Fixture congestion? Liverpool and City have never had it so easy…

Date published: Monday 23rd December 2019 3:00

Send your festive mails to theeditor@football365.com…

Fixture congestion
While never being a huge fan of the World Club thing, one issue stood out for me. Our commentator tells us that Flamengo were competing in their 84th game this season. Eighty freakin’ four! A quick Wiki check suggested 74 (not including friendlies). Nevertheless, that is at least 7 more than Liverpool could have played this season (pre Carabao exit) – replays excepted.

So to all the premiership managers (and I mean all of them) – Klopp, Rodgers, Guardiola (especially Guardiola who has just written to the Premier league to say his usual sarcastic thank you for his fixture schedule), get over it. You have it easy. You’ve even got a mid-winter break this season. By my reckoning, the season lasts for 42 weeks (I’m giving you a luxurious 10 week break in the summer). This allows for 84 games to be played. Allowing 8 unimportant international matches to be played, that allows for 76 games to be played (2 per week).

Trophies are not meant to be easy to win. That is why the quadruple hasn’t happened. But it’s going to happen because it’s getting easier – the ending of replays and allowing clubs in Europe to enter the CC later. This is the dumbing down of competitions. A bit like The British education system.
Garth Litmus

 

 

 

Mourinho has no other options
Wow, I get the feeling Dave, Winchester isn’t a Mourinho fan and will never accept him as our boss.

I would love to know who these “quite obviously superior players not playing in central midfield” are that he talks of?? Because from what I can tell, there aren’t ones that fit into Mourinho’s tactical methods that he could have picked instead!!

If he meant Winks, Eriksen, Lo Celso – none of those would offer the defensive protection that Mourinho typically likes at least one of his midfielders to offer.

If he meant Skipp, that’s a bold call to say a 19yr old is “obviously superior” to two full internationals…

If he meant Ndombele, he should realise the guy, whilst clearly talented from the cameo appearances he’s made, has only just returned to training on Friday from injury and was therefore never going to play a full 90mins!!

Our midfield options, as Dave spots, is built to play Poch’s style of football, not Mourinho’s and that’s not his fault given he hasn’t had a transfer window to rectify/change it!!!

All managers say they are happy with their squad. I seem to recall last time Mourinho didn’t, he was roundly and rightly accused of throwing his players under the bus to protect his own reputation, so seems he can’t win either way!!! Plus, if clubs know you’re desperate for players, they’ll ask more as a transfer fee, so surely downplaying your need is just logical!!

As for Mikey’s comment, whilst I do trust Son is a lovely bloke, he’s right to point out that all 3 of his red cards to date have been for petulant acts after he felt wrong/slighted because the Gomes trip happened after he felt he’d been fouled… He clearly has a streak in him that doesn’t handle setback/perceived injustice well…
Paul, Spurs (T.Wells)

 

A bad day all round
Is the headline a bit dramatic? Maybe, but come the final whistle last night I was so ashamed of what happened by people who represent the club.

Let’s start off with the racism. It will already be covered by people much more knowledgeable and with more insight than myself but it is deplorable! How can a section of fans, who support a club who has suffered from antisemitism in the past, shout racist abuse and think it is acceptable? It genuinely baffles me how people can think this behavior is ok, especially when in the next breath they will be cheering on the likes of Sissoko, Aurier, Sanchez, Son etc etc.

What’s made me despair even more though is the reaction on social media. Yes there were Spurs fans who immediately came to the conclusion that this fan(s) should be banned and punished. But there was also fans who were making excuses or doubting the claims:

* F**k off he’s from Chelsea, they’re the worst club for it, he’s playing for a racist club so can’t complain.
* Another millionaire complaining!
* Never hear about racist abuse from white people, only blacks complain
* How come no-one else heard it eh? Just him, I doubt it even happened.

These were some of the comments I saw on Facebook and when people would put across a differing point of view or explanation, it was either shot down as wrong, started an abusive slagging match or simply ignored.

I don’t know what the solution is, maybe if Chelsea and Spurs players together confronted the racists? That would have sent out a powerful message. Despite the rivalry, we stand together on this. It’s more important than the game itself.

This mail has gone on a bit too long so will just say two things about the actual game. Son. Stupid boy. Definite red. A mate of mine was messaging me just before the incident and said he doesn’t like Spurs, too many s***house players and listed Son in there. I argued back saying “Son, nah, good natured player.” Was eating my words 20 minutes later. Definite red.

