Another fine email inbox. Keep them coming to email@example.com…
Some midweek thoughts…
Hell freezes over! A monkey writes Hamlet! Crystal Palace score a goal and win a game for the first time since – oh, August. As you were.
*Winning 1-0 with a goal from a set piece is virtually the dictionary definition of doing the bare minimum. That said, despite having less possession, the Eagles had more shots on target (5-4) than Huddersfield Town.
*Roy Hodgson made a lot of changes to his starting XI. His most popular moves were picking Julian Speroni ahead of Wayne Hennessey and making him captain, and giving a first start on his return to the club for Mamadou Sakho. Jairo Riedewald, perhaps on borrowed time since the manager who signed him was given the boot, started alongside Luka Milivojevic in central midfield. Lee Chung-yong fared better in this start than his last one. Bakary Sako started up front, albeit in a slightly different role to the one Christian Benteke normally plays, and scored his first goal for over two years.
*I’m not convinced that was a weakened side, because it suggests some sort of strength for the normal side. However, Hodgson now has some important selection decisions to make ahead of the trip to the Etihad. It’s an unenviable situation to be in, where the “reserves” are in better form than the starters, and it has to be managed delicately. Dropping a few key players would send a real message to underperforming starters, but would be a risk against a Manchester City side exceptional at ripping teams to shreds. Then again, if we know we’re going to lose, then any good performances from individuals will be an upside.
*Last night saw Pape Souare make his return to the first team, over a year after a horrific car accident. Regardless of the result this was always going to make it a happy evening for Palace fans.
Here come The Cider Army
This mail isn’t just about last evenings victory over Stoke City but that result does give it the perfect platform.
Since the age of 13/14 I have watched Bristol City, or at least followed them closely. I was privileged enough to go last night and visit the stadium. I am now 28. Watching the club transform over this time is quite remarkable.
To put this in perspective City were playing in a decrepit stadium, given the nickname of trashton gate by opposing fans in league 1. The new plush stadium which sits on the same location is whole differing board game. It is fit for premier league purpose. But again, this email isn’t about the stadium, the result last night or anything else. This mail is about the club as a whole.
For the last few years there has been a complete shift in dynamic at the club. From the recruitment strategy to the club’s business strategy as a whole. Bristol sport combines, football, rugby union and basketball and uses that funding from across the three to make them all stronger. There is an investment in youth, which is particularly prevalent at the football club.
The player recruitment has seen young, international footballers come through the door, a far cry from players like Cristian Roberts. These young players are hungry, professional and above all committed to the club and the chances they have given them. Watching players coming through the academy such as Bobby Reid and Joe Bryan is superb and in my humble opinion, they will become premier league players with the club or not.
Last night it all sank in how far the club has come. A 27,000 all seater stadium fit for the premier league, young hungry players who are looking premier league quality, and a premier league opposition being walked past by a young hungry team/manager. There is of course still a long way to go, but the club has a direction from the top. It has the financial resource in Steve Lansdown but most importantly it has a vision, it does not deter from the vision and has the confidence, ability and trust of all the employees to carry this out. There is no doubt in my mind this club will be premier league in the next 5-10 years. The wurzels will grace the premier league! Who doesn’t want that?
If you don’t know what the wurzles are, here’s a link. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=lzGkB6YO9Yc
Gary (Premier League ready.)
Can we get a grip?
Liverpool fans need to regain a bit of perspective on our current situation. Clearly, results are below expectations but we’ve only lost 2 out of 9 games this season. In one we were more than holding our own until we went a man down away to the best attacking team in the country and in the other we fielded a shadow team to give squad players some game time. Getting knocked out of the League Cup is the classic blessing in disguise. Frankly we’re not good enough to succeed in multiple competitions so why spend time and energy on a competition which is the least important?
Our defence is a shambles right now but fan should remember that the core part of it (Klaven, Matip, Lovren, Mignolet) took Liverpool to 4th place last season, only one point behind megabucks Man City. That’s not opinion or spin, that really happened. The keyboard warriors who bang on about Sahko should let it go. He repeatedly disobeyed Klopp so appropriate action was taken. Does anyone think Mou, Conte, Gaurdiola, managers of the teams we’re trying to surpass, would put up with players that rock the boat? Each one of them has bombed-out a high profile player and in turn that sent a message to everyone squad, media, fans: I’m the boss. That’s the definition of a leader and therefore the type of character we need leading this club.
