No-one’s going to read an e-mail full of statistics from a man who thinks 12 is a quarter of 38.
Depay: Could be the new Ronaldo (again)
After a weekend of exciting football, I just wanted to cover a couple of things.
Depay may have had a tough start to the season, trying to step up to a much more difficult league (just as with Firmino) and both seem to have found something of their expected flair and swagger in their last game, played in their best position down the centre. I’m sure that’s pure coincidence. Depay showed some absolutely wonderful skill, reverse passes and a truly wonderfully cushioned shot that most top strikers would struggle to put away. Of the current Premier League strikers, I’d only fancy Aguero to finish that so cutely. So let’s give the lad some space. With Martial already blossoming, the chance of those two pairing up for some time to come should provide as much excitement for us as Coutinho and Firmino for the Mickeys.
Passing mention to Rooney, just to wonder how people are still banging that anti-drum after his recent handful of performances. I’m mostly excited that all the pressure to do good things won’t be solely on him now, with the rest of the team beginning to shoulder the burden now they’re getting familiar with each other.
It’s worth reminding cautious and doubting fans that our first-team squad includes five outright new players that are integral to the team, and some others who haven’t really had that much game time in the last year. Pulling that together under a new manager who has had to manage an ever-changing defence (and made it into one of the best), we should be very proud and happy with how things are going.
Personally, I’m delighted to see Depay find some form, and I saw large flashes of what could definitely make him a new Ronaldo. The only negative is that Klopp has started to work his magic already…could be that new money is on the way out.
Still knocking Rodgers? Catch up F365
So it’s been less than 48-hours since Liverpool tonked Man City and F365 has seen fit to bless us with two articles (Daniel Storey’s ‘16 Conclusions’ and John Nic’s ‘Death to ‘death by football’ bores’) seeking to put the boot into ‘ever-behind-the-curve’ Brendan Rodgers’ using his 2012 quote “When you’ve got the ball 65, 70 percent of the time it’s a football death for the other team.” Sorry but it is F365 who are behind the curve here; Rodgers pretty much abandoned this possession-based approach halfway through his second season – I’m guessing once he saw the look of terror on Martin Skrtel’s face whenever he was required to do anything other than pass the ball square to Daniel Agger. Furthermore, as John Carver said on MOTD3 yesterday, this high-pressing game that Klopp is being credited for introducing was central to many of Rodgers’ best performances; it’s not that new. When Liverpool spanked Arsenal 5-1 in 2014 for instance, they did so with 45% possession.
I’m not suggesting for a second that Rodgers should have been kept on or that Klopp doesn’t deserve praise for his team’s performance, just that this specific thread of criticism is misplaced. The real question was why Rodgers didn’t keep playing in this way, despite its obvious success, and why he bought the likes of Balotelli, Lambert and – to a degree – Lallana who seemed totally ill-suited to it…
…I’ve read The 16 conclusions following the City v Liverpool game and you still manage to get a customary dig in at Brendan Rodgers even though he’s long gone. It even gets a mention in Winners and Losers where Rodgers is mocked for his possession-based football. The conclusions refers to some quotes from about five years ago. Now fine, Rodgers said that five years ago but he changed his approach over time being less reliant on possession each season. I first read about it on your fine site following the 3-1 loss to Man Utd which in turn had sourced from a Sky Sports article that an old colleague of yours had written.
Rodgers had stopped relying on possession as the article goes into, dropping from 57.2% in his first year at Liverpool to 51.1% in his last year. The football world had changed and he was changing with it. Barcelona have famously changed from a possession-based team. He was turning Liverpool into an imitation of a Klopp team. Now we have the real thing.
One of the great things about this site is that you often present different arguments and opinions at the same time. Please keep that up but do use contemporary and relevant sources.
Alex, LFC, South London
Liverpool v Swansea is big. So big.
Swansea at home on Sunday has become a massive game. With people rightly giving that City fan grief over what a ‘big game’ was, it seems only right to acknowledge the importance of this Sunday now.
Big games aren’t always the games where you play the biggest teams, it’s the games that carry the most pressure, the ones that matter even more in context. When we beat City in 13/14, that was a huge game but Norwich away the following week was even bigger for me. While not being vital to a title-run, next week’s game feels like it has a lot for our season riding on it.
Our away form under Klopp has been vastly improved but we’re still pretty crap at home. That’s not an indictment on him, there’s many factors we have to overcome at home and I’m not expecting the world right now BUT we are in a unique position right now.
If we falter against Swansea then beating City by four of your goals to one means a whole heap less. But if we look handy and can get a good performance along with a win then what is the expectation for this team? With all the ‘hardest’ aways done and all the ‘big’ teams to come to us in the second half of the season, what can this team achieve? No-one is particularly great this season and the league is topped by Leicester in November. No disrespect intended but you can’t write off a league when Leicester are top of it at this point.
