Mails: Looking back on football in 2015

Date published: Thursday 31st December 2015 2:36

Steven Gerrard Football365

Merry Christmas, folks. Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.

 

Another Liverpool all-time Prem squad
I fear that Buttyman (A Spurs title challenge still seems very strange to me) has let the heady heights of fourth go to his head. If he genuinely believes that ‘an all-time premier league squad of 25 of my beloved Spurs is probably just about as good as any other equivalent of other team’s all-time squads’ he needs a good sit down.

Spurs have never finished above fourth (smashing this twice) and didn’t even make the top six until 2010. I have laid out a Liverpool 25 man squad with the vast majority off the top of my head which is way above the Spurs squad in almost every department but I think the big guns will come from Man Utd fans. Deary me, the Buttyman is going to get his bread well and truly buttered by the likes of Keane, Beckham, Giggs, Schmichael, Falcao, Scholes, Vidic, Stam etc etc etc.

1.      Reina – GK

2.      James– GK

3.      Jones – RB

4.      Babbel– RB

5.      Riise – LB

6.      Nicol– LB

7.      Carragher – CB

8.      Hyypia – CB

9.      Agger– CB

10.  Henchoz– CB

11.  Alonso – CM

12.  McAllister– CM

13.  Mascherano – CM

14.  Hamann  – CM

15.  Barnes – LM

16.  McManaman – LM

17.  Gerrard – RM

18.  Berger– RM

19.  Murphy – AM

20.  Sterling – AM

21.  Coutinho – AM

22.  Suarez – Str

23.  Fowler – Str

24.  Torres – Str

25.  Owen – Str

Come to think of it I could I reckon I could do squads for Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Utd, City, Newcastle, Liverpool and probably West Ham who would beat that Spurs squad.
Micki (and Leeds, definitely Leeds) Attridge

 

‘Big’ Sam?
Apparently Klopp aimed some foul and abusive language at Big Sam and his staff which Mr Allardyce didn’t appreciate.

That is one soft Englishman.
Doug AFC Belfast

 

The 10 best moments of 2015
My top ten moments of 2015, in the loose sense of “noteworthy things that happened”, not in any order

*Return of perspective

The widespread support received by Jon Fearn and Eva Carneiro after they were publicly humiliated by Jose Mourinho was reassuring.  That the only people willing to back the then-Chelsea boss were those known to be his sycophants was telling.  Elsewhere, the outcry at several lower league clubs from fans concerned by their team being linked with signing Ched Evans, showed the difference between clubs and fans.  In both cases, the message was clear: some things are more important to most fans than winning at all costs, and that being good at football/management is not enough reason to excuse all sins.  Obviously this doesn’t apply to Jamie Vardy.

*FIFA starts to get its act together

The news many of us wanted to hear this year was that FIFA was being investigated by the FBI over allegations of corruption, something believed within football to be widespread at the highest levels of administration.  There’s a lot more to do, but a life ban for Jack Warner, followed by 8-year suspensions for Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, are a good start.

*FA Cup Fourth Round

Cambridge United 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester City 0-2 Middlesbrough
Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City
Three remarkable results, even if United lost to Manchester United in the replay.

*Steven Gerrard’s Farewell Tour

“It’s better to burn out, than it is to rust”, as Neil Young sang in “My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue)”.  Steven Gerrard famously prefers Phil Collins, so he probably doesn’t appreciate that reference.  However his final three games for Liverpool showed him up as a corrosive presence in the team, the Reds having spent much of the season looking better without him.  He was sent off for violent conduct seconds after coming on at half time against Manchester United, and returned from suspension in time to take part in the home defeat to Crystal Palace, and sign off with a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Stoke City.

A player the calibre of Gerrard in his prime deserved far better, but this was the perfect schadenfreude for those us of who had spent two seasons enduring the Gerrard farewell narrative.

*Nigel Pearson deals with the media

First came the questions about why he throttled James McArthur, then came the ostrich incident.  In between came walking out of press conferences and insulting journalists under his breath.  Handling the media is part and parcel of a manager’s job, and underperforming teams come under great scrutiny.  Pearson clearly couldn’t cope with the pressure and resorted to the base instincts of the bully, needlessly lashing out at people he perceived as weaker.  The way he got his team out of trouble was admirable, but his conduct ended up costing him his job.

*Women’s World Cup

An entertaining tournament totally devoid of hyperbole and c###ishness.  Why oh why can’t rugby union be more like football? (There you go, I managed to sneak in a bit of satire)

*Levelling the playing field

Obligatory reference to the topsy-turvy nature of the Premier League, and other leagues around Europe where upstart interlopers have snuck into the business end of the table.

