Keep those emails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Worried about Liverpool’s uninspiring 4-3-3
I think we all know what’s coming. Hoffenheim are brimming with confidence after an incredibly unlucky display against a flat Liverpool side. Klopp will persist with a 4-3-3- even though they key to unlocking an opponent’s defence seems to the link between midfield and attack which, in the absence of the “ill” Coutinho and injured Lallana, Liverpool just don’t have.
This is not a criticism of Klopp. I think he’s a great manager and is getting more out of this Liverpool team than the team sheets suggest is possible. I also appreciate real life is not FIFA, football manager or whatever simulator in which we are all world beaters so a straight formation change is not a quick fix. It does now seem inevitable that it must happen. Firmino behind Sturridge makes use of Firmino’s press a little deeper and allows Can/Henderson to screen the back 4 (Henderson has been off the pace and in my opinion should be dropped for Gini / Milner until he is up to speed but that won’t happen).
Sadly there will not be a change. I get the impression Klopp’s training etc relies on getting “his” system just right and disrupting it with a variant on the formation/instructions is out of the question.
Prepare yourselves for an uninspired midfield in a 4-3-3. Firmino not being in the game enough and Hoffenheim carving chance after chance. Relying on a miracle moment from a teenager isn’t enough. Lallana and Coutinho can’t return soon enough (get the little magician some lemsip asap).
In the meantime I seriously hope Liverpool are not done in the transfer market. Get past tonight or don’t, either way there’s a lot of midweek games this season and the predictability of tonight’s encounter will become a running theme for the season.
Martin (how many mails do you get per day on average? Always wondered) Jackson
It’s great to see Barcelona get their comeuppance
How refreshing it has been this summer to see Barca get a taste of their own medicine.
It’s almost become accepted in football nowadays that if Barcelona (or Madrid) come in for a player, the transfer is inevitable. The selling club is expected to stand aside while the big boys get their man.
How pleasing it has been then to see Barcelona throw every toy they have out the pram to try and stop Neymar leaving. From refusing to negotiate a transfer fee to requesting every possible organisation block the deal (La Liga, UEFA, FIFA etc) and now to suing the player for a paltry (in Barca’s terms) £7m.
All this because a player should have the audacity to want to leave them.
Fans really are overly guilty of getting carried away
I seem to remember everyone papping themselves about City winning their first five / six last year. I remember looking and thinking, as well as writing in, that at the time of the 7th game they had played 5 of the current bottom 6. So all comfortable games it turns out. I was told by the wise and the good that City were going to walk the league. Then October went by with one win in 6 and all was well with the world again.
I’m constantly reminding people of this now we have United this season, after just two games, playing apparently breathtaking football, they look so strong, Mourinho has a spring in his step etc etc. They’ve played the might of West Ham (20th and looking average), and Swansea (15th and no goal in 2). So i’d say they are performing around par for what you’d expect. Anything less than 6 points from those and they are in crisis.
Let’s see how they fair against a semi-resurgent Leicester, followed by an always tough away trip to Stoke (can you tell i’m an Arsenal fan?). Following this is Everton at home, who by contrast will have played Stoke, Man City, Chelsea, AND Spurs by this point so may well be battered into submission.
Whatever way you cut it, talking up title credentials and confidence is easy after playing (with all due respect) on team who battled relegation, and another who weren’t that much further ahead last season. However Everton fair in the difficult run described above, will we judge their whole season on this? Some perspective please people. Please?
Rob Stewart, AFC
We need to get a grip of transfer rules
Reading the Coutinho / Liverpool / Barca story I have to assume that I’ve lost track of how transfers work.
There’s some niggle in the back of my mind saying that club A would approach club B, make an offer, and ask for permission to talk to a player.
Here we are alleged to have a situation where Coutinho’s ‘camp’ are expected to claim that Barca made him send an email. And this is going to be his defence?
