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Milner: Like a cheese pencil
I’m 45. I’ve been a Liverpool fan since I was 6 when I saw them lose the 1976 FA cup final to Manchester United – harshly in my view! If I’m honest I fell out of love with football a couple of years back. Partly it was to do with Liverpool standing by Luis Suarez after his despicable biting and then racist behaviour. Partly it was to do with the spoilt-brattish nature of the majority of the players. The cheating. The diving. The arrogance. And partly it was because I had my first child and that puts professional sport into perspective somewhat.
So, the Capital One cup final was actually the first time I had seen an entire Liverpool game this season. And by Christ, they were so very, very poor. For me, it was summed up by James Milner wearing the number 7 shirt. The shirt that has previously been worn by Keegan, Dalglish, Beardsley, McManaman. It just looked so, so wrong to be worn by this utter plodder. I kept thinking of F365 during the game and your various descriptions of him in your Famous England Ladder. ‘Useful. Like a kettle’ kept coming to mind. But he wasn’t even that really, was he? ‘Ineffective, like a cheese pencil’ might have been more accurate.
And I don’t mean to pick on him particularly, I have no axe to grind with Milner. The paucity of quality was evident all across the team. Much of the game reminded me of the first half of the Champions League Final with Milan in 2005. The received wisdom is that that was a poor team who were quite lucky to have won the cup. And in folk like Traore, Biscan, Baros, Josemi, Cisse, Smicer they did have a fair number of players that failed to set the pulse racing. But then they also had Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Alonso, Gerrard, Riise, Luis Garcia… any of whom would look out of place in this current Liverpool team, so far would they outclass their team mates.
Since the game, there has been much talk of how big a job Klopp is facing to get this squad heading in the right direction. But looking across the team on Sunday, in truth, it was really hard to see anything much to hang onto. I guess Clyne, Henderson (but as a squad player not captain!), Can, Coutinho, Sturridge. Maybe Firminho. The task facing Klopp is vast. He need to be given time. Because next year won’t be Liverpool’s year. Or the year after. And he needs to be given resources. And he’s going to need to focus on the player’s character as much as their skill, because it was the most anonymous Liverpool team I have ever witnessed. And I recall David Speedie wearing the number 7 shirt!
Just read that Walcott is the third highest earner at Arsenal.
Are their players all in a union which guarantees an annual wage bump? I can’t see any other justification for it.
It really is time to drop Sanchez…
In response to your article about dropping Alexis – yes. Yes please. He has the excuse of coming off of the successful Copa America, and the dreaded, alliterated “second season syndrome, ” but his only good performances this season have been the hat-trick vs Leicester, Man Utd at home and a couple of games in the CL group stage.
Back in November 2014, Arsenal lost 2-1 to Man Utd at the Emirates, that game where Giroud came back from injury and scored a blinder of a half volley. Wenger also dropped Santi Cazorla for that game, after Santi was playing like absolute rubbish for the first few months of the season: he couldn’t shoot to save his life and was making the wrong decisions in every single attack. After that game, he spent the next 12 months being Arsenal’s best player, and arguably the best midfielder in the premier league over that time frame.
This isn’t exactly a new hypothesis, but if players think they are guaranteed a starting position, their performances can become very stale and poor due to a lack of motivation (did this not happen to Rooney only a couple of months ago, before his brief purple patch?)
I say drop Sanchez, Welbeck is the only player who deserves his spot in attack at the moment, (how pathetic does that sound?) and hopefully that’s the boot up the arse Alexis needs to stop playing like rubbish. Just in time for the league’s most in form team on the weekend.
Andrew M, AFC, Australia
…Or play him as a striker
I’ve got it! If Alexis Sanchez is our second best outfield player but is getting constantly marked out of the game then he should play up front as our striker. This would settle the Giroud/Walcott debate and would provide Ozil with a decent player to run onto his balls (wahay!).