And the Dier experiment has to stop!! If Mourinho wants a dedicated DM, use Skipp. He’s better already!!!
Lancashire Spur

 

…Hope I’m not too late to the party with the fall out on the Spurs game but here’s my 2 pennies worth:

1) The racism. Such a shame there’s an uprising in this type of behaviour (all around the world it seems). I truly believe it’s, mainly, just very simple and poorly educated people who have probably been conditioned by generations before them. It’s very very simple. We are all one race. We have a heart, lungs and a brain. What we are on the outside is a shell and has no bearing on our internal character. Judge people by their heart, their character and how they behave. That should be the 1 standard the world lives by. In regards to racism in football I’d like to see better visible support from team mates and even opposing players when it comes to supporting any player subjected to this disgusting abuse. Let’s not get it twisted – in the past it was always said that walking off or reacting let’s the racists win. Ok. Well I’m pretty confident suggesting that this narrative was be given by people managing and running the league, you know, the people who make the money. Typically old white guys. Sport and profit is put ahead of human decency. Until that perspective changes then things won’t change. Anyone who is actually a decent person should support teams and players walking off if they choose to do so. This is where it gets complex as people need to feel empowered to make those decisions. This is where the support of (probably white) team mates and opposing players is required. Let’s help people feel supported enough to actually do the right thing instead of having an environment where we are indirectly suggesting that entertainment is more important than decency within humanity.
2) Spurs tactics and personnel were shocking. No press, no heart, no desire. Dier is as anonymous as Aurier is dog shit. You cannot afford for your centre midfielder to let his entire time on the pitch just pass him by like a lazy summers day. When Jose does make the change it’s terrible. Eriksen is not only a bit shit right now, he’s not this deep lying playmaker either. We literally had our best midfielder on the bench and it showed when Tanguy eventually got on. He protects the ball, is happy to receive the ball and not only makes forward passes into good areas, he usually follows up with a forward run to receive a return ball or at least make space for another player to receive the ball. Even without Tanguy, how about Winks who is happy to receive the ball or Le Colso who can pick a pass? I don’t get the whole Dier thing. It’s so frustrating.
3) Look at our starting 11 yesterday. All players who’ve been at the club at least 2.5 seasons. Where’s the fresh blood? It’s not just about fresh blood but having better players too. Aurier is a joke. I don’t care if we have £300m to spend or not but can we please have a new right back. Please. Santa?
4) Front 4 were absolutely anonymous. Not everyone loves Lamela but boy did we miss him. He is the type of bastard we need in these games. We gave Chelsea far too much respect, space and time. They were good, yes, but we really helped a team in poor form look amazing but our own ridiculous short comings. Kane, in his defence, had little chance if we are not pressing behind him or managing to string together 2 passes in a row.
5) Son is not a dirty player. He was a bit of an idiot yesterday and his foul is absolutely a red card but even with his petulance you can see he pops his foot up with minimal malice. It’s the most pointless reaction by Son. I’m not advocating violence but if you’re going to get sent off make it worth your while champ.
6) Top 4 is out of reach I believe. Our saving grace is that United and Arsenal are worse than us this season so we may be able to secure 5th but even then we still have Sheff U and Wolves to contend with.
7) Generally left with a horrible feeling after everything. A loss to a hated rival in poor form, errors everywhere, a shitty red card, poor team selection and tactics to match and the cherry on the cake is the racism.

Merry F**king Christmas guys!
Glen, Stratford Spur

 

Spurs were robbed
I still don’t get it… don’t get me wrong, Son deserved his red card and Chelsea the three points, but why have I not seen any reaction (16 conclusions and other media outlets) to the two penalties Spurs should have been awarded for grabbing in the box? It’s as clear as day, arms around the waist, stopping the players from attacking the ball. How can that be let go. Anywhere else on the pitch, a foul will be given.

We have VAR and these types of fouls were picked up in the World Cup but the same consistency isn’t being used in the Premier League. What also amazes me is that players are still doing this despite knowing VAR is supposed to be watching everything – well clearly VAR isn’t watching everything. We’re into December and VAR still has such a long way to go. I profess to not watching other leagues who have this technology, are they making best use of it? What can we learn from them? Why have we not seen an improvement since the start of the season.
Pete (fed up of VAR like every other person but sees the longer term value of it if implemented correctly)

 

…Does anyone need VAR more than Anthony Taylor? Gave the penalty and the Son assault as Spurs free kicks. Last year that game finishes 11 a side and 1-1.

Some kids never get their stabilizers off. They are just rubbish at riding bikes.