I don’t really care about Liverpool, Barca, Coutinho, Southampton, Van Dyke or any discussions of hypocrisy.. I just think that having rules that so clearly have nothing to do with the way business is conducted is pointless.
You either enforce the rules and apply meaningful penalties to people who just clearly flout them, or hover over the clause in the rulebook and press delete – observe the world to continue unchanged and have a slightly shorter rulebook. By the time you’ve done this with all the rules about offside, hand-to-ball/ball-to-hand, feigning contact, feigning injury, blah blah blah you might even have a rulebook that’s short enough for a pundit to read.
Sorry, not entirely sure where that all came from. Some kind of repressed frustration from the weekend, no doubt.
Dan (Spurs. Aware we’ve probably done the same to other clubs. Sorry.)
Tuchel to Chelsea?
Probably everybody already knows, but german newspaper BILD are reporting that Tuchel will become Chelseas new coach/manager.
Usually I would deride BILD but in german football they are very accurate with their reports..
Here we go.
Counterpoints to Johnny’s piece
So I read the John Nicholson piece on ‘Solving Football’, and thought it was a fascinating read. Generally agreed with it all in that football admin as it currently is has major flaws;
The transfer windows only serve to cause inflationary prices, unrest amongst players, and cause squads to not be finalised properly until 3 weeks into the season.
Internationals are just a bore and the timing of them whether 2 weeks into the season or 20 weeks into the season, they always sneak up on you and result in a disappointing “Oh, I guess I’m free this weekend then” (which you obviously spin as a “I’m sacrificing football for our day out this weekend” to the other half).
Not sure if there have been any counter arguments to that piece, I’m yet to catch up on the Mails, but to play devil’s advocate, here are some counters to the points made by John, which may well make some of them a little unrealistic/in need of refinement.
Abandoning it altogether is interesting (though I have a vague recollection of there being a window of no-activity back in the 90s too, a kind of inverse transfer window if you want. I could have just made that up though…might need to check on that!).
If you had the hypothetical where anyone could trade at any time, would that really curb the inflation issue? Would it limit the unsettling of players? I’m not sure it would.
If (for example) Pep wants to poach Schmeichel from Leicester, this will (a) result in Leicester pushing back and turning down several bids, which will inflate his price, (b) turn the players head anyway, (c) cause unrest in the team and an unwanted and unwarranted headache for Leicester, (d) you’ll get managers using that as a form of off-field attack to cause unrest for rivals.
I initially quite liked the concept of grouping them all together after the club seasons have ended (earlier than usual), and I still do, but one flaw (if you want to call it that) is that every other year you’d then have a bunch of group stage games all being played out like the group stages of a WC/Euros…right before the WC/Euros…meaning it’s not actually a separate campaign, and rather, it just becomes an extended phase of the WC/Euros (a bit like the CL now where you have group stage 1, then group stage 2).
To some, that may well seem ok, but personally, I don’t think it’s ideal. Maybe a better thing to do would be to have a “mid-season break”, which would allow international teams to get together for a longer period of time, which would help create better teams and foster that understanding of what the manager wants (right now being an international manager doesn’t really seem great given you only get a few days to get your message across).
Fit in half the fixtures in this 3 week break, and then the other half of the fixtures in the post-season slot as John suggested in his article.
That might help group all the internationals together into two windows (hey, this is kind of like the transfer window concept…maybe internationals should just take place in the current transfer window, and transfers happen during current interna…oh, ok maybe not), making them a bit more engaging and accepted.
Why is diving worse than fouling?
A few thoughts on the dark arts in football.
I’ve personally always found it weird that many football fans seem to think simulation is more morally wrong than fouling. To me, that doesn’t make any sense. They are both forms of cheating.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying simulation is good. Both simulation and fouling are cheating and both should be punished. Buts always weird to me that a dive gets jeers, where as a horrible tackle can get cheers.
Basically anytime you see a slow motion replay of play in the penalty box, you will almost without exception see a foul being committed. Its usually in the form of shirt pulling or arm grabbing, which more often than not gets let go by the referee in the name of “letting the game flow”. I don’t really have an issue with that because I also like to see a game flow, but remember – its still cheating.
