Mails: TAA world class debate, Liverpool anomalies and…

Date published: Saturday 21st August 2021 10:04 - Will Ford

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold

Please keep your mails coming to


World class TAA
I see Tom and Andy the Arsenal and Man Utd fans giving the same old tired arguments against Trent Alexander Arnold not being a world class player.

Sometimes who is the best player is descends into tired tribalist opinions so I will try and avoid my own biases and those above. But this Trent argument really grates my gears.

In terms of looking at how good a player is what better measure than his current market value? I find people are more truthful when their money is on the line, see the betting odds on games for the weekend to really see who is likely to win for example.

A cursory search of most valuable right backs in world football (have a go), show Trent uniformly out in front. The best known of these puts his current market value at £67.5m. Andy mentions the Chelsea, Athletico and Man City fullbacks as being superior, Tom highlights the three players ahead of him in the England pecking order, lets compare:

Current Market Value:
TAA – £67.5m
Reece James – £36m
Kieran Trippier – £18m (even accounting for age is a long way off)
Aaron Wan Bissaka – £36m
Joao Cancelo – £49.5m
Kyle Walker – £25.2m

The list continues.

Transmarket also ranks Trent as the current 12th most valuable player in the premier league, as a right back!!

What’s going on here? Does he sell alot of shirts? Is he a whizz on the stock market, inventing the next big crypto currency or just really really good at football?

All the other websites on my search using monetary value gave the same result, one putting Trent’s value at over double the nearest challenger. Have a look for yourself.

So by this measure, ie ranking a players worth by this thing called money (funny how the best players usually cost the most money) Trent is well out ahead in terms of the world’s right backs, and yet he finds himself 4th apparently in the England pecking order (although we don’t know for sure what would’ve have happened at the Euros due to his injury.)

So instead of ignoring the best objective measure of a players worth we are left instead going with the judgment of a manager who has done a decent job managing an extravagantly talented England but has won nothing in his career vs the manager who has trusted this player to be the creative force (from right back) for a team that won the premier league and champions league with him in this position.

I’m sorry, Gareth is a fine man, the other full backs are all fine players but come on.

For me Trent is redefining the role of full back in the modern era playing a role so unlike any of those listed above that comparison almost seems pointless.

Jurgen Klopp agrees, making a then 20 year old full back the creative fulcrum of a title and champions league winning team. His is a generational talent and the next ten years of his career will prove it. Any manager in world football worth his salt would have him in his first 11 in a heartbeat.

So what if Gareth Southgate doesn’t rate him? If that is the only argument you can muster against him  I would suggest Gareth simply doesn’t know what to do with him.

Time to paraphrase the Simpsons, Gareth’s like a mule with a spinning wheel, no one knows how he got Trent and danged if he knows how to use him.


World class box ticking
For world class, you should look into the industry or field you work in. Look at who is the best and why. The are usually highly talented, extremely hard working and constantly growing/adapting. They do things others can only wish to do. They find a way. They have absolute confidence in themselves.

In the category you would have Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Ramos, Benzema, Kane, Salah, Fernandes, Modric, Kante, Courtois… I could go on and on.

We have witnessed these players and read/watched the stories of how they apply themselves, how hard they work, how they do things that wow people in training and how consistent they are. They are both physically and mentally ahead of most, even when aging.

You notice them when you see the difference they make to the team. Think Barca with Messi, Reals champions league success with Ronaldo, Lewandowski in the Bundesliga, Modric and Ramos for Real and Croatia/Spain, Salah carrying Liverpool to the title, Kante for everyone and you could tell Fernandes was on another level 90mins into his United career.

World class definitely means your the starter in your team and obviously capable of playing in any others. TAA is very good, but he is no Dani Alves, yet.

World class XI- Courtois- Alba, VVD, Varane, Kimmich-Kante, KDB, Fernandes- Messi, Lewandowski, Salah.

