An excellent Mailbox. Keep up the good work, lovely people. Send all your mails to email@example.com
Who Divock is Origi?
Valid question really.
That’s all from me.
We’ve won the bloody league
With that win against Villa, Arsenal have now taken an unassailable lead in the 2015 calendar year trophy. No team can now gain more points than Arsenal this year.
This utterly meaningless statistic pleased me for no other reason that it’s going to get right up Stewie Griffin’s nose.
Tom, Brighton Gooner
** Divock Origi is clearly a work in progress. He’s a bit gangly and awkward, but also young and adjusting to the pace of the English game while on-boarding our high tempo system.
All top class strikers have intangible attributes like composure and an “eye for goal”. At the moment, he’s still too raw to really judge so Jurgen will have to hug him through this “Bambi on Ice” stage. Still, it was encouraging to see him display enough confidence to go for goal. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good!
** Whatever the long-term plan is at Liverpool, it cannot include Simon Mignolet. One of the major mistakes Brendan Rodgers made was shipping out Pepe Reina and giving the gloves to a young keeper who didn’t earn them. Pepe has his faults but he provided a presence in the box, communicated with his defenders and played the position with aggression and decisiveness. Mignolet regularly flaps at crosses, gives away too many chances and ships cheap goals. He’s not of the standard required if Liverpool want to consistently qualify for Europe and win things.
That first goal was embarrassing, no discussion needed. But… the buffoonery continued! He aimlessly strayed from his box to chase a ball into the corner, like a dog escaping his lease to chase a car down the street. The only reason he wasn’t dispossessed by the West Brom player in whose presence Simon seemed to startle, was the guy pulled out. Otherwise he had a fairly clear shot at goal, albeit from an angle.
Speaking of pulling out of challenges, ifyou’re afraid of contact, you shouldn’t be in goal. You need big brass balls, a tolerance for pain and a bit of a mean streak.
For the disallowed goal, Mignolet instinctively hopped forward off his line, saw Jonas Olsson charging toward him, then hopped back giving him all the space he needed. It looked like Simon anticipated contact and decided to avoid a collision rather than protect the goal. I understand where he’s coming from and I sympathize to an extent, but this isn’t the first time. I think the transfer committee should prioritize the GK position in January.
** I really do enjoy Jurgen Klopp’s oft-cited enthusiasm and touchline demeanor. Having to rely on dumb luck to scrape a 2-2 draw at home, regardless of opposition (no disrespect), is not a good look. That said, the point rescued, and the manner in which it was rescued, came as a huge relief. It’s nice to see Jurgen looking to share his joy with the crowd.
I majored in Economics at university and remember doing a paper on Game Theory, one component of which was finding empirical evidence behind the concept of “Home Field Advantage” (as we call it in the States). The only surprise, in the end, was the degree to which my data supported the concept. It showed, across multiple sports, age groups, genders, though a variety of variables, that Home Field Advantage provided a bigger edge than I’d first hypothesized.
Some people might have found the post-match bow a little strange, maybe over-the-top, but I appreciate what he’s trying to do. After mildly rebuking the crowd from the Crystal Palace match, he took the time to reach out to supporters in the stands after this one. Sharing his excitement kept the crowd on its feet and prolonged the applause for an extra few minutes. This match was effectively over, but the next time Liverpool score a late goal or some drama plays out at Anfield, the crowd will be looking to Jurgen to rev them up even higher. And because he thought to gesture to them and bring them in, it can only help the level of enthusiasm in the park.
We’re still experiencing a really frustrating run. It’s natural (and scientifically sound!) for the manager to look to increase that 12th man advantage. He’s got natural skill with people and it’s good to see a manager value those types of social skills. It’s a clever approach, brilliant in its simplicity, and because it seems in-line with his personality, it doesn’t come off contrived or phony. As disappointed as I was with the result, I am noticing a lot of little things in Jurgen Klopp’s approach and managerial style that keeps the excitement building.
Quickly because this went longer than I intended:
** Philippe Coutinho looked rusty but we still look a much better side with him on the pitch.
** I’m still bullish on Firminho’s future with the club and I think we’ll safely be able to declare him “settled” in England once he starts offering more consistent displays. He was a bit sloppy in possession a few times and took a few needless chances with passes which, even if complete, wouldn’t have offered much threat.