Eight points off top and seven points behind a realistic title-challenger. Hardly insurmountable with no more ‘big’ aways…
Kris, LFC, Manchester
Why why why? I need glass ceilings
I have just finished reading the 16 conclusions. It ended as follows:
With this victory Liverpool are now eight points from top spot. The realistic hope is to push on for a top-four place, but this is the wrong season to place any glass ceilings on your expectations. Leicester are proof that anyone really can beat anyone. Should Liverpool replicate this performance level on a regular basis, only the sky is the limit.
Why, oh why, did you have to write this? I support Liverpool, I need glass ceilings. Now you have me all giddy and excited like a teenage girl before a One Direction gig, only for my new found dreams to be shattered next weekend when we fail to beat Swansea at home.
Never saw that coming…
In my 20 or so years of football, I have seen a lot of crazy things.
I’ve seen emphatic highs and demoralising lows; goals from the halfway line and goals from goal-kicks. I’ve seen beachballs score and Gerrard slip. I’ve seen unparalleled success and Aston Villa.
But never did I ever expect to see my team Leicester City deservedly top of the league in November with a striker breaking the record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games. Our upcoming fixtures are quite punishing and we are likely to fall away soon (though people have been saying that every week!). But, whilst it lasts, what a great time to be alive!
…Many years ago, a friend of mine realized that whenever I said something football-related, the complete opposite would happen. If I said that Arsenal were definitely going to beat Derby, then Derby would win. I even had the ability to change things mid-game. If someone like Lampard with a great goalscoring record from penalties was about to take one and I said that he would score, he would miss. This came to be known as the Mo Jinx.
We don’t know the extent of its powers just yet, but it seems like it can affect an entire season. At the end of last season I fell into that boat we all do once in a while where we think football has turned rubbish. Chelsea won the league, again. Arsenal failed to put up a strong title challenge, again. Barcelona won the Champions League, again. Liverpool were about to lose their best/ most promising player, again. It was only natural then, that I said that I will give up on football the coming season because we all know what’s going to happen.
A third of the season in and Chelsea are 15th. Arsenal have had their slips but are just points away from the top. Leicester are top. Vardy is currently the favourite to get player of the season. None of the top three goalscorers play for the ‘big four’, Spurs look like they might actually be able to do it and the finish for top four could eventually come down to six teams. For the first time in a while it’s looking like a competition and even if Chelsea do make it predictable by the team with the most money winning the league, it would have to go down as one of the greatest achievements of modern football.
Barcelona will probably will the Champions League again, but now that I’ve said it…
…As one might expect, this morning’s mailbox was filled with people making bold predictions based on one round of fixtures. Arsenal having no chance in the league, Liverpool being champions next year, and LVG winning over critics by doing absolutely nothing (as he claims himself).
Please hold your horses. We are in a new era in the Premier League.
The era in which:
– Arsenal score three in 19 minutes against a stingy Man Utd in 19 minutes, then score one goal against a leaky West Brom.
– Liverpool lose at home to Crystal Palace then beat City away 4-1.
– Man Utd score few goals and concede few goals and throw ‘playing football’ out.
– Spurs look like title contenders.
– City go from looking unstoppable to comically flawed within weeks.
– And so on.
The desire to predict the future is one of the most human desires around. But this is not the time for predictions. This the time to simply enjoy what the Premier League has become: An amalgamation of top-quality footballers and managers, and results that are difficult to explain.
So sit back, relax (as much as possible), and enjoy the new TV-money fueled Barclays Premier League.
Anybody rise faster than Leicester?
I was thinking about Leicester being top of the league, having come from the bottom of the league at the end of last year. According to my calculation it took 20 games for them to traverse the table – they were still bottom after 31 games last season and the new season is 13 games in. Has anyone ever done it faster? It takes a particular knack to be bobbins enough to be bottom one year, just leaving enough games to scramble to safety and then turn the team round to climb to the top in the next season.
Wenger is playing the media
Re Mark Holmes, and Wenger not knowing what he’s doing.
Yes, West Brom is a game we should be winning. But if he knows why we lost, you should notice by now that Wenger deflects media attention by playing the idiot. Him and Fergie have/were the kings of doing this, so it doesn’t cause a ruckus in the media and they can sort their houses out in peace. Compare it to Jose’s style, for example.
It was a rubbish result, but he doesn’t owe an explanation to every p*ssed-off fan. Go and make yourself a cuppa, and gear yourself up to sing his praises when we break this bad run of form.
This week on KneejerkTV
Ah I see this is ‘Arsenal are useless, soft and should be relegated’ week. #WengerOut
Looking forward to next week’s ‘Arsenal can win the league, Dan Crowley is better than Messi, Alexis will do it all himself’. #WengerIn
Seán, AFC, Dublin
Feeling sorry for glorious Ozil
I’m sorry to be yet another Gooner writing in about another woeful (and predictable) weekend. I just wanted to add one point which is to say that Mesut Ozil must be so embarrassed playing for a team like us at the moment. Fine when Walcott is playing and the defence is firm he can really come into his own but looking at Flamini and Arteta in our squad must be really concerning. With Alexis tired and Coq now out poor Ozil (and our back five to some extent) is literally carrying this team. Saturday was his seventh assist in consecutive matches. Seven! Seriously, the guy is amazing. Please Ozil, don’t leave, we will get better I promise.
