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Old school thinking
I would have said that just using the term ‘old school’ makes you old school Johnny.
In reality, you partially answered your own question when talking about why some of the English managers get tagged as being ‘old school’ while others do not. It all boils down to how they present themselves to the broader world. When I first heard about Eddie Howe it was about the way he thinks about the game and trains his team. Same thing with Graham Potter – and his use of analytics. Clearly Frank Lampard is too young to be considered old anything and given that he is giving the youngsters a chance it would seem odd to class him as ‘old school.’ On the field we can also see an attempt at playing a type of game that is not just about being solid defensively.
I have never heard Chris Wilder being referred to as ‘old school’ and I listen to a ton of podcasts and read copiously about the game. It took quite a bit of searching but found 3 – one was a female writer I hadn’t heard of saying he was ‘old school with new ideas’, a Daily Mail article extolling why he was not ‘old school’ and then one in the Times where Chris Wilder himself refers to himself as ‘old school’ because his team chases the game and no one calls out Jurgen Klopp for doing the same. Kind of supporting Johhny Nic’s idea.
Ultimately this is all about positioning. Howe, Potter and Lampard never talk about ‘old school’, never talk solely about chasing and running hard. Wilder does himself a disservice when he positions himself as a manager who rates huff and puff higher than other skills – at least outwardly. After the Liverpool game he praised Liverpool for the fact that they out ran, out hustled his team. As if those were the traits he rated most highly.
He is clearly a great thinker of the game and tactician but his own statements belie that impression.
And lets face it, most of us do consider Hodgson to be from the ‘old school.’ He probably gets a partial pass from the media because he worked abroad for a while, which is never considered ‘old school’ but as a manager who relied on getting players to hold on to a rope to understand playing in a line in a 4-4-2, we are never going to think of Roy as anything but an Allardyce without the northern accent.
And lets face it. Many people who hail from the North, love to extol their more down to earth, ‘real’ people, harder working virtues and play up on their gruff accent and demeanor. The problem arises only later when you want to be considered the urban sophisticate. It’s hard playing both sides of the coin. Fergie and Paisley somehow managed it.
What’s the point getting angry?
Alright Mark, Waterdown, LFC, let’s get angry. I am angry that Spurs are managed by the arch-bastard Mourinho. I am angry that Daniel Levy has allowed the club to stagnate because of his money-grubbing ego-fuelled antics. I am angry that Mourinho appears to be instilling an inferiority complex after Poch worked so hard to remove it. I am angry that Mourinho is making excuses about fitness after five years of hard running and last minute winners. I am angry that Poch was fired to make way for this gutless, miserable version of football. I am angry that we were sold a vision of guaranteed trophies from Mourinho and the best he can offer is mid-table form. I am angry that there is nothing I can do about any of this.
So why should I bother ranting and raving about it? Levy doesn’t care. Mourinho doesn’t care. At the risk of going all Johnny Nic, this is not our game any more. The anger doesn’t achieve anything.
Obviously this doesn’t apply to all fans, because some will rant and rave at every opportunity, but I’m not about to let some smug, self-absorbed, self-entitled multi-millionaires dictate my emotional wellbeing. So I’ve chosen to stop caring so much. A hearty middle finger to the lot of ’em.
Harry, THFC (Levy is the real bald fraud)
…Mark asks why Spurs fans aren’t angry about the Liverpool result, particularly the manner of it. I can’t profess to speak for all, but I can give it a go by giving my top 5 reasons.
1. Initial expectations – I think a lot of Spurs fans looked at a team shipping all manner of goals in recent weeks to much inferior sides, with one fit natural centre midfielder (Winks), our 2nd choice keeper still playing, and our top striker recently injured, and figured we’d get absolutely spanked by a team that is capable of steamrolling the best in Europe 4-0!! That we kept the scoreline respectable in defeat is reason enough to breathe a sigh of relief; not get angry.
