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The Liverpool cycle
Khurram, YNWA, Loughborough – jeez man, is it any wonder Liverpool fans suffer a reputation? One win against one of the worst teams to ever grace the Prem and you’re spouting your mouth off. Keep calm, keep your mouth shut and expect us to lose the next game. Pillock.
As you were.
Somerset Dave (enjoying a rather lovely week away skiing and missed all footie on the weekend).
Khurram, the reason people aren’t suggesting that Liverpool will finish in the top three is probably because you have won a grand total of two Premier League games this year, against the shitehawks of Norwich and Villa. Yes, you did beat Leicester on Boxing Day. And they beat you less than two weeks ago. Sunderland were “sinking without trace” when you met them, and you managed a draw. All of this is probably why nobody is bringing LFC into the top-four equation. It’s nothing to do with being fashionable, it’s not an attempt to refuse credit where it is due, it is simply people rightly looking at form and league position and knowing that LFC are still an absolute bloody mess. Drawing anything from the Villa game is pointless. Mike Tyson could beat the snot out of a blindfolded and bound toddler, it doesn’t mean he’s ready for a title fight.
I think we can all agree that Khurram from Loughborough has allowed himself to get a little carried away based on LFC beating up on the class weakling over the weekend. Obviously Liverpool won’t finish in the top 3 this season. But this type of logic shows up often enough in hopeful (hopeless?) fan reasoning that it needs to be addressed. For this pipe-dream to come true, three things need to happen:
1) Team A (in this case, Spurs or Arsenal) needs to pull an epic bottle job and drop a substantial amount of their remaining points.
2) Team B (in this case, Liverpool) needs to hit an amazing vein of form.
It’s obvious to most that the chances of both of these things happening is pretty low. After all, Team A and Team B are in their respective positions because Team A has been pretty good all year, and Team B has been, well….not so good. And past is best predictor of future. But here’s the kicker: there is one more requirement.
3) Team B also has to out-perform Team C (Man City), Team D (Man U), Team E (Southampton) and Team F (West Ham), all of whom are mathematically better placed to capitalise on Team A’s demise (and more likely to do so, given that they’ve been better up until this point). And we’re not even factoring in the possibility that Team G (Watford), Team H (Stoke) or, (Scouser God-in-heaven forbid) Team I (Everton) might hit a just slightly richer vein of form over the remaining games.
So pretty clear Khurram is walking alone here.
Just checking with Liverpool fans if those were Rodgers players who won 6-0?
If he gets so much blame for the players, then surely he must get some credit too..
Lee, Durban, AFC
Entitled Arsenal fans
So, cards on the table, I’m a Leicester fan.
Two weeks ago we played City. Disregarding the result, the City fans were excellent – fantastic atmosphere, in great spirit, really decent fans. Similar with Liverpool and other clubs before them.
Then on Sunday we played Arsenal. Leicester go out to play a game of football.
But Arsenal…from start to finish they seemed so ‘entitled’. Sure we are all biased, but the distasteful blindness of Wenger seems to have rubbed off on the Arsenal fans too. If Simpson deserved 2 yellows, there were tons of other fouls from both sides that deserved yellows too. Leicester were no more/no less cynical than Arsenal and yet it was Arsenal players who were consistently baiting the ref (The foxes committed 1 more foul over the whole match). Unfortunately it felt like Atkinson fell foul (harhar!) of that most predictable weakness – humanity. After the consistent berating by Arsenal players he subconsciously acted to even up a perceived in-balance.
For the pen – Vardy is running at speed – where is he supposed to put his foot? Though yes, there was a foul on Ozil at the other end of the pitch first. For the pen that wasn’t given – why the hell would Mahrez dive – this is a confidence player who has just beaten his man – if he gets by then he has a cracking shot from 8 yards. The Arsenal rhetoric to the game just feels negative and cynical.