To anyone who is ‘Klopp out’ are you serious?? What on earth will that achieve? More transition, more instability, more players wanting to leave a sinking ship, more money wasted on the previous regime. Liverpool have not had the perfect balance between attack and defence for 27 years (including the Benitez era), that’s why we’ve never won the PL. Changing this manager alone will not address that. Keeping this manager, developing what he’s started, letting him learn from is mistakes is more likely to bring long term progress. In his less than 2 years at Liverpool we’ve reached 2 cup finals and finished in our highest position for 3 years. It also looks sustainable unlike the Rodgers years.
Klopp is the best thing about Liverpool right now. We’re playing some amazing attacking football and have the best squad that we’ve had for years. He has a mutually respectful relationship with the owners and players love playing for him. As a club we’re also in the healthiest financial position we’ve been in for years, largely due to the conservative spending of Klopp and FSG. If you think this is the time to change manager, you need to have a word with yourself.
Being a couch manager is easy. But being a couch manager does not and will certainly not win you any tangible trophy. Criticizing the manager and team while sitting behind the television screen does not do the team any good, but well, do we have other alternatives?
Klopp wants the fans to be behind the team, and not criticize them when things go wrong. He is fully entitled to protect his players.
However, if he knows Liverpool fans well enough, he should have known that they are not an impatient lot demanding instant success. The last top division title was won almost three decades ago. If the fans are impatient, Anfield would have been empty by now.
There are two things that fans would want to see from their manager and team week in week out: Progress and Effort. Effort wise, it is hard to argue that Klopp’s team had failed in this aspect thus far, although occasionally, you could sense that the players have decided that the match is over even before the final whistle. Progress, however, is sorely lacking. As much as Liverpool fans want the team to win the Premier League title, we are realistic enough to know that the team is not good enough and not matured enough to win it. While other teams around us have progressed, whether significantly or slightly, we have stayed stagnant. On our day, our attacking trios can all score hat-tricks, but what about our defence? If we could do an experiment, and get the opponent strikers to score exactly the same goals which they have scored against us two years ago, how confident are we to say that, two years on, we have improved and can defend them better? Now, that is what we meant by progress.
Having said so, I am not saying that I can coach Liverpool better than Klopp. Neither am I saying that I can make inspired substitutions (earlier in the game) better than Klopp. What I am saying is that for all the coaching that Klopp and his backroom staff has given to the players, there is no progress. At least no progress seen on the field. If you need more than two years to train your defenders to defend corners that usually take no more than five-seconds each, we may need to train seventy-two hours every day.
There are some obvious issues with the team. There is a Chinese saying that third parties usually can judge the situation better than those involved. I might not have a coaching licence, but like many other fans out there, I may be able to give Klopp some suggestions to improve this team.
Klopp, if you are reading this (no chance), contact me. Let me sit on the Liverpool bench beside you for five weeks. Listen to me if you think I make sense. But at least give me a chance, won’t you?
IBW GJD from JTK, Singapore. Liverpool.
Wembley is difficult on a school night
In defence of Spurs – it’s a league cup match!
It takes a good 40 minutes, if you’re lucky, to get to the underground station from Wembley. On a school night that means it’s getting near half 10 before you even start your journey home. Even if you’re local to Spurs you’re looking at gone 11pm before you can get home and you probably didn’t have enough time to get something to eat.
Given the number of mid week league and CL matches Spurs fans are expected to attend is it any wonder so many of them couldn’t be arsed turning up?
I’m fully expecting the Emirates to be empty tonight and it’s a heck a lot easier getting out of there.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Unrealistic Premier League managers
What it is with top six Premier League managers thinking they are above domestic cup competitions?
Potch saying only the ‘big two’ really matter and from last night’s shambles and weakened team, Klopp also disregards the opportunity to try and win something and instill a winning mentality.
As much as I hate JM his attitude for this competition is spot on. Try and win the damn thing.
The Premier League and the Champions league… two competitions, you do the math = two winners. One winner from 20 domestic sides and one winner from a host of top class sides across Europe (lost count of how many sides are in the CL now). Many are better than Liverpool and Spurs.
Are they seriously targeting these two ‘premium competitions’ as winnable? With a defence as shambolic as Liverpool’s the Milk Cup would have been a challenge, let alone the CL.
A more realistic approach would be nice, fans want their clubs to win things…
Paul (there is more to life than chasing fourth) London.
Anybody but Rafa
Here we go,as inevitable as a sideways Lucas pass,Liverpool have a few defeats(2 defeats in 17 mind) along come the pro Benitez crew crowing about his return.Bear in mind Benitez spent more then Ferguson & Wenger in his spell at Liverpool & whined non stop about lack of backing he would last a week under FSG.There is a massive rose tinted glasses view of Rafas tenure because of Istanbul(clown picked the wrong team to begin with)but the reality is constant changing of teams,absolutely dreadful football-2 holding midfielders at home to Wigan,Hull for god sake-no man management skills & idiotic hand gestures from the touchline for the camera.
