Do neutrals want Liverpool or City (or Spurs!) to win title?

Date published: Thursday 7th February 2019 9:32

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The big question
Is Bartley not offside for his goal by being stood behind the goal line? Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but if he’s off the field he’s not offside because he’s inactive? But if by the same measure can he be allowed to score that goal?

I’ve no horse in that race just hoping to clear it up. He was maybe back on the pitch by time he scored.
Anto, confusion of the cup, Dublin 


An indisputable truth
In response to Pep’s “challenge”.

You’re bald.

It’s on.
Kris, LFC, Wirral


Will City bottle it?
With Man City beating Everton to go top of the league last night, does it mean they would have bottled it if the mighty red men win the league from here?

Doesn’t someone need to bottle something, anything for everyone to have something to write about?
MK (LFC) Philippines 


Thank Zeus for that, City are now top.

I presume if they don’t go on to win from here, history will forget that it was a goal difference lead having played a game more?

Seemingly, some people genuinely believe that if one team has played 5 games more, and are 15 points clear as a consequence, that it is a 15 point lead. The points may be in the bag, but it’s not a real lead.

And now I see that Liverpool fans are calling for Norbert’s head!? Football fans are crazy. Makes me wish I didn’t love the sport.
Dom Littleford


Title was exactly Klopp’s expectation
asks when Liverpool were expected to win the league? Maybe we should ask their manager, anybody have a direct line to Jürgen Klopp?

Oh wait, direct quotes after he joined Liverpool should work just as well;

“If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title,” said Klopp, who has signed an initial three-year deal. Quotes from October 2015. So four years later is October 2019 meaning he expects to have a title in May 2019. So how can you say Liverpool didn’t set out at the start of the season to win the league? Why then did they spend the most of any PL to supplement a squad that reached the CL Final last season?

Truth be told I agree you should enjoy the ride but don’t blame the media and rival fans when your manager is the one setting the expectation.
Dan, Belfast


To answer Brendan’s question ‘when were Liverpool supposed to win the PL Title let alone be favorites?’. I believe it was shortly after Klopp spent nearly £383M on players including a CB for £75M (world record) and a GK for £56M (world record at the time).

I think when you go and spend that kind of money, and no I don’t care about your net spend it is reasonable to expect that team to win league. I’m including my team Manchester United in that, although we spent a shed load and failed miserably.

Glad I could answer your question though.
Chris (MUFC)


Do you have a way of checking if people who email in are actually supporters of who they say they are or these days is it possible for Man City fans to employ someone to run a parody account of what we all think a liverpool fan would say?

Title meltdown? Liverpool didnt intend to win the league.

Sounds like something Klopp would say after spending record breaking amounts on a defender and goalkeeper behind one of the best attacks in the league!
Tom, Tractor Boy in Switzerland


Dear Mailbox

Brendan in yesterday afternoon’s mailbox stated; “I mean Liverpool set out at the start of this season looking for a good run in the PL and a good run at the CL, but we didn’t set out with the intention of winning the PL.”

I’ve heard some whoppers in my time but that takes the biscuit! What was spending large sums on Alisson, Keita & Fabinho (and prior to that Van Dijk) all about then? Did they just buy them for the craic and because they had some spare change kicking around? Those signings were made purely with the intention of trying to win the Premier League. To suggest otherwise is clear revisionism.

Bonus point also Brendan for mentioning net spend!
Christopher, Perth


Liverpool didn’t set out to challenge for the title at the start of the season? That’s so disingenous, especially when every Liverpool fan is hoping the drought would end this season, nervously biting their nails whenever city pick up 3 points.

If you’re trying to use it as a defense mechanism to cope with the unwanted pressure, there’s no problem with that but to actually assert that Liverpool were not expected to challenge for the title? C’mon.. this has to be a new low…


The neutral choice
As an Arsenal fan it’s hard to say who I want to win the league this year, as long as it’s not S**** or United.

Having read the last few mailboxes I have now made up my mind. I want Liverpool to win the league.


Man U fans will lose their S***
Mike. Supporting Leeds this year 


With all the talk of narrative recently I decided I’ll tell you who I want to win the title. I’m a Leeds United fan so I don’t have e a horse but if I could chose it would be City.

Sorry Liverpool fans (not really) but I think distraught Liverpool fans will be more entertaining than City fans. I don’t even think City fans will be too bothered. I mean they’ll be annoyed but they know there is always next season.

For Liverpool fans it has been decades since there has been any sustained challenges never mind trophies. I think there’s always that fear of if not now then when?