2. Mark says Spurs have the capability to take even the best on in every game they play. Mark obviously isn’t aware of Spurs record vs. Top 6 under Pochettino. Let me tell him, it was terrible (averaged 1.09pts/game Vs Top 6; over or around about 2pts/game Vs non Top 6); and that was with a manager who, like Mark, thought Spurs should always just play their natural game and try to always attack every team. For once, I was glad to see our team and our manager come up with a system to try to negate some elements of a superior side’s strengths with at least some consideration of how to exploit its weaknesses (counter attacks by fast paced wide men into space behind full backs). It wasn’t perfectly executed in the end, but it was worth trying something different after years of doing what Mark suggested and failing miserably
3. In similar vein – anyone who expected different/better from Jose is either deluded or ignorant. As F365 has continually pointed out, Mourinho is so predictable and has enough of a back catalogue to make this pretty much a paint by numbers. Getting angry at that is as pointless as getting angry about the passage of time – you’ll never stop it; just enjoy the ride as long as you can whilst it lasts!!!
4. Mark says Liverpool now always break down stubborn defences and perhaps that’s ultimately right, as they did do just that on Saturday night; but how many of those teams who camp 8+ behind the ball have defences made up of an African Cup of Nations winner, a World Cup and Euro Champs semi finalist, a Europa League finalist..(yes not all of those are pinnacle events of highest calibre, but all involve high pressure one off games in which experience of mental toughness and concentration levels are gained). With respect to those other side’s, their defenders aren’t as used to the super high pressure situation that is required to keep a team like Liverpool out, so it’s no wonder they eventually crumble. I guess Mourinho assumed/assessed his generally, highly experienced defenders stood a better chance of success…
4. When you have put your faith in a tactical plan, you don’t immediately throw it out the window as soon as a goal is scored. Spurs weren’t playing for a draw from the off; they wanted to win and assessed that keeping it tight as long as possible and withholding some energy for the final 25 mins was the best strategy to do that. Having then conceded a goal; they will have rationalised that the target may need to change to getting a point; but the execution/style didn’t need to be thrown out.
If/when you grab your equaliser or if time is really running out is the time to re-evaluate. So many teams do change system and go chasing the equaliser asap only to quickly find themselves with a 2 goal deficit to fight back from.
5. For me personally, unless we really fall off a cliff from here, I’m willing to give Jose a half season to just suss out the squad full of players he’s inherited. Truth is, they don’t really fit to his usual tactical gameplan, with holes particularly at DCM. So I refuse to get overly grumpy about any result between now and the end of the season – with the exception of the NLD if he screws that up!
Next year on the other hand, after a full Jose pre season and summer transfer window…
Paul (Spurs) T.Wells
…Because we know that we aren’t very good.
We haven’t been very good since this time last year, so we’re somewhat resigned to it.
We got to the final of the European Cup, but (get this) we weren’t very good really at any stage in doing so.
Domestically, throughout this, we weren’t very good.
We had a very good manager, but he seemed to get very sad and over the course of a year he was not very good. We like him and hope he gets happy and good again.
Our chairman is very good at some things, but the things that were miraculously working stopped working- he’s now not very good, is the common knowledge.
Very many of our players are not very good. Those that are, aren’t very good at staying very fit.
Even when they are, they get paid the same as players that aren’t very good, and over time that seems to have affected them so that they play as if they are now not very good.
Things that are, in fact, very good:
1: Our stadium
2: The team that played us there at the weekend
So yeah, we’re not very good at being very angry that we didn’t beat Liverpool, because Spurs are back to not being very good.
That’s about it.
Darragh, Spurs, Ireland
…Hi Mark, Waterdown, LFC – context is a funny old thing. As a Spurs fan I’d have loved for us to be able to give it more of a go against the mighty reds on Sunday but let me set the scene; Spurs are welcoming, currently, the best, most in form and most organised team in the country (if not the world). We’ve lost 14 league games in 2019 and also lost to Southampton last time out in 2020 – so it’s 15 league losses in all within a 12 month period (which actually turned to 16 after the Liverpool loss). In the same period of time we have won 16 league games. Throw in some terrible terrible draws in that period, 8 to be precise. We are missing our star man, one Mr Kane. We are missing our best midfielder too, N’Dombele. We have a right back who is 100% incompetent and also seems like a bit of a dick for good measure. Add into this we have Mourinho making some odd selection choices as well him chasing a modern game that has passed him by and, with all of the above taken into account, you can see why we may not have given your guys a run for their money.