In his last season I went to 15 games(home & away)& saw 1 goal from play.I wont list them all but Spurs(a),Portsmouth(a), Arsenal(a-twice),Fulham(h), Wigan(a),Lille(a) were a few of them.Wigan they didnt have 1 shot on target.Rafa has no charisma & his teams play that way.
I am not saying Klopp is perfect but he is 2 years into the job,we do play stunning football & we were top of the league in January for god sake.Think of where Liverpool were after 2 years of Benitez(league wise).We were nowhere near winning the league,had never been top & this was pre Citys money & Spurs being non flaky.
FSG,if you think Klopp needs to be replaced please,please do not take the club backwards by appointing Benitez.Last Summer we finally got rid of Lucas & therefore the last semblance of Benitez players in our squad,the last thing we need is 2017 versions of Kuyt,Aquilani,Insua,Aurelio, Babel,Kromkamp,Lucas,Jo vanovic infecting the club which this Spanish Pullis will undoubtedly do.He is that predictable.
Liverpool fans must trust Klopp
Trust Klopp. When he first came he said that the project he was building would take 4 years to win a title. We have already waited 27 years. What’s another 2? This is the most exciting liverpool TEAM in a long time. Not one carried by a single amazing player. Just trust him, give him the time he asked for. Don’t ruin the club with short termism and ignore the sensationalist media and brainless pundits who are trying to convince us that he doesn’t know what he is doing. Slumps in form happen every now and then. We will be stronger after this. Support the team when they are doing badly and try to lift them. Encourage every attempt and cheer for every tackle. Positivity always transmits and makes everyone feel better. So get behind the team and get ready to celebrate a win in the next game!
A Reasonable LFC Fan
Jurgen is unfairly K(l)opping it
The reactionary nature of football is never going to go away but the over-reaction is really starting to grind my gears. As a City fan I see myself as neutral when discussing Liverpool and I am perplexed as to how any single fan could want him gone. He’s brought Champions League football back to Anfield. His team sits 1 point off the top 4 and by general consensus they should be much higher due to how well they’ve played in most games.
So, your team is playing well, they are entertaining to watch (admittedly at both ends!!), they are in the CL and they have spent a fraction of what City & United have spent over the past few years. Add to this mix the fact that he’s now trying to re-intergrate their best player who has been unavailable/distracted so far this season then surely patience and optimism is required. He delivered last season so if his mission is to go out and outscore the opposition this season then give him a chance to show he can do it. It’s ok to express concern or disappointment but don’t scream for the guy to be sacked!!
Banjo, Prague (Secret Klopp-ite)
Defence screening midfield?
So the more I watch my beloved Liverpool, the more I’m convinced the focus on the defence is letting the decline in the midfield slide through unnoticed.
I’ve watched them all season and when the going is good, they snap into the tackles and rob the ball upfield, helping to set up the counterattacks. Ask Arsenal about that.
And then you watch Henderson and Wijnaldum when it’s going badly (I’m not counting Grujic – whatever he was doing yesterday, it wasn’t playing football). In both the Leicester and Man City games they disappeared when we were under pressure and the ball went straight through onto that defence. Tackles were missed, when they did get the ball it was given away again shortly afterwards, and Wijnaldum in particular seems to have an incredible gift when it comes to picking the wrong pass.
Whatever else Henderson is, he’s not a leader. He’s not the kind to organise and yell at anyone who goes out of position. I’m not sure anyone at the club is. And that’s what we’ve really missed since Gerrard and Carra retired. Gerrard led by example, blood and thunder and commitment, whilst Carra organised from the back. We may not find players in either position with the same skills as those two and that’s fair enough, but we are crying out for a leader on the pitch, one of those players who makes those around them better.
That’s not to detract from the brainfarts that have become a regular thing watching Liverpool play. It is soul-destroying watching them cock up something as simple as marking the 8-foot brick sh*thouse centre forward from a corner. But I do actually feel for the defenders – they’re under constant pressure and they’re not getting enough protection, and when they’re not all worldbeaters (there is another word for the likes of Lovren and Klavan that I’d like to use but won’t in case small children are reading this) that will snowball into a self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘the defence is conceding stupid goals’.
