Some thoughtful mails in here. Keep it up. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Liverpool need more b***ards
Has anybody else noticed that Henderson appears to have no belief in his first touch? How many times in a game does he find himself in space and just blindly kick the breaking ball away? Is he being instructed to do this? As club captain, is it reasonable to expect Henderson to control the ball, look up, and find a man or take somebody on?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about Liverpool, Jordan Henderson and the idea of gamesmanship.
I think Liverpool will never progress until Henderson is sidelined or at least dropped for repeatedly poor performances. In that fabled 2013/14 season, he was good at chasing down and dispossessing players to begin counter-attacks. I always think of the tackle on Ozil in the Anfield demolition which set up the assist for Sturridge. He is at best a disrupter of play. James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo and Echo writers always highlight this aspect of his play. Beyond this attribute, it is hard to feel satisfied with Henderson as club captain.
When Liverpool are going through their usual phase of possession, his first impulse is to go sideways or backwards, so much so that he is starting to get niggled by the crowd in recent games. In contrast, when Liverpool are pegged back into their own half, he never tries to keep the ball or pass out – he just kicks it blindly up the pitch so attacks can restart instantly. At least once every game, the ball ping-pongs around the middle via a series of headers only for it then to be kicked into the stratosphere by Henderson to nobody.
I think Liverpool as a club need to get a little bit sharper in terms of gamesmanship. This example may seem simple – but during the Sevilla game, did anybody notice that there was an army of ball boys getting the ball back into play as quickly as possible? Might be a small detail but it resulted in the tempo of their wave of attacks never dropping.
Liverpool need a ruthless streak. Dare I say it, they need more characters like Suarez. Unpredictable. Unpleasant. I wonder, do teams actually fear Liverpool? Sure Mane and Salah have speed to burn, but I don’t think opposition players are standing in the tunnel worried about the prospect of a player who will try get you booked, try win a penalty or try and get into your head. I think if Salah and Mane were prone to a bit of dark arts, it might win a few more penalties. May make the difference. I am certain the stats regarding Salah in the box are insane, imagine if he was racing into the box against a defender who was unsure if he would stay on his feet or try and go over?
Conte’s Chelsea are being outplayed by the best
I haven’t written in a while, partially because I’ve not had much to write about and partially because I’ve been gathering evidence on a narrative I’m about to mention. Conte is poor at handling big games.
Put down those torches and pitchforks and hear me out. I believe Conte has been increasingly defensive this season and never coaches to take the game to the opposition. ‘But Chelsea had better chances than Liverpool,’ I hear you cry. My counter-argument is that it was not Chelsea’s superior attacking play but Hazard’s individual brilliance and Liverpool’s iffy defence that created most of our opportunities. Klopp was salty after the draw but he did have a point, we stuck eight men behind the ball and hoped for a lucky break.
What inclined me to write in was not just the result (because a draw at Anfield is never a bad thing) but more of the approach to the game. The only top teams we’ve comfortably beaten and dominated are those that are arguably more defensive than us (Atletico and ManYoo) and we’ve been outplayed, regardless of the result, by City, Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool, Roma, hell even Watford. Because I don’t want this to get too long we’re being outplayed by majority of top teams and if Conte doesn’t commit men forward and attack he may the architect of his own demise.
Emma (Someone needs to show Paul Murphy the goal they scored vs Brighton.)
Man United have a massive full-back problem
I can only assume that when compiling this week’s Winners and Losers section, Storey trawled through a list of the weekend’s goalscorers, stumbled upon Young and thought ‘nominal left-back scoring? Has to be included so…’
Firstly the goal was a huge slice of luck and harsh on the otherwise commendable defensive shift put in by Brighton. Secondly, to include Young is to suggest that he excelled. Well he didn’t. Every Brighton attacked came down the right wing, as Hughton obviously saw a weakness in Young’s defensive game to exploit.
In the immediate aftermath to Newcastle’s goal a week earlier, the initial blame was pinned on Lindelof for making the completely unavoidable mistake of slipping when in the process of attacking the ball. In truth, Young was skinned by Yedlin in the build-up, and Lindelof was frantically attempting to cover his colleagues latest positional mishap. Okay, Young does have a decent delivery on him but that is only relative to the complete non-existence of any decent input at the other side.
The aforementioned Lindelof put in a bone-crunching tackle on Knockaert at one stage in the second half, the sort of challenge that gets the crowd going. The ball fell to Martial, and there was a noticeable anticipation among the crowd who hoped he would take on a couple of opponents himself. Instead, he rolled the ball out to Valencia who does what he does best and bruised the ankle of the first man under no real pressure.
