Keep those mails coming to email@example.com. Have you got Euros fever yet?
Europa League final conclusions
* Well played by Sevilla, worthy winners (again). Their composure after going into the break a goal down was impressive and once their equaliser went in, there only looked like being one winner.
* I think that my own team will bounce back. We have a largely young squad, most of whom will benefit from Klopp’s turnaround of the club, and I’m certain that they will have other opportunities to win silverware. Two finals in Klopp’s first eight months is testament to that.
* We were superb for most of the first half but, if you can’t convert dominance into more than a one goal lead, you can’t be surprised if you let your opponent back into the game (particularly if most of your players are still mentally in the dressing room when the second half gets under way).
* Alberto Moreno. It feels unfair to scapegoat one individual after a really poor collective second half showing, but Moreno was just dreadful (again). He seems to be the (Spanish) John Stones; in his head he is a raiding, marauding attacking full back whose contribution at the business end of the pitch makes up for his defensive “frailties”. He has scored a whopping three goals since the beginning of LAST season. And he REALLY cannot defend for toffee. To paraphrase Jamie Carragher, he has to now come out of the team. Permanently.
* A positive word on Klopp now. He overachieved getting the team this far. We were some way off being one of the best two teams in the competition, so getting us to the final was a great achievement (obligatory nod to special nights at Anfield along the way, etc). Given that his only January signings were either loaned back out straight away or were named “Steven Caulker”, he had performed admirably with essentially the same shower of players that Brenda made look like a bunch of strangers.
* On a negative note, I thought that going into the game without a proper defensive midfielder was an unnecessary gamble. We needed to score at least two against Villarreal at Anfield, so that aggressive lineup made sense for that particular game, but I just felt that it was a little bit cavalier last night. Sevilla are a good side and we’re never going to roll over and have their tummies tickled in a major final.
* Can we now stop talking about Philippe Coutinho being anywhere near the standard of actual world class playmakers (your Ozils, your Silvas) until he consistently delivers in big games. The first thing I remember him doing last night was pumping a left foot shot into row z at around the 75 minute mark. Not good enough from your most creative player.
* Honourable mentions to Toure, for whom I would have loved us to win last night, as well as Sturridge and Lallana. Sturridge’s finish was ridiculous, and Lallana’s performances continue to give me hope that he can become the player that we thought he would become when we bought him.
* I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t want us to get back into the Champions League, but the absence of European Football might be a blessing next season. Is no coincidence that our last crack at the league in 2013/14 came when our small, average squad wasn’t stretched by European competition. Our performances in the Champions League the following season absolutely stank the place out. I don’t think it would be right to inflict those kinds of performances on the public again.
…1. Losing finals feels bad. Forget the Champions League carrot for now. It’s a final. It’s a trophy. Losing is always hard to take. I know people talk about Klopp’s losing streak, but Liverpool have lost 4 of their last 5 finals, and the one we won was the least important. It’s getting annoying.
2. As for the game, you couldn’t complain. After 20 minutes I thought we would get mashed, but we grew into the game and at half time everything looked rosy. 1-0 up, creating chances, had a goal (correctly) disallowed. Things were looking good. Then we just didn’t turn up for the second half. I think the goal left everyone shell-shocked and we never recovered.
3. I’m sure penalties will be discussed in the mailbox and rightly so, but I don’t feel too bitter about it. We probably deserved one, maybe 2 of them but you have to deal with that. If, at the end of the game, you can say “we battered them but the ref cost us” then you have a right to be annoyed. Sevilla were the better team, we didn’t lose because of the ref.
4. We probably did lose because of Moreno. We knew it before, we know it now, he’s not good enough. It was by no means the only bad performance and you couldn’t say he individually cost us the game, but he certainly didn’t help.
5. Consistency. Particularly in attack. This has been the problem under Klopp’s entire reign as manager. I mean it’s better than post-Suarez Rodger’s era of being consistently bad, but we’re so hot and cold it’s ridiculous. One game we look like we could blow away any defense in Europe. The next we’re so disjointed that we look like a team that’s never even met, let alone played together. There are brilliant signs of hope under Klopp but the players need to start delivering.
6. Champions League. Has to mentioned. It would have been great, especially for summer recruitment. Very rare that you could have a chance to qualify for the champions league, then lose and miss out on Europe altogether. The league cup is always fun I suppose.