As for the overall narrative this title is going to be Liverpool’s no matter what. If Liverpool win then it’ll be decades of disappointment broken. If Man City win, it’ll be Liverpool that lost it.
Dale (Away to Tony Pulis team when we need a win) Leeds



Neutral in the title race, as a saints fan you have all taken players/mangers etc off us. Actually want Liverpool to win (so not neutral), mainly because I like watching them play but, also because I think the reaction of fans from rival teams if they don’t win will be more annoying than the reactions of Liverpool fans if they do win. Endless talk of bottling, some hilarious/really clever reworking of Klopps name to call him a Fraud – Actually it will be Flopp etc (see slippy g comments/references) it will go on for years.

Also, working through the mails must be quite time consuming. Why don’t you have a filter which automatically deletes mails including the words “Snowflake”or “Fake news” – After this one obviously.

Actually you could also include that DemiFlop BerbaFlop thing as well, although probably easier just to block the email address of the only person who has ever used it.
Drunken Saint (nothing to see here)


The last couple of days of the mailbag has been hilariously peppered by gloating halfwits revelling in smug superiority because a team they don’t like has either drawn consecutive games or lost a single game. I probably don’t need to point out that their ludicrously partial rantings and half-baked conclusions say a lot more about them than it does about the subjects they address; I have, however, noticed a similar theme running throughout much criticism of Liverpool and City, and of their coaches in particular.

It’s become the frame of reference for any crowing loon worth their salt, and usually goes like this: denigrate a coach’s previous successes, point out you’d always said they were actually rubbish, predict their team is going to suddenly collapse and then use all this to support a series of wild assertions about the individual’s personal character culminating in the ultimate conclusion that they are in fact a FRAUD.

We had to endure this nonsense for an entire year with Guardiola before City’s performances largely slayed the ‘Fraudiola’ meme, and now Klopp seems to be the latest coach subjected to a fierce cross examination of his personal and professional merits. It’s almost as if these people, who seem to have no knowledge of either football, history or human psychology, expect everyone to believe they’re hardened war veterans with wills forged in the steel of battle. They are, in fact, dorks who are too caught up in the narrative-generating machine of contemporary football marketing to actually enjoy the sport they seem so engaged with. It’s especially bizarre with Klopp, given that last year his victories over City were sometimes used to point out Guardiola’s continued FRAUDULENCE despite coaching City to a record-breaking league win.

The dork leaves no room for nuance. In their minds, a coach is not just a trainer but a mythical leader, a MANAGER. A MANAGER is either a Top Lad or a FRAUD. Ole, for example, is still in the Top Lad category. God forbid, however, he gets the job permanently and starts talking about tactics, rotates his team or experiences a blip in form and maybe takes out frustration on the referees. Foreign managers in particular very quickly find themselves slipping into FRAUD territory.

Smiddy, for example, aims a scattergun mishmash of bizarre accusations at Klopp, none of which make any sense or display any actual knowledge of anything, let alone football. Smiddy may well be a troll, but his bloviating does speak to a larger discourse in which managers and players must be mentally and physically perfect at all times, and in which luck must not exist for any winners of anything.

The fact is football is a fairly random sport without much on-pitch technological assistance, so some teams get lucky with bounces and decisions. Players and managers are imperfect human beings who are attempting to do their best, but sometimes perform badly. Sometimes they might say or do something that is a bit sh*tty.

Since when did we expect our title winners to never drop points? If we have the so-called strongest league in the world, why does everyone soil themselves when a top team draws a game? And why does anyone think a public display of mildly childish frustration illuminates the personal character of Jurgen Klopp? Why do people think Liverpool fans are arrogant? I am a neutral football fan who has lived in the city for a few years, and most Liverpool fans I know are strung out nervous wrecks who desperately hope their team doesn’t fuck it up again.

I get Man United fans hating Klopp and Guardiola for bringing success to their biggest rivals. What I don’t get is the mental gymnastics required to convince yourself that you can rumble a manipulator’s facade from a 2 minute press interview. All you’ve done is create various false images of other people in your own head, and enjoyed feeling a smug feeling of rightness about it. So go ahead, dorks. Enjoy feeling right while the actual teams the actual people actually coach work their way towards potentially winning a league title.
Sam H, Liverpool


Grow a pair
Hey there,

Gough, LFC is the latest example of what two draws can do to a Liverpool fan:

“We risk a lot playing 3 attackers. Not many teams would give Mo, Bobby, and Sadio the freedom to drift and move around the pitch that Klopp gives.”

Pretty much every team in the top half (apart from Wolves) is playing with at least 3 attackers. When then mighty Reds were in form “Bobby” was lauded for his defensive work, “Sadio” was relentlessly helping the team and “Mo” was the next Messi. Two unconvincing results and they aren’t helping the defense. Really?

Yes, Liverpool a risking a bit, but only when Shaqiri joins the midfield to add some creativity. The rest is nonsense. That’s not the all-in team from last year at all.