Later on in the half, Valencia admittedly showed good power to initially burst past the newly introduced Izquierdo and even knocked him on his arse in the penalty area – and still managed to hit him with his cross! It’s patently obvious even for an untrained mind like mine that his lack of end product down the right side is not fit for purpose, and is probably the most glaring factor in United’s stodgy flow in the final third. Blame Mata’s and Mkhi’s poor form, Lukaku’s lack of intelligence, the fact that neither Rashford and Martial like playing on the right and both aren’t consistent enough, but in reality the ever-present at right-back is the biggest elephant in the room.
Which brings me on to my wider point: If United could morph the defensive aspects of Valencia’s game with Young’s delivery, they may well have the makings of a top full-back. As it is though, neither of them are worthy of a side with title (chasing) ambitions.
We cannot absolve Jose of blame
After struggling to break down Brighton this weekend (which to be fair City did too – although in their first game of the season and away) I read your article about Jose releasing the handbrake. It seemed to conclude that it wasn’t Jose’s fault that they failed to attack well.
I beg to differ. Whilst he did play what feels like on paper a great attacking line up, how they played is down to him. And what comes to my mind most over this is – how much has he improved our attacking players?
Have Martial, Rashford, Lingard and Mata improved? Is he getting the best out of Mkhitaryan or Lukaku? Not really.
Compare this with Pep at Man City. Yes he has spent money too, but five of the front six from Saturday were players he inherited. Whilst I would definitely argue he had more to work with from the beginning (possibly one of the main reasons Pep chose City over United if there was a choice – overhauling LVG’s insipid United required more surgery than Pellegrini’s City) it is hard to argue he hasn’t improved the players he has more attacking-wise.
No doubt Jose has improved our defenders. Jones, Rojo, Valencia and even Young have been revelations (god knows what has happened to Shaw), but our attacking players aren’t really improving so much. Not only individually, but our movement and incisiveness is poor compared to City.
There is no doubt City’s form makes us look worse relatively (we aren’t doing THAT badly overall to be honest) but getting the best out of our players is Mourinho’s job. You can’t just chuck the players on the pitch and expect them to play well.
I think Mourinho has done an okay job – we are definitely better than we were under LVG (just look at the team sheets we had in many LVG games!!) but to say it’s not his fault when we don’t attack well is simply not true.
Nishul (random how Burnley have a better away record than United this season!), London
Remember who Steve Walsh wanted…
Good piece on Steve Walsh, who – whilst we all fell in love with the Leicester fairytale – seems to have been sticking himself front and centre of all the plaudits.
He deserves a lot of credit for Mahrez and Kante, regardless of what happens now. But it’s worth mentioning, in among signings Kante, Okazaki, whoever else that summer, he was a coin toss away from signing Jordan Veretout before Villa and James Chester from WBA, with Leicester coming for both and just missing out.
Both of those players were disasters in their debut seasons for their clubs. Leicester’s title team would have looked a lot different if Walsh had got all of his picks.
Sometimes it’s just as much about who you miss out on as to who you actually get in. Everton probably wish Walsh had missed a few of his picks this summer too.
On fans and a Palace revival
Interesting mail from Brad Smith. Every game I’ve ever been to has had someone shouting something utterly pointless and blatantly incorrect at a referee, assistant ref or player. Last week a fellow supporter even shouted at the weather, calling the rain an effing tw@t. So the answer to your question is yes, people do go to the football to vent and release. I’m not sure there is anything wrong with that if I’m honest. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of plonkers out there. On Saturday there were a fair few calling Kurt Zouma a cheat for getting something in his eye and having to have it attended to, others calling for a throw in when Loftus-Cheek knocked it out of play in plain sight. Whether they believed it or not I’m not sure but really, does it matter? If it is harmless and purely based on team allegiances then being able to deal with some sort of emotion in this way I’d dare say is therapeutic. In the same way that it appears looking at the twitter of the team you’ve just beaten to find out their reaction might be for you. Essentially this is all just for entertainment so find that wherever it suits you to.
I was also pleased to see Mama Sakho appear in your winners section, as our captain on Saturday and scorer of the stoppage time winner it is suitably deserved. Although I can offer some solace to Liverpool fans who regret his sale. Saturday was, in my opinion, one of his most heart in mouth games for us. I think MOTD had one of his passes that were intercepted included, but he certainly made a couple more, his clearing headers generally went directly up rather than away from danger and the tension in the crowd when he is on the ball with a bit of time to play is palpable. It appears to me now that when given time to make a decision he can struggle, almost trying to be too clever, and would probably not be a Champions League worthy defender but when playing on pure instinct he is right up there. He is fantastic for us and I absolutely love the bloke, a real character in our squad but I guess my point is that there is probably a little bit more than a personality clash that saw Klopp sell him.
