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May I be the first to say…
It was only Hoffenheim.
Klopp is so cunning he makes the defence deliberately bad
Annnddd we’re back…in the Champions League.
Amongst the heady euphoria of free-flowing goals and liquid attacking football, some of my fellow Liverpool fans manage to be damp squibs and pointed their admonishing fingers at our defence.
What if this was all part of the plan? I’m veering into George R R Martin-territory here, but what if Klopp’s tactics needed a presumably weak defence to draw out the opposition, leaving space for the fastest attack trident in the world to exploit? Opposition team thinks they have hope, they think they can have a go. They defend with a high line, they leave gaps and BOOM! We’re 3-0 up.
When we wanted to keep it tight, we can. The last 10 games of the previous season when there was no Mane nor Salah, we did exactly that. But when you have road runner on one side and speedy Gonzales on the other flank, you need cunning to create room for them.
Klopp is a genius and I cannot thank the gods enough that we have him.
Vinnie ‘6 times’ Pee
Klopp > Pulis
No more than a few short days after a fellow mailboxer suggests that we would be no better under Tony Pulis, we go and score that third goal.
In the words of Jurgen Norbert Klopp – “That is football!”
Paul M (Back in the big time!) LFC
If anyone can Can can. And afterwards they can do the Hokey Cokey.
Liverpool are just like Barca…
Patrick THFC, I don’t get it.
You say you are on Liverpool’s side because the big predatory clubs need a lesson.
But this is the same Liverpool that have broken the rules and are pressuring Southampton to sell VVD to them? They are basically doing to Southampton what Barcelona are doing to them.
And while some will argue that Barcelona is a bigger fish in this, it’s not like Liverpool haven’t done the same in their glorious past. Because like all other clubs that are richer than others, they buy good players from lesser clubs, who are forced to sell cos they needed the money. Only reason Liverpool can resist now is because like many other EPL clubs they are benefitting from the bigger TV deal.
So while Barca is the bigger predator, it doesn’t make sense to support Liverpool on this solely for that reason – cos they (and many other clubs in the EPL) are doing the same thing. Liverpool just happen to be lower in the food chain than Barca when it comes to poaching from less richer clubs. Yes Liverpool do not win everything (anymore), but philosophically they and many other EPL clubs do the same thing.
Is this how is happened?
GS: Hi Wayne, it’s Gareth.
GS: Gareth Southgate… the England manager.
WR: Oh, right.
GS: Wayne, You’re not going to be in my squad for the next qualifiers. I know you’ve scored a couple of goals since moving back to Everton, but let’s be honest, we both know your best years are behind you and so I’ve got to look ahead and build a team for the World Cup.
WR: So are you saying I’m out for good?
GS: I’m afraid so.
WR: But I’m only six games away from Shilton’s record.
GS: I know. I’m sorry. But listen, I’ve been thinking. Why don’t you say you’re retiring?
WR: You what?
GS: You know, tell the press you’re concentrating on your club football. You can even tell them I asked you to be in the squad but you turned me down, if you want.
WR: Won’t they think it’s weird that I’d retire when you asked me to play, and not a few months ago when you dropped me? I’m scoring goals and everything.
GS: Maybe. But it’ll look like a noble move from you, play well in the press, and incidentally will stop me getting it in the neck from those pundits who think you’ll still be up to leading us through the tournament in the summer.
WR: Good point. Alright, I’ll do it. Cheers Gary.
GS: It’s Gareth.
WR: Right. Bye.
England no better with Rooney, no worse without
Wayne Rooney announced his retirement yesterday, contradicting his previous assertions that “unless told otherwise by the coaches” he will always be available for selection.
Since his statement, familiar faces of the football media have gushed about the forward’s achievements. Along with these tributes the debate that has followed Rooney, arguably since his breakthrough tournament in 2004, have also reverberated…
Despite becoming England’s top goalscorer of all time, has Rooney ultimately disappointed when wearing an England shirt?
It is a collective failing of the entire England set-up that the senior men’s team has had a dearth of success since it’s sole triumph in 1966 and I think it would be churlish to suggest that Wayne Rooney alone should have delivered his nation a trophy single-handedly.
Often the retort to criticism of Rooney’s international career is that he has scored important goals in qualification that without, England would not even be participating in the tournament.
