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The missing piece
If Arsenal bought Claudio Yacob they might just do it. Just saying.
Liverpool will dismantle Leicester
Waking up to reports that Marko Grujic is set to become Klopp’s first signing has filled me with joy. Not because I’m a huge Red Star fan and know his quality, but as I wrote last week, this kind of deal would have slipped through Liverpool’s fingers under Rodgers.
Results are not king for Liverpool at the moment. Implementation of style and fitness levels are. As much as I enjoyed George (I think the correct medical terminology is Degsyitis) AFC, Wellington, NZ sh shellacking of Stewie Griffin this morning, his bit on Klopp missed the mark. Some one wrote in last week that Liverpool’s sudden and alarming drop in form was due to hitting a fitness wall given the high work rate Klopp demands of his style of play. After much consideration I believe this was an astute observation. I sense in coming weeks you will see a much different Liverpool which leads me to my bold prediction of the week:
Liverpool will dismantle Leicester City on Boxing Day. Having two games in two weeks for Liverpool is something of luxury for Klopp, which has rarely been afforded since he came in. The high press that has become the corner stone of Klopp style, which was nowhere to be seen last week against Watford, will return. Klopp has taken big games in his stride since taking over and I feel Leicester City will be brought back down to earth.
Brian (The second coming) LFC
The whole footballing world and their dog know Liverpool need a new ‘keeper. While I feel some of the criticisms of Mignolet have been too harsh its clear from the past few seasons he doesn’t command his box as well as he should and as such causes panic in our already fragile defense, especially during set pieces. Its all very well pointing out the problem but what about the solution? Its not as though Klopp can head back to Germany and wave his willy at Neuer and boom! Deal done.
Here are a couple of more realistic scenarios:
1) Sign a proven ‘keeper currently acting as a number 2. Although the examples listed below may be on sizable wages, they may be willing to take a slight pay cut to be an undisputed number one. Examples of potential signings: Begovic (if Chelsea are willing to sell, proven in the prem league, in his prime years), Ter Stegen (Despite playing Champs league games for Barca spends most of the season on the bench), Diego Lopez (AC Milan may be willing to part considering their up and coming 16 year old prodigy Donnarumma).
2) Promote from within. Liverpool currently have a 23 year keeper earning rave reviews in Scotland on loan at Aberdeen. His name is Danny Ward and he will probably be at EUR02016 with the Welsh squad albeit as their number 3. The more likely scenario is he returns at the start of next season and plays as number 2, getting a run out in COC and perhaps FA Cup.
3) Use Klopp’s German knowledge. I could rattle off a list of stats from football manager but instead I’ll trust Klopp’s knowledge of the Bundesliga. Klopp knows better than us whether players like Timo Horn or Bern Leno are upgrades on Mignolet.
For me, I’d love to start next season with ter Stegen between the sticks and Danny Ward as his understudy. As for the defense, I’ll leave that for another email.
Osric the Brave, Cape Town/iKapa
Most complete midfielder
This initially started as a tongue-in-cheek, rather silly suggestion for most complete midfielder, but I started thinking about the criteria (I added a couple), and realised that it was actually a far from outlandish suggestion.
Technically gifted? Among the most in our team. Defensively suspect? No, very intelligent tactically and perfect for the system he’s asked to play. Goal threat? Four goals in fifteen appearances. Hard worker? Very much so. Aggressive? You betcha; incredible level of intensity, and he *loves* a tackle.
The suggestion? Dele Alli. Incredible to even be thought of in those terms, given his background, but hard to argue against him being up there as one of the best all-rounders.
Alex G, THFC (Dembele will run Ramsey very close too, if he carries on like he is)
I can’t help but find it laughable how many times Matt, (Shockingly enough) Arsenal Fan used the word laughable to emphasis his point. I therefore thought that I’d expand his vocabulary from the word (thanks to synonyms) whilst also dissecting his point.
It’s pathetic that after one win against a big team that he’s all but backing Ramsey for the Ballon D’or. It’s pitiful that he’s using derisory comments against toure who to be fair is in the twilight of his career to justify his point. It’s ridiculous to start harping on about your teams title credentials before the ludiocrously busy Christmas period has even passed and it’s preposterously absurd to ignore a players previously mediocre and unsatisfactory performances to put him on a pedestal. Like day follows night, this pre-emptive optimism will in reality lead to an ultimately unsatisfactory run to the end of the season and mails again from the Matts of the world crying out at howunimpressed they are with Ramsey et al.