Subs: Neuer, Ramos, Bonucci, Alaba, Fabinho, Modric, Kroos, Kane, Lukaku.

Not saying this is the be-all, end-all team, or even that it would succeed, just that these XI players are truly outstanding in their abilities, applications, consistency over the past five years. To me, that is world class. Virtually everyone of them would be welcome into the team/squad of any other if the finances and situation were right. You could say there is some in your team you would prefer, but couldn’t guarantee they are better.

You do have anomaly’s, Ronaldinho ticked some but not all the boxes, and nobody would question of his title as world class. What takes him out of the greatest of all time conversation was his lack of application over a sustained period of time. Much like Ronaldo with his injuries or that one season Kevin Phillips scored a boatload of goals for Sunderland.
Calvino( Yes, it is a slow day and I do have time)


Liverpool anomalies
My god this word is being thrown around by a lot of Liverpool fans. As they mentioned in their rebuttle to the excellent xg analysis, context is necessary.

So what are the anomaly’s? Let’s go right back to where Liverpool fans, I suspect, would put it. The beginning of the pandemic.

No more fans, the mental anguish and the fact the title was more or less won accounted for the poor end to the season. An anomaly.

Then came the new season, 4-3 thriller vs Leeds, defeat to Arsenal in the cup and that insane 7-1 loss to villa. An anomaly again.

Then the central defenders all started to fall off, but they still managed to get to top in December weirdly enough. Not an anomaly.

January brought the whole ship down, I think it lead to six straight home defeats- first time in their history. 8/12 losses in the league in 2021. Clearly an anomaly.

Why they can’t score with a fit attack against the likes of Fulham, Everton and Brighton at home is a question for the… defense?

They did end the season as the most inform team. They even beat Man Utd at home with Phillips and Williams at the back. Again, not an anomaly.

Now I can hear the screams of ‘we had midfielders in defense, we had inexperienced players at the back, no settled team, injuries, etc’

Your defense and attack both improved when your coach put the players in positions they played. Klopp chose to put Fabinho in defense and Henderson too. Klopp (like Ole gets blamed for) didn’t use squad rotation as much as he should. He made so many bad calls and had even worse excuses. You forget too he let Lovren go without replacing him, aiding in the future downfall. And low and behold, he decides to finally trust his actual backups and they do well.

For me the anomaly was everything that came before. Salah, never known the be a serious goal scorer, ends up breaking the goal scoring record in his first year. Signing Salah instead of Brandt(Not one person saw him hitting almost 100 goals in four seasons). Going three years with virtually no serious injuries whilst playing heavy metal football. Getting to and winning the Champions league. Origi winning match’s. Pushing Man City to 100 points. Receiving 145M for Countinho who literally didn’t suit Klopp’s system. Receiving large sums for players not worth it( You call it good business, but remember how you feel when your sold something dodgy for over the odds).

Liverpool had their fair share of luck over the last 4 years, even squeaking over the line last season to remain a champions league team. Calling your manager and clubs failings an anomaly is the only anomaly here. I’m already getting ready for next January’s anomaly during Afcon..
Calvino ( Ps- since 2003, Man Utd have spent 125.5M more than Liverpool- that’s a Pogba and a Mata in the difference. So chill out ‘big spenders’)(You forgot the Glazers spent F*ck all in their first 7 years)


Liverpool xG
I enjoyed reading the correct statistical reactions to garey’s overblown claims from a single game. The other important point is the gamestate at which the chances occurred. By this I mean that a 0.5 Xg chance is great at 0-0 but it’s next to worthless when you are 3-0 down with 86 minutes on the clock.

LFC notably dropped their intensity once the third goal went in. According to understat, 0.85 of Norwich’s total Xg came from the scramble in the 86th minute after Liverpool had knocked off. Before that they barely had a sniff (total Xg under 0.5).