This is also the short context version. I won’t go into detail on our CL run but, quite simply, this was an absolute distraction from our woeful football in the league at the time. And I mean woeful. I’m grateful we got to the final and experienced some crazy highs but (as someone who doesn’t really agree with away goals) we didn’t even ‘properly’ beat City or Ajax.
We aren’t the 3rd best team in the league and weren’t when the league finished back in May. Anyone who thinks we are needs to take a look at how we actually played football for most of 2019 and how we are playing now. I don’t want to come across all pessimistic (as I actually wrote in on Saturday after the same saying how I saw some positives for Spurs moving forward – feel free to check the Sunday mailbox if you’re really bored) but for us to turn up against the league leaders who haven’t lost in 426 years, missing our best players and in terrible terrible form would just be an awful idea. We made Norwich look like a team of 11 Ronaldos a few weeks back, please bear that in mind.
Glen, Stratford Spur
More to Saints than Ings
Reading the winners & losers column, it’s great to see the usual mention of Ings but let’s not forget, he is just 1 of the 11 players and Southampton are playing great in all areas now, The Alpine Klopp really has invigorated the team since our 0-9 thrashing and made the whole squad believe in themselves again – Ings is playing well, but only because the service has returned, the midfield is performing, the defense is strong and the manager has got his mojo back. It’s not just about Ings!
Simon C, SFC
…Hello there. RE: Paul in Brussels, I’m a season ticket holder at Southampton and I think there are several reasons to explain the upturn in form.
I think the three big factors that really helped were the board telling the players that he was their man (and I imagine a few were told to put up or shut up) and that he would not be sacked. He has said this took the monkey off his back and made him more confident to play the way he thought would get results (and it has). it also showed those players that if they thought getting beat 9 nil at home would get rid of him, they had another thing coming = they would be sold before he was sacked. I think that probably bought a few of them into line. Finally, hes admitted he got things wrong and I think the players responded to that. He took the blame for the defeat and (given how astronomical the average footballer’s ego must be) I think they have responded positively to that.
His return to his’ principles that has worked – at the start of the season, there was too much going on (players out of position, odd formations) but after the 9-nil (eugh, bit of sick) he went back to what worked last year. It’s been quite simple – he’s worked out his best 11, he’s dropped the players who aren’t up to it and is playing a system that works for them.
People call for their managers head when the club and fans have unrealistic expectations of where they should be (West Ham, Everton anyone) but really, how are clubs ever going to build anything if they chop and change every time things go a bit south. Watford might be doing well with the bounce from Pearson, but I doubt he will be in there this time next year when they are 19th.
It probably also helped that Saints are still paying off Puel, Pellegrino and Hughes mind…
Joe (we will finish top 10, Villa, Bournemouth, Norwich for the drop for me, Clive).
In’t football brilliant
I’ve e mailed a couple of times urging people to stop getting so wound up and enjoy this sport that we all supposedly love. Yes, I am a Liverpool fan and we are lucky at the moment to be watching such a great side, I am old enough to know this may not happen again in my lifetime.
But just this weekend, Danny Ings continued his scoring run and hit the bar with an audacious effort. Considering his injuries that was a joy to watch, I desperately wanted him to succeed at Liverpool but everything went against him.
Manchester City’s first half performance against Villa was a thing of beauty. Stunning, incisive football which we are privileged to watch. From a league perspective I obviously want City to lose or draw at the moment but what a performance, that alone should remind everyone why we watch football.
From the same game, the performance of Aguero. Absolutely outstanding, I laughed with pleasure when he scored his second.