Anthony (the new words are in bold Matt), Kilburn
Matt (Shockingly enough) Arsenal Fan stated that claims Ramsey would not get into Arsenal’s 11 if all players are fit is laughable.
He also claims Pete G’s criticism of Ramsey is laughable. Apparently it’s also laughable that Ramsey’s hard work and solid performance is being ignored because he missed one or two chances the other night.
The only thing I thought was laughable in Matt’s email was the following “Ramsey has proved time and time again he is the best centre mid at Arsenal and without a doubt one of, if not the best in the league”……..Now that is very funny indeed.
Ramsey hasn’t kicked on from “that” season he had. It’s disappointing. He is a good player not a great player. If anybody says otherwise it’s laughable really.
Gough, LFC, Dublin. (Would walk into Liverpool’s laughable midfield in fairness)
If we’re still talking about Aaron Ramsey, I think Matt (shockingly enough) Arsenal Fan’s letter defending him just about made the point against him instead. “Hard work and solid performance,” Matt wrote. Exactly.
Ramsey works very hard, covers a lot of ground, and in general performs solidly. But with the exception of one fantastic half a season, he has never been top class, unlike Cazorla, Sanchez, and Ozil. Technically he’s only okay, his decision-making is erratic, and you can’t always rely on him for the final ball.
He’s most certainly a good player to have on your team – unless you’re trying to win the title.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Sorry Matt I have to take issue with your assertion Herrera doesn’t tackle back, what ever gave you that idea? I presume watching Ramsay channel his inner Viera made you weak at the knees but for all your postulating in regards to his virtues he is still only at best a squad player, I know he plays for your beloved Arsenal but there are better players in a lot of teams in the Midfield than your Welsh love child.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Work continues apace
Theiry Henry’s break down of Pep’s tactics is specifically why Van Gaal is not working at United. The most important part of the plan is position, something you cannot implement with Wayne Rooney in the team.
When Wayne Rooney plays in the number 9 and goes all over the pitch looking for the ball, there is nobody in the box to finish the chances. Depay is a little better but his youthful exuberance gets the better of him, same with Lingard. Mata simply doesn’t have the pace to make those late darting runs into the box from the wings like Henry or Villa or Messi.
This is why Van Gaal has been crying out for pace in the final third. Barring the recent run of defeats, Van Gaal’s tactics seem to be working as the final third was the only problem, which according to Henry is down to the players. This is where they get the freedom to express themselves.
United’s attackers are simply not playing as a team, the wingers are not occupying full backs and the attackers in the box inevitably get crowded out.
The only thing Van Gaal should be criticized for is failing to spot that the players are not following the plan. Rooney should have been replaced in the Summer. Even if Guardiola is to come in the summer, he will ask the players to do much the same. Don’t see how it would magically start working for him, if it hasn’t worked for Van Gaal.
The choice for United now is to fully embrace the new playing style and get players accordingly, or to realize the players cannot play this style and ditch the plan and go back to Fergie style tactics, and get players and a manager that fit that mould. Right now they are trying to do both, and failing to do either.
-Shehzad Ghias, mufc, Karachi (Going through the same identity crisis as my club)
I see that Herrera and Mata are both getting shifty about their roles in the side. I like them both, but I’m not sure they have a very strong position.
Mata is too good not to play, but it skews the side when he does, as he either goes out wide (pointless and ineffective, and requires an attacking fullback to give width) or pushes Rooney to the #9 role (not ideal) and Martial out wide (wasted).
Similarly Herrera has a difficult challenge, as he is competing with either Mata and Rooney, or a World Cup winner who has more discipline and is a safe (ish) pair of hands. I would prefer Herrera, but with our defence as it is, it’s a risk.
The reality for both is, they cannot expect to be starting regularly in their favoured spots.
I think we all agree that Martial is our best forward, though he’s still developing. You may not agree that Rooney is our best #10, but the manager does and he’s the club captain so he’s going to play either there or #9. So either they accept a back-up role until things change, make a better case to supplant those ahead in the queue or move on. And if Van Gaal has any sense (which he does) he’ll be more bothered about fixing our central defence than worrying about eithers international ambitions.
