Arsenal travel to Liverpool in their first game back after the international break. Could a win make them genuine title contenders?
Keep your thoughts coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Internationals are easy
I don’t know whether this would be considered a controversial view, but it has long been mine that International football is a lot easier than club football, at least as a manager.
Yes, there is more profile – an entire country resting its chances with you rather than just a few thousand to a few million – but also there’s little to no coaching other than on tactical. You can pick from a huge squad that offers the best of that nation, you can pick based on form rather being limited to who is in your squad, and every other nation is in a similar position in terms of how familiar the players are with each other. And you get paid to do very little.
The only negative is the degree to which the national media will disembowel you and every decision you make. But then, some club managers get that from sites not too far away. It’s not like repeated failure stops managers getting jobs.
So with this in mind, it is astounding how poor England have done in terms of managerial appointments. The squad available should attract the very best. The issue is similar to United’s decision on the next manager. You look at the players available and appoint based on their approach. It’s why Conte wasn’t the right choice, because the squad wouldn’t align with his.
England, similarly to United, have great attacking strengths but not so much defensively. And this is why it’s so frustrating having Southgate as the manager. Many of our best players will struggle for games because he’s timid and defensive (they aren’t the same thing, but he unites them both).
Similarly to United, you can take that squad and get results against mid level sides and always qualify for the competition and knock out stages, but against the best you need to use your best players in the best way. And that is why Southgate will never take England to glory.
Tbh, I’d rather see Redknapp pop out from retirement every now and then and do the job. Him plus those players, seems like it would be a lot more fun to watch.
Liverpool squad depth
In contrast to Jamie, Eire, I do not believe the current LFC squad is ”desperately thin”.
This is essentially the same core group that won the Champions League and just 18 months ago crushed the Premiership. Since then, they have lost Wijnaldum, but have gained Thiago, Jota, Konate, Tsimikas (who will play a lot more this year), Jones and Harvey Elliot. Keita has shown what he is capable of pre-injury, Milner is the only current player over 31 and Kelleher and Williams looking very promising.
They have literally just equalled a club record 25 game all-comp unbeaten streak (which included matches against Prem Champions and Euro Champions, and double wins against both the Spanish Champions and their biggest domestic rivals) and have already qualified as Group-of-Death winners in the Champions League after 4 games.
It is difficult to think of a less strategic, more knee-jerk reaction to a first loss in 26 games than “Sell the current best player in the world”.
This squad is one player (Mbappe or Haaland) away from being the strongest the Prem has ever seen. While it will be difficult to land either of those, both will be available in Summer 2022 and if Liverpool can add a league or euro title this year, it is not beyond the realms of possibility. Players want to join stable, winning, well coached and cohesive teams, which Liverpool are.
I honestly believe that with Kylian or Erling, this squad could dominate for 3-4 years and even beyond, if they follow the PSG/Bayern model and simply spend their full transfer budget on signing-on fees and salaries. Each summer just add the best players from the mid-table teams in the league as they become available on a free.
Looking at current contracts, Summer 2023 could bring Tielemans and Traore to replace Milly (and possibly Mane), with Rice and Saka following in 2024. Bellingham and Greenwood in 2025 would cement a dynasty.
Clearly, if looking to replace Michael Edwards, they need look no further than myself.
Barry, New York
Salah and Robbo
Sorry, James Eire, nobody is paying £200 million for a 29 year old with 18 months left on his deal, in this market, at least.
I’m more sympathetic towards the argument that Robbo needs to be rotated more often, especially considering the apparent quality of his deputy. Klopp can run players into the ground at times, and could show a little more trust in his squad, keeping competition high.
Ian, LFC (don’t worry about how many trophies I’ve won) Hartford CT USA
Jota should’ve seen red?
Sorry to keep going over old ground but if we all agree that Cresswell was lucky not be sent off, then by the same application of the law then Jota should also have been sent off for catching Ogbonna with his elbow. Neither was intentional but the current interpretation is that intent doesn’t matter and that the player is ultimately responsible for where his body parts end up so Jota was just as reckless.
If they win at Anfield, should they be considered title contenders?
I’ve been meaning to write in for a bit on Nuno sacking, but general apathy has prevented me which is damming in itself, but yesterday emails on referees has prompted me to write in.