** West Brom swarmed the ball well. They dropped nine behind the ball for most of the match once we crossed into their zone.and did an excellent job clogging up passing lanes.
The effective deployment of their “bus” forced us to put the ball in the air more than Jurgen probably wanted. I think we’d have gotten more out of the first half had we shown more patience. Our one touch pass-and-move game looked lethargic and a little sloppy. With that many bodies in front of us we needed to disrupt their defensive shape in order to expose exploitable weaknesses.
Instead we kicked a few short passes and didn’t put enough “move” in our “movements”. Fat ladies with shopping bags in crowded elevators don’t inadvertently bump into that many people.
In Jurgen We Trust,
Ian, LFC Medellin
Liverpool’s two lost causes
You wrote last week that Liverpool have a £32m problem. After watching Sundays game I cant agree more. But please let me go back a few more weeks.
Klopp said that he thinks he is the only manager that wants to train players, not buy his way out of issues.
Now I understand what he means, he feels that he can better the likes of Lallana, Lovren and Origi. I am 100% sure that he will (he has), they and I have bought into his way of thinking. He is a big personality who can make a team greater than the sum of its parts. However, his will and philosophy can make a team good, but not great. For that to happen he needs great players. With the best will in the world, Millner, Lucas and Morano are solid 7/10 players, and only will be. Klopp can make them better, he can teach them to be fitter, hold better positions and drill the best tactics in the world. But that will only take them so far.
To make his good team a great team he needs a couple of world class 9/10 players. Sturridge is one (when fit). But Benteke will never fit into Klopps system, and Mignolet has dropped too many clangers for him to be considered a long term option. Emre Can I think can become great but Henderson, Lucas, Millner and Allen will never be.
So this is FSG and Liverpools big dilemer. What do they do about the 3 problems, they have?
1- Keeper – Mignolet has to go, Klopp can talk all he wants about support but our current No 1 spooned the 2nd goal against C Palace, one today and thinking back to when we nearly won the league he messed up in 2 games against Arsenal and Man C. This I think will be the easiest issue to resolve.
2- World class midfielder – At home we will have teams sit deep, and currently we do not have a player with the quality to pick that one pass when needed, to put “that” set-piece in or to quarterback the game. I know they say don’t go back but Alonso is available on a free at the end of the season, in fact he could sign a pre-contract in 3 weeks. He can provide us with the balance we need and deliver “that” ball we have missed this season.
3- Striker – The big problem. As I said most other players can be trained to be better, but the one thing that I have heard since I started watching football 30 years ago is that you cant teach a person to be a natural finisher. Sturridge is one, but he is not reliable, Benteke is not World class, Origi is not, Ings is not. So What do FSG do? Benteke is not Klopps buy and he might say that he can work with him, but he cant male him smaller, quicker and a world class finisher, plus our best performances have come without him on the pitch. He is Andy Carrol of a few seasons ago. Rodger loaned him out and sold him at a loss. Klopp might have to do the same. However, FSG look like pragmatic people who make fast decisive decisions, this might have to be another one. Loose money and buy another striker that fits Klopps mould.
But that leaves an issue. If he can train the team to be good, who does he buy to make them great???
Pato might be an option, using the rest of this season to fix Sturridge might work. But the only thing I know is that without a few players he may be able to take us to 4th but that final step might be too far.
The Liverpool v West Brom match was English football at it’s finest. Full blooded tackles, Wonderful goals, high drama and excellent refereeing.
A 2-2 draw with West Brom at home is not a good result considering rivals around us drop points. With that said, the draw could be one of the most important results of Klopps early tenure. The supporters were vocal and passionate; there was real belief that hasn’t been felt in quite some time. The late goal will do wonders for a team trying to rebuild their confidence.
Henderson has been a real miss for Liverpool over the past couple of months and his impact yesterday was massive. A special mention to Dejan Lovren who has looked like a different player under Klopp. I hope his injury isn’t too serious, as he had started to come into form.
