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Klopp just not tough enough
I concur with with Neil, LFC’s weekend e-mail regarding Liverpool’s achieving of a positve result against Huddersfield being, in the grand scheme of things, meaningless if no lessons had been learned from the many sh*t performances that preceded it. Jurgen seems to have developed an acute case of Wenger-itis i.e. keeping faith with players who have demonstrated time and time again that they aren’t fit for purpose (Theo has been impersonating a footballer in north London for nearly 12 years!).
Klopp was only prevented from picking the same starting eleven that was humiliated at Wembley last weekend by injuries to Coutinho and Lovren As it turns out, Liverpool were dire in the first half against Huddersfield and would surely have conceded against a stronger team as they have so many times before. The second half, fortunately, brought goals but one cannot help feel as if the cracks have been papered over by the three points earned in the end.
There is certainly a time for loyalty, a kind word, an arm around the shoulder – or one of Jurgen’s patented hugs – but there is also a time for a swift kick up the backside of under-performers. Examples abound: Pep dismissing/demoting two international goalkeepers who were deemed not good enough; the despised Portuguese now in Manchester, getting rid of the lovely, wonderful, two-time-Chelsea-Player-of-the-Year and future Nobel laureate Juan Mata when it was decided that Mata didn’t fit the manager’s system.
Klopp’s lack of ruthlessness will undoubtedly see the team remain in the good-but-not-quite-good-enough purgatory the club has been stuck in for more than two decades – issues not addressed, problems not fixed, decisions not made.
Reasons to be cheerful about Liverpool…
I get that we live in a climate of instant analysis and the Spurs and City thumpings were chastening experiences but the league season is a marathon not a sprint so I’ve done some wider analysis of where Liverpool are currently at after Saturday’s win.
We’ve played 10 games in the league, which is just over a quarter of the season down so that’s a decent base from which to draw some conclusions.
We are unbeaten at home (Won 3, Drawn 2) and despite our defensive woes away from home we’ve only conceded one goal at Anfield.
Of the ten teams we’ve played, their average league position is 8.4 whereas of the nine teams we are yet to play – their average league position is 13.3. Apart from Chelsea we have played the rest of last year’s top six and the only league games we’ve lost this season are away from home to two of last season’s top three.
In like-for-like games we are currently two points worse off when you compare this season’s results to last year’s results. Against Burnley, Newcastle, Man Utd and Watford we were indisputably the better team and for 30 mins against Man City we created the better chances – until Mane got sent off.
If CL form is two points per game (we got 76 last year to edge out Arsenal) then we are four points ‘off the pace’, but with a run of very winnable fixtures ahead of us it will only take four wins (perhaps against West Ham, West Brom, Swansea, Brighton) for us to be back on track.
We’ve done this largely without Mane, Lallana and Coutinho who were our three best players last year. Our first-choice right-back has not featured forcing us to promote two very promising youngsters in Gomez & Alexander-Arnold. We won a difficult CL playoff pretty comfortably and sit top of our group having achieved a record away win against Maribor.
The U23 are top of their league whilst Rhian Brewster won the golden boot and Dominic Solanke won the golden ball awards at U17 & U20 level respectively. We’ve got Naby Keita to bolster the midfield next season and there is obviously money to spend on a new centre-half/goalkeeper in January. Jordan Henderson is in the mix to captain England in Russia and Joe Gomez is captain of the U21s. Ben Woodburn is a hugely exciting prospect and he’s probably not even the best Welsh youngster at the club (Harry Wilson has already scored 8 times for the U23 this season).
We’ve got a manager with a proven track record of success at the highest level and a young team who are exciting to watch. Moreno has been rehabilitated and Salah looks like the signing of the summer. There is greater strength in depth than in previous years and hence there are reasons to be optimistic.
Mike Pearson, (Sir) Kenny Dalglish Stand
Young for England
I’ve watched ManYoo a lot this season (mainly hoping they would get beat) the one player who always plays well and is a threat going forward is Mr Ashley Young. Best English crosser of the ball. Deserved MOTM against Spurs.
He should be in the England team, he could really change games coming off the bench or starting on the left.