Talking of rubbish. Aurier. Spurs had walker and trippier and ended up with Aurier. And we say they’ve made progress?
Johnno “if Arteta kicks out the bad eggs we will be playing 6 a-side” Canada

 

 

Son is THAT kind of player
Son should have been sent off twice yesterday – once for the petulant kick-out at Rüdiger that got him ejected in the first place, and the second for the incredible display of dissent and disrespect towards Anthony Taylor when he was shown red – sinking to his knees, beating the ground with his hands, in front of the – gasp – same section of the crowd that was responsible for the racism towards Rüdiger a few minutes later.

He is a nasty, petulant and cynical piece of work and he really needs to learn to control himself. He is an incredibly talented player, but when things are not going his way he lashes out. Rüdiger was not injured, but there is a man who possibly will not play again depending on how his bones heal currently rehabbing his way to possibly playing in many months’ time, again due to Son. If he has had one red card “rescinded”, then he should have another doubled for his pitiful, and inciteful, antics. No amount of being innocent-looking and making his heart-hands will change the fact that he needs to grow up and behave like the professional role-model that he should be aspiring to be.

Taking the racism topic a little further, it’s obviously becoming more acceptable to have extreme right-wing or fascist views which inevitably spill over into the oafish minority of those who attend matches, both in the Premier League and in games in different leagues across the world. It’s no small coincidence that Johnson with his “piccaninnies” and muslim “letterboxes” comments, Trump with his “Mexican rapists” and “Islamic terrorists” theories, the far right in Italy supported by the news media and now apparently the league itself, and others, who all go unpunished are normalizing racial hatred.

If I walked outside right now and began declaiming Mexican immigrants for rape, Muslims for being terrorists, debasing African-Americans for being stereotypes and hijab-wearing women for looking like bank robbers, I’d be rightly arrested and imprisoned. It appears that these standards of decency and tolerance do not apply to the current crop of influencers who like to be called “leaders”, and isn’t that strange that those people are responsible for a very noticeable decline in public behavior?

Son has complained about racism himself; perhaps he might be a little more aware that his childish dissent on the field might incite a couple of wider problems off it.
Steve, Los Angeles

 

Racism is a wider issue
Regardless of the wider context, racism IS a football issue. It happens in football grounds at football matches and is directed at football players. Nobody is expecting football to solve world racism and bring forth a new era of cultural utopia but football needs to fix racism in football. Dip, Gary Neville does not agree with you, “But we have a racism problem in the Premier League in England”. Until we can all agree that this is our problem then it’ll never begin to get fixed.

If stuff kept disappearing from your house would you say “this isn’t a problem with my house, things get stolen throughout society so it’s a wider issue”? No, you wouldn’t, you’d want justice for yourself first and foremost. If you know your mate dodgy Dave is stealing from you, would you let him back into your house?

The whole spectrum of football, from players, associations, clubs and supporters need to decide that they really don’t want to be associated with racism. At the minute we’re tiptoeing around the issue out of fear of unfairly punishing innocent people or harming the brand but really we’re just abdicating responsibility to someone else. Football can’t fix racism but it can fix racism in football starting with meaningful fines and docking points, see how long it remains. Right now it seems like the rules are there to pay lip service to a problem that in reality they don’t give a shit about.
SC, Belfast

 

…I know what was said about Politics and Football not being put in the mailbox, but Gary Neville was so eloquent in what he said about racism, Couple of weeks ago and now again yesterday. Hate crime has increased since Boris Johnson has come into power, it has definitively emboldened racists further. See tweets on Twitter about muslims being abused on tubes, a person standing outside Brixton station pointing at brown and black people and saying this is deserved, i mean it is a depressing state of affairs.

No to mention what has happened with Stormzy saying he feels that there is racism in Britain and his words being misconstrued by every media outlet is shocking!

David Jones messed up big time, whether or not the voice in his ear-piece was telling him to shut it down, you would expect him to have more of a moral backbone, which unfortunately he didnt have.

My only qualm is Neville saying both parties are to blame, Corbyn has been fighting injustice his whole life, see him being taken away for fighting apartheid years ago. Why was he given such a hard time by the media but not Boris for his comments? There’s always an agenda.

The moronic Tottenham fan making monkey noises/chants whatever he did seems to forget that his team has Rose, Sanchez, Sissoko, Ndombele to name a few stars in the team.

FA needs to stand up and do something for once, but i fear nothing will happen as there is a deeper lying racism within this country, rooted in all avenues. Will it be rid off? Not any time soon.

I guess it all just makes me a little sad, but it is what it is.

Have a great day all!

