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Leave Pep alone
Yesterday’s bonus mailbox saw everyone predictably mourning/celebrating the decline of Pep Guardiola, but I can’t help but feel they’re writing him off prematurely. It may well be that this is the end of his cycle and he’ll swan off to Juventus and spend another fortune. Honestly, that’s probably the most likely outcome.
But Guardiola is a competitor above all else. He wants to win, and he won’t want to bow out on a slump. I’d love to see him go for a rebuild at City, kick out half a dozen underperforming names and restart the process. Next season could see the likes of Foden, Garcia, Harwood-Bellis & Doyle join the first team setup instead of, say, David Silva, Otamendi and Gundogan. With a couple of the traditional big signings to augment that, City could be something special. If Pep can come up with some new tactical approaches, there’s an opportunity there for him that he’s not had before.
Naturally none of this will happen (apart from the big signings) but it would be nice to see.
Harry, THFC (Pukki was never offside. Tough luck Norwich, you beat us in spirit)
Don’t know if there will be an afternoon mailbox but I’m still writing in anyway.
I read all the mails on “Fraudiola” and I just smile inside. Goes to show that no matter how successful you are, no matter how innovative you are, no matter how you help people with your gifts they’ll still hate you because of that success. Deep down they are a bunch of sad people who just wished that success was theirs.
The only people who would truly appreciate Guardiola for what he’s has done in football are the fans of clubs he coached. I would know because I’m a Barcelona fan and every day I wish he was still at the club.
Fans of other club will hate him. Man Utd because they are the arrogant guy with a lot of money who think that’s all it takes to get the girl. Liverpool, the guy that likes two exceptional ladies and couldn’t make up his mind quickly (admittedly he did make a good choice eventually). Arsenal is guy with low self esteem who would never get a girl like that, while Chelsea is the guy that used to party a lot and so couldn’t attract any good lady. Man City is the guy that has a sh*t load of money but knew that wasn’t enough and decided to work on himself to get the right girl.
Yes he has spent a lot of money on players (every manager in a big club has). He has lost some matches to some questionable club (same for every big manager) and his team is going through a rough patch (which manager and team hasn’t?) but to label him a fraud because of this season is taking it too far. You don’t win a domestic treble with highest point tally in a league by being a fraud…even if you have 11 Messi.
I’m not worried by this blip. Man City fans shouldn’t either. If Man City was to win the league this season with a landslide, Guardiola would be tempted to leave. Now he has a reason to come back next season and shut some bloody mouths up.
Nelson,(Guardiola is the reason Liverpool is this dominant) Lagos
I thought the “Fraudiola” theme in the mailbox was unfair and distasteful.
Has Manchester City spent several hundred million pounds more on players than any other English team in the last few years? Yes
Does Manchester City have the organic means to finance this? No.
The club should emphatically be criticised for this. However, the collapse in playing quality on the field is simply due to losing great players to injury for long periods…Laporte, Sane, Aguero. My Liverpool team would similarly struggle without Van Dijk, Salah and Mane.
While the club itself should clearly be criticised and punished for cheating and potentially criminal misdeeds, my view is that Pep is still doing a good job under challenging circumstances. Let’s give the man himself a break.
Mark, LFC, Hong Kong
The Arteta of war
Obviously Man City are nothing without Arteta then ?
Pep is Ozil
I’ve noticed a hesitation to label Pep as anything other than one of the best coaches in the world, with no qualification added to that title,something which people have no hesitation doing with other players and managers. To be honest I find this very bizarre.
First things first, Pep is a fantastic manager, one of the best ever… in very specific conditions.
Much the same way as Ozil is one of the best players of his generation, when given freedom and not required to do much pressing or defending. Nobody has any problems labeling him a luxury player. Nor do people have problem labeling Allardyce as a “firefighter” after all it’s not easy winning points in the PL and for him to consistently get players and clubs to perform better than the sum of their parts is no mean feat, but nobody, bar him, would expect him to do well at Madrid.
Take Jose as another example , everyone is perfectly fine with saying he’s an elite manager, BUT his style only lends itself to a three year cycle after which it falls apart.
However when you point out that Pep walked into a Barca team with Xazi, Puyol, Iniesta, Messi, Eto, Pigue, among others and that Real of 08/09 were a complete shambles (Liverpool beat them 5-0 on aggregate that season prompting Real to start a total reconstruction of their squad) that his achievements with Bayern were about what should be expected or that walking into City with Liverpool in the midst of rebuilding, United suffering from over a decade of transfer neglect and mismanagement, Arsenal in their terminal decline, Chelsea being Chelsea and changing managers constantly and Spurs operating on a shoestring budget having moved stadiums, it’s taken as a massive affront to the man.
It’s difficult managing at the top, players have egos, there’s pressure from the board for success, fans are fickle, but Pep has always operated in near perfect conditions for success.
He hasn’t, in my estimation at least, done what managers like Jose, Ferguson, Klopp, Wenger and Benitez have done which is to come in and build something/get more out of a club than could reasonably be expected.
City is maybe the closest to that but he still walked in with unlimited money