Five from Liverpool and two from City in early team of the season

Date published: Wednesday 13th November 2019 2:32

Raheem Sterling Manchester City Liverpool

It’s international week, so send some mails to What else are you going to do? Aside from vote for us. Please.


Early team of the season
With the international break here and the resulting boredom it normally brings with it (have little interest in the Sterling & Gomez drama), is it time to have a real guess as to who will get into the Prem team of the season? Especially since players actually vote after circa 24 games (I think), so we are halfway through.

My attempt below, Liverpool fan so expect relevant bias.

Gk – Schmichael (Leicester City) -solid in every game I have seen him in, and very good distribution to boot.

RB: TAA (Liverpool) – amazing attacking full back, makes up for some defensive weaknesses IMO
CB: Jonny Evans (Leicester City) – the backbone of the best back line in the league so far this season.
CB: VVD (Liverpool) – simply a rolls royle Centre back, even if not as dominant as last season so far. His long range passing is extraordinary.
LB: Robertson (Liverpool) – best LB in the world without exception. Amazing crosser, engine and solid defensively. Chilwell close 2nd

DM: Fabinho (Liverpool) – a dominant force in every game, Liverpool really lost the midfield battle in the game he missed against Villa. Beats Ndidi for me because of his playmaking abilities.
CM: De Bruyne (Man City) – best player in the league and best midfielder in world football. The assists he provides are incredible, and he also carries a goalscoring threat of his own. Maddison deserves a mention
CM: Jorginho (Chelsea) – who new Sarri was holding him back all this time, without Kante for the majority of this season he has really stepped up. Considered McGinn from Villa here, he is truely excellent.

RW: Mane (Liverpool) – combines a huge goal threat with amazing work rate off the ball, rarely loses the ball compared to Salah while providing better output in terms of goals and assist thus far.
Fw: Abraham (Chelsea) – tough shout on Vardy here, but he has really stepped up and is only one goal behind while providing a better link up  option in one less start.
LW: Sterling (Man city) – Truely a defenders nightmare and hard to believe he is only 24, his speed combined with off the ball movement and much improved finishing means he is now a world class player.

Manager of the year – Chris Wilder, he has taken championship and league one players to 6th in the Prem. Sorry Jurgen

Player of the year – KDB
Young player of the year – TAA
Biggest disappointment- poor old VAR
Biggest surprise – no spurs, man utd or Arsenal’s players getting near this team

Most importantly this is just my opinion!
S (that midfield trio reminds me a little of the Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard midfield.)


Don’t do it, Adam…
I will not bite.

I will not bite.

I will not bite.

Ok, I’m going to bite.

Joe – Chelsea have been playing lots of youngsters, and playing very good football in the process too. Thanks for recognising that.

But to say it is a result of “scooping up emerging talent” is a joke.

You’ve named three players – all of which joined the club before they were double-digits old and for zero, yes zero pounds.

Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the quality of coaching in the academy that Chelsea had 7 academy products in the squad at the weekend – 5 of which started playing the club at u8’s (that’s some serious poaching), others who have featured in squads such as Anjorin, Guehi, Lamptey and Cummings have also been at the club for years too (still got Ruben to come back too).

Yes, we had shedloads of players on loan last year, but a HUGE percentage were proper academy graduates that had to leave for proper football because the youth leagues are utter dross – teams like Derby, Wigan and Charlton definitely aren’t complaining. Even Ole was moaning that our academy products are further along because they’ve gone out on loan and played some decent football – how is that “morally dubious”?

Also, there’s been a definite shift in attitude from the club in reducing the number of players at the club (see more loan with option to buy etc etc) and players like Kalas, Piazon etc all sold.

Maybe you should look inwards and wonder why your own club (assuming Liverpool) have only developed ONE decent first teamer through the academy in 15 years and the next best one looking to break through in Rhian Brewster was poached from which academy?

Regarding opponents, yes we haven’t got results against better teams (definitely not played badly in them) but considering 4th would have been a hell of an achievement before the start of the season, only dropping points to one team lower than 4th seems a good way to achieve that.
Adam (we’re also the most negatively affected VAR team too), Midlands.

PS Leicester are getting equal praise for a young, energetic team – why aren’t you giving them grief for scooping up Maddison, Ndidi, Tielemans et al?


So I feel the need to correct Joe LFC on a point he made this morning about Chelsea’s youngsters, Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James all came from the Chelsea academy, all of those names have been with the club and the academy since before they were teenagers, in fact I do believe they all were part of the Under 8’s team at some point in their individual careers so far.