*Serious discussion of the Rooney Rule

There are valid arguments for and against the introduction of an interpretation of NFL’s Rooney Rule, but the fact remains that the proportion of British BME managers/coaches in English professional football is considerably smaller than the proportion of British BME players.  I don’t have the answer but the FA’s decision to put something in place to address this has to be seen as a step forwards.

*James McLean’s poppy opposition

James McLean’s reasons for refusing to wear a poppy, or to face the Union Flag in a preseason game, are well-documented.  He has received plenty of abuse for these stances, and has also received plenty of support, even from people who disagree with his sentiments but respect the way he has explained them.  Much like in politics, when some of the thickoids’ newspapers got needlessly angry when the noted republican Jeremy Corbyn observed the national anthem in respectful silence rather than hypocritically and sycophantically joining in, McLean took a principled stance.  I’d venture that none of those who slated him have anywhere near that strength of principle.

*A new feature for F365

Shameless sucking up this, but still.  The implication is that Sky wouldn’t let F365 do this and Team Talk will, but the single best improvement to the site has been the “recommended reading” section of Mediawatch.  The removal of BTL comments, albeit temporarily, was a welcome move too.

Regards,
The literary Ed Quoththeraven

 

Some late Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool conclusions
This weird season continues, we are level on points with UTD but it doesn’t feel great given how poor they have been recently, still two back to back 1-0’s give cause for hope going in to 2016 (soon to be crushed by an abject performance against the Ammers on Saturday)

Some thoughts on last nights game….

Is Duncan Watmore the secret love child of Niall Quinn? While I appreciate that Sunderland fans don’t have much to get excited about and he does look a handy player, Big Niall was giving out the sort of praise only reserved for Rooney during England games on ITV

I cant think of any other Liverpool player who I have gone from disliking to loving as much as Sakho. I thought he was an absolute carthorse for the first 6 months or so he was with us, but he has blossomed in to an absolute beast and our best defender by a country mile. Lovren seems a different player alongside him, it maybe as simple as he is playing as the right sided centre back (instead of getting shifted to the left when alongside Turtle) on his preferred foot, but they look a much stronger pairing and hopefully will both stay fit and get a run in the side.

Benteke runs like he is running in treacle, while I am loathe to write him off this early, I just dont see him fitting in to Klopps style of play and like a fellow mailboxer mentioned this morning, I can see him getting shipped out for a massive loss in the summer.

Firminio can look world class one min and barely a footballer the next, but he is still young and playing in a new country, hopefully when he settles in we will see more consistency

Mingolet has now kept more clean sheets in 2015 than any other keeper in the league. Utterly mental considering he is up there with the worst of them when it comes to crosses or anything put in to the box

Nice to see Fat Sam renewing his PFM annual membership with his “soft German” comment after the game. I am sure he was on the blower to Arry in his office after, moaning about how he would be Chelsea manager now if it wasn’t for the dirty foreigns taking all the jobs

It wasnt the best performance but we needed the points to keep up with the chase for a top 4 place, I hope the second half of the season is as mental as the first.

Happy 2016 everyone
Mark (Looking forward to Diouf’s autobiography) LFC

 

Why Newcastle really f**ked up
As we are new between the 20th anniversary of the two incidents [damn, I am old] I thought today would be the day I give you the TRUTH about why Newcastle lost that 4 point lead [or something] in the 1995-96 season. As I mentioned in a footnote yesterday, it was not, as the papers told us at the time, because we signed Tino from Parma.

We lost 2-0 at Old Trafford on the 27th December – during which Keith Gillespie was fouled by Phil Neville. He injured his ankle and didn’t play again for 6 weeks. Prior to that match he had scored 3 and provided 11 assists. He didn’t manage to complete a match until mid-April, but he was never really 100% fit or effective. He provided only 2 assists in the second half of the season.

We beat Arsenal 2-0 at St James’ on 2nd January 1996. Ginola scored one, and generally tore Arsenal apart. It was the best performance [others would say the Middlesbrough match was better, but that was only him toying with Neil Cox] of a so-far scintillating half-season [4 goals, 11 assists]. In the remainder of the season, he scored once more, and provided one further assist.