We haven’t won the league for 30 years, everyone knows that but rather than fall into an increasingly bitter downward spiral I’ve chosen to enjoy the quality I get to see every week. If a few more people did the same it would make going to the match a far more pleasurable experience.
Anyone who can’t appreciate the sublime nature of Liverpool’s 2nd half performance against Leicester at Christmas, City’s performance yesterday or any of the other wonderful moments we get to see every week should give up and start watching croquet.
Mark Jones, LFC, Liverpool
Just a quick point on Liverpool and luck from a United fan. While they may have had their fair share – or even an unfair share, I can’t say I watch all the games so I don’t know for certain which it is – of good luck, luck alone counts for very little. Sure, it plays a part in helping them pick up points but the way some people are going on you would think they have scabbed their way to the title on nothing but luck. As much as it pains me to admit, they are a phenomenal squad – not just a great first 11 – and they absolutely deserve to be as far ahead as they are. Luck might have had a hand in a few matches but you have to be good enough to take advantage of lucky breaks when they come your way. While there may have been some luck in the build up to Firmino’s goal (something about a throw-in?), there was nothing lucky about his positioning, his reading of the game, that perfect first touch and the lethal finish. 50/50s going your way is all well and good but you still have to make the most of the opportunities that they present. Liverpool are going to win the league this year and, while it’s going to cause the biggest mass-migraine in the history of mankind, they will fully deserve it because of their planning, the execution of those plans, and the overall quality within the squad and coaching team.
But if you guys could manage to f*ck it up somehow that would be much appreciated, cheers.
Klopp’s 95-minute men
Just a little one. Have noticed recently that Jurgen Klopp always talks about games being 95 minutes long. After the Tottenham game he said “We played super football in their box, but for 90-95 minutes you have to be ready. We were, but we still have to do better.”
Assistant Manager Pep Lijnders did the same in an interview last week saying “It’s easy to say, it’s harder to put it into practice on the pitch for 95 minutes.” Feels like maybe a conscious decision to keep the team mentality there for the entirety of the game.
This season Liverpool have earned the most points of any team from 85+ minutes and from 90+ minutes, so if it is a conscious decision to improve this, it’s working. Maybe I’m reading into it too much.
Joe. LFC fan.
Get on board the throw-in bus
Have we really gotten to a point in the discussion about Liverpool’s “luck” that we are debating whether or not they should have been awarded a throw-in?
A throw-in is not a penalty kick; it is not a free kick; it is not even a corner kick. Incorrect decisions for throw-ins happen in literally every game. It is one of the least impactful ways in which a player is allowed to resume play (unless your name is Rory Delap).
My recommendation for the other clubs is to hire more talented and qualified throw-in coaches so that they can more effectively take advantage of “lucky” incorrect decisions on throw-ins.
Chris, Chicago, LFC
10 thoughts on… everything
1. Liverpool are not cruising, they are scraping by because teams come at them with all they’ve got. Everyone wants to be the one to end Liverpool’s winning streak but if they get their tactics wrong (everyone is trying something else), they get pummeled. Its like a relegation fight for every match.
2. Spurs couldn’t attack all the way as they simply don’t have the fitness, hence only attacking 100% in the last 20 minutes when Liverpool is more tired. If they had done this earlier on, Liverpool would have pummeled them when they ran out of energy. IMHO, Spurs is only a 75 minutes team at the moment when playing with normal intensity. When Mourinho first took over, they were a 60 minutes team.
3. Brendan is a good coach but he is somewhat one dimensional, he lacks a plan C aside from the usual attack and defense. That’s why Liverpool pummeled them. He had the same issues when he was Liverpool manager.
4. Liverpool have learned to score pragmatically from almost any situation (throw ins, crosses, box penetration, long pass, etc…). They are trained to spot any opportunity. Their problem is the lower conversion rate and inbound crosses from midfield half spaces ala KDB. If they can improve this, expect scorelines to increase.