Now in regards to “playing weak teams”, you can of course only defeat who you’re playing against that given game week, however, Burnley at Turf Moor is certainly no easy game especially after a tough away Champions League clash against Ajax, and I don’t think I am the only Chelsea fan to remember how Newcastle and Crystal Palace in recent seasons have shown us up by taking three points from those fixtures.

In a league where Norwich can beat Manchester City, yet lose to pretty much everyone else I don’t think any game can be considered easy and against weak opposition.
Mikey, CFC


Farewell Poch?
ENIC’s net spend on the squad over the past 5 seasons is one of the lowest in the league. They have chosen to invest in the property around the ground which is in the Tavistock Group’s name whilst the debt facility to fund the stadium build is in the club’s name.

The likes of Grealish, Maddison, Maguire should have been bought and a surprising lack of due diligence about the Dybala media rights’s issue meant we have run out of time to buy him – see also Moutinhio, Charlie Adam for other examples of not getting the deal done in time. I doubt Messrs Levy and Lewis would show such lack of preparation and planning for one of their property deals?
The contract rebels would be none too pleased with being paid less than market rate during a time of onfield ‘success’ not helped by Levy being the highest paid Chairman in the league.
Poch is not entirely blameless – dodgy selections in crucial games, playing favourites regardless of form and of course announcing he would leave the club if they won the biggest game in its history – hardly Churchillian.

Still, it has been a fun ride breaking the traditional top 4 of Manchester clubs, Chelski and the Woolwich leaving the Sky and BBC Liverpool frothing at the mouth. Now we can revert to the norm reflecting the balmy days of Ramon Vega, Ian Walker and Chris Armstrong.
David Harris, Sydney


Was Sterling aggravated?
Nelson, Lagos, Nigeria has painted Gomez as a baiter who aggravated Sterling into flying off the handle, attacking him, grabbing his neck…

…Oh dear!

I’m afraid that Nelson has let his emotions get the better of him. Let’s focus on proven conduct, not baseless speculation. Is there any evidence that Gomez did something to aggravate Sterling?

We all saw Gomez and Sterling square off during the match. We all saw Sterling’s reaction to Gomez picking him up like a child. Is that something that Gomez needs to apologise for?

I’m sure there was a reason Sterling grabbed Gomez’s neck (MCFC’s loss, 9 points behind, “TWIIIICE”. It just happens to be a poor reason deserving of judgment).

I doubt Nelson is drawing an objective conclusion that is completely untainted by tribal allegiances.
K, LFC, Singapore (I promise not to mention Sterling’s deliberate and unpunished stamp on VVD)


Bit late to this argument, but here are my two cents.

I pretty much agree with those who said Southgate dealt with it correctly. Sterling has to pay for his actions but saying he should never play for England is hyperbolic in the extreme when you consider the wider context. In what was a pivotal game of season, Sterling was playing against his former club which has become his current club’s greatest rival. He’s generally on the receiving end of quite a bit of stick during these games so we can imagine just how high emotions were running.

Now imagine that the very next day you meet up with a significant number of the guys you were just competing against. For me personally, I know it would be very difficult to put aside how I was feeling – frustrated, disappointed and just outright angry at a bad result in a key game. So yeah he reacted badly. He shouldn’t have but he did and Southgate dealt out a reasonable punishment.

Saying he was thrown under the bus or should never play again is going way off the deep end.
Alan, Córdoba


Gary in this morning’s mailbox makes a good point that Sterling’s actions could have been seen as a sackable offence.  I, for one, working in an office for a large US multinational group would expect to get fired PDQ if I stuck one on a colleague in the staff canteen.  Gary does, however, miss a rather crucial point that Sterling does not work in an office, he is a professional footballer.  Different professions demand different standards of conduct.  If a similar kerfuffle happened on, say, a building site, it probably wouldn’t lead to dismissal.  Context is everything.

Was some form of punishment necessary?  Almost certainly.  Never play for England again?  I’m not even sure if you were being serious.
Rob, London


Sharing the love
Quick shout out to Mark MCFC…my sentiment exactly as previously stated this place is “the last great bastion of reasonable minded football fans” big love to you.

Which brings me to Nelson in Lagos……Keep that paranoia type of drivel for twitter. I am fairly sure if Gomez was in the wrong in anyway we would know about it. Southgate himself said he was exemplary throughout the whole issue. Put that idea to bed. Sterling “had a moment” nothing more nothing less, he is still a top bloke and a great ambassador, am sick of this picking sides crap. If it was two of your mates your not going to fall out with one and not the other, you’d do everything possible to help them make peace. It’s really not that big of deal, the two lads should of been sent for pints and told not to come back until they are drunk enough that neither can walk without the help of the other. Or in the real world get hendo to give em a bell.

God i love this site its everything social media will never be.
Luke (honestly though is Minty on the payroll?)