My view for Arsenal fans now is pity since they don’t seem to appreciate the joy of football anymore. The Foxes may not have won as many trophies but we still get pleasure watching our team give their all and hopefully getting a result.
ps. Before the game I had a real soft spot for Arsenal. I imagine in a couple of weeks I’ll go soft and love them again, so I guess that’s why I was so disappointed in them compared to Man City. Maybe the fact City have been in the doldrums means their fans recognize and appreciate more what they’ve actually got.
The Europa? Pah
Over the last couple of years I’ve written in the mailbox on my pet subject of (my) Spurs and the dilatory effect of the Europa league on our broader (more important) ambitions.
Other Spurs fans responded at the time (last season and the season before) that they disagreed and that Spurs should push on all fronts.
Fellow Spurs fans “Rob” touched on this again last week in these pages – among many other points I agreed with fully – but I think the point is now so glaringly obvious that even the trophy omnivores must now agree.
I heard a stat that, were Spurs to continue to be successful on all Cup fronts, they could play literally twice as many games as Leicester by the end of the season. Although our squad is hearteningly deeper now than it has been since…ever (strikers notwithstanding), I think this is the time for Poch (and Daniel?) to tank this Fiorentina tie or, at worst, play no first team squad members unless (say) Vertonghen would benefit from a run out on his road to recovery.
Today’s Telegraph’s analysis of the head-to-head comparisons of Spurs’ chances versus those of the Arse specifically gave Arse the edge in “Workload” because they play Barcelona next; the obvious inference being they’ll get spanked which will help them in this title race.
This is no time to be embracing the ‘integrity’ of these cup competitions when true glory beckons.
On a personal note, all the headlines surrounding the possibility of ending “55 years of hurt” are acute – I just turned 54; you can do the maths.
Big Pete (Spurs…but you probably guessed that).
The Villa view
Ok this is a long one, so bear with me. Generally in life I’m pretty happy and not one to complain about things much, but within the section of my brain labelled “Villa fan”, it has been difficult to remain so cheery. With that said, I’m going to be the brave one who pokes his head out after Sunday’s mauling, and offer a few thoughts on the difficult current state of things at my club. Most Villa fans seem pretty content to go about their daily lives, and largely forget the existence of Villa during the week, given the current state of the club, it just eases the pain. But Sunday’s defeat was a new low for a club who have spent the past five years defined by the motto of “a new low”.
First and foremost, well done Liverpool, you showed up. And given the woeful ineptitude of Villa’s outfield eleven, that is all Liverpool needed to do. That isn’t to say Liverpool weren’t ruthless and played some nice football at times, but rather to say that they didn’t have to try especially hard to achieve the scoreline they did. It was a pre-season training match organised to improve fitness, at least that’s how it viewed, and six goals were scored with laughable ease. Jamie Carragher may indeed be correct in asserting that our current incarnation is the “worst Premier League team that there has ever been”, for effort and determination alone, we are more than capable of that title.
What’s most galling from a fan’s perspective is that Sunday was an opportunity of sorts to re-build some of that much needed belief, but instead they went out and put on one of the worst displays of football I’ve ever seen, and considering I’ve been sitting in the stands at Villa Park over the past five abysmal years, there’s a lot of competition for that crown. A friend of mine stated after the match, that it looked like they’d given up the moment Daniel Sturridge scored (again, at times I wonder if he’s only ever fit to play against us just to up his scoring stats), but why, was my question? Barring the Sunderland result, the teams above us (combined with our win over Norwich last week) had given us a rare opportunity to close the gap a little to a less insurmountable 5 points, so if anything, I would have expected the team to be eager to attempt to do just that, to come out chomping at the bit and to have a real go at Liverpool. Now I’m not for the first instant suggesting that we would have won, but I at least expected we’d fight for it. Instead they came out with the tamest, most insipid performance they could muster, spending all afternoon attempting to get as far away from any Liverpool player as possible and giving them as much time as they wanted to practice their shooting, passing and crossing drills. The rest of the time was spent finding new and inventive ways to meekly and pathetically surrender possession back to Liverpool for them to practice a bit more.
