It’s another excellent Mailbox in an excellent Mailbox week. Keep it up, you good boys and girls, and send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Whisper it loudly
With a couple of week gap until the actual football could we all try to make a real mockery of that Football Whispers thing? How about Football365 come up with an outrageous transfer and a twitter hashtag for it and then everyone who reads the site tweet/retweet it?
Can we break the top 100 with a Toni Kroos to West Brom rumour?
How about the top 50 with Anthony Martial going to Hartlepool?
Surely the top 10 is in reach if everyone started tweeting about Neymar to St Mirren?
Can we break their algorithm?
Mark (ITFC in Cambridge)
Not content at Anfield
Good article by Matt Stead today on Liverpool’s need for a marquee signing. I am very much in the camp that a name is not as important as the type of player, but I can’t say I’m happy with Liverpool’s summer business up to this point.
Coming into the summer the consensus amongst supporters was that their needed to be changes at goalkeeper, left back and a midfield partner for Emre Can. To this point Liverpool have only addressed one of those positions, at goalkeeper, but it remains to be seen if that position has been addressed satisfactorily. Liverpool’s long public pursuit of Leicester’s Ben Chilwell seems to have come to nothing as it looks like he will stay put for remainder of his 12 month contract. This is particularly frustrating as the transfer committee had no problem sanctioning paying over the odds for Sadio Mane, but the extra three million reportedly separating Liverpool from their long term left back is where they draw the line. Regardless of the fact that it was former BVB II coach David Wagner who tipped Klopp off.
The lack of aggression to go after an established midfield destroyer is something that really nags at me. If you look at past champions it’s easy to see how influential that position is on how well a team finishes. Yaya Toure, Nemanja Matic, and N’golo Kante were all integral to their teams success. It is the position that turns pretenders into contenders and is position that Liverpool have needed to fill for over a decade. The arrival of Marco Grujic raises hope but it would be foolish and unfair to expect at 20 year old in a new league to have the kind of impact needed to return Liverpool to the top four. With Lucas and Allen among the names of players going the other way, not having a solid CDM is a massive concern for me heading into the new season.
Liverpool has complete some good business this summer. The arrival of keeper Loris Karius and and center back Joel Matip for under 5 million is tremendous. Sadio Mane was a bit expensive at 34 million, but could be an essential player given who is going out the door. Deals for Ragnar Klavan and Georginio Wijnaldum, who have not been completed at the time of writing this, would also be welcomed with open arms.
With that said I don’t feel as though any of those players will aid significantly in the goals against department and if Liverpool don’t tighten up at the back they have no chance of pushing forward.
Brian (Very excited to see what happens if things don’t fall Mourinho’s way) LFC
Red, red Wijn
Numerous reports suggest that Liverpool are close to completing a deal for Gigi Wijnaldum for anything between 18-28 million pounds depending on what you read. Even in today’s inflated market that is a fair chunk of money to sploosh on a player I would posit is not necessarily needed. Liverpool’s bloated squad has been well documented. We are clearly trying to offload Balotelli and Benteke and if we succeed we’re left with Sturridge, Origi, Ings and Firmino (if needed) to play up top. No complaints there! Its the 3 positions behind the striker where things get a bit crowded. Coutinho, Firmino and Mane will probably be first choice with Lallana pushing them hard. We still have Markovic on our books although I expect him to be moved on either on loan or permanently. Milner will probably be used primarily on the flank too and youngsters like Ojo, Brannagan and Grujic won’t want to twiddle their thumbs in the u21s all season either. It has also been suggested that Wijnaldum can fit into the centre in a 4-3-3 but even here he will face competition from Can, Henderson, Milner, Grujic and, if they stay, Allen and Lucas. That’s no mention Kevin Stewart and Pedro Chirivilla who have just signed new long-term deals. With no European football a large squad is not needed and could actually be detrimental to team morale this season.
So, while Wijnaldum is obviously a potential useful signing I can’t help but feel that money would be better spent trying to tempt Jonas Hector to play left-back or towards a beast of a cm to replace Lucas and Allen. Klopp has made it clear from past actions and current statements that he intends on building a team rather than buying a team of superstars and while most Liverpool fans are fine with this but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t raise concerns about potentially wasteful transfers when they arise.
Having said all this Klopp sees the squad train week in and week out and obviously knows best. Also, we’ll probably see Coutinho jet off to PSG in two weeks time and find out that Klopp bought Wijnaldum as his direct replacement!
Osric the Brave (Frothing for the new season), Cape Town
Palace’s summer in a nutshell
Alan Pardew is still manager.
Matt Carr, Spurs, Wilmington NC
Pea Carsenal returns
…Headline from a the Telegraph site:
“Wenger set to miss out on Higuain but Rob Holding set for Arsenal medical”
And that my friends, is surely peak Arsenal.
Actual Gooner thoughts
Nice email by Ed this morning, I think Townsend is a very clever signing for Palace (and would have been for any midish-table side)
Regarding Arsenal, what transfer business? I jest, but it is worrying at the moment.