5. Teams are more afraid of Salah than Mane and mark him more tightly hence his goal contribution is less but his assists are higher. Also, Salah is probably over training his right foot presently so he is losing a bit of touch on his left. When he sorts this out, watch out.
6. Liverpool defence are very good at closing down/forcing attacking angles, that is why when there is a shot on goal it tends to go almost directly to Alisson. Of course, Alisson still has to do the hard work of blocking the shot but the angles are usually close enough to be reachable.
7. Pep seems to have figured out how to make his defence work better (3 at the back during attacking play when playing strong counter attacking teams), hence Man City scoring freely again. However, it remains to be seen if his defence can take a sustained attack from top teams especially European. As such, I don’t think Man City will be bothered again by anyone in lower league positions this season. Liverpool are right to be cautious here.
8. MU needs a strong DM that can dictate passes and a box to box midfielder. Their attack also needs to defend more especially in attack to defence transitions as defence in modern football starts with the attacking players. Everyone has to have a high defence situational awareness and track back.
9. Arsenal needs a strong DM and CB. They will do much better with that. Backtracking is also a work in progress. Arteta’s system is going well so far.
10. Chelsea needs a strong CB. Kepa is letting in too many in on his own. It would be best if Lampard can impose a system rather than relying too much on individual talent. Unfortunately, this has not been the Chelsea way for some time now.
Whilst I enjoyed Adam’s praise of Nigel Pearson and his use of maths, I do feel that he significantly ignored the work that Pearson did pre-2015. Who would have thought an Arsenal fan dismissing anything outside of the premier league? Thought I’d fill you in on some important details.
Leicester were literally at the lowest point in their history when he took over. He rebuilt the squad and got them promoted first time of asking (Leeds, Sheff Utd, Notts Forest etc have shown this is not as easy as some might think). First season back in championship he took them to 5th losing on penalties in the play offs. He was then forced out as Milan Mandaric wanted a bigger name as he tried to sell the club. Paulo Sousa then Sven were appointed and Leicester were sh*te.
Eventually the legend Khun Vichai (RIP) reappointed Pearson. He continued building what he had begun previously, developing a lot of the structure that is in place now – scouting, data analysis, medical etc and created a young hungry team with a togetherness in the squad. He managed to get them back into the play offs and then the following season they romped the league.
A lot has been talked of the survival the following season but they had actually played pretty well most of that season without getting the results. He kept belief and morale in the squad high and then the signing of Robert Huth in January made a huge difference in the second half of the season and beyond. Leicester still benefit even now from the work that Pearson did and I was gutted when he had to leave because of what happened in Thailand.
Pearson gets a hard time because he looks a bit like a bully PE teacher and he is certainly spiky with the media but speak to any player who has played for him and they say that he is not like that at all, he is an excellent man manager who gets the most out of his players.
Or it could just be magic?
I mean, how dare Ernesto Valverde win back-to-back La Ligas and be top of the league again this season…
I was so exasperated by the whining and moaning of Declan Rice and David Moyes after the late disallowed goal against Sheff Utd. Which part of the rules do these two not understand. I would have to suggest that both of them (Moyes, in particular) need to be given some basic education on the ruling.
What’s really frustrating about this is the media noise that then gets created which masks the real issues with VAR. They are quite simply:
1. The amount of time it takes to get to an answer (and)
2. The failure to adequately apply the advantage rule. Theo Walcott being denied a penalty against Brighton, being a case in point. What this does (if I’m a defender), is that I know I can have a nibble and will get away with it. The incident should have resulted in a penalty and a red card.
The nonsense talked about the VAR offsides is also really silly. If your offside, your offside, armpit or 15 yards. Pre-VAR, we used to be palmed off with the “these things even out over the course of a season” nonsene. Well, actually, it’s exactly the same with these VAR offsides. Only these days, the even-ing out is of being on the right or wrong side of the “correct” decision. If you are going to have a moan, have one about misfortune, not about the fact that the right decision was made.
Dale LFC, (VAR is not going to be scrapped any time soon, so get used to it)