The focus however will be on Jurgen Klopp decision to have the players thank the supporters, in particular, the KOP. Which has been met with cynicism from some corners of the football world. This type of symbolism is what Jurgen Klopp is all about. Klopp is a motivator of the highest quality. To transform Liverpool into champions he not only needs to motivate his players, he currently has to motivate the Anfield faithful. Hard fought results and gratitude go a long way in this game.
His decision to thank the supporters also takes pressure off Liverpool’s real problem, Simon Mignolet.
Brian (I love me some Tony Pulis. The Hat for England!) LFC
Klopp’s idea that Liverpool players have enough quality are not 100% true.
His notion that he can teach and train every players to be great or be better, is very noble.
Two players in the Liverpool squad vs WBA are beyond any training. Betenke and Mignolet can’t be taught anymore – beyond repair.
If Klopp still insist on grooming Betenke and Mignolet, then, please do the honorable action of sending them to train and play with the youth squad.
Khairur (…), Penang, Malaysia
The Klopp love-in is over
In the Premier League this season, Klopp’s record is exactly the same as Rodgers’ : P8, W3, D3, L2.
I like Klopp and since he came in, Liverpool’s matches have sometimes been outstanding, ironically. But I was kind of expecting something more in terms of results.
Paul in Brussels (still feel someone’s going to catch up with Man U -but not sure who)
As an Everton fan, I have found it awkward to have Klopp managing the hated red side of Merseyside. I liked him at Dortmund and he seems like a great coach to play for. However, this weekend brought an end to that Jurgen-jerk fest like my mom in curlers with a laundry basket opening the bedroom door. Klopp should have the theatrical nous to start his first manager row in England with a more dramatic nemesis than Pulis. But really it was the gladiatorial hands-held homage to the fans that cleared up the emotional confusion of a Klopp led Liverpool.
Back to blind hatred of half a city and a few sunburnt blokes on gap year.
-Tom (to build on Sarah’s excellent reality check on our sweet Romelu…enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6xtPV8LfPY ), EFC
Is Pulis ‘that kind of manager’?
The general trend in the mailbox and media discussion has been to label an individual making a bad challenge as “that kind of player”. I’m going to spare the readers with any type of moral discussion of Craig Gardner’s character, and instead firmly point the finger at Tony Pulis as “that kind of manager”.
With the exception of Sam Allardyce, I’m struggling to think of a top-flight Premier League manager who sets his team out to injure opposition first and play football second. Gardner’s challenge on Dejan Lovren was an absolute disgrace, but the issue for me is that it is a completely acceptable action within Pulis’s footballing ethos. Pulis, of course, would remain the equivalent of a sacred cow in the British media as the national broadsheets struggle to generate any type of consensus as to what constitutes British footballing identity. As a result, his long-ball, blood-and-thunder, hard-man style and general sh*t-housery will be deemed to be a virtue to the league instead of describing it for what it is: blatant thuggery.
I’ve had a few glasses of wine so won’t be surprised if this doesn’t get published.
David C. – Toronto
Spurs, Spurs, Spurs
I wanted to write in with a few thoughts on Spurs. This email was started last week but binned off for fear of being that fickle Spurs fan. But with the defeat to Newcastle highlighting all the frailties of the manager’s approach, thought I’d dive in.
That was the fifth time Spurs have taken the lead this season and not won the game. Leicester, Stoke, Arsenal, West Brom and Newcastle. To go along with 3 0 – 0 draws . 8 games in which you’ve never trailed but not won any is a poor return.
Pochettino is too cautious. This is a neat and tidy Tottenham team with some promise to it. But bloody cautious. If they’d lost 5 of those 8 draws and won the rest – that’s more points than they have now. Losing games because you’re going for it is a lot less disappointing than losing or drawing games because you go out with a whimper in the second half. Dembele is right, this is the best Tottenham team he’s played in but it’s not a patch on the adventure that Modric, Van der Vaart, Bale and at times Adebayor provided the season before he joined.
Against Newcastle at home, a team that conceded 5 at Palace, with Dembele injured he brings in Tom Carroll to sit alongside Dier. Awful move. Move Alli back where he blossomed as part of a partnership with Dier and use one of Chadli or Son. Harry Kane clearly needs some support – Tommy Carroll isn’t the man to do that.