A goal at this point would not have impacted the result and it’s sensible to focus on avoiding injury and maintaining freshness for the season ahead with that lead, even if you are taking a calculated gamble on the clean sheet.
Richard, Toronto


Kane and the verbal agreements
The most interesting thing of all the talk of Harry Kane and Gentleman’s agreements is Luke O’s workplace. You negotiate contracts with people and have side agreements outside said contract that you feel duty bound to implement. If you feel duty bound to implement them then put them in the contract. Why promise something to somebody but not be willing to put it in the contract? If you work hard during the year and your boss leaves how is the new boss supposed to know you have an unwritten agreement? If you pay the bonus how do you explain it to your auditors? If your boss doesn’t give you the bonus he is probably not going to shed tears when you leave as he doesn’t think you are worth a bonus. I can only assume you work in a start up as real companies put things in writing and don’t leave the staff vulnerable, and only starry eyed idiots would sign a contract without all the terms.

Finally if there are a list of former Spurs players who claim to have a gentleman’s agree with Levy that wasn’t honoured why would Harry Kane and what increasingly looks like his half wit brother take one at face value when negotiating a 6 year contract.
Mel – Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Athlone Town, HaHoHe, sadly too long an accountant


Luke – Dubai O’s makes a reasonable point as to how most people would look to leave a job where a verbal agreement had not been met by the other party. I’ve been in that situation myself, I found a new job with better pay and started there the next day. But of course, I didn’t do that, because I was still bound by the terms of the written employment contract.  I had to serve my notice period. And that really seemed to drag, but tough – it was part of the deal I’d signed upon taking the job. Which brings us to the point: the breaking of a verbal agreement might upset someone, but it doesn’t change much about their actual terms of employment.

Of course, we’re all making assumptions about the terms of any verbal agreement, if it even existed. One side is keen to float the idea that notoriously shrewd/hardball/shifty negotiator Daniel Levy agreed something with zero caveats and no protection for Levy’s own interests.  That he was out-negotiated by the work experience kid playing at being a football agent.  That Levy wouldn’t have at least said “…if an acceptable offer is received”.

I don’t actually know any more than anyone else not named Kane or Levy, but I do think Levy may well have said that he’d listen to reasonable offers if Spurs failed to make the top four or win a trophy.

So what’s a reasonable offer for Spurs’ best player, one they have no hope of replacing like for like, and who won his third golden boot only a couple of months ago while simultaneously recording the most assists of anyone in the league?  Is it the same as Lukaku, sold on the cheaper side because Inter are near bankrupt? Is it the same as Grealish, who has nice calves but hasn’t begun to come close to Kane’s stats?  Is it the same as the conveniently-leaked Lewandowski price, someone nearly four years older and on a shorter contract?  Of course not. It’ll be the price that Levy feels he can live with. That sufficiently funds Spurs’ long-overdue rebuild. And then only if his director of football believes he can get better value with those funds being used to buy from skint European clubs than Spurs get from having a sulky Kane stinking the place out. This last factor is doing more to see the deal happen now than anything from Kane’s end.

Kane’s not the first Spurs player to be in this situation. Perhaps he should have taken the Modric approach of knuckling down for one more season and getting a better move (a verbal agreement Levy honoured), or the Bale approach of shutting up until the buying club stumped up the cash. Perhaps he should have employed an actual football agent.  He’ll probably get his move either way, but one way would have seen it already done, with his image intact and with the blessing of the Spurs fanbase that he claims matters to him. Instead, he looks a dick, and he’s still wondering if City want him badly enough to pay the slightly higher fee caused by his brother’s amateur hour antics.

Spurs get plenty of stick, much of it deserved. But the Sky-fuelled narrative that they should bend over, lube up and accept a cheap offer on a player they didn’t want to sell – from the richest/second richest club in the modern history of the game no less – is laughable, particularly when they feigned outrage at the ESL. Remember kids, condensing football’s assets into a handful of clubs is only bad when you don’t have the rights to broadcast it…
Leon, London


Reading Luke from Dubai’s mail yesterday was interesting.  While people should not break verbal contracts, they do it all the time.
People break written contracts all the time, so it shouldn’t be surprising when people break verbal ones.