As for Klopp, I still believe. You don’t go from being one of the most sought-after coaches in world football to a donkey in 2 years. Yes, he’s stubborn. No, I don’t get why Moreno is still at the club never mind playing in the first team. Yes, he may well leave substitutions too late. No, Oxlade-Chamberlain is not what we needed. But him coming to Liverpool gave me hope and I’ve seen more than enough to give him the time he wants. Look at Lallana and Coutinho and Firmino in particular since he turned up. He looked chastened at full time yesterday and was just as hacked off as the rest of us. Maybe that’s the catalyst to change the approach.
Let’s not get into comparisons with what’s been before. Bodgers had one of the best players in the world in Suarez at his disposal, along with the only complete season Sturridge has ever strung together and a Gerrard who was still twice the player any of the current midfield is. Klopp has none of the 3 but is still achieving. And Rafa is the most overrated manager in our history. He won the Champion’s League with Houllier’s team but other than that, all we had was turgid football and mismanagement. For crying out loud, he forced Xabi Alonso out of the club in favour of Gareth Barry and then never even signed Barry.
Liverpool aren’t there yet and I think we were all hoping we would be. The midfield needs to step up, particularly with Keita arriving in the summer – I was hoping to see them step up to the challenge, not wilt. And the defensive organisation has to get sorted out. I genuinely believe that that would be helped enormously by an on-field leader like VvD or Benedikt Howedes (still annoyed we missed out on him).
But hey. Being a Liverpool fan isn’t easy and we know it. This is still a team that could get Man City back to Anfield and give them the kind of shellacking they gave us. And I’d rather have us play the way we play, with the good (Arsenal) and the bad (Burnley), than be as consistently not-quite-good-enough as Everton and now Arsenal are.
Ben, Scouser in Kettering
Rafa and Liverpool
I will never understand why Liverpool fans want Rafa back.
Yes he seems like a nice guy, I believe he still has roots in the North West and it’s clear that he has an affinity for the club and city, but there is such a rose-tinted view of his tenure.
Undoubtedly his greatest achievement as Liverpool manager was the 2004/05 CL. Below is a list of players signed by Rafa who played a part in the final:
The game was shortly after he joined and so he had had minimal impact on playing personnel. Once he had the chance to make a team in his own image, he chose relatively poorly in quite a lot of cases (£230m gross spend according to an LFC site). A runner-up season aside, he achieved little after the CL and his work prior to being sacked was abysmal, leaving the team with much weaker players in some positions.
Since then, he was sacked by Inter, possibly won some things with Real (I don’t know but I assume he did), relegated Newcastle and barely won the Championship despite being the most qualified manager to ever appear there.
What part of any of the above screams “Rafa can save Liverpool!”?
I seem to remember Reds’ fans being just as miserable under Rafa as they are now; in fact all fans seem to be pretty unhappy under any manager given a long enough time period. Perhaps expectations are the problem, not the manager?
My beef is with Liverpool fans, not Klopp
Firstly, I am a life long supporter of Liverpool. At the moment things are pretty grim and it seems like a long time since the win over Arsenal.
But I’m sick and tired of Liverpool supporters thinking the solution to every problem is to sack the manager. Klopp has flaws but he is a world class manager and he has had Liverpool playing some of the best football I’ve ever seen them play. And now some Liverpool supporters want to re-employ Rafa in a vain attempt to recapture past glories. I wonder if these are the same supporters who called for his sacking last time around and we were then lumped with the completely unsuitable and unwanted Roy “Nicest man in football TM” Hodgson!
(I’ll pause to admit that Hodgson’s sacking was completely justified because Liverpool were owned by carpet baggers and he should never have had the job in the first place).
But to think that sacking Klopp will solve anything is completely ludicrous. He is trying to build something as are FSG and this takes time and patience from the fans. I often hear opposition supporters say that they dislike Liverpool supporters sense of entitlement to be winning all the time. I am starting to side with them. Liverpool have a long way before they are the finished product. Liverpool do not have the financial clout of Chelsea or City who can swop managers every couple of seasons and can buy the best players in the world. Liverpool do not have the financial resources or lure of Man Utd. Liverpool are in a weird position of being a massive club but they simply are not at the same level as City, Chelsea or Utd. That is a fact.
Sacking Klopp will do two things: It will make all the opposition supporters happy because getting a new manager is always disruptive to the team. It will set Liverpool back to square 1. Klopp is building a team. The purchase of Naby Keita for next season shows that he is building and planning. Keep the faith.
Dave (do yous only sing when you’re winning or what) H. Tocky.
For people laughing at the low attendance at White Hart L…sorry Wembley this week, I think we need a bit of context. Not that we like context or even facts to get in the way of banter.