Kind Regards,
Jimmy

 

…In the latter stages of this enthralling contest there occurred, unfortunately several instances of racist acts by fans that eventually necessitated three announcements over the in-stadium public address system. This became a topic in the post-match discussion on Sky between the assembled “football experts” who all decried this ongoing stain on the game. Very few of us would disagree with this perspective—racism bad. However, it seems that it is easy to call out racism in some places but not in others; this match ended with no less than 13 black players (Willian, Batshuayi, Kante, James, Zouma, Rudiger,Tomori + Aurier, Rose, Sissoko, Sanchez, Alli, Ndombele) on the pitch yet for all the managerial upheaval in the Premier League (5 managers replaced this season already), the EFL and, indeed, the history of football in general, still the lack of colour off the field has somehow managed to escape the attention of the “football experts” and their cohorts.

Much easier to point the fingers at a few anonymous idiots in the crowd than at those who exercise real power.
Courtney, LFC (Also guilty)

 

…I’m sure there will be lots of opinions on the racism we saw at the football. With all due respect, if nobody has gone out of their way to racially abuse you on a street and if you’ve never been thrown out of a pub for the colour of your skin then I don’t think you’re ready to realise that it’s a bigger problem than you want to admit. It’s always that small section of idiots…until it’s a train full of supporters either engaged in abuse or passively doing nothing as a black person isn’t allowed on a train.

When these things happened to me, nobody intervened, nobody stood up and afterwards life carried on as normal for all parties. What was odd in one case was that people were staring at me, nobody was looking at the perpetrators.

Just wanted to say massive respect to Gary Neville for what he said yesterday. Maybe football can’t be a force for change but I’d love to see it at least try.
Minty, LFC

 

…Did no-one else notice that when the referee followed the second part of the protocol and wandered over to talk to the managers, Mourinho’s response was to point at his watch, seemingly to ask whether the incident will be added onto stoppage time? Fair enough his team were losing, but it’s not exactly a great example to set considering how serious the incident was.
Kevin

 

How to stop it
After yesterday’s feature game being the subject of alleged racism I thought I’d offer up a few ideas on how it could be stopped immediately – if only FIFA/UEFA actually controlled the game, instead of the TV schedules & the sponsors. If FIFA really wanted to stop racism or violence at football matches, they could do it today, with three simple changes:

1. Any team involved in a game where there is any form of racist or violent behaviour is deducted 3 points. Regardless of any of this ‘identifying the individuals’, ‘banning those responsible’ – 3 point deduction for both teams.

2. Fan restrictions – any teams involved in a match where there is violence or racist behaviour plays the next game behind closed doors – no fans, no TV footage or radio coverage.

3. And finally, an escalation of the sanctions – next incident, 6 points deducted, two games behind closed doors, third incident – 9 points and 3 games behind closed doors and so on.

Using these methods, there would be a complete end to violence and racism at football matches. The threat of them should be enough for TV revenue & sponsors to shun clubs with poor crowd behaviour and for players to think twice before signing or playing for them. And the poor behaviour would have to stop immediately.

Of course, FIFA/UEFA have never really shown any will or desire to actually stamp racism out of football, so this is unlilely to happen. So the incentive will have to come from elsewhere, namely the players themselves. How long before we have a player revolution simalr to Colin Kaepernick’s in the NFL? How powerful would it be if players refused to play for their club until it had resolved the issues in a successful manner, or all professional players refused to play against a club who had failed to deal with racist behaviour from it’s fans? Sadly, again as in the NFL, this would be driven by the group of people who are suffering the abuse, namely the players, who seem to regularly have to ‘put up’ with unacceptable levels of intolerance in the name of a sport. If only FIFA/UEFA actually governed football…
Exiled Gooner (just throwing it out there. C’mon fans, let’s sort our sport out!)

 

Calling it early
That’s it, I’m calling it. A loss to the closest threat means I think even I can finally say it out loud.

Liverpool are going to qualify for the Champions League.

Tottenham are now 23 points behind us and I don’t think they’ll catch us now.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been burned so many times before, but a lead that is less points than games remaining is not big enough for me to be comfortable.
Justin, LFC

 

Like a virgin
I’ve just about had enough of this Championship level manager masquerading as a top flight manager.
We’re only capable of playing one way and that is on the counter attack. When teams sit deep, we look like a virgin trying to find the g-spot.
We need to stop this experiment and accept that Olé isn’t the manager to take the club forward. We need a manager that can introduce dynamism to our play. A manager that can coach diverse attacking patterns. A manager that doesn’t look like a deer caught in headlights when things are going wrong.
A manager that isn’t still partying like it’s 1999.
Olé is at the wheel but Pochettino riding shotgun.
Ded Revil

 

Club World Cup conclusions
Realise I’m late to the mailbox party on this one, and far more important things have happened since. But just wanted to mention a few things about the Club World Cup:

1) It was really good fun – appreciate it might not have been had we lost – but that was an excellent, competitive game of football between two really good teams. There were times I thought we’d lose and times I thought we could run away with it. When Firmino scored in extra time it felt real and serious.