There is no doubt we needed another central midfielder with 3 leaving this summer and Xhaka is a great signing here. He is a good all round midfielder but what he offers more than anything is a range of passing. Recently, Arsenal teams have been bogged down by teams defending deep and tightly. Having someone to spray the ball out more efficiently to Monreal and Bellerin on the flanks can only be a good thing.
This means that Ramsey will be pushed out wide, leaving Coquelin, Ozil and Xhaka in midfield (sorry Wilshire) and Sanchez and Giroud up front. I really, really like this midfield and the back-up options (Cazorla and Wilshire).
Won’t comment on someone who hasn’t arrived yet (Rob Holding, CB).
What we still need? Some form of striker/goalscorer.
Giroud is a very good striker (stop giggling at the back) but he offers us only one approach. We need another someone direct who can find the net and there are a number of different routes to this.
1) A striker who can finish. A poacher, someone to get on the end of an Ozil/Ramsey/Xhaka pass
2) A wide player who is direct and can create something out of nothing.
For me, it’s either Mahrez type player or a Lacazette/Higuain/Morata/Johannes (already gone…).
I am not holding out much hope but if we don’t invest this year, like everyone else is, we better start freeing up our Thursday nights…
Rob A (don’t think Vardy was quite the right fit for Arsenal anyway) AFC
Ian Wright, Wright, Wright
Enjoyed the topical top ten today, and especially enjoyed seeing who was at #1. Beyond the daft television programmes, ill-fated singing career, Chicken Tonight adverts and general overbearing media presence, it’s easy to forget that Ian Wright (Wright Wright) was actually an incredible footballer. As someone pointed out in May, in the 1990 FA Cup Final (the original game), he came off the bench and immediately dumped two Manchester United players on their backsides, helping himself to a brace in the process. Even more incredibly for someone whose game was skill and pace, it was his first game from injury, recovering from a second leg break of the season.
At The Arsenal, he became their all-time top scorer, and a Gunners fan would probably post some videos to goals here. However I want to highlight his running battle with Peter Schmeichel, giving genuine edge to a rivalry between the two heavyweights atop the Premier League in its early years. One moment saw both men attempt to win a 50-50 with such force that the ball burst between their feet, something replayed in tribute several times in Euro 2016.
I think he was unfortunate not to play more times for England, because he played at a time when there were several very good England strikers, in established partnerships: in the early years of his career, Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley’s partnership was a key part of England making the semi-final in 1990; in 1996, the Shearer and Sheringham combination also played a big part in England reaching a semi-final, and was enough to restrict other prolific strikers, like Robbie Fowler and Andy “Andrew” Cole to limited roles. In between Lineker and Shearer being the main goal threats, players picked ahead of Wright include Paul Stewart, David Hirst and Brian Deane (thanks Wikipedia), all of whom were powerful hold-up, target men types rather than a more dynamic centre-forward. That Graham Taylor, eh?
Another reason to love Wrighty is that his newspaper columns always make for a good Mediawatch, in two ways: 1) there will be a pun of his name and the word “wrong”, and 2) there will be that picture of him in a dinosaur onesie. Please post the picture of the dinosaur onesie.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Why do teams put such stock in transfers to cover injuries yet fail to plan for other such injury crises that could occur from September 1st?
The imminent signing of Ragnar Klaven for Liverpool means their first team centre backs now stands at Lovren, Sakho, Matip, Klaven, Illori, Joe Gomez. I know a few can play in a couple of other positions but it’s highly unlikely all of these players will finish the season happy with the amount of minutes played.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, Balotelli & Benteke appear to have one foot out the door each, leaving a brittle Sturridge & Origi as the only first team strikers (Firmino as cover). All it takes is an injury to Origi, Sturridge to continue his woes then Firmino has to play every game as a central striker, and it’s not inconceivable that all three could be out at once.
I guess what I’m saying is why are clubs so reactionary to transfers, rather than being proactive?
Arsenal have seen this issue before but as long as everyone’s fit in September, there’s a reluctance to purchase.
With the funds available right now, youth systems being as good as they supposedly are (with lots spent on youth transfers) and the loan-recall system available, is it ever an excuse to be panic buying because somebody is away at the Olympics/injured themselves in pre-season?
KC (take nothing away from Klaven, just shouldn’t need him)
Dismissing players outside the top flight
On the day you published an(other) excellent article looking at The Top Ten Late Starters, I was disappointed to see yet another lower league player again written off before he’d kicked a ball in the Premier League, with Burnley’s new addition greeted with the ludicrous sub-heading: ‘is signing players from League One sides the best formula for survival? Burnley think so.’
I know the two are slightly different things (late starter/late bloomer etc) but the constant sneering at players signed from outside the top flight in the past few years has been a stain on what is otherwise the best football website out there. Not every player outside of the Premier League is necessarily a complete waster. After all, I remember an article you published early last season saying that a pairing of Eric Dier and Dele Alli was ‘no one’s idea of a top four team’s midfield’ and that didn’t work out too badly…
The comment section here recently has helped me realise just how as a country we were stupid enough to vote for Brexit.