7. Youth. We have a very pleasing core of young players, including Coutinho, Firmino, Can and Clyne. From next season though, they can’t be promising, they have to be good. They have to deliver week in, week out, especially the first two. It’s time to be the players we think they can be.
8. Let’s end on a positive note. The old “we can concentrate on the league now” may be a bit of a cliche, but it has truth to it. Leicester and our own team in 2014 showed what you can do with no distractions and if you can stay injury free. You have to think there’s potential for Liverpool to crack the top 4. Spurs will have to juggle Europe (and won’t be able to rest players this time), as will Leicester, United with Van Gaal are surely catchable and with a new manager, they would join Chelsea and Man City in (hopefully) taking time to settle in. The general consensus seems to be that no one knows who the top 4 will be next year (apart from Arsenal obviously) but there’s a chance to break through.
9. It was fun. Let’s not forget this key part of football. It was a fun ride. United, Villareal and of course Dortmund. All these ties will live long in the memory and the Dortmund game was one of my best moments as a Liverpool fan. The team made a great stab at winning the tournament and gave us some great times along the way. Fingers crossed that under Klopp there will be many more memories to come.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
First of all credit to Sevilla on a monumental achievement of three Europa League triumphs on the spin, they deserved to win the match.
But how poor was that second half ‘performance’ from Liverpool, it says a lot that the ageing Toure was our best player last night (sign him up for another year Jürgen).
My main gripe is with the left hand side of the pitch with Moreno the main culprit. The guy is a walking liability in this team, time and time again he’s caught out of position and it’s not even as if he’s so great going forward that it papers over the cracks elsewhere in his game. The other was the totally anonymous Coutinho who once again went missing when needed the most. He really needs a rocket up his arse as he plays as if he is untouchable in this team (how he scooped so many club awards this year is beyond me) whereas the reality is that his one trick of cutting in and shooting (much like Andros Townsend) fools no-one.
If you had offered me two finals within 8 months of Klopp arriving I would’ve been delighted so I can’t grumble too much, perhaps whilst missing out is hard to stomach at least some of those players not good enough will not get a stay of execution which is a crumb of comfort.
I’ll settle for watching England in the Euro’s with no expectations, it’s the hope that kills you.
Amit (seriously even Djimi Traore was a better LB), London
Take the rough with the smooth
You’ll probably get loads of these…but if you’re happy to be filmed doing a ridiculous dance when you score – you should be happy to be filmed when you’ve just lost. You’re on a football pitch in front of millions, not walking your dog at home.
Great goal to be fair though.
Klopp’s to-do list
Klopp’s to-do list this summer:
Buy a new left back
Buy a new left back
Buy a new left back
Buy a new left back
It’s not all Moreno’s fault
Well; that was indeed rather gegendepressing but after the highs of swatting United and Villareal away with consumate ease and the Dortmund comeback I’ll take that campaign in the Europa.
What actually rankles the most is the view from many quarters that the defeat should be somehow placed solely at the feet of Moreno. Yes; he has been shocking for quite some time and has cost us many goals and quite a few games but the gaffer keeps picking him. Someone in the mailbox asked about players managers seem to have as pets and Moreno is ours. The commentary was rather ugly. Macca and Mo suggesting that Moreno was in the Sevilla camp and stopped just short of suggesting he should hang back and swop jerseys for theirs so he can collect a winners medal. That the educated and erudite Hargreaves got sucked in by Macca’s shrill caterwauling was a pity.
The blame (if this game is to be played) lay further up the field as our feted triumvirate disappeared and our midfield proved wholly unable to retain possession leaving the scapegoat exposed. What concerned me the most was that after being given the weekend off so many players appeared so leggy. Last night was a collective failing and a mental defeat; Sevilla did to us what we did to BVB. Simple as that.
I would be surprised if Moreno and Mignolet aren’t moved on in the close season but too many players simply froze last night. It happens sometimes.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
United need to bring back Meulensteen
United’s attack this season (as has been well documented) has been utter utter pish. This has been by far the worst season to witness in my 20 years at OT, and I have never seen as much disdain from the Old Trafford faithful as I have this season. ‘ATTACK. ATTACK. ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK’ the Stretford End yell, only to be rewarded with about as much attacking prowess as your nan’s dog dragging it’s itchy arse around her living room carpet.