We then travelled to Highbury for the Coca-Cola Cup match on the 10th January, Bruce Rioch changed his game-play somewhat. Ginola was a marked man. He kept switching wings in the first half, to torment first Lee Dixon and then Nigel Winterburn. They kept fouling him. Ref Gerald Ashby kept waving play-on, or giving free-kicks without bookings. Winterburn was finally carded for a foul on makeshift striker Steve Watson. In first-half injury-time, Ginola broke through, clear on the Arsenal goal. WInterburn chopped him down from behind. Free-kick; no card

In the second half, as he turned and tried to break away from Dixon, he was held, and he flung out an elbow at him. He was sent off, he was almost in tears at the injustice. He was never the same player for us, after that.

Les Ferdinand scored 19 goals, including the second in that home win over Arsenal, in the first half of the season, mainly from assists from the wing. After the two incidents mentioned above, he scored 6 in the remainder. Because we bought Tino.
Alex Stokoe, revisionist historian [not really.] Newcastle upon Tyne

 

Injury time
James F, BCFC KRO’s mail from yesterday
reminded me of a F365 piece earlier this year, about Chelsea’s incredibly good fortune with injuries in their title run last year. I think the same thing has to be said for Leicester and Tottenham this year. The numbers, courtesy of transfermarkt.com, seem to bear this out. Looking at minutes played by the preferred starting XI, particularly the key players, for each team, it is striking how healthy their respective squads have been.

(BTW, I am totally biased, as you will see below, but bear with me)

Tottenham have suffered a few short-term injuries, mostly to Eriksen and Dembele, though it’s hard to see how this has cost them too much. The long-term injury to Ryan Mason actually be a blessing in disguise, as it allowed more playing time for the revelation that is Dele Alli. However, since his integration in to the team, Alli hasn’t had much of a break since mid-September. Between Dier, Kane, Vertonghen and Alderweireld, arguably the four most important outfield players at Tottenham, they have missed a collective 149 minutes this season, 90 of which came from Dier’s yellow card suspension. That is bananas.

For LCFC, it’s perhaps more extreme. Vardy has played all but 48 minutes of this Premier League season. The centre halves, Morgan and Huth, have only missed 90 minutes between them, all coming from Huth’s one-game yellow card suspension. Kante missed 291 minutes as he was integrated in to the team in August and September, but has played every minute of every match since 19 September. Only Mahrez gets a break, getting subbed off in the closing stages of matches, but even he has played all but 266 minutes of this season.

Will this extreme luck with injuries last? It could, Chelsea proved just as much. But I’m more inclined to think Chelsea was the exception, rather than the rule, and that the deeper squads will win out. Between them, Arsenal and City have had to deal with significant injuries to Coquelin, Cazorla, Sanchez, Ramsey, Walcott,  Aguero, Kompany, Zabaleta and Silva – and still sit top and third. That depth will be tested in the Champions League, but both teams have had terrible luck (or, in Arsenal’s case, standard form) with injuries. On the other hand, Tottenham and especially Leicester have had about as good luck as you can hope for in half a season. There are plenty of good reasons to think we’ve seen their respective peaks.
Gooner Tim (there’s that bias)

 

The Secret Footballer
I presume some other  mailbox readers also got the latest Secret Footballer Book for Xmas. I was just wondering how much credit people place in this book/person now? We all know who probably writes it, that’s not the point, but are the revelations as amazing as the book claims them to be in the introduction? Most of it seems to centre around 1 manager being a total arse that we’ve all read previously. I find some of the inner workings of football fascinating but not sure how much stock to place in it all now, especially when in the latest book, TSF remembers how Liverpool lost the title race incorrectly, blaming it on  3-3 draw away at Palace that he thought happened before the 0-2 Chelsea game.

Has the arrogance it’s written with put people off? I would take most things as fact until I came across the aforementioned inconsistency. I remember this site previewing some of his articles a while ago and wondered if they had an opinion or could start writing some book reviews (I assume you’re not that busy, and I class you all as being ‘inside football’). Other things I find fascinating is his total respect for Wenger still and his methods, and just all those little bits of information that the media never report, like the way Lerner is trying to sell Villa or the real reasons behind any actual transfer.
Andy (nothing to add here) Southampton

 

Perspective
At this stage last year, West Ham were 6th with 31 points.  This year at the same stage they are 8th with 29 points!

Happy new year to all 😉
Stuart (#becarefulwhatyouwishfor) COYS

 

Johnny Nic love
Every week I think to myself, there’s no way he’s topping this week’s PFM section. Every week I get proven wrong.

Leave it to Johnny Nic to smash it out of the park on the last day of the year.
Ade, Lagos.

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