Substitutions are either a bit formulaic or a case of stable door and a bolted horse, especially in Sunday games after a Europa League outing. Flagging players aren’t protected. The team switches off when they’ve got the first goal. Whereas the Spurs of last year scored a lot of late goals to win games this one is frightened to go for the jugular half an hour in when dominant. They’re the team most likely to be equalised against.
I’m not buying this whole ‘league is too unpredictable’. Spurs have got the personnel and talent to be top. They’re underperforming.
Andrew, Woodford Green
Im not sure if any pundit or post match interview mentioned it, but if I was a spurs fan I would be furious with my teams lack of killer instinct against Newcastle.
Tottenham were in assurgency for 70+ minutes but failed to secure the result with the second or third goal and instead tried training ground shots, Kane and Eriksen being the chief culprits. In the most unpredictable of premier league seasons no result home or away seems to be guaranteed. Spur’s knew full well how dangerous Newcastle can be on the break following the Liverpool result, however I’m yet to see a team more casual in the final third while only 1-0 up.
Tottenham repeatedly attempted 30-40yard drives allowing Rob Elliott to fairly routine saves. The long range efforts ended promising attacking moves where trying to play through Newcastle would have been the better option. I’m yet to see a team more casual in attack this season, as if a 1-0 lead was somehow a secure result. It’s the sort of nativity and false confidence that could cost them a top four finish, something which seems actually attainable for the first time in recent years.
Sure enough the Tottenham players and managers spouted clichés of a missed opportunity and undeserved bad luck, etc… Tottenham got exactly what the deserved.
Nik (what would SAF say?) Liverpool
A word on Harry Arter
As I lay in my bed hungover after celebrating the fact I’ve seen my home town team beat Chelsea and Man United in a week I read the sad news about our midfield general Harty Arter. Suddenly the two wins are put in perspective, he was already a legend amongst the fans but to play nearly the whole game after what he’s been through he’s gone up another level for me. My thoughts are with you and your family Harry.
Marc (Eddie Had A Dream) Stringer
We’re a top six club. With a freak set of results next weekend we could be in the top four.
*Crystal Palace won, Gazélec Ajaccio earned a creditable draw away at Marseille, Atalanta lost to Chievo, and Borussia Mönchengladbach got humped by Bayer Leverkusen thanks to Chicharito’s hat-trick. A mixed bag, really.
*Louis van Gaal said Josh King prevented Manchester United from dominating; some days, the Scarecrow & Mrs King would fancy their chances against van Gaal’s team.
*The headline /”moon on a stick” invoking stat for Crystal Palace is that their strikers still haven’t scored in the Premier League. However, I was pleased to hear Alan Pardew mention Connor Wickham in dispatches for how hard he works. Wickham’s main job in this current team is to create space for those operating behind him, something he does very well.
Similarly, Wayne Hennessey is in tremendous form at the moment. He’s someone I’ve not particularly rated in the past, but credit where it’s due, he’s come up with some big saves in the past few games.
*While neither Pardew nor Right Said Fred went into this on MotD, one of the keys to the Glaziers’ success against Soton was their “inside out” tactics. The highlights package showed Wickham going wide and taking on the full-backs (one of his best chances saw him outmuscle Cedric), while the wide men came inside to run at the centre-backs.
*The goal epitomised Wickham’s ability to create space through his off the ball work, causing confusion in the Soton defence. As the ball was worked out wide, Bolasie was able to beat the full-back and take on the centre-backs. With Fonte beaten, Yoshida was occupying the corner of the six-yard box, in position to intercept a cut back. From the high angle replay, Van Dijk appeared to be looking round solely for Wickham, who wasn’t really involved in the attack. All of this meant no one picked up Cabaye, whose excellent positioning and off the ball movement left him with an easy finish.
*The pleasant surprise of the weekend was watching Chris Ramsey on MotD2 last night. He seemed a bit nervous at first but once he settled down he was quite interesting to listen to. Given he was assistant to Tim Sherwood and coach for ‘Arry Redknapp, whose mess at QPR he was required to clear up, he was far less of a PFM blowhard than could have been expected. Ramsey seems like a decent man and I actually feel a bit guilty for associating him to those two ne’erdowells.
