed up for another year.
Cameron, LFC, balmy, pollinated London.
Another lovely Mail, this time on Braintree Town
Amongst all the Liverpool joy from this morning, it wouldn’t go amiss to give a word of credit to another team that emerged victorious in a semi-final last night, albeit in the first leg!
Whatever happens, it has been a fascinating season Braintree Town. After finishing 3rd in the National League, the team of part timers managed by a PE Teacher overcame Grimsby Town 1-0 to take a slender lead into what will be unquestionably the biggest game in the clubs history this Sunday. Braintree were playing Isthmian League Football 10 years ago, before consolidating their position in the Conference South and achieving promotion to the Conference National in 2010/2011.
Finishing 3rd above former football league clubs Tranmere, Macclesfield and Wrexham, The Iron’s success has been built on a determined ‘siege mentality’ and robust defence, with a goal difference of +18 comfortably the lowest within the play off places. Last night’s victory was their 22nd clean sheet of the league season achieved on a meagre 25% on possession. Only Cheltenham, who won the league at a canter (101 points, 12 points from 2nd place!) had fewer goals conceded.
To say that Braintree shut up shot would be a huge disservice, with players such as Simeon Akinola and Michael Cheek offering flair in attack. Kenny Davis, who has a Charlie Adam like ability to appear substantially older than his age would suggest, has chipped in 7 goals from defence. Although Braintree’s budget would indicate they are hugely overachieving following years of lower-middle table finishes, the mood Danny Cowley has installed within the camp would suggest that anything is possible – his ability to take the team on to another level has enhanced his status as one of the most talented young managers in the lower echelons of the football pyramid. The infamous goal at Guiseley in February, although costing them points, has been used to harden the squads belief – the players ensured that the changing room was cleaned and left immaculate in the face of huge frustration. “We do things properly at Braintree Town” said Cowley – quite right too.
As most of us have fallen in love with Leicester’s achievements this season, it would be a huge disservice not to credit Braintree town should they achieve what was perceived to be impossible and become football league club – and best of all, they won’t have to make the trip up to the sporting chaps at Guiseley again
The Copa America is coming soon
Following the article on USA 94 and the warm mailbox reminiscing I would like to signpost people to a tournament taking place this summer. The Copa América Centenario will take place in the United States in June to celebrate 100 years of the Copa America. Amazingly there have been 44 Copa Americas (14 European Championships? Keep up Europe!) and the 45th will bring together all 10 South American teams with 6 from CONCACAF (Central and North America and the Caribbean for the uninitiated) for a perfectly formed 16 team tournament.
The tournament will be wholly hosted by the US (the first outside South America) and the games take place in some whacking great big stadiums, with the final in the 84,000 capacity home of the New York Giant/ Jets.
To me, this looks like the type of event you would dream up as a kid rather than one that would actually happen. Every team in South America? Yes. 6 good teams from the rest of the Americas? OK. Hosted by the US? If you like. Right through the summer while the sun is shining and everyone will be watching? I’m in!
This follows the path of the Copa America inviting guest teams to play and shows there can be some romance in international football. I can’t help thinking that this sparkling, one off of an event could be a lot more fun than a 24(!) team dirgathon that the Euros could turn into this summer (36 first round matches to get rid of 8 teams).
Micki ‘don’t mention Spurs, I did once but I think I got away with it’ Attridge
England and Spain, compared
In reply to Naz’s email and his sarcastic comment about the Premier league being the best. The EPL is not considered the best because it’s top team’s are better than the ones in Spain but because it’s just a more exciting and unpredictable league as we’ve seen from this season.
Unlike in the EPL where the TV money is shared evenly, the La Liga pot is most taken by Barca and Real leaving the rest of the teams to feed on scraps. Ronaldo and Messi only score 50+ goals a season is because most teams are bankrupt and can barely afford to pay their staff never mind buy quality the quality of player for example Cabaye or Payet like Palace and West Ham did this season. When you know Barca and Real are most likely going to win 5-0 each week where is the excitement? Without Atletico right now or Valencia and Deportivo before them La Liga isn’t even worth following, just find out at the end of the season who won from the big two and watch a you tube video of Messi/Ronaldo/Suarez/Neymar’s best goals.