Guy S (Shawcross and Stones please)
Question: Has Wesley Sneijder become the new Phil Neville, ever destined to be on Man Utd’s radar in the same way Phil is always in the frame for an England call up? Should Villa be thinking about offering a contract to Pongo Waring to solve their striking woes?
Everton: Plan A is the worry, not plan B
Nick Miller is definitely along the right lines when wondering if Martinez is holding Everton back. It’s a tough question, because you recognise Lukaku and Deulofeu wouldn’t be at the club if he wasn’t there, but if he can’t make the whole more than the sum of the parts, then what is his true managerial skill?
And the “Emperor’s New Clothes” analogy isn’t wholly without merit either, as shown clearly during the article:
“Martinez seems to lack anything like a Plan B; when his usual aesthetically pleasing style doesn’t work, he has nowhere else to go.”
Ask Everton fans about that “aesthetically pleasing” Plan A, and you will get some strange looks back. Saturday’s game was a prime example. Up until the second goal in the 89th minute, Everton had 3 shots on target the whole game. This seems a little low, but it’s worse when you realise that all 3 shots were in the space of 10 seconds when the first goal was scored.
So, for all the possession football, the fabled Plan A actually creates very few chances. And, far from the exception, this is a theme which has been oft repeated for the last 18 months.
The usual explanation for how Plan A is supposed to work is two fold. One, if you have the ball your opponent doesn’t. And two, it stretches the game over a large area, creating more space on the pitch to play in.
As teams like Leicester show, point one is irrelevant, as plenty of teams are happy to try and nick possession and play on the break. It’s been effective against us all season.
As for point two, very few Everton players are willing to run into space created in the hope of receiving the ball. The passing is far too conservative to regularly play balls into areas where there isn’t already a teammate stood.
So, we play a style of football which doesn’t create chances and typically suits opposition players more than our own. For me, Plan A is far more of a worry than Plan B.
Stephen Lovelady – Chester
RE Everybody loves Leicester.
It depends when one got into football, and one’s method of football consumption. I can’t speak for everyone, but I feel sure that any Newcastle fan who attended matches at Filbert Street in the late 80s/early 90s will not be root-root-rooting for the Foxes at the top of the tree. Leicester were not well-liked, and, as Ally McCoist once said [I will write the full story of this into the Mailbox one day, you lucky people] – ‘Celtic fans have long memories, bloody Geordies have even longer ones.’
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle upon Tyne
The real talking point
As the festive season reaches glorious climax, have any other F365 readers been wondering which football league clubs’ mascots/emblems would make the best Xmas dinner?
I was just thinking of a few and debating the positives and negatives of each and would be interested in what others have to say. My thoughts, in no particular order:
Arsenal – A gun? Don’t be stupid. Gunnersaurus? Now you’re talking… Might take a long a long time to cook though.
Crystal Palace – Eagle. You’d have to catch it first. Good luck with that.
Oxford United – The Ox. Now we’re talking! Mmmm, beefy.
Spurs – That is a chicken on top of that football isn’t it? Ideal then, obviously.
Preston North End – Looks like a lamb on there so yum, yum.
West Ham – Not real ham so don’t even bother.
Fulham – The cottagers. Cottage pie? Also, A badger mascot, apparently. I’ll stick with the pie.
Liverpool – The Liverbird. Dunno, every time I’ve eaten poultry that wasn’t chicken, turkey or duck I’ve been disappointed. Even if it weren’t fictional, I suspect it would be all bones and no meat.
Sheffield Wednesday – An owl. As per Liverpool. Also, I think they may be endangered. Either way, best not to eat something that’s probably smarter than you.
Morecambe – Shrimp. Ok I suppose, if you like shrimp. I don’t.
Everton – Toffees. Only once you’ve finished all your vegetables.
Sheffield United – The blades. Could be referring to blade steak but probably (definitely) isn’t. Even if it is, blade steak is best stewed or casseroled and who has the time for that on Xmas day?
Bournemouth – Cherries. Would be great… if we had a cake to put them on. Thanks for nothing.
Apologies but it’s late, very hot here and I have insomnia.
Olly, (You have no idea how long it took me to find the correct spelling of ‘Gunnersaurus’) Brisbane
Brilliant article from mediawatch on Jose Mourinho.
If you haven’t already, go and read it!!
T, CFC, London