The final kick was Lescott’s Twitter apology after the game on behalf of both himself and the team for their levels of commitment. That’s the most inexcusable thing from a fan’s perspective. Fans are willing to forgive a multitude of sins, but coming out and admitting that you weren’t really that committed and, by extension, not seemingly that bothered about the result, not only shows a lack of pride or ambition in your own job, but a kick in the gut for the fans who had to pay north of £40 to watch a group of professional athletes willingly show no commitment. A couple of weeks ago Micah Richards confronted some fans at the Wycombe game, stating at one point that they were “trying their best”, but now his vice-captain seems to disagree. What’s worse is that Lescott is a professed Villa fan, so you might have thought it mattered more that the club he supports and plays for is currently a laughable shambles.
This was a game that could have been the beginning of us at least making more of a fight of things, instead the team held up the white flag before it even began, and never remotely looked interested in making a fight of it, seemingly content with strolling around and looking a bit sulky. In truth, I feel sorry for Rémi Garde, he clearly took the job on false promises, and he’s been left with a squad which seem to frustrate and depress him as much as the fans; he was left desperately stating that he’d have to “try and do the best he could with the players who wanted to still fight.” If any of the players don’t fancy the Championship and are looking to find a new club for next season, they’re welcome to, but they’re going to have to show any prospective new employers that they’re actually worth employing first.
A bad day at the office is one thing, but clocking out before you’ve started is another. Liverpool probably couldn’t believe their luck, they certainly couldn’t have dreamed of an easier Sunday afternoon kick about with their mates. We hear that there are allegedly no easy games in the Premier League, well we’ve proven that that’s just not true, and in so doing Villa have completed the penultimate unwanted record on the ticklist that has become Randy Lerner’s reign: Worst Premier League home defeat? Check. Anyone want to guess what the final record is?
Jamie (trying to think happy thoughts) AVFC.
Off the back of the 6-0 loss at the weekend I found myself trying to defend Villa again to some colleagues this morning , I ended up thinking about what its been like to be a Villa fan and came up with the below conclusion.
I’m a 29 year old Villa fan who in my ‘supporting life’ has never really seen the club massively excel or really struggle. By that I mean I can’t be one of those fans at clubs who say ‘remember when we were in Division 1/2/3 (Man City, Stoke, Swansea, Bournemouth, Leicester ect ) and NOW look at us!’ In my lifetime Villa have just been wallowing in ‘nothingness’, sat in a mid to lower table coma, like an unmotivated, middle aged, balding man, living in s**t suburban commuter town (does that sounds like an awful attempt at a Morrissey lyric?) who briefly raised his head to make an effort, O’Neil/few league cup wins, then decided it was way too much effort.
What’s even worse, (even worse than the weird suburbia/ balding man analogy) is that while we have been doing nothing,there are a tonne of clubs who have actually excelled and have something to engage their fans with, just look at the clubs I have mentioned at the start of the mail and compare them to Villa in the last 20 odd years. While those clubs have had ups and downs, at least it have given fans something to talk about! That’s the worst thing about Villa’s currently plight, it’s just been so ‘meh’ which I believe is the best and most technical term to describe Villa in my lifetime. ‘Meh’.
When we get relegated I won’t have any problems with fans from other clubs ridiculing us, we gave Newcastle the same treatment. Which is a funny thing to say, as I really do love Villa, but If I wasn’t a Villa fan I’d hate us. Not because I was jealous of our success and history, but because we are like some annoying jobs worth who works in HR, lives in Croydon and reads the f**king Daily Mail. And now we are retiring.
Also when I say ‘we’ (I imagine this is where people will shoot me down) I don’t mean the fans by the way, I mean the club and the people in charge. Our current mess is all Randy’s fault. It’s amazing how someone can be so consistently inept. Really, it’s almost something to admire. Everyone at the club has appeared to give up which is just soul destroying. In a recent AGM our new chairman called the fans ‘customers’ which is a joke as who would want to pay for the dross that has been consistently served up? Well me, but hopefully you get my point. Something needs to change and it has to start at the top.