JoeKen (Disappointed Spurs fan)
The importance of trophies
I wanted to thank Ted, Manchester for pointing out the importance of trophies in football. This guy clearly knows his onions, and I thank him for educating me as a Spurs fan on this point.
To return the favour, I thought it would be useful to state that Manchester United play really boring football, whilst Manchester City play really exciting football.
And that the team playing the really exciting football looks the most likely to win trophies.
Dave, Winchester Spurs
Peter G’s weekend thoughts
* Arsenal took the lead over Swansea in the 58th minute. It wasn’t until 23 minutes later that Paul Clement brought on wingers and pressed for an equaliser. I get that he was wary of Arsenal on the counter, but if you need points, you have to go for it. That was managerial malpractice.
* Stoke City won at Watford by defending for about 85 of the 90 minutes and getting a deflected set-piece goal. They did it well, and earned the points, but they’re going to have to be more adventurous if they want to finish top half.
* It was inevitable that Crystal Palace-West Ham would devolve into madness, but nothing was madder than Michail Antonio’s failure to take the ball to the corner and run down the clock. A couple of years ago someone did a study on that particular tactic, and guess what? Sam Allardyce’s sides ranked high.
* Claude Puel at Leicester will be a fascinating study. The side responded well to his system and personnel tweaks against Everton, but I thought played just as well the previous week at Swansea under a coach from the old regime. And while Shakespeare was still in charge they also easily handled Brighton, a side at about that level. The question is whether he can raise the team to challenge for the European places, which would seem to be the board’s ambition. The crux will come if he ever decides to move away from Leicester’s fundamental style toward something more like what he used at Southampton.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
The eternal question
How can 365 supposedly be pro-Spurs and pro-Arsenal???
Actually, F365 are just pro-Man City
I enjoyed reading this weekend’s 16 Conclusions especially the last part:
* ‘There have been many suggestions this and every other week that this site is somehow collectively anti-Manchester United and pro-Tottenham. Sorry but no. We are pro-football and we are not disappointed that United won this match; we are disappointed that it wasn’t an awful lot of fun.’
This claim may be true but a lot more negative things are said on this site about Manchester Utd (then Arsenal and Liverpool) than any other teams. I get it as they are the most popular English teams by number of fans at home and abroad so anything you write about them will get more clicks and therefore make you more money. However there is one team this site does clearly show bias to and that is Manchester City. This site is so collectively pro City and Guardiola it hard to avoid. I understand this season City have been great however last season they were pretty terrible at times but largely escaped the critique they clearly deserved on this site while other under-performing teams were slated on a weekly basis. It never becomes more evident that in the mailbox. I’ve noticed that if I write in saying negative about City or Guardiola there is a ridiculously high chance it won’t end up in the mailbox. The most damning evidence of this bias was a mail I wrote about Guardiola and Zidane that actually did end up in the mailbox with everything negative about the Spaniard removed. Seems like you can write in dragging Mourinho, Wenger, Man Utd, Arsenal through the dirt but say anything negative about Guardiola or City and it invites censorship. 365 cannot wait to write love letters about David Silva and Aguero complaining about how they never win awards or get the recognition they deserve on these shores but that is the nearest you’ll get to something negative being reported relating to City here.
Unless the powers that be at 365 are City fans or Man City/Guardiola are overly sensitive and will sue anybody who says nasty things about them this makes no sense. Either way this bias needs to stop as it is the only bad thing I can say about this great website and its consistently top quality football journalism.
Does anybody want Pulis?
Tony Pulis has won two of his last 19 Premier League matches now.
He won’t get sacked because we lost flatteringly 3-2 to City, but because – for the infinitely winnable dozen or so games before then – we barely registered an effort.
We now face Huddersfield away, then Chelsea and Spurs. Fail to beat Huddersfield and we’ll likely be in bottom three, having failed to win a game since we went out and bought all the players he wanted. On current evidence he won’t keep us up (19 games is half a season after all) and anyway to what ends?
People say, “Oh Pulis will keep you in the Prem,” yet those same fans – when leaving the ground – tell me, “How do you watch that every week?”
The atmosphere has reached that dangerous level of apathy when the only audible noise is ‘The Cap’ screaming at players.