Rooney scored a plethora of goals in qualifying campaigns commencing almost 13 years ago – 30 of his impressive 53-goal tally. How would the Three Lions have fared without these crucial Wayne Rooney goals? I sought the answer to this question and what I found was stunning.
If Wayne Rooney had scored zero goals, England still would have qualified for every tournament they did participate in, albeit in 2004 and 2014 they would have had to qualify via the play-offs. Less staggeringly they would have progressed just as far in every competition.
That’s right, in terms of goals that changed the ultimate result from a loss to a draw or a draw to a win, the incremental points would not have impacted England’s qualification or lack thereof. This is usually because his goals came in games in which England beat inferior teams by a large margin.
I was initially surprised when examining his goal scoring record, but then again should it be a shock that five goals in four games against San Marino in which the aggregate score would have 24-0 to England were not the pivotal goals that led England to (qualification) glory?
Along with touting Rooney’s qualification goals, another argument in defense of the Everton striker is the positive impact he has on the England dressing room. This argument is much harder to refute with statistics but it seems to be a bold claim that his impact was so great that despite an ever presence in the squad when available, the team would perennially underperform.
Post 2004 Rooney is better known in international tournaments not for his mercurial talent or inspirational influence but more for his mundane performances and individual indiscretions such as the petulant stamp on Ricardo Carvalho in 2006 and his sarcastic branding of England fans as “loyal” in South Africa four years later.
Wayne Rooney is a Premier League giant and early indications of the 2017-18 season are that he has plenty of goals left in him. Unfortunately, as was the case with his golden generation contemporaries, he could never manage to replicate his club form on the world stage.
It is true that the England team is no better for the absence of Wayne Rooney, but it is no worse off without him. I’m still left asking myself the same question I did whilst watching Wayne limp off the pitch in June 2004. What could have been?
Adam Raffa, London
Goodbye Wayne…you have earned the rest
A little bit late to all this, but, farewell Rooney from the international game.
I am another Manc who genuinely cannot be bothered to engineer some sort of hate or disdain for Rooney because of the transfer-request gaffes and drop in goal scoring returns. (among other attributes it is true.)
I wish him all the best at Everton, and find it cracking that he has scored in both games so far, indeed both of Everton’s PL goals so far.
He took a big decision to walk away from the cushy contract at United, he said he wanted to play, well unlike several other and often younger players whom I could point at, he meant it, and he re-joined EFC to put in a shift and see where it takes him within the team.
Rooney played hard for England, and deserves his plaudits for that.
Manc in SA (Out on his terms, he earned that)
A genuine love for Rooney here…
I love Wayne Rooney. I’m Irish and support West Ham but I love him. I love his irrepressible joy at playing. I love his audacious shooting ability – otherworldly technique. I love his tenacity, his smiles, his anger, his amateur unscripted celebrations and his strange precociousness.
His goal against Barcelona in the Champions League final when all other United players had lost their head recalled Rudyard Kipling.
Give me that ball. I will push through people. I will do the thing that is supposed to be done and it will be glorious.
I realise he has neither retired from all football nor died but I have been thinking of my love for Rooney for a while now and think it’s an apt time to articulate it.
Wayne, at your best you were a rampaging beast. In the way that everyone else isn’t.
Gearóid (WHUFC Dublin)
On pointlesss stats and punsits
I have noticed over the last few years that a few stats are becoming in vogue to describe a good performance that should never be used. There are three in particular that really annoy me. The first is the use of the amount of clearances a defender makes to solidify an argument that a defender is having a good game. Now my perception of a clearance is a player booting the ball as far away from his goal without any intention to ever playing the ball. Now I have never played football at a particularly high level but even when I did I was always livid when a centre half would just boot the ball away instead of trying to play out from the back. Now I know sometimes a clearance is necessary (see John Stones for trying to overplay from the back) but in no way is this an indication that a defender is having a good game. It’s the bare minimum.
You can make the same argument for tackles. Now a tackle can benefit the team if its made in advanced parts of the pitch and the retrieval of the ball can set up a counter attack. But if it’s a last ditch tackle, it basically means the defender was out of position and it’s a desperate attempt to save his/her skin. It shows no indication that the player is able to read the game and, if anything in some instances, it’s an indictment.
The last one is distance covered; who the f**k cares? Football isn’t a running competition. Case in point; Jesse Lingaard. Little Jesse is always in the running for the distance covered sweepstakes but his overall effect on the game is minimal in the vast majority of matches. Now I understand that this can be used in terms of analytics to see if a player can improve his/her stamina but using it as a yard stick or qualifier for a good game by any player is misleading and just wrong.