JazGooner (it’s the hope…Chambers as DM? Oh God no…)
Facing facts about Villa’s relegation
So I wanted to write in and say something about Villa; I’m struggling to think of anything other than, we’re up s*** creek without a boat.
Squad – terrible. Aspinall, Balaban, Penrice, take a breather: my lifetime worst Villa XI has got a very 2015 flavour to it at the moment. Football – can’t defend or attack. Manager – no idea yet, but watching Sherwood’s proteges smash Wham and Lambert off to a flier at Blackburn was ominous.
Looking at the table, to stay up I reckon we’re going to have to near enough win every other game for the rest of the season; so far we couldn’t even beat Sunderland. I think it’s time to face facts: we’ll be drinking from the same tap as Wolves and Small Heath (and potentially Cov and Walsall) next year. Depressing and then some.
A word for Everton though: giving us the kind of walloping that weird supply teacher Tyson Fury is hopefully going to receive on Saturday isn’t the league’s toughest test I know, but they looked pretty sexy doing it. Some of the F365 posse have really taken against Barkley, but I don’t see where the beef is personally; I think he looks fantastic every time I see him, in a couple of years he’s going to be the absolute dog’s b****ks. Deulofeu unsurprisingly took our left flank to bits and Lukaku is making £28m look cheap.
As for Jack Grealish: There’s likely a tinge of regret about the Irish decision at the moment. Can’t see his 2016 summer holiday getting as many column inches as last time.
Neil (Exclusive: Villa fans miserable) Raines
Refs too lazy to keep time
Following on from talk of the advantage rule in the last mailbox, I wanted to mention the rule that really gets my back up. Adding time on for time-wasting.
For example, a goalie takes all the time in the world over his kick for the third time, the ref looks at his watch, and doesn’t add anything. Then the boos start. He reluctantly blows his whistle runs across the pitch to brandish a pointless yellow card. The goalie meanwhile takes his kick pretending he didn’t hear the whistle, feigns outrage, saunters over to pick up the ball and spends nearly as long doing it again, knowing full well the ref won’t actually send him off. The ref adds little to no further time. I know this because sometimes it happens after the stoppages have been announced and can see that nothing changes.
Feigning injury and not getting off the pitch, pointless, drawn out subs etc… we all know the infuriating tactics. They work because of one simple reason. Laziness! I can’t get past the feeling that the ref can’t be bothered to enforce it properly. He’s probably thinking about getting home in to watch Strictly. Why doesn’t he just watch it online, I can’t imagine!
In rugby the clock is stopped when play is. Perhaps we could imitate this playing 40 mins a half instead…
But silly me, that couldn’t work. The delicate flower that is football will be trampled and the world will explode! (obviously). Why did I even waste time writing this mail about time-wasting? How ironic. Oh well, might as well send it now.
Quackeththeduck (I use my beak to type, in case you’re wondering), MCFC
Coventry fan unfamiliar with excitement
Could someone who supports one of the more traditionally successful teams please clarify at what point during a good start to the season you’re allowed to get genuinely excited?
I ask because my team, Coventry City, currently sit at the top of League One having beaten Gillingham (who were top at the start of the game) 4-1. We have a strong squad, are playing fantastic football, have a team unity unlike any I’ve ever seen and are being led by an excellent manager at this level who not only has the contacts to unearth great players but the clout to convince them to ply their trade here. Against Gillingham we looked completely unstoppable and if (big ‘if’, I know) we can keep the momentum up we’ll be promoted with ease.
In all my time supporting Coventry City, we have never come anywhere close to any kind of significant success and indeed, every season has ended in either a mid-table finish or relegation. This is the first time I’ve ever seen us sustain a strong run of form and look like one of the best teams in the division, and I don’t know how to handle it.
Maybe it’s because we’ve always been a ‘stepping-stone’ club, and I know that there’s no chance anyone half-decent will ever stay and the good times cannot last. Adam Armstrong, who’s clearly far too good for League One and it’s actually quite embarrassing watching him destroy the defences week after week, will probably be recalled back to Newcastle in January and loaned to a Championship club. If Mowbray’s excellent work continues there’s also no doubt that Championship clubs will start to throw wages and transfer budgets at him that we simply can’t afford to tempt him away. My only hope is that the sense of community, which both Mowbray and the players have praised, is enough to convince them to continue.
For now, maybe I’ll just enjoy it – For the first time since I can remember, the sky is blue.
Adrian (Happy-for-now Coventry City fan)