Oh and sorry if you live in Croydon, I’ve never actually been….
First, it is great to see the Saints serenely sail pass 40 points with 12 games to spare. This is always the first target of the season and at Christmas I was genuinely fearing the worst, but now where to aim for?
With a fairly kind fixture list, thanks in part to a dire performance in the cups, and a defence that has found its legs again. We have a really good chance of eclipsing last season’s points total (60) with 6 wins and 2 draws needed. In the strangest of seasons, we also have a long shot of hitting 66 – 70 points and potentially chasing down 4th if Man City’s poor form continues (though personally I can’t see that happening and what does it say that I’m less certain about City being top 4 than Leicester?).
So hopefully we’ll set up a proper run in Europe next year to cap another good season all round to carry on the progress of the last few seasons.
However, it’s also been well publicised that several players including Mane and Wanyama are looking to move on and Ronald Koeman will surely be on his way in the next 2 years. So I can’t help but be left with the feeling that while we’ve managed to yet again survive a big sell off, the poor run of form over Christmas shows how precarious our position is.
A bad summer exodus, with a new manager who doesn’t follow in our current rich vein of success in that department and things can change very quickly. So in other words i’m enjoying the current success but can’t get away from the eternal frustration of being a mid table, smallish club that can’t quite do a Leicester and break the glass ceiling.
Tom Saints (4 points off Arsenal was our contribution to Leicester’s title push, so it’s a shame then that we’re going to beat them in a few weeks….)
At Newcastle it is very difficult to know what the solution is, because the chain of command at the club is so muddled at present.
The problem is easy to point to – recruitment has been appalling. But who’s responsibility is recruitment at Newcastle? No one knows and the media are either too compliant (preferred partners), to scared to report it or just as ignorant as I am.
It’s hard to know how much responsibility our “head coach and not manager” Steve really has for recruitment. Did he ask for at least one defender with the second worst defence in the league? You would hope so, but he didn’t get one. But, did he ask for a winger when we’ve just stupidly bought two French wingers and sent them back on loan rather than you know….actually play them in the side. It was terrible prioritisation. The equivalent of buying a third car when you can’t pay your rent. Was this Steve? No one knows.
It appears that our Scout Graham Carr identified a few left backs because there were three bids that all fell down on the last day. But why were we even bidding on the last day? The transfer window is for a month. Why is it that no one can show even the most basic organisational skill to do a transfer ahead of deadline day? Why wait till the last minute? Is Mr. Carr at fault for not having identified defender’s that the club could actually get? Or was he just as confused as the rest of us about why the club didn’t bother until the end of the window? No one knows.
Is it our MD Lee Charnley? Is he responsible for the farce of recruitment (I’m thinking of managers as well as players here) or is it Ashley actually making the decisions and paying for someone to get the flak (I’m still fairly sure that is the whole reason he appointed Joe Kinnear a second time). No one knows.
One of the things people who aren’t fans of the club don’t understand is the ire toward Alan Pardew from the fans. This is because they look only at results. There were a number of reasons fans got grumpy with Alan, but a big one was his willingness to play the shill. Basically, he’d tow the company line in press conferences, even to the point of obvious lies to the fans and self-contradiction/self-humiliation. His willingness to lie to the public in exchange for his pay check was understandable, but hardly admirable.
Steve now finds himself in a similar position. His career is on the brink. I doubt he will ever get to manage in the top tier again if Newcastle is relegated and/or he gets the sack. The club has two winnable games coming up. Less than 3 points and that will be the end of his Newcastle gig. So if he loses to Stoke away, which is likely given the club’s record, he starts to circle the drain and get asked the uncomfortable questions. He has two options, be a good employee, keep what’s going on to himself and take the full payout, but also leave his reputation in shreds. Or….go rouge, tell it like it really is at club and lose the payout. I’m not hopeful but someone telling the fans what’s actually happening to the club would be nice.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide
The Arsenal photo
Glad to see you included the Daily Mail’s article on the Arsenal photo in Mediawatch today. The facts of the matter are (but when do facts ever get in the way of a newspaper story) the photo was a well deserved tribute to Danny Welbeck whose name the players were chanting when it was being taken and that was the reason he did not appear in it.