Is there any other stats that get on people’s nerves because I am sure there are many more but these three were my personal bug bears.
Just to chime in on the pundit debate. If you don’t want to listen to the ‘lads’ on BT and Sky then don’t. For the most part they are insufferable ignorant ineloquent imbeciles that appeal to the lowest of brows in society. Now Im quite low brow (Simpsons fan?) but I have enough going on between the ears to realise that listening to Souness, Savage, Sutton etc. is a fruitless endeavour that should actively be avoided. And going by the contributors of this mailbox, it’s felt by many others as well. My suggestion is to listen to journalists and people that actually have an informed and well-reasoned opinion on the game. There are plenty of podcasts such as the Guardian, Second Captains and Totally Football Show that will happily take your listen, like and I-tunes review and in return you will get an abundance of heated discussion and analysis that is miles ahead of the knuckle draggers that get the prime time slot. It’s just a suggestion.
Oisin (sorry about that) NZ
Excellent fat old men > young fit average men
In response to Matt Pitt, I can tell you from experience that the so call fat old men would in all likelihood wipe the floor with the under 20 amateur team.
I once won a raffle to take part during the last 15 minutes of a charity match between Reading and Tottenham at the Madjeski Stadium, featuring the likes of Darren Anderton, Darren Caskey, Graeme Murty and the like, who whilst not quite into their fifties and at the level of Maradona and his Argie mates, where still getting a bit fat with some confessing in the changing room that they hadn’t kicked a ball in over a year.
Now, like your son I was playing at a relatively decent non-league level, and always thought that given the chance I’d at least hold my own during a league 1/2 match, so was licking my lips at the prospect of running out against a bunch of ex-pros, especially in the last 15 mins when they’d all be knackered.
Anyway, I came on for Reading (for Graeme Murty!), was put in centre midfield and asked to mark Darren ‘sick note’ Anderton.
Needless to say I barely touched the ball, and was absolutely blown away by their first touch, movement and general ability to shield the ball without even trying.
God knows what the Argentina team would be able to do!
Chris (Full kudos to all professional footballers. I was half their age for goodness sake!), Reading
…I think I can answer Matt’s question. I used to play 5-a-side in an old job. Three of the lads, in their early 40s, had played League of Ireland up to their mid-30s. Their knees were knackered, they didn’t run all that much and they didn’t take the match all that seriously. Now. I am far from county team level but I am probably as far from that as these guys were from the 86 Argentina team. So, my experience of playing these guys was as follows.
– They scored whenever they damn well pleased.
– In general, they did whatever they wanted the ball while the rest of us watched in awe/disgust.
– They could tell me exactly what they were going to do as they were doing it and it still made no difference in terms of me stopping them
– My best bet was that they felt a bit of pity for me due to my doggedness or that their laughter at my attempts turned to mild hysteria so they had to stop playing and sit down for a moment.
I’m not knocking your son’s ability at all. But these guys were on a different planet to me when it came to football. And 86 Argentina would be on a different planet to them. No amount of running could overcome that.
Kev (still gets flashbacks)
Who does everyone like?
So I’m currently half way through a 14-hour layover in Fort Lauderdale – it’s too hot to go outside, I’ve run out of cigs anyway, and for some inexplicable reason the only bit of the airport open doesn’t have a bar. Savages…
Anyway, a few people have written in to the mailbox recently, and have talked about how they want to be more positive about football – it’s definitely something I agree with!
So to try and be a bit more positive I wanted to suggest a quick game – who does the mailbox love? Not as individuals, but as a group – who is the player (almost) universally loved by this esteemed group?
I’d say it probably can’t be a top 6 player (initially thought maybe Giroud but then realised some Arsenal fans seem to hate him – maybe Toby A at Spurs?) as too many of us have inbuilt hatreds of these players over some slight, perceived or otherwise. I’d say Jay Rodriguez was pretty popular, but moving to a Pulis team might erode some of that, plus his popularity went up while injured (much like Wilshere’s ability).
So, is there anyone we can all agree on? Only rules are they have to be a current Premier League player, so no shouts for Zola or Iniesta etc.
Jack (Lucky for me I’m still sad enough to play Football Manager) Manchester