Firstly on Nuno, I was not yet in the Nuno out camp, but something wasn’t right. Teams didn’t need to play well to score against us they just had wait for us to make a positional mistake coupled with our attack looking devoid of ideas. It is telling I was pleased with a clean sheet against Everton, even if we didn’t look like scoring ourselves.
But my main point is referring and there was a couple of points on this yesterday.
To start with the thing that Var will never solve. I can look at penalty situation and think it is not a penalty as lloris clearly got the ball (possibly with my Spurs hat on), but I can see why an Everton fan will think it is. Var will never clear that up.
Which leads me to referring. As background my dad was a lower league referee for over 50 years, whilst as a result I did a lot of referreeing in my youth until work reduced my availability , then kids arriving put a final nail in it.
When referring there are several types of teams you are faced with including:
1) team that are almost too friendly
2) captain who tries to referee for you.
3) team with the implied threat of physical violence
4) the team still appear drunk from the night before.
And many more, now despite that one of your main aims is to keep control.
A lot of decisions are clear cut, but a lot could be up to interpretation, and even the state of the game. Football is never clear cut and that is why we love it
Has there been a string of low level fouls and I need to stamp it out.
Has there been a major incident and I need to reassert my authority.
Is the game flowing nicely
Is a team getting annoyed at every decision “apparently” going against them.
So despite these things a similar decision could be treated differently in the same game and that is even assuming the ‘foul’ was seen, by the officials on the pitch.
Number of times I started a game blowing a game for everything then got a complaint about it being a contact sport or to let the game flow, but the times I did allow the game to flow I usually end up with a 70th minute melee out of nowhere.
So in conclusion I think the arsenal goal should have been disallowed but maybe that is because I’m a Spurs fan.
Paulo (Sunday league was the worst)
Howe-y the Lads? (do I get a tabloid contract for that)
For the last couple of weeks i’ve been wrestling with the news of the NUFC takeover. Like most people i’m pleased to see the back of Ashley while also being disgusted by the new ownership. I grew up on Tyneside and my uncle is a season ticket holder (my dad is more of a cricket man). The reason I think this is relevant is because I can’ just change teams as some people have suggested. I have an emotional connection to the club which isn’t going to disappear. I get a visceral thrill when I know they have scored. I could pretend I don’t, but I’ be lying. My plan is to boycott the club as a business (matches, tv subscriptions, merch, advertiser’s products). Given the fact that money isn’t motivating the Saudi’s, this is a pretty pointless gesture on my part but it’s all I can come up with while living at a distance.
Over the last 24 hours my main focus has been on the management situation. Of all the names I’ve heard, only Lucien Favre got me excited. I’m thrilled that Emery isn’t taking the reins but i’m not at all convinced by Eddie Howe’s appointment. I assume the idea is to get relegated and then start to rebuild the squad as part of a long term plan. That’s a valid approach but Howe’s transfer record at Bournemouth was absolutely shocking. I would have liked to see an approach made for Rafa on the basis that Toffee’s fans don’t seem to be warming to him. Of course in an ideal world we might have driven a dump truck full of gold to Bergamo to get Gasperini and the entire Atalanta squad…
Post-Fergie ex-Man United players
A measure of how poorly Manchester United have been run over the past decade is the number of ex-Man Utd players currently playing at a high level elsewhere. Here is a post-Fergie ex-United XI which I think would beat Ole’s current team:
A Di Maria
Note how many of those players joined the club post-Fergie and left again shortly afterwards. Many of them were good before they joined United, looked mediocre or poor at United, and went back to being good as soon as they went elsewhere. Di Maria, Zaha, Depay and Lukaku must look back on their Man United experience as low points in their careers, wasted years.
It used to be difficult to move to Man United because of the high standards. In recent years the difficulty stems from something else. Ole probably isn’t up to it. He’s fumbled the Ronaldo curveball he was thrown. But the rot goes deep.
Paranoid Arsenal fan
Mate, no-one has ever thought or said that The Invincibles team were ‘over-rated’. No-one. Ever. Stop being so paranoid.
The only people that talk about that team at all are Arsenal fans. One reason being because it’s the last time you won the league. Nearly 20 years ago.