I have suggested to Matt Barlow that he is aware of the facts before writing derogatory and self promoting articles and headlines.
Macca (the only thing our top referee Atkinson LOL got right all afternoon was the added time and thanks to Schmeichel for giving us that opportunity to score the winner), Herts
A lovely mail on Porto
Dear F365, I’m writing about Porto’s related article recommended in Mediawatch. Wouldn’t normally do so, but there’s now clearly a danger, courtesy of Mr. Eckner, that this skewed view escalates further beyond, so as a fan I must do my part in your lovely site.
“This” meaning the clear attempt by Lopetegui and the Spanish press to paint his reign as one of success, finished with an absolutely crazy, unexpected and unfounded decision to fire him. The Spanish in general have their fair share of faults, but I must recognize that they have two qualities not often found in a national scale nowadays: a clear and unshakable self-esteem which makes them protect their own, home and abroad, at all costs.
As a fan, my opinion is that the football that the team played was, especially this season, utterly terrible. Man Utd terrible. The team only made one or two comebacks in his period, finding itself useless and unresponsive in face of adversity. Lopetegui recurred to the usual factual arguments that every manager makes (games unbeaten, more points than last year at this stage), which can sometimes make you see things in another perspective. It didn’t. So allow me to state a few facts about Lopetegui myself:
– Had by far the most expensive squads and most expensive player ever in Porto and Portugal, who now plays for Stoke after being frozen out by yours truly. After the sacking, his father (yes, really) complained to the papers that his son “was very dissatisfied with the players he had”.
– Never tried or wanted to understand the club and league he was in, instead buying mostly Spanish players who were on the bench or in the fringes of their clubs. He then proceeded to create a possession game (roughly 70% in average) expecting that to magically translate into goals. It didn’t.
– Demagogically complained that he lost “7 players of the starting 11”. As usual in Porto, 2 or 3 players will probably be sold at the end of the season. He would have lost Alex Sandro, Danilo and Jackson. So why escalate this by deciding to base the first 11 on loaned players from Spain in his first season? Why spend most of the money in players then promptly frozen out? Why buy mostly expensive players from abroad whose only interest is to shine in the Champions League? And, ffs, how can he complain that he lost Quaresma, if he sold him himself???
All crowned with an absolutely unbearable and unacceptable arrogance towards everyone – the journalists here deserve it, the fans don’t – settling his fate. As any manager signed, the responsibility and consequent blame rests on the board. But how did Lopetegui decide to proceed in the negotiations to terminate his contract? By demanding the cash prizes for all the trophies that he was “on the way to winning”.
Mr. Eckner, believe me, Porto is much better without this Spanish intern masked as a club manager. José Peseiro is a good manager committed to attractive, attacking football, and that’s all he must work towards to right now, precisely the reason why he was hired. And in a month he already managed to win an away match to Benfica with – get this! – ….a comeback.
I think Greg in North London needs to have a word himself. Time wasting is the “biggest scourge of the Premier League”? Honestly Greg, you really need to sit down and think about that.
The reason that this season has been (arguably) more exciting than most is the fact that anyone (Villa excepted) can get a result against anyone else and Leicester are getting results against everyone (Arsenal excepted). Do you think that happens without the teams with less quality employing tactics that lie in the realms of gamesmanship?
Of course it would be lovely if everyone played expansive and free-flowing attacking football and each game had goals galore but unfortunately, if everyone tries that against Arsenal they lose. I can’t think of a team other than Barcelona (maybe City?) who have beaten Arsenal playing on the front foot. Even Fergie’s many victories against Arsenal came from United playing aggressive counter-attacking football using all the tools of the trade. And that included time wasting – or perhaps “time management” is a more neutral descriptor.