I think Mark Chapman is an underrated presenter on television and radio. When he did a rugby league game earlier this year, his basic premise was to ask one of his guests (a coach) to explain a team’s main tactics, and then ask the other (a current player) to describe what it’s like to play against, and how you go about stopping it. Similarly, his questions to Ramsey last night were gentle lobs, but they elicited the sort of good answers an experienced and highly regarded coach can provide. All of this made for a more rounded discussion, which was more entertaining viewing.
This sort of thing is better suited to MotD2 than the flagship Saturday night programme, where there are more games to cover and fewer opportunities for lengthy discussions, but either way the difference between the two is good.
With Valencia’s choice of new manager, the competition to provide the best pundits/analysis on Premier League coverage has opened up again. I’m not saying Chris Ramsey is the new Gary Neville, but where the BBC will make up ground on Sky is if they have a range of perspectives on their programming, like they did last night.
*Last word to Harry Arter. No one should have to go through what he did, and being a father to a young child makes me more sensitive to such tragedies. Stay brave and stay strong, Harry.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
LVG bashing = footballing ignorance
David Moyes needed to go. Why? In short, he didn’t even look like he was building a philosophy and he lead a United team, who had no respect for him, to 7th. Additionally, no players wanted to come to United to play for him. In today’s footballing landscape, players want to play for the manager more than they are attracted by the club. Liverpool getting Klopp is the most recent example – just watch how many top bracket players will be interested in Liverpool now.
Despite what many people have been saying, LVG is building a team through philosophy. He has attracted players who wouldn’t have come had Moyes still be in charge, he has shored up a defence which was very leaky when he took over, bought CMs which everyone acknowledged were missing for years and he has invested in youth. The plan has always been for him to be there for 3 years. You cannot expect success over night, regardless of how much money you spend. Especially when you have 10 plus first team players injured/suspended. That would gut any team. That’s what makes all this “professional punditry” even more baffling when they say how it’s ridiculous that a team who’s spent £250 million has a defence of Varela, Blind, McNair and Borthwick-Jackson. We have 6 defenders injured currently. 6. What, do you want us to spend another 50 million on players, bloat the squad and then go on to say how we need to trim it again? Ridiculous.
In such fickle times, patience is of crucial importance. LVG has given us stability which we lost in that catastrophic season under Moyes. We are only 3 points off the top at the time of writing. Stop complaining and start supporting. Be careful what you wish for.
The Prince (currently travelling the world)
More on United
I’d like to make a couple quick points on Manchester United.
First: Can we stop with the; “he’s spent £250m!” nonsense?
Our total spend over the last 2 seasons since Van Gaal joined may very well be that figure, but at least £50m of that sum now plays for PSG, a further sum spent on the loan for Falcao now can’t make Chelsea’s bench, and £27m of it is walking around with a broken leg (sorry Luke).
Second: When Wolfsburg knocked us out, I was tempted to send an email in saying if we keep playing like this, we’ll have to win the Europa to make the CL next year.
After Saturday’s result, and Tottenham’s win over Newcastle (I’m guessing, they haven’t played yet), that really could happen!
People have been wondering who will take Chelsea’s place in top 4 with them being so far down the table. But! The question of who may replace United could also be up for discussion soon
Si CPFC, I mean MUFC.
Defending the slightly younger James Milner
I feel the need to stand up to Jack, Galway regarding Tom Cleverley. I watched the entire match and am in complete disagreement.
It seems like you have some long standing agenda with him (did he steal your girlfriend? run over your cat?) but he was doing exactly the job he was meant to do.
At first glance it just looks like he runs hard, but not just providing thrust and energy – which is meant to be Barkley’s job – he was strong in the challenge, knowing when to press and when to sit, kept possession through good decision-making, plays his forward passes early and moved quickly into space to create triangles around Norwich’s left sided players. His role was a strong reason why much of Everton’s attacking came down the right side. He’s a slightly younger James Milner.
He really deserves more credit; and based on his performances starting for the side it would be unfair to drop him once McCarthy returns. Similarly, Galloway has been excellent at left back and was unfortunate to be dropped for the returning Baines. Who looked incredibly rusty.