2) The status of the competion remains up for debate, however I think Jurgen Klopp nailed this one. The reality is that you get to play this competition so, so rarely – I think it merits a bit more respect, but that only comes if the matches are up to scratch. Recent dominance of the European clubs threatens to make it a nonsense – that this match was so close gave the competition a real shot in the arm, I think. This leads to my final point…

3) ..2021 will see this turned in to a 32 team summer tournament. Something which I lament for a number of reasons:

Given said European dominance, who would bet against 4 European teams in the semi finals? – you can guarantee the tournament will be seeded such that the 4 Champions league winners can’t meet each other in the groups. Yes, games against great European teams are always fun to watch, but I prefer the unknown once in a while. Chances are, over the course of a group, the European teams will always edge it – robbing the other nations of a chance to play the showpiece
As we’ve heard over and over – this competion is HUGE in south America. FIFA are about to make it so the teams from the largest market for this kind of competion are now one more step removed from being competitive – seems counterintuitive to me
ANOTHER summer tournament. Come on, FIFA, give the players a rest for Christ’s sake. Two/three extra games per season is plenty – win it in 2021 and you’re looking at 7/8 matches
Summer tournament now means this is designed, as almost always (Qatar 2022 aside) for European teams. Way to improve/expand the game globally, eh?

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it this time!

Cheers,
Marc (London)

 

Why Ancelotti opted for Everton
Reading Abdulahi of Abuja, Nigeria’s email (I got that punctuation right, two stars for me) I couldn’t help but notice his comment “I bet Ancelotti would have chosen us ahead of Everton.”

Well I bet not. Our club spends money (rather poorly I may add) whilst yours doesn’t. If you’re a manager looking a two clubs in similar situations, you’re going to go to the one that’s guaranteed you the funds to build the squad the way you want it. Once, while standing in an elevator, a man out of the blue turned to me and said “The answer is money, now what’s your question?” Well lo and behold, that’s your answer here as well and it’s why Ancelotti probably chose Everton over Arsenal.

Personally, I feel Arsenal were there for the taking on Saturday. Unfortunately, we chose to be equally as poor. My apologies to all who watched that match, especially those on the West Cost. 4:30am for that??? Deeply sorry.
TX Bill (Moise Kean must be the happiest man in the land today) EFC

 

Typical Palace
*A defeat to a manager who had never beaten our manager previously, a winning goal scored by someone who hadn’t previously found the net for his club. Perhaps the most “typical Palace” way to lose.

*Crystal Palace’s performance on Saturday was everything people find frustrating about Roy Hodgson’s management. Once they grew into the game, they dominated it, but couldn’t find the net; they got tired, but didn’t make a substitution to maintain their momentum, and ended up losing the match.

So far this season the Eagles have figured highly in the stats for clean sheets and for games where they’ve failed to score, because they are set up in a system based on a high conversion rate of fewer chances, which they haven’t really been taking. It doesn’t make for entertaining viewing, it’s left at least one high profile player as a frustrated figure, and leaving players on the bench watching those ahead of them in the queue underperform isn’t good for morale.

*A lot of the people defending Hodgson against criticisms of his personnel management go to great lengths to point out that he’s doing the best he can with a thin squad and meagre resources (this is relative of course). However, this isn’t a problem unique to Crystal Palace or to Roy Hodgson. There are plenty of managers who have been in similar situations, often further down the pyramid where finances are even more parlous, but who are able to get their squad playing a style of football that incorporates creative and functional approaches, and keeps an entire squad engaged. I’m not advocating replacing Hodgson with any of them, just highlighting there are different approaches.

*Next up for the Eagles is the visit of West Ham United on Boxing Day. Much like Palace and Watford, this isn’t a fully-fledged rivalry, but United and Palace never seem to be too far from each other. In the last ten meetings, Palace have won just twice, bookending four United wins and four draws. Just don’t expect to watch the highlights on Match of the Day and get an early night.

*This weekend I discovered that there is a distinction between playing long ball and getting the ball forward as early and quickly as possible at every opportunity, and that when a team who goes an entire calendar year without winning an away game, it isn’t the manager’s fault.
Ed Quoththeraven

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