I wouldn’t have said we deserved the three points on Saturday (neither did Stoke) but having played much better in previous weeks and coming away with a draw it is nice to be picking up points on our closer to average performances. Another three against the Seaweed on Tuesday would be lovely and may even see us get off the bottom. We’ve now scored two goals in our last four consecutive home games, I’m sure that is something we’ve probably never done in the Premier League and we haven’t even got a fully fit striker yet. This bloke Hodgson might know a thing or two you know.
We need to talk about Wayne…
I think the better question is to ask how Shaqiri managed to run through that many players and get the shot off rather than blame Hennessey totally, but here’s what I think.
I’ve watched back the footage of Shaqiri’s goal repeatedly as I didn’t see it where I sat in the ground. As with many of Wayne’s attempted saves, his ‘dive’ for the ball was pitiful. Which is something I’ve noticed in a lot of performances he puts in.
Watch the footage again and try and slow it down. I think the problem there is his launch. He flops towards the ball rather than throwing himself at it. It’s something we’ve seen from him time and time again in a Palace shirt, you can look back and see this seems to be a specialist technique of his. For someone of his height (seeing as that’s why he and Speroni were swapped) he should be making that sort of save easily.
The Sunday league team I’m part of had two similar shots hit at them in the same bottom corner yesterday morning. Our half hung over goalie managed to beat away both for corners from a similar starting position. Although it’s Sunday league so the shots probably weren’t comparative for strength or speed, he’s a about half a foot shorter than Hennessey at least.
Hennessey’s positioning is always poor, especially on set pieces. His reactions are non-existent unless it’s hit straight at him and his decision making is extremely questionable. Never forget it was him Danny Butterfield scored a perfect hat-trick against.
For someone of his height (seeing as that’s why he and Speroni were swapped) he should be making that.
Mike C CPFC
People must stop reading the dross
While I may not always agree with Johnny Nic, I do appreciate what he writes and the conversation he tries to start, we can’t solve societies problems staying silent after all.
However, I can’t help but note I think he has got the argument the wrong way round, yes the media serves up tasteless portions, but this is what the population is ordering. I can’t blame the media, with shrinking revenues from traditional streams and a population generally avoiding paying for news/journalism, they have moved online.
The online business model generates advertisement revenue per click, this means they are forced to post regular content (more content more clicks) of which most are non stories. And, obviously people are interested in these non stories as they tend to be the highest read articles on these sites, the lure of a WAGs side boob or the nightlife of a young man who parties with friends.
Now it is unfortunate that the media continues to publish this dross, but I think this is another case of society looking for a scapegoat for its own short comings. If we want this dross to end stop reading and demand and pay for better quality content, simple.
So from a journalistic point of view, I know a counter argument is that the media has a responsibility to educate society, but they have bills to pay. I find no coincidence in the fact that the best quality journalism is hidden behind a pay wall (F365 aside).
Liam, LTFC (Man City are the best attacking side in the country? Remind me who has scored more goals, oh, LTFC)
Step up Sam Allardici
With the news that AC Milan have sacked Montella today, my thoughts turned to the most successful England manager (percentage wins).
It seems like a dream opportunity for a certain Allardici to come in, stamp his authority on the team and club and turn this sleeping giant around. I fully expect, if appointed, that Allardici would put an end to the dominance of Juventus in the race for the scudetto and put AC Milan back at the top table in the Champions League in the coming year.
I’d also possibly enjoy the sight of a half cut Allerdici in press conferences after breaking records for goals scored, points earn and most wins in a season (semi fluent in Italian and half cut from an over indulgence in Barolo), flicking two Vs at the know nothing English club owners for not giving him the keys to a top job.
It would be a match made in heaven.
Why not Potter?
I can’t help thinking that one man who should at least be mentioned on the shortlists for managerial jobs is Graham Potter – a journeyman English player with an ordinary career doing extraordinary things in charge of Osterunds FK in Sweden. Last week saw them qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa League – despite playing in the fourth tier of Swedish football as recently as 2010 when Potter took over.
Surely at least one forward thinking Premier League (or Championship) chairman should be looking at him with a view to taking a chance. I know the track record of managers from Scandanavia coming to English football is mixed (Solksjaer and Solbakken struggling in recent years come to mind), but as a relatively young English coach gaining experience (and success) abroad surely his name should be in the mix with the usual suspects on the managerial merry-go-round.
Dave Horgan, Dublin