Grow a pair, mate. Liverpool will probably win it in the end.
Plamen, Plovdiv


Great column
by Ian Watson on title meltdowns and it got me wondering if there are any players that fans have never forgiven for being the catalyst for the meltdown?

I know the managers take the brunt but surely there are some moments that just stick in supporters minds as the catalyst for the inevitable meltdown. Whether it be a missed chance, a sending off, a misplaced pass even. A sliding doors moment.

The reason I ask this is because I of course have one of my very own. It was February 2008 and it was a Saturday afternoon game at St Andrews and that player is not William Gallas, oh no I actually understood why he did what he did.

The player in question is Gael Clichy for quite possibly the worst lapse in concentration I have ever seen when he jogged back towards the ball without even thinking about the possibility that in a football match there might just be an opposition player competing for the ball. This lapse of concentration lead to the Birmingham City player poaching the ball and entering the penalty area where Gael had his second brain fart moment which was diving in for a tackle to concede the penalty. Cue Arsenal’s title meltdown.
Frankie AFC


Kick-off times
I’d like to add a couple of things to Alex’s mail in the last mailbox, but first I’d advise him to hunker down in the trenches because there’s going to be an awful lot of incoming from people who do go to games, completely ignoring his points.

Firstly, the Monday Night Football thing. Because it was, and largely still is, such an institution here in US, you can bet your bottom Euro that Sky looked longingly at the ABC ratings and decided the formula was something worth repeating for the Premier League. They did miss a couple of things though. ABC built the brand with free-to-air TV and as such pretty much everyone who watched football watched the Monday Night game. However, when ESPN bought the rights to MNF, they killed a lot of the magic of the show and drove a lot of audience away who didn’t have a premium cable subscription. However, the NFL did, and still do, protect their live attendance by blacking out the game in the local market if the game was not sold out, so no gripes from the local game-attending fans if their game was selected. You can’t do that in the UK because the geographical area is too small.

Secondly, and still on the Monday Night subject, no-one in the US cared about “their” road game being moved to Monday night because there are very few fans that travel to a road game, the distances are simply too great. Even teams in the same market play in different conferences and so rarely meet during the regular season. Compare that to the rabid Toon Army who would walk to Bournemouth if they had to for a weekend game, even they can’t cover the 540 miles or so, round trip, for a Monday 7:30 kick-off, so now you really are impacting the  atmosphere in the grounds.

Also, look at the non-traditional kick-off times. Again, you can look at the NFL and notice that you can watch an early, a mid and a late-day game on Sunday. However, there’s a difference here as well – the fact that the country has three time zones means that you’re not moving game times too much – the early games are likely to be an East/Mid West home game, the mid games are going to be a West home game, all kicking off in the “traditional”, roughly 1PM timeslot. Also, one of those games in those time slots is going to be on free-to-air TV, either Fox or ABC.

Maybe the temptation looking at the US as a repeatable business model was too much for Sky, and whoever has the rights to the Bundesliga, but we’re comparing apples and oranges.
Steve, Los Angeles


Yes Eoghan, the same team from 99 that won the Treble, overcoming Bayern (twice), Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Arsenal in the cups as well. They didn’t lose a single game after the turn of the year either.

Not really a team that choked when it mattered.
IP (Initial mail was a typo anyway. Supposed to be United 08 & United 99)


I won’t be the only one, Rick…

Did Liverpool have a 9 point lead over Man City at any point in 2014?


Did they blow that lead to not win the premier league?


This is like the ‘He’s not 28, he’s 29 argument…’
Thom, Newport


Off the Gourcuff
Absolutely loved the Gourcuff article, and that PSG goal is up there with my favourite ever. Worth watching the entire performance reel for that match,because literally every single touch he took was beautiful.



Diamond Geezers
Dear 365,

Absolutely loving Mike’s ‘Diamond Geezers’ write up! Talk about a walk down memory lane. I was absolutely obsessed with this game during high school and I’ve got the marks to prove it! I remember I used to collaborate with a fellow high profile manager (hi Neil Fav if you’re reading this) about scouting players and tactics. He used to say he got sent a special trophy for the game’s company for getting so many points. Sounds like porkies now!

Anyway, I’m surprised Mike hasn’t gone for a few of my old favourites from back in the day. After all, they historically managed to get mighty Leyton Orient to famous consecutive trebles! I scouted a few rough English diamonds from lower leagues who went on to become world beaters. Well worth a look! James Flood, David Collins, Mark Smith, Dean Keates, David Wright (my captain), these were the spine of my invincibles. Always wondered what they were like in real life. I think David Collins was a relative success.

Seth Johnson and Robbie Keane were also great signings, and pretty handy in real life too. Anyway, good luck Mike and thanks for the memories. I’m going to go fish out my old CD roms!
Josh Harrison, Brisbane


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