It actually makes a lot of sense, especially if we put Campbell in his left wing berth and play Ramsay on the right wing again. This would in turn free up Elneny to play with Coquelin in the midfield. Either that or play Reine Adelaide with Coquelin. It could be an absolute masterstroke and one that could define Wenger’s final few months as manager.
Detailing why supporters are angry
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of responses to Turf Man, and his ‘you don’t know how lucky you have it’ schtick, but in case you don’t, let me just write a little rebuttle. Firstly, Arsenal fans ARE showing support. They are asking more from their club. Contrary to the belief that we are happy with fourth and the odd FA Cup is a lie.
We are angry, because we expect more. We expect more from the club who are sitting on huge cash reserves. We demand more from players like Walcott who is paid the same as Ozil and Sanchez. We demand more from the club who are charging us fans the most of any club in the world for match day tickets. Our match revenue dwarfs any other competitor (see the excellent Swiss Ramble for a detailed breakdown).
Should we just mindlessly cheer Walcott’s name because he’s been there 10 years? Or should we rail and gnash our teeth and expect more? When we see Leicester, and our closest, most hated rivals above us, playing far better football than us, with passion, drive and commitment should we not call Wenger out on his team showing no fight or passion? Their failure to score and defend leads? Their lack of leaders on the pitch?
You are right Turf Man, the board are stable and don’t want to part with the manager because he gives them exactly what they want. Money. He generates huge revenues without having to significantly invest. They can sit on that huge pile of cash, our chairman who has shown not one iota of interest in the club, is happy to take £3million a year for ‘consultative’ services…whatever the juddering Christ that means. So how should we show our frustration? Or should we sit there cheering on the same losers, saying it is alright? Saying it is alright to have players like Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, The Ox and Walcott who have singularly failed to be regulars and of the requisite standard?
We Arsenal fans take a kicking, and often rightly so for how often we throw our toys out of our prams, but over 10 years of the same mistakes are enough for most people. We have a manager who molly coddles his entire team, defending them to the point of madness. He had the audacity after Sunday to say the players were committed. Anyone watching that match knows how ridiculous that statement is.
Yet we were fed it, AGAIN, after another pathetic performance. The club holds us fans in disdain, especially the manager, who is Teflon. I am glad the press are gunning for him, he and the players need to know they should be performing better. If we aren’t allowed to ‘boo’ someone, or angrily blow hot air out of our arses on the internet and hold them to account, how do we change things at the club?
So in summary, yeah, we have it better than a lot of teams, but it is still a massive sh*t show, and the repercussions of repeated negligent transfer windows and an increasingly out of touch board and manager are coming home to roost. With Mourinho probably joining United, Pep to City, and a resurgent and stable Spurs side makes us all think, this was our chance, and we blew it. Monumentally. And Wenger, above all else, is responsible.
I’m not saying that the future would automatically better with a new manager, but I’m guessing Simeone with Sanchez, Ozil and £75 million to spend would create a better team than anything Wenger will assemble this summer (because we all know he won’t resign, and the board won’t fire him).
John Matrix AFC
Is Rashford really worth a new deal yet?
After reading the reports of Marcus Rashford being offered a new contract by Man Utd in Mediawatch this morning, surely I can’t be the only person wondering WHY?? He’s played two games for Christ’s sake! Admittedly he played well and scored goals in each but is this really deserving of a new contract? He’s currently under contract until June 2017, so it’s not like he can be immediately poached and would he really want to leave? The exact same thing happened with Januzaj (£6mil a year!!) and how has that worked out?.
This is everything that’s wrong with the game-kids given everything before they’ve earned it. Let’s at least see how he gets on for the rest of the season first shall we?
Rob (pesky kids) WAFC
Well done to Klopp on Sakho decision
I’m not sure if someone has already written in about this, but plaudits should go to Klopp for taking Sakho off. It was a big call to make so early in the game. Most managers would have let a player shake off a head injury like that. It was nice to see Klopp use sense and protect his player from himself.