So defenders cheat near to 100% of the time, and everyone thinks its normal. Whereas forwards cheat some of the time, and get genuine hate.
That’s the equivalent of ignoring a career criminal but jailing someone who gets a speeding fine once a year.
It is nonsense.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide
Why support Man City waa waa waa
‘JON CARDY: Why support a club like Wigan when you can support Atherton Collieries? Why Bury when you should really support Ramsbottom or Radcliffe and why Oldham, not Chadderton?’
…Each of the clubs that YOU listed are [relatively] FAR MORE successful than any of my alternate suggestions, and this is simply a logical extension to your point directed at Man City fans.
Are you forgetting when we shared 2nd division with Wigan? No ‘Arab money’ helped us through those play offs back into Div. 1 (and then back to the PL.) From 2005-2010 we were fairly even rivals in the PL and Wigan even finished above us a few times- (so were the Wigan fans only supporters for the glory because they finished 5 places above us?)
Don’t forget, it wasn’t too long ago that whinging United fans would have been scolded by all the Jon Cardys: “Try supporting a team like MAN CITY way down in the 2nd division, you really have nothing to complain about!”
This basic concept should not need explaining but I guess I’m writing to explain it anyway: happiness and success are all entirely…wait for the magic word…RELATIVE.
Fifteen years ago, a successful season for City was survival, now of course, it’s a trophy (or two.) Even internally there are plenty like you Jon, who insist on constantly beating others over the head that we should really just be grateful to even be playing in Champions League- but when we break single transfer window spend records, hire the treble winning, best manager in the world, become bookies favourites for the title, expectations understandably begin to rise. This increased demand from fans is entirely justified and RELATIVE to action and recent history- we now, rightly so, start to expect better football and better results every week- hence why Pep isn’t exulted for simply avoiding relegation.
We didn’t choose to be bought out and for a meteoric rise such as this, as there are actually few circumstances in which fans have such executive privileges- but now here we are, at the top of the world and as bitter as our rivals (like you) are, I can only continue to cheer and sing for my club– and of course complain as well when criticism is deserved. (I wasn’t sure if you were seriously suggesting that we stop supporting our club and betray loyalties because by YOUR standards, our club is now too successful…??)
Man City are definitely as superior to Wigan as Wigan are to Atherton Collieries – RELATIVELY – and yet I don’t begrudge either fans for who they support. And though Wigan might continue to remind themselves that they’re lucky just to be nowhere near as bad as Atherton, they can still legitimately complain about a loss or other bad fortunes along the way; likewise, Man City.
It really is quite tedious to have to now excuse my support for a successful team on such a regular basis simply because our local rivals are so much worse than us and I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two about the knee-jerk “glory hunter” accusation, having thrown it myself in the past (but not really recently.)
But yes, it really is ironic when city fans are lectured by others, telling them they should try supporting a team like Wigan because – a team like Wigan? Well yes, exactly- that WAS City.
J G MCFC
A famous night in the West Country
What an evening for Bristol football.
Bristol City overcoming Watford away. A remarkable result considering there were 9 changes made to the starting xi and they went a goal down! Academy graduate Hines getting on the scoresheet with a great strike from 30 yds.
And a shout out to Rovers who defeated Fulham also away from home!
Can’t wait to find out who they now get at 4.15 Thursday morning. What a superb idea that is!!! F***ing state of modern football.
Crystal Palace vs Ipswich thoughts, obviously
*Before we get properly started, I was trying to find a radio feed for Crystal Palace v Ipswich Town last night and didn’t succeed. Radio 5 Live were doing Sheffield United v Leicester City, and BBC Radio London were doing a different game, so I went to BBC Radio Suffolk, who were covering the game. However, I couldn’t listen to it via the internet. Is this a BBC local radio rights issue or an EFL Cup broadcasting rights issue?