Other teams,and fans, have moved on from 2004 to be fair.
Adam Halliday , Villa Fan ( Harsh sacking that), Sunny Saigon
Oh dear Ash (London)…you know Arsenal fans spent a long time celebrating St Totteringham’s day or whatever silly name you had for it and I hate to say it but made up celebrations are a bit less valuable than actual trophies.
And that’s the actual issue with the invincible; they weren’t that invincible. They lost in the carling cup, FA Cup and European Cup that same season and didn’t win the champions league the season after despite making the final.
If I were offered an invincible season or a League, FA Cup, Champions League treble I know which I’d prefer. Arsenal fans are forced to make arguments that an invincible season is better because they have nothing else to cling on to.
Villa and Stevie G
Interesting article about Stevie g jumping ship from ibrox to take villa job.
However I really would like it for just one minute if the villa “ are a big club “ narrative can stop
Villa are a medium size club, smith did an incredible job. The bored are greedy and will pay the price with relegation this season.
Why would Gerrard up route himself to a side where a championship striker has stopped scoring? No. Wait for the prize. Conte not coming to united was the fault of united, but conte should have waited.
Finally. Zzzzzz about West Ham, they won’t finish top 4, Moyes is not all of a sudden an amazing manager. Lot of revisionism about his career going on… West Ham fans seem to have forgotten they sacked him
Bore off internationals
Ade (7 is coming ) Guildford
Wow. Jason Soutar really doesn’t like Steven Gerrard, does he? He also seems to know very little about Scottish football. I don’t normally write in to criticise F365 articles but I had to take exception here, because there were so many inaccuracies.
Firstly, “To have only won one trophy in three seasons is a massive underachievement for either Rangers or Celtic”. This is just garbage. In the 90s, or 2000s that might be true, but is Jason even aware of the state the two clubs were in when Gerrard was appointed? Rangers had spent 4 years in the lower leagues of Scottish football and only had their first season in the Scottish Premiership in 2016/17. That season they finished 39 points behind Cetic. In 2017/18, the year before Gerrard took over they finished 3rd. Yet according to Jason, Gerrard should instantly have been challenging for titles?
The difference between the two clubs in that period was stark. Celtic had a far superior squad, and an excellent scouting programme that had allowed them to make a major profit on numerous transfers. Rangers were still rebuilding after becoming a top flight club again. Celtic are a far bigger club than Rangers financially. According to Deloite their revenue is around £80m a year, compared to £50m a year for Rangers.
When Gerrard took on Rangers, many people in Scottish football thought he was crazy. The job seemed impossible, because Celtic were in such a strong position. Yet every year, he closed the gap and improved the team before winning the league title. And not just winning it. Smashing it. 102 points, no losses, just 13 goals conceded and 25 points ahead of Celtic. This year they’re currently top of the league and haven’t lost domestically since the second game of the season.
Another comment from the article that needs looked at is: “decent European success.” Really? Decent? Qualifying from a group of Feyenoord, Porto and Young Boys, then knocking out Braga is decent? Topping a group that included Benfica, with no losses, is decent? A Scottish team reaching the last 16 two years in a row is decent? Because that happens all the time, right? Remember that the season before Gerrard took over, Rangers were knocked out in the first qualifying round by a team from Luxembourg. But no, what Gerrard has done is only ‘decent’.
“A domestic double is the minimum requirement this campaign.” Really? According to who? Again, this is just complete nonsense, with the author seemingly determined to undermine the success Gerrard has achieved. If Rangers won the league again this year, with no cup success, their fans would be delighted.
“A single league title in Scotland, as well as decent European success, is enough to make Gerrard the favourite for the Aston Villa job.” No, it isn’t. But transforming the fortunes of a club, completing rebuilding the team and playing excellent football is. I don’t know if Jason hates Gerrard, hates Rangers or just has no idea about Scottish football, but he needs to take on a new perspective on what Gerrard has done. Gerrard has done a remarkable job at Rangers. If you had offered Rangers fans what Gerrard has achieved 3 years ago, they would have bitten your hand off. The only thing I agree with from the article is that Villa would be a great job for him as he needs to prove himself in the Premier League to show if he’s good enough for the Liverpool job.
Mike, LFC, London