Being managed by Pulis in the Premier League is like going on a luxury holiday but not being allowed to go outside. None of the sunshine, beaches or cocktails that other holidaymakers (Prem clubs) enjoy, just staying indoors, being safe. Sunshine and beaches being not titles and trophies you understand, but actually passing the ball, a shot on goal or an attacking overlap.
I ask, is there any of the 19 clubs in the Premier League who would swap their current manager for Pulis? I bet even Palace fans wouldn’t.
It’s bloody hilarious to hear Joey Barton claim that Unsworth isn’t worthy of being a coach/manager because he’s fat. Guess that explains why Carlo Ancelotti got sacked. He’s overweight!
Big-ups for JJ
After running rings around Phil Neville on Match of the Day 2, could we possibly have Jermaine Jenas making an appearance on f365’s famous England rankings ladder please? He’s had a good write up on these pages before, but he’s concise, erudite, and genuinely adds some interest as a recently retired, younger player. And as I type this, Phil Neville has just stated that Wayne Rooney HAS to play in central midfield. Say no more.
Jon (oh so shut up, Phillip), Spurs
What has happened to Sunderland?
What the hell is happening at Sunderland? Back in the heady days of the 90’s and 00’s as sure as night followed day a Sunderland relegation would be followed by a genuine promotion challenge. But this season it’s not just that a successive relegation looks possible it actually seems inevitable at this early stage. So what’s different?
Good thing I’m here to give an entirely unqualified opinion. For over half a decade Sunderland have been sh*t. But not quite woeful enough to drop, leaving them to stick around for another year of getting pummelled by all and sundry. To just survive for so many years must take its toll on the players, is there anybody in that current Sunderland side who has experienced anything other than relegation battles in their time at the club? Is it possible to just suddenly acquire a winning mentality after so long knowing you’re one of the worst teams? It can’t all just be the players and manager being crap can it?
Aside from half baked psychology from a southerner with no affiliation to the area I’d love to hear from anyone in the know what on rth is going on up there.
Kev (Fancy seeing your breakfast again? Well check out Phil Neville’s take on why David Unsworth should get the job for a nauseauting round of Everton Bingo), Bedford
A Zweigen Kanazawa update
Yesterday afternoon Zweigen Kanazawa travelled to Yamaguchi for a crucial match in the J2 relegation battle. With four games remaining, eight points separated Zweigen in 18th with Yamaguchi in 21st (the relegation playoff spot). The bottom team, Gunma, have been abject all season and had their relegation confirmed a long time ago, so there were four teams trying to avoid finishing in the playoff spot. Yamaguchi had most of the chances in the game, forcing a couple of good saves from Zweigen’s keeper and hitting the post, but Zweigen scored the goal’s only game in the 92nd minute with their only decent chance of the match. That goal secured Zweigen’s survival in J2; considering how they stayed up by the skin of their teeth last year, confirming J2 status with three games left makes this a successful season.
I last wrote in about Zweigen in early June, after they’d beaten top-of-the-table Nagoya Grampus away having lost their two previous home games 4-0 and 5-0. That victory was the start of a run of five wins from six in the league, including victories over the team who took over 1st (Fukuoka) and 2nd (Yokohama FC) and fellow strugglers Yamaguchi. This string of great results didn’t lift Zweigen past 17th in the table but did put a gap between them and the teams below them – they looked likely to join the lower-mid-table group rather than the relegation strugglers group, and at one stage were not far off the playoffs. It ended after a 3rd round Emperor’s Cup loss to J1 Vissel Kobe; there followed a ten-game winless run (with two draws) which saw them dragged back into the fight to avoid relegation.
Another shock victory over Nagoya in mid-September gave hope, a couple of draws and a thumping 4-1 win over mid-table teams gave confidence leading into the Yamaguchi match.
Compared to last year, Zweigen’s attack was vastly improved, mainly thanks to the goals and hard work of Koichi Sato playing alongside the hustling, bustling Keiya Nakami, with support from the bench. Defensively though, Zweigen have at times been dreadful, despite some stellar saves from Yuto Shirai in goal: they conceded four goals five times and five on one occasion.
It’s been a successful season though. If the manager can keep most of the squad together (which is difficult as many are on loan) and improve the defence, then next year should see another improved finish.
James T, Kanazawa, Japan