On another note, Winty was spot on in her assessment of the cup final. It’s time to bin Henderson. Shocking lack of leadership from the “captain”. While we are on the subject, bin Moreno, Mignolet, and Sturridge. No sense paying 120,000 a week for a player that plays 5 games a year and can’t take a penalty in a cup final because he was deemed not fit to kick a ball from 12 yards out due to cramps.
In my dream XI of penalty takers Lucas figures somewhere near the stratosphere.
Brian (And where the f*ck was Milner?) LFC
A good one on fatigue and football
I’ve wanted to write on the subject of fitness and fatigue in football for a while, and yesterday afternoon’s mail from Tarren, THFC, Hackey, has finally provoked me into doing so. Tarren doesn’t understand why footballers are tired. Tarren plays five a side for 90 minutes once a week and does f*** all for the rest of the week.
Tarren, I’m 28 and I’m awful at football. But I play for fun 4 times a week (6-7 hours total) and do 2-3 hours of cycling + 2-3 weights sessions a week. I eat clean. I’ve been doing this for 3 years. At the start I used to even be able to play 5 times a week without issue, I used to even sometimes play in the morning, have lunch and then play again in the afternoon. It is not difficult to do this as an exception, when you are very fresh. And Tarren, based on your own description of your lifestyle, you are very fresh. You have 6 rest days per week and you seem likely to have a caloric surplus, which in my experience seems to hurt the cardiovascular system but doesn’t hinder muscle recovery.
Without the benefit of several days of complete rest, when I play football twice in two days, or three times in 4 days, there is a significant difference in how I feel and how I perform. It is noticeable to the people I play with too. Physical fatigue affects your ability to accelerate, to turn, to react quickly to loose balls, etc. Mental fatigue is less of a factor when playing for fun, of course, but even that becomes an issue the more overexerted you are. It is truly remarkable to notice the difference in how you perform after 3-4 days of rest (after travelling for example), compared to how you would have played if you had used your legs a lot over the preceding days.
And all that’s for someone like me who is terrible at football and just plays for fun. Playing competitively means more sprinting, more tackles, etc, which leads to significantly more soreness. The concept of “marginal gains” is also very relevant – yes the players are given optimal conditions for athletic performance, but they are competing against others who are given those same conditions. Which is possibly why it is sometimes so telling that one team has had a tough European away game, or one team has had a full week of rest due to not having a midweek fixture.
Basically, I just wanted to say that in my 100% non-Medical experience, fatigue is real, and that if you want to see whether you’d feel it for yourself, you’d need to do more than play once per week followed by six days of relaxing.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
There have been times this season when it has been easy as a Chelsea fan to get things out of proportion and feel unlucky and aggrieved that our team of Champions were flirting with relegation.
Your article on Zola today reminded me how lucky I really am as a football fan. Lucky, not because of the riches our owner brought to the club which has brought us so much success but lucky because I got to see Zola play for my team. I was there for pretty much every home game he played and it was wonderful and we love him
Burning Winty’s ladder
I was feeling a little bored today at my day job/life destroyer when I thought that I would search for the latest Football365 England Euro Ladder. It has been a while and maybe I have missed the latest instalment. It would have been of particular interest with the latest slew of young talent making moves in the EPL.
Look what I found snuck away towards the bottom of an old one, though:
’39 (NE) – Jamie Vardy
‘Six months ago it looked like Jamie f**king Vardy might get a call-up,’ wrote Storey in March. Frankly, nobody saw that coming. It won’t happen again. Remember Matt Jarvis?’
Oh, Sarah Winterburn… I know he is not on the plane yet, but certainly looks like a sure bet on current running (though Roy likely will ruin it all and throw in Sturridge, Welbeck, Rooney, Kane and Rashford (joke).
Still, I encourage others to trawl through old F365 ladders and realise how quickly we are to judge/form changes. We are but fickle folk.
Kevin Brant (are brackets still a thing?), Bergen, Norway
(MC – This is the last one, for those who care)