Rivalry in the Czech Republic
I enjoyed Tabonga Moyo’s email this morning, but I also thought that he was going to go into rivalries of teams in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean teams, like.

Anyway, I know this is possibly not what he meant, but here’s a summing up of Czech team rivalries if anyone wants it. Come on, it’s a slow day.

The Prague teams are the big ones. Everyone hates Sparta, whether they’re from Prague or not. Arsey team, nasty fans. Their current foot-shootery is hilarious. Slavia are not quite as big, but still massive as far as this country goes. They’re basically seen as the better option of the big two because Sparta are so much the devil, and it’s nice to see them playing decent football and winning well.

Otherwise in Prague, Bohemians are the hipster choice (unless you want to go mad and go with Viktoria Žižkov, or fanless with Dukla), with their lovely old little ground, laid-back leftist fans and general air of beardy goodwill.

Around the country, Viktoria Plzeň are respected for winning things by having a well-run club that generally does things right, Zbrojovka Brno are, unfortunately, an utter clown car right now, and that brings us on to Baník Ostrava. Christ.

Ostrava is a big, industrial city with big, industrial fans. Historically pretty successful, their deal is having the loudest, most aggressive support in the country. They’ll create a rivalry out of nothing. The only time I’ve bailed out of going to a football game was in Ostrava: it just felt… nasty. Everything about it was wrong, from sharing a tram with black-clad, silent Baník fans (there was no boisterousness, just a simple feeling of single-minded threat), to spotting where the ground was by the simple method of following the clouds of smoke and endless bangs. This is an hour before the game. One final, massive explosion followed by flames and sirens made my mind up.

Other than that, there are local rivalries of course. Zlín – Slovacko, Pardubice – Hradec Králové, Brno – any team in Moravia…

The problem is, there’s also ice-hockey. Much bigger.
David (listen to Zbrojovkast for Czech footy nonsense) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep


Mic drop
Almost snorted my tea by accident after reading Alex, “Not an Egg chaser’s”  mail on football vs rugby. Although I personally don’t mind the ‘other’ sport, Alex does bring up some good points, especially the ‘no one really cares’ argument, which was actually backed up by some monetary facts.

I’ll now re-cycle these arguments the next time my posh south-west London girlfriend bangs on about how Rugby is by far the superior sport. Obviously finishing with the old tried and tested classic: “People who play rugby only do so as they were too fat at school to play football”.
Henry (Mic Drop) Innes, AFC


Alex, not an egg chaser writes “Can you imagine if Southgate lost to a country with the population of greater Manchester in New Zealand? It would be a national tragedy”

Well he did, some time last year. I can’t remember when exactly. Croatia has a population of about 4 million people and New Zealand has close to 5 million. I don’t remember a national tragedy.
Matthew, Cape Town


@Alex, clearly you’re not an egg chaser as your argument is consistently flawed.

I’m not going to pick each point. Your narrative is clearly selected to fall into the laps of the football fans and that’s fine, that’s your opinion. However my opinion based on 30+ years of avidly supporting both football and rugby is that there IS a tangible difference between the behaviour at football and rugby matches.

Just because rugby is a ‘minority sport’ as you put it, does not mean that said fans following their respective teams do not carry the same heartfelt passion for their teams. But you literally never hear of this ‘passion’ spilling over into inhumane diatribes on social media about a players wife, kids, gender, sexual preference etc. No rugby doesn’t garner the same coverage from the media and nor should it, it’s not as widely followed, but when 82,000 fans descend on Twickenham for a club rugby final or international test there is a very different atmosphere to the comparable football match at Wembley: I know, I’ve been to both on many an occasion.

To holistically call all football fans thugs would be obtuse and wrong and to holistically call all rugby fans middle-class public school boys would also be wrong. So I won’t do the former and you shouldn’t do the latter: I’m not a thug and I support both, as do most men in my family and my friends. But they all concur that there tends to be an underlying feeling of toxicity at certain football stadia and not necessarily to do with the football, more the unnecessary tribal rivalry between the two sets of fans. To put this into rugby parlance, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers are huge rivals and having been to games at both Franklins Gardens and Welford Road on these game days then I can categorically state that the fans mingle outside the stadium, inside the stadium, after the match etc. without any issue. The police presence is there but more from a safety and legal perspective rather than a security perspective and they are rarely, if ever, needed. There is no segregation, no pre-agreed fans routes into the stadium for either side. Inside the ground there is no cries of vengeance against opposition players/fans, profanities are absolutely kept to a minimum and people just provide SUPPORT to their team. Good old fashion support.