The issue I have with this assumption that it is Levy that has broken the verbal contract. It appears the leaks of this deal are all from Kane’s agents / brothers / mouthpieces, and not at all from Levy.  No surprises for which way that is going to be biased.

If the agreement was as simple as he can leave for City / Champs League club for a reasonable price, then it’s fair to say that was a naive agreement to make, and one that has not been broken.

Levy thinks 150m + is reasonable apparently.  He might also want it made before the last day of the transfer window so he can buy a replacement that won’t cost him 120m.

Instead of having a farcical interview with Gary Neville, not turning up to train, leaking to the press, and doing doughnuts in his brothers office – why doesn’t Kane simply submit a transfer request?

No beating around the bush, no rumours.  Just flat out state he wants a transfer.

If it was all about “winning stuff” by playing for a billion pound team, and not about the money, surely he is happy to give up any loyalty bonuses / wages that he would lose by putting in the request?
Dixon Hunt (You all know Barry Fox is not a real person don’t you?)

Ramsdale Seaman


Sheff Utd the Ramsdale losers
So…Arsenal have massively overpaid for Aaron Ramsdale. Have they though?

Bournemouth are entitled to 15% of any fee received for Ramsdale.

Therefore, of the £24m received, £3.6m goes to Bournemouth. Considering Sheff Utd paid £18.5m, Bournemouth have now received £22.1m, whilst Sheff Utd have received £21.4m.  Essentially as things stand Sheff Utd have received less money than they paid Bournemouth for Ramsdale.

If the extra £6m is activated and Arsenal end up paying £30m, Bournemouth will have received £23m, with Sheff Utd receiving £25.5m.

None of this means Ramsdale is the right GK for Arsenal, but given the existing agreement between Sheff Utd and Bournemouth, I don’t see how it’s possible to have got Ramsdale for a lower price.

The biggest losers in all of this are Sheff Utd. They have lost a player they didn’t want to lose for (as things stand) less than they paid for him with the best possible outcome of a £2.5m profit on the fee they paid.
Naz, Gooner


Reluctant reasons to like clubs
Arsenal- Genuinely cool. The stadium, their jerseys, style of play, Henry and the Invincibles.Aston Villa- Big club back in the big time and doing great. Happy for it.
Brentford- Small club that has rose us the divisions steadily and play attractive football.
Brighton- Play good football and have some really handy players. Seems like a genuinely nice club.
Burnley- Old school club keeping it 90’s and I love it. 442 all day.
Chelsea- What a billionaire would do in football manager. The Zola days, Drogba days. Fun times.
Crystal Palace- Class stadium atmosphere and they always seem to stay up. Fun fans.
Everton- They are a fun team, Moyes-Martinez-Ancelotti-Benitez have all made some interesting teams.
Leeds- Lily white and playing great football. Just like Villa, great to have them back. The 90’s/00’s were fun too. While it lasted.
Leicester- 2016 will forever be remembered, and the end to 2015 was pretty good too.
Liverpool- They’re fans on big game nights are a sight to behold. Love United-Pool game days.
Man City- What a billionaire would do to build a football empire.
Man Utd- From Cantona to Keane, Beckham to Ronaldo, Rooney to Rashford. It’s been a joy.
Newcastle- Great stadium and fan base. Lovely black and white shirts. Full of drama.
Norwich- The beautiful yellow shirts, nice football and ‘whereee aaaaare youuuu!?’
Southampton- Always producing some great players, while usually doing pretty decent themselves. JWP free kicks are a nice addition.
Tottenham- The entertainers. Great new stadium and Newcastle level drama- in a suit.
Watford- What a billionaire would do on football manager if he was having some fun.
West Ham- Always a worth a watch. Even when they’re bad they’re good to watch. Moyes bringing them back is great.
Wolves- What I would do in football manger. Their rise was fascinating.


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