I completely agree that it’s dull to watch a goalkeeper spending 30 seconds tapping his boots against the posts before hoofing the ball up the pitch. But it’s equally dull to have a team that smashes all the little teams 8-0 being top of the league and winning said league by 30 points. And it’s only slightly less dull to have an impenetrable top four that changes very little season to season.
Arsenal are a team that will hurt you if allow them two things – space and time on the ball. The space is easy to snuff out by sticking your entire squad in the penalty area reducing Arsenal to wang the ball into the box or shoot from range. Time is a little harder to deal with as if you have everyone your own box then you are invariably going to be giving the ball back to the opposition quickly (see Barca v Mourinho’s Inter in that Champions League SF). Having a player sent off makes that even more difficult (see Barca v Inter again. A great way of dealing with that is killing the game by time-management (is that collective roar of disapproval I hear?). Get the ball out of play, lay on the pitch for treatment, take time with goal kicks etc.
It’s not pretty and for the Arsenal fans, surely the gentlemen of football (cough) who are used to paying a pretty penny for their fare this must be hard to take. Of course, for the away fan, travelling to Arsenal, paying through the nose for tickets, travel and food and then having to make all the noise as well, getting a result at the Emirates, no matter how ugly, must be far better than watching your team roll over and get trounced? I’m sure the Leicester fans are far less displeased that their team resorted to time wasting having been reduced to ten men than United fans are that they rolled up to the Emirates and fielded Carrick and Schweini and were instantly overrun.
Greg I think you should direct your frustration at your manager and team who have consistently shown an inability to break down defences for the last ten years – despite your outstanding (batshit) mental strength. Stop moaning about the time wasting – as long as there’s inequality (which your team will always be on the upper side of) in the game the little guy will always need to employ all means necessary to beat the big guy.
And this time they didn’t even win.
Ash (would you rather watch a Van Gaal team?) Metcalfe
Is the person who suggested adding on a minute for every instance of timewasting by any chance a teacher?
That “you’ve wasted my time so I’m going to waste yours” used to be a potent weapon against the nation’s 7-11-year-olds when I was at primary school. I know this is the target age range for most footballers’ mentalities, but this might be taking it too far. It would be funny, though, to see a referee, most likely Mike Dean, channel his inner Mr Hand from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and keep a running total for a whole season before detaining a team for 8 hours after the last game.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
The handball rule
If ever there was a rule that has become so far removed from its intended purpose its the handball rule. As a Spurs fan, i hate to sound ungrateful for the gift we were given on Sunday but I also know how furious i would have been if (and when?) that decision had been given against us.
The reason for the handball rule was surely intended to prevent desperate defenders becoming goalkeepers and literally saving a ball with their hands…..or gifted Argentinians gently tapping the ball into the net in the middle of a World Cup. What the rule is not there for is to enable players to manufacture a penalty shout by smacking the ball at a players hand from two yards away.
Let’s pretend for a second that the ball actually hit Sterlings hand/lower arm, making the penalty claim seem a little less ridiculous. Even then, with arms not flailing about, not in a particularly ‘unnatural position’ considering he is jumping to block a shot, danny rose just a few yards away…..did Spurs really earn a penalty there? They say the punishment fits the crime, but when it comes to handballs that simply isnt true.
If anything, the rule has created the ridiculous – tough central defenders charging down shots with both arms behind their back as if theyve been handcuffed. Isnt it ironic that the ‘unnatural position rule’ has forced players to adopt one of the most unnatural positions possible for their arms by keeping them behind their back.
I appreciate in this day and age there will always be fine margins with the handball rule, and the pressure exerted on referees by fans and players etc can cause them to make rash decisions, but for the sake of the game lets stop this current ridiculousness. Let’s go back to the days of intentional handball, where if a referee judges a player has used his hand to gain a clear advantage they are penalised, and if it hits their hand from 2 yards out they are not,
Matt Stead had to mention Iago ‘the corner’ Aspas didn’t he? B@stard.
Good article though.
Adam, LFC, Belfast