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Time to cut losses on Sturridge?
A central midfield pairing of Lucas and Allen is basically not creative. For all their defensive mindedness and their ability to recycle the ball, they don’t move the ball around quickly enough and don’t threaten anything incisive. With the two of them in the middle, it’s easy to see why we looked quite boring and laboured.
That said, I didn’t love Firmino doing a poor impression of Coutinho whilst Benteke rolled around up front alone. Firmino is a forward. He’s also a great forward to play next to Benteke because he’ll create space and run in behind for knock ons. In the no. 10 he’s not quite got a killer pass in him but he definitely has the positional sense to latch onto things when further forward. His finishing should improve with time you’d hope.
Mignolet and Sturridge are ridiculous for two different reasons. For the former’s sins you’d expect Bogdan to at least start the last Europa League group game. You’d also think if someone was mad enough to pay more than £25m you’d probably want to cut your losses on Sturridge. I love him and wriggly arm dance but he’s made of crisps and if Klopp is a high intensity trainer then I don’t see Sturridge ever finding the fitness to play again. He needs a Ledley King style regimen where he’s wrapped in bubble wrap until match day.
Quite pleased to have qualified for the knock out rounds. The team will be a better group on Sunday so the performance should improve naturally but the team shouldn’t need to go 1-0 down before waking up and smelling their sh*t.
So the day after Klopp says Sturridge needs to be ‘more robust’, he bloody goes and gets injured AGAIN.
And that stat about him being injured for 58 games whilst only having played 69, i think once Ings is fit again we should move Daniel on.
I say thank you for your goals and the joy they have brought me but its time to move on before your put down.
Amo Singh (this week i’ve been mostly playing with myself) LFC
As a non spurs fan (but regular viewer) watching the 1st half of their game last night I couldn’t help but feel something was missing…a dull away Europa league game, in a half empty stadium, with plenty of poor touches and squandered (half) chances I found myself thinking about Roberto soldado..for me when I think about soldado this is what I associate with him, the man was meant for these kind of god awful away games, they just go hand in hand, a natural fit!
Brian (looking forward to LVG buying a defensive forward in jan)
Is the Europa better than the Champions League?
In response to a recent mail by Charlie (THFC), lamenting how boring the UEFA Champions League is. Not only is it boring, but its possible that the UCL’s cousin Europa League is even more entertaining than the Champions League. Am tempted to say it is better but that would be a broad generalization. Certainly, the games and subsequently, groups are much closer than the same stage of UCL. As it stands, there is no clear favorite as to who will win this year’s competition. Pochettino and Klopp would certainly fancy their chances should they come across Dortmund, Napoli, Villarreal, Bilbao, Schalke, Besiktas etc on the way.
Take last night’s matchday as a sample:
Matches played: 24
Matches won by 2 goals or more: 8
Matches won by 2 goals before the 75th minute: 1
This is a competition where Molde (never heard of them either) are leading their group ahead of Celtic, Ajax, Fenerbache. The mighty Krasnodar of Russia are joint top after beating Dortmund. Heavyweights Rapid Wien are through. Moreover giants like Sion, Rubin Kazan, Midtjylland, Legia Warszawa, Liberec, Belenenses, Qarabag, Augsburg can still make it into the knockout stage. All this before 3rd place UCL teams join in the fun.
The case for the UCL would be that no club has ever retained the Champions League but is that the only yardstick for competitiveness?
Lindelwe Moyo, AFC.
Defending Van Gaal. Kind of
Please do not read this as a pro-van Gaal statement; I hold an entirely neutral opinion of him. He has, at times, been a fantastic manager. He has, at times, been a mediocre one
But I must pick up on this statement from Thom, Bristol-based Spur – “The trouble is, that wasn’t genius. He didn’t know it would work. It was a gamble.”
Isn’t that what genius is, though? [Well, it isn’t, but in the context Thom is using it, we will accept it.] To keep getting results from the unorthodox, from things that one is unsure about. but that feels right at the time? To keep doing things that nobody else would think of, but that work?
Yes, is the answer. If van Gaal had built an entire career off that one moment, and had never achieved anything else other than winning that shoot-out, then fair enough. But it is one ‘genius’ moment in a career of many ‘genius’ moments. Well, some. Anyway.
Scholes wasn’t even that good
I can’t take the continued revisionist history about Paul bloody Scholes. It reached a critical point for me when reading David’s lengthy tome “Shut up Paul”. I thought wonderful, a right-thinking fellow has taken the time to write something I can agree with. But then he spoils it by claiming “Scholes was one of the best and for a time potentially the best midfielder in the world.”.
No he wasn’t. Not for a time. Not close. Not in the running. He was never even the best midfielder at United ffs! In fact he was rarely the 2nd or 3rd best midfielder in that late 90’s/early 2000’s team.