Winning the EPL is much more difficult and now more than ever. Next season there might be 6 potential title challengers, few if any leagues can offer that. Shearer’s and Henry’s goal records actually mean something because it’s a competitive competition where it’s a lot harder to score as most teams won’t roll over for you like most La Liga teams do on a weekly basis and Aston Villa did this season and it’s has always been like that. Messi scoring 500 goals in La Liga would be more like 200 in the EPL.
Spanish teams do better in Europe because Barca and Real usually have the worlds best players which can produce moments of magic that make winning knockout competitions just that little easier (see Di Maria’s piece of Genius to setup Bale for Real’s La Decima win). Spanish teams also dominate the Europa League as until Liverpool this season they just didn’t see it as important as finishing 4th and qualifying for champions league or for smaller teams that qualified just staying in the EPL to keep the riches flowing in. Sevilla, Villarreal and Valencia need the cash from progressing and winning Europe’s second tier competition when EPL teams really don’t.
Anyway I hope Atletico win the league again this season (and the CL), Simeone is far by the best coach in the division. the last time I actually watched a La Liga match was for their recent title win as it was the last time the competition actually had something worth getting excited for.
With the new EPL TV deal and smaller teams being able to by better players the overall quality of the top teams might not be up to the quality of Barca or Real but for pure entertainment, excitement and unpredictability the EPL is the ‘best’ league hands down and the people who pay to watch football worldwide are certainly putting their money where their mouth is are agreeing.
The most annoying statistics
I know there is already lot of discussions regarding statistics displayed during/before/after a match, but i cant help to notice few of the pointless ones. I get it these TV people wants to show something to have the audience to have more “feel” about the match, but really, it is still a sore to my eyes every time i saw these;
1. Head to head Win and Lose Record: Yeah played 134, won 55, and etc. So what these 2 clubs had changed combined 5 managers over 2 seasons how does it will affect this match? Also how will those match back in 1990, 1995 and 230BC have any influence towards this current one we having?
2. Distance covered by a player: The most British stats ever displayed I guess. Now people need to understand difference role and positions in football, and even when they are playing in the SAME position in different teams (eg, RB) , they had different tasks from each manager. So what if the opposition RB player had ran 7 km more? Our tactic states our RB does not need to deliver crosses into the box, so he there he stays.
3. Inconsistency in reporting clean sheet or goal scored per duration match: A bit different from above this one actually matters, but the manner of it being displayed baffles me. Why doest Firmino record reads (for example) 8 goals in last 9 games when Costa was said scored 3 in the last 6? Cant we have consistency? in my opinion, one should display it per 5 match. 1 goal in last 5, 4 clean sheet in last 5 and et cetera.
4. Team A B or C “Have never won against (team) at (place) for (duration) ” : Well what does this tell us? Who will win this match? No it doesnt. Leicester have never won the league before. Stop with this nonsense.
5. Assists: Sorry Mr Ozil, I love you really, there this one time that lovely pass you made made me gay for like 5 seconds, but the way assists are intepreted nowadays are vague to say the least. If one pass the ball sideways to Mahrez count as much as dribbling past 5 playes and hand it on a platter to Giroud counts the same, probably something is not right. Should we count assists? I think we should do away with it, and stick only to the one that matters.
Do you have any other stats that annoys you? Please do share.
Syfq Amr, a bias Gooner
Allardyce has let the PFM side down
Big Sam says he does transcendental meditation. (What’s that Jeff? Think it’s like when you go quiet for a bit Merse.)
Surely the PFM alert just went off in Reidys boozy concoctions lair. Him and TC have raced to the (British made) PFMmobile to investigate.
Dave P MUFC
It’s just like reading (about) Brazil
Would just like to thank you wholeheartedly for your article on Alan Brazil, it’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Stevie Baines LFC