If it’s radio, how comes I can listen to rugby league on Radio West Yorkshire despite not being there? Is that owing to greater demand/bandwidth for football?
*Commiserations to Ipswich Town, though I expect Mick McCarthy is far from disappointed with being knocked out of the EFL Cup. However, there is apparently a lot for him to be pleased about when it comes to how some of his young players performed. A few Palace fans who were at the game were tweeting their admiration for Luke Woolfenden, the right-back, for example.
*There’s a neat little lad and his name is Jimmy Mac …
James McArthur is one of those players that you really rate if he’s on your team, but don’t necessarily notice too much when he isn’t. However, Palace supporters generally love him as a proper central midfielder. He works incredibly hard, his tackles and interceptions won per game vastly outnumber his fouls, he can chip in with the odd goal (or 5 last season) and assist (stats checked on Whoscored). While less technically gifted than his midfield colleagues Yohan Cabaye and Jason Puncheon, he is better able to contribute at both ends of the field, which theoretically makes him well suited to playing in 3-4-3. But of course it’s McArthur who is being linked with a move away.
*Tactical expert of the midweek – everyone who saw the Eagles lined up in 3-4-3 with Cabaye on the right of the front three and asked why he was playing as a winger. You can all share it, if you promise to pay more attention to how the team actually gets its width. While the wide forwards will drift to the touchline, the main role of Cabaye in that position is to be an advanced playmaker: against a back three, he will stop the centre-back going wide, creating space for an overlap from the wing-back (Jason Puncheon and Patrick van Aanholt combined in a similar way against Liverpool); against a back four, playing just off and wide of the main striker means he brings someone out of a natural position to cover him and creates space for a teammate.
*While it’s wrong to get carried away, because we were playing against a rotated Ipswich squad, there are positives to be taken from the game. Positives such as we scored, and then won. There’s also that we got to play Sullay Kaikai and Jason Lokilo in a competitive game. These are players who look like good prospects, but who are not quite ready for starting places in the Premier League just yet. That will only come with experience, though, so fair play to Frank de Boer for giving them an opportunity.
The squad does look like it needs an extra couple of players from somewhere. What we need most, of course, is for Liverpool to stop playing silly buggers over Mamadou Sakho. I mean, he’s their player so it’s up to them to decide the terms of sale, but when they’ve got a player they’ve said will not feature in their first team plans, it seems senseless to price interested teams out of the market.
*Not sure if this got a lot of coverage but last season Sam Allardyce was keen on bringing Carl Jenkinson to Selhurst Park, only to fail because Jenkinson wanted more money (than his reported £45,000/week) for taking what he saw as a step down in status, despite the prospect of actually getting off the bench. Jenkinson joined Birmingham City on a season-long loan this week.
And a Hull five-aside team, also obviously
Woke up this morning wondering what would be the greatest 5-a-side team each club put out? Oh, and to make the argument completely hypothetical and totally unwinnable – historical figures and leagues Vs. leagues welcome. I’m hoping the mailbox can work this out for me.
For Hull City I’m gonna go with:
GK Paul Musslewhite (league 2 hero)
DF Harry Maguire ( >Gibson / Keane)
MF Jay-Jay Okocha (marry me?)
MF Nicky Barmby (local lad done good)
ST Dean Windass (marry me, you local lad)
Would love to hear from someone more knowledgeable and, importantly, more decisive than me who they would put in their teams, especially if anyone can be bothered to cover the Prem League and La Liga.
Dan (I still call the league cup, coca-cola cup) Tiger in Leeds
A wonderful zing
I very much enjoyed Chris MUFC’s email on the inadequacies of the top 6 bar his beloved Man United.
A quick glance at a Football 365 archive shows that his email was published exactly one year to the day after he sent one in proclaiming that it was “heartwarming” to watch the 2016/17 edition of Man United, “in full expectation of a comfortable victory, and full knowledge that we have better players than everyone else.”
Maybe wait til 5 games have been played next year mate.