I watched the RWC 2019 final at a pub in London. It was packed. It was packed with England fans of different colours and creeds. It was packed with RSA fans of different colours and creeds. England fans were muted because of the direness of the performance and the sheer destruction of the RSA performance, but there was no trouble, no question of either set of fans not being in the same place to watch the match. And after the match England fans drowned their sorrows, RSA fans celebrated their victory, and we did this together with lots of beer and lots of laughter and mutual respect.

It is widely renowned that the 1995 RWC win for RSA did a lot in repairing a history of racial segregation and bringing an end to apartheid, yet you sit there behind your keyboard with zero evidence debasing a sport as run by ‘white people’ and ‘public school boys’.

Shame on you. You’re embarrassing.


I couldn’t help but find myself nodding in agreement with Alex’s (not an egg chaser) mail this morning.  Just why so many people are willing to accept the media portrait of rugby as some kind of perfect sport that puts football to shame is a total mystery to me.  It is a fantasy perpetuated by the posh privately educated people in the media.  Rugby is possibly the most elitist and racist sport in the world.

Football certainly has its problems but at least it faces up to them.  Rugby’s problems are quietly swept under the carpet behind a media smokescreen that feels almost like propaganda.

There is no racism in rugby?  Do me a favour.  Look at the woefully low diversity on the pitch.  I personally know many rugby fans in England.  They are mostly from privileged backgrounds.  Some of them of are very nice people.  Some of them are deeply racist.  The way they display their racism is completely different to the openly monkey impersonating twats at football.  The posh people’s racism is far more insidious.  They whisper snidey little comments to each other and snigger.  It is not ‘in your face’ racism, but it is racism.

Rugby fans are well behaved?   Do me a favour.  I had the misfortune to be in central London on an evening when there had been two rugby internationals on the same day.  The behavior of the rugby fans was foul.  There were punch ups and rivers of piss.  Most of the pubs decided to close for the evening.  Of course there was not a word of it in the papers the next day.

The percentage of people in the UK who are privately educated is 6%.  Interestingly, the percentage of professional footballers who are privately educated is also 6%.  Exactly what you would expect in a merit based sport.  The percentage of rugby players in the UK who are privately educated is close to 70%.  So not even pretending it is an open merit based sport.

The biggest problem I have with rugby is I have never met a rugby fan who doesn’t within five minutes start talking about how it is the right kind of people.  Not ‘yobbos’ like in football.  No, it is a higher class of people.  Do me a favour.
Jim (also not an egg chaser)


Morata the whinge bag
I despise Alvaro Morata, and his constant moaning all the bloody time, if he spent more time working on being good at football and not whinging like a teenage girl because people are looking at him funny. He surely realises his chelsea teammates were looking at him bizarrely because he spent the majority of his time at the club walking around the opposition box in an offside position.

He will never be good enough for the top level or even near the top level (where chelsea operate) he’s a mid table striker robbing a living as a striker impersonator at big clubs. At least Anelka the original Le Sulk was a very talented footballer, who knew how to put the ball in the net. I still cant believe Atletico were willing to give us the majority of our money back for that imposter.
Aaron. Cfc. Ireland


Likening being a footballer to any other job
I must admit I’ve always found any argument about football being like any other job a bit silly. If I walked into the office and one of my colleagues tried a 50:50 challenge to get the last banana in the fruit box I’d be pretty annoyed and have grounds for all sorts of HR cr*p. I’d also crack the sh*ts severely if we lost a pitch to another company, and an employee from that company rubbed it in my face the very next day at a conference. Especially if the CEO from our competitor specifically told his employees to get physical with me at every opportunity, as it would appear Klopp did with his team.

So as far as Raheem Sterling goes, the fact that there was a bit of handbags is, in football terms, a massive non-issue. Equating it to office life is facile…

Interesting to see whether Raheem can just let it go though. If it were me I’d hold a small grudge until the end of time if I got sledged by a guy who wasn’t even in Liverpool’s starting lineup…
Simon (2nd mail, trying for bracket inclusion), London


International broken
Just noticed that two of Saturday’s lower league fixtures have been cancelled due to international call-ups. Bit of a shame as I was looking forward to my spectating debut at Guiseley for their match with Kidderminster Harriers. I’d be grateful if anyone could enlighten me as to who has been called up and for which team. Surely, there can only be one or two players at most! Does this justify a postponement? Jeez……. Similarly if anyone knows who the international players are called up from Hemel Hempstead v Weymouth to cause their cancellation, I’d be truly interested.

International breaks don’t only cock up the top flights, but seemingly everyone else as well.

Looks like being Bradford Park Avenue instead, so not a bad outcome. I just hope they don’t have any Gibraltar internationals getting a late call up.
Bladey Mick

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