In 7 days Spurs have played 3 home games, with a combined attendance of 156,000. This at a ground that isn’t our home and is tricky and time consuming to get to. We also have a situation where season ticket holders were given tickets to just 1 of those 3 games. I don’t think there are many clubs knocking about who would be getting 156,000 fans through the turnstiles to see them in one week. It’s not cheap to get to these games. It cost me £80 just for the tickets to 2 of those games, never mind travel, food, drink etc – and no, neither of those games was Barnsley on a Tuesday night.
For added context the 23,926 who trekked out to Wembley to see Barnsley (shout out to their 3,500 fans) in the Carabao cup compares with 12,740 at Wolves, 11,197 at Villa and 6,607 at Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield. If you want to laugh about attendances, look at the cup itself, not THFC. It is a deeply troubled competition that is only loved, in hindsight, by the winner.
I wonder how many of the people laughing at the attendances was actually at a game? Not many I reckon.
Far flung fans
To the EPL*-supporting residents of New York and Rio, Dublin and Helsinki, Bangkok and Melbourne
Look to Sommi in Nairobi and Niall in Denver- these guys get it! If your Premier League team is doing poorly then the answer is quite simple; change and support somebody who’s winning. Your arbitrary support won’t be missed; the global TV figures remain pretty much undented by you changing loyalties from Liverpool or Arsenal to Manchesters United or City. Go to social media and remove all traces of the photos of you in your Gerrard/Henry shirt, delete your Twitter account (@ynwalfc4lyf) and start a new one (@reddevilmumbai) and get to the online shop to buy a full kit.
When you say you’re going to stop supporting a team from afar (because they lost a few games and slipped to mid-table in a nascent league), what exactly do you mean? No more checking the results? No more getting up at 5am to watch the game? No more club-emblazoned bedsheets?
If you’re struggling for a club to follow; might I recommend Celtic? Currently on a 50-odd match winning run in their domestic competitions, guaranteed the league title for the next few years, a proud history in European competition. Just imagine the reflected glory!
I had to bite…
Bye Niall. Please take Sommi and all the other muppets out there with you to St James’ Park. You (and them) wont be missed. Our fanbase needs a good cleanse of f**kwits and those with the same level of understanding about football as my cat. The biggest circus about our club is these ‘fans’. Our numbers are populated by a truly staggering amount of clowns. Don’t come back.
JD (Red in exile)
Is pressing the only future?
Watching the praise Arsenal received for the high-press against Chelsea coupled with the criticism of Klopp’s second-half fades makes me wonder what the future of football will look like. As someone who grew up watching in the 90’s, I already feel like there is far less space, unpredictability and chaos in today’s game. There used to significantly more time on the ball, and the game just felt slower, especially if you watch old matches today.
As footballers continue to improve as athletes through various means (technology, sports science, nutrition etc) I do wonder which way the game will go. At present the main reason that high-pressing is not the de facto strategy is that players can’t do it for 90 minutes, twice a week without burning out, both mentally and physically. Barca made it work largely because they didn’t really have to play much past 60 minutes – that team was so good the match was often over (and a lead can be masterfully protected leveraging the dark arts).
Personally I worry that the game will become more about athleticism than talent and ability on the ball. What manager will go with a ‘mercurial winger’ who occasionally does something magical instead of a reliable runner who will cover defensively all day? Who will choose a striker who ‘only offers goals’ over one enabling a full-scale press? Are we destined to watch battles between incredibly well-drilled athletes that give up ever-fewer chances?
Ryan, old and nostalgic in Bermuda
Portrait of an iconic team
Loving Daniel’s most recent series: POAIT. That Milan team was a doozy and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the great Liverpool, Ajax, Real, Munich, Barcelona teams. True European Royalty right there. I am not sure if, like the best DJs, he refuses to do requests but might he like to cover the great Inter side that contained the German trio of Matthaus, Brehme and Klinsmann?
I was acutally living in Germany at that time and recall picking up a copy of Sport Bild! that had Captain Matthaus sitting on a ball in an empty stadium under floodlights with the steepling Curva Nord behind him. I decided then to go to that stadium and to take in a game and have been lucky enough to sample the Milan Derby live in both variants (truth be told I prefer AC ever so slightly over Inter). It really was a team that was fondly followed in Germany and of course Germany played their group games in that very same stadium during Italia 90. I happened to be at the BHA Vs WBA game recently and Peter Brackley was interviewed pitchside at half-time (part of the Motty celebrations) and listening to him took me back. Football Italia, PB, AC Jimbo, Stadio Communale rocking, swarthy erudite footballers who were both beautiful on and off the pitch…
Happy Days. Go on then, I’ll buy a copy of the book right now!
Gregory Whitehead, LFC