David is not alone in this delusion and I have a soft spot for David as he also has correctly identified Scholes as a nasty hobgoblin of a man. It seems to have become accepted wisdom that Scholes was some footballing genius and it annoys the hell out of me (more than it rationally should, I accept).
Look back at articles about him being world class. They are generally written a decade after his peak. Check who won votes in the Ballon Dor and PFA player of the year awards. Fellow pros have nice quotes about him, but he wasn’t rated that highly in his pomp.
Scholes seems to be the beneficiary of four forces. First, players who have a run of form late in their careers get a positive re-write on when they were at their peak. Second, projection of what many people view as the “right” way to play football back to when Scholes actually played his football. Because you could imagine him being mates with Xavi (quiet, small, enjoy passing the ball around), it stands to reason that peak Scholes was good enough for Barcelona – the bestest team in the universe ever. Third, the assumption that he was under used by England. If only he had been played more, used better, then they would have won the world cup. Fourth, the “stands out in a crowd” theorem. Redheaded (and for that matter blonde or otherwise distinctive looking) players stand out more and are more easily recollected, typically receiving greater acclaim than their more forgettable peers (Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this in Outliers). Pirlo and his beard, Gullit and his dreadlocks – different eras and both overrated. Mario Ballotelli has made a career out of this principle.
And he seems like a nasty piece of work. Am I the only one who hears that tiresome tale of him booting the ball in to a team mate’s head from distance and doesn’t think “what technique” but “what a tosser.”
So can the revisionism please cease. He didn’t play for England more because Gerrard and Lampard were far superior players. He didn’t win individual awards because Keane, Giggs and Beckham were all even more superior. He wasn’t England’s lost genius footballer…we’ve had one of them in the 40 years I have been watching and he didn’t play for United.
Paul Scholes. Slightly better than Nicky Butt. But couldn’t tackle and seems like a w*nker.
Benjamin Trump, Melchester Rovers
Contrary to what WhoScored and JazGooner have to say, none of the suggested signings are likely, since Wenger is not going to sign someone 25 years or younger to block Coq (hehe), Bieliek, or Chamber’s opportunities as DM. If he wanted to do that he would’ve gone for Schneiderlin in the summer.
Most likely will be a 28-29 year old happy to contribute straight away, be a team player when Coq is back, and take over backup/rotation duties from Arteta/Flamini next year when both players’ contracts are up.
N. Juan (surely one of the top five on-going Arsenal transfer sagas?) has my bet though
I suspect I’m not the only person who has noted the contrasting paths of the managers of Newcastle and Sunderland:
Newcastle. Steve McClaren takes over a team in complete disarray. After a full preseason and 13 games, the team have won twice, are lurching from one mode of play to another, and have just dispensed two of their worst performances of the season.
Sunderland. Sam Allardyce takes over a team in complete disarray. After 5 games, the team have won twice, have a clear style, and have just dispensed two of their best performances of the season.
OK, a bit unfair to McClaren. After all, Big Sam is a specialist in this sort of thing, and it may be a case of horses for courses. But McClaren has given no indication yet that he’s the right man for this particular situation.
Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace might tell us a lot. Apparently he gave the team the hairdryer treatment at training this week, so if the players respond, he’s still in with a shout. If they don’t, the brass would be well advised to start looking around for someone else.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Same time, same place
As I cast my mind back to one of my proudest achievements, it was a year ago to the day since my last mail was published on my beloved Celtic, and thus, I find my own situation entirely different, and yet my team finds its self in the same situation, if not worse.
Last year I wrote to you bemoaning the lack of quality, decent signings and general appetite for Scottish football. This time around, I don’t even have a suggestion, never mind a solution. All my points were ignored by the Celtic board (quite why they don’t subscribe to the hallowed pages of F365 is beyond me) while on paper, losing to Ajax isn’t that big a deal. They’re a good side (not top, TOP though) but in reality, Celtic, despite having an easier group than last year, couldn’t even stay in the Europa league post Christmas. Instead of solutions this year, I simply wonder can any mailbox readers offer any help as to where all the club money is going? Juat south of 50 m received in transfers over 3 seasons, (Forster 10m, wanyama 12m, van dijjk 11.5m etc etc) a quick look at stats indicated that Celtic earned 13.5m in player sales and spent a whopping….1.5m, on a player whos biggest highlight involves him biting the leg of another player. 60,000 capacity stadium, European football (or should that be Europa football) and a runaway league trophy each year since rangers demise (RiP oldco). Surely that must be worth some money to the club, without mentioning TV rights???
It’s a sad state of affairs, but hey, at least we can still attract the likes of Dion Dublin and Carlton cole north of the border whenever they need a victory lap and a nice retirement fund.
So, if anyone can tell me where all the club money goes, yeah, that would be smashing! Oh and thanks for not posting the result to the homepage for me. Very honourable stuff guys, I feel so special that you did it just for me!
Dan, ( I done it again fergal!!) Ireland