I was disappointed with wide players Kone, Deulofeu, who seemed to give up and lose interest in the second half when Norwich changed their approach and applied more pressure and intensity. Mirallas offered nothing off the bench and should probably be moved on.
Funes Mori is a quality signing and would be MoM if not for some reckless passing and Cleverley’s performance.
Could rant further, but in closing Martinez needs to utilise his bench/squad more effectively.
J. Sleep, Canberra
Some weekend thoughts
* In a season as mad as this one, is the ability to snatch victories in adversity more or less important? Whatever the answer, it’s the second time in quick succession that City have done just that, and while those wins vs Norwich and Swansea can’t conceal some pretty ropey form, they reveal the mentality that should make them favourites for the league.
* That said, I believe no team’s taken more points from losing positions than Leicester. Do we take them seriously if they beat Chelsea tonight?
* Another good week for Arsenal. But we’ve looked far too susceptible recently. Laurent Koscielny was the only player who came close to matching Aaron Ramsey’s performance at Villa Park and we’re going to need him and Petr Cech to keep up their form if Mathieu Flamini continues to direct opponents through the Invisible Gate.
* If it turned out Alan Hutton was in fact a precocious conceptual artist and his entire career was actually a living installation exploring an industrial Britain set adrift post-Thatcher, a lot of stuff would make more sense.
* AFC Bournemouth attracted a few jibes as a faux-underdog at the start of the season, but even the strokiest chin-stroker must admit that this version, shorn as it is of so many key/expensive players, is one all the neutrals can get behind. The celebration between Junior Stanislas and Harry Arter was the moment of the weekend.
* As Alan “Pards” Pardew star keeps rising, the FA have started talking up Roy Hodgson as the man to lead England to Russia 2018. I can’t really say I blame them. Chunky the England manager? It just feels icky.
* MOTD showed the following odds for Swansea’s new manager: Sampaoli 10/1, Emery 10/1, Poyet 11/8. Put another way, there’s a 10/1 chance they’ll be dining on fillet steak by the Mumbles, and an 11/8 chance it’ll be freshly picked scabs instead.
* How are Everton and Saints fans feeling about this season? Beyond Chelsea, they are the two teams who have surely passed up opportunities to push for the top four by so far being much less than the sum of their parts.
* Has anyone any confidence whatsoever that Newcastle United won’t contrive to drop points against Villa?
* Can Gary Neville’s managerial career be over now please? Without him I’m beginning to think Robbie Savage might not be that bad. Compared to Michael Owen and Niall Quinn he actually isn’t. Niall Quinn is the worst.
Justice for Chunky
Alan Pardew is making a bit of a mockery of certain very middle class yet faux left wing media outlets and their view that a white working class Englishman can’t successfully manage a football club at the minute isn’t he? Whilst Remi Garde really has done nothing to show he’s any better than Tim Sherwood. However Garde is French and bilingual so we can’t criticise him.
It’s almost like football management has absolutely nothing to do with where you come from and everything to do with the ability to do the job. It’s almost almost almost like the PFM label attached to every single working class white footballer is a smug creation from University educated middle class gents who have never ever made a single mistake and are therefore entitled to judge all of those from a lesser privileged and educated background to themselves. Need examples? Jamie Vardy, Joey Barton, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Ashley Cole.
Rob, Guangzhou, China
We need to talk about your anti-Pardew agenda, seriously. For all your pants stroking about Spurs this season Pards has Crystal Palace level with them, up to 6th in the league and yet… nothing. The only feature you had on Palace over the weekend was Alan Pardew going to the pub to celebrate. I know it doesn’t suit your narrative that Pardew is a top (top) manager but he really does seem to be. He is the most successful English manager in the league over the past few seasons yet all he gets from you is barely veiled contempt and sh*tty jokes. Why does he inspire such no feelings? I’m not even a Palace fan, I’m just curious at this stage,
Evan (asking the big questions) AFC
Come on feel the Moyes
Did David Moyes actually say that the jury is still out on Mesut Ozil? Does he understand what that saying means, because for me, its between him and Mahrez for player of the season at the half way point.
It makes me wonder why his management career didn’t go so well in Spain. Did he have a really great player that he refused to play because he created too many chances?
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
Can I just say how brave Ireland will be in their group in the Euros next year.