When Moyes arrived he made the foolish decision to bring in his own coaching setup and replace our existing thoroughly successful and experienced coaching setup – which I hasten to add would have given him a far better chance of surviving his 1st year in the Old Trafford hot seat. In doing this out went Rene Meulensteen, the man seen to be responsible for our attacking coaching though the years in which we produced some of the best football I’ve ever seen us play.
During his 5 years as the 1st team coach responsible for our attacking coaching we won 3 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League title (and reached 2 additional CL finals), as well as various other honours. Yes at the time we obviously had Sir Alex in charge as well as an absolutely brilliant team, but this was some of the best attacking football I’ve seen us play and I can’t help but think that Rene Meulensteen had a massive hand in this.
With our current lacklustre, eye-gougingly boring, thoroughly unsuccessful and inefficient attacking performances, Woodward could do far far worse than to beg Meulensteen to re-join to the coaching set up. I’m also sure that luring him back to the coaching setup would be very much achievable and would be well received by the board and the likes of Giggsy et al. What’s to lose?
Farewell, Michael Carrick
I’m going to assume (and hope) that Manchester United vs Bournemouth was going to be the last time Michael Carrick plays at Old Trafford for the Mancunian faithful. He seemed to confirm as much by his (relatively) attacking performance and his personal struggle to mark the occasion with a goal… how I wish he had gotten it.
Michael Carrick is a player with a curious reputation. He used to be criminally underrated, even (if not especially) by the Manchester United faithful, mostly for not being Roy Keane. United fans would kick and scream ‘but he doesn’t tackle/run about/get into the box’ without realizing how adept he was at finding space (for himself and his teammates), soaking up pressure and then finding a team mate with his pin-point passing. Carrick is the single reason no center midfielder was bought by Sir Fergie for his last 4-5 years. Carrick is the also the sole reason Paul Scholes was allowed to have played for as long as he did. He’s definitely one of the classiest English midfielders to have ever played the game and should be the one who future young CM’s should look to learn from, as opposed to the Steven ‘get the ball, bomb forward, shoot! Bam!’ Gerrard. Michael Carrick has qualities that were well ahead of their time in the EPL and probably referred to as ‘continental’ once people saw how cool Pep made Xavi look, or Xabi Alonso looked, doing the same thing. Even now, people will argue that Stevie Me, or even Fat Frank, were better/more influential players without any regard for what Carrick’s won/achieved in his decorated playing career.
His decline, over the last 2-3 season has been sharp, however. His importance to the team, as recently as last season, has been massive due to the lack of physicality required in his style of play. But, this season, I feel he’s been found out and to the extent that another contract after June doesn’t make sense, especially with Schweinsteiger already present to be the elder statesman in midfield. Keeping Carrick around would also endanger Rooney’s transition to midfield as Wazza, very obviously, needs a willing runner next to him.
Watching his shot strike the cross bar against Bournemouth first made me think of Carrick’s goals against Roma (definitely amongst his finest performances for United) and then made me shed a tear at how unceremoniously Carrick is going out. This is, hands down, the finest player we’ve been fortunate to see bossing midfield since the turn of the century at Old Trafford. Outside of Ronaldo, people love to claim that United have had no world-stars at the club for years… I’ll slap you with my c*ck if you try to tell me Michael Carrick won’t have been a good signing for Real/Barca/Bayern at his peak, had he had an ‘X’ in his name.
Thank you, Michael Carrick. You will be missed and very significantly. Perhaps the biggest sign of your understatement is this: Jack Wilshere is going to be given the ‘Pirlo role’ this summer… why did no-one think to do so when the English Andrea Pirlo has been sitting twiddling his thumbs for the last ten years?
Emad MUFC Boston
A Hull fan responds…
I enjoyed the article on five players who could move on, but I have to say, as a Hull fan, if we get Kieran Richardson I’ll probably gouge my eyes out just so I never have to see it. I never want to see him in a Hull shirt. Robertson to Richardson is like going from Scarlett Johansson to having your d**k cut off.
No thank you.
Rob (think I’d rather lose the play off final than sign Richardson) Leeds
And a weird fetish
Does it make me a bad person that I really enjoy watching football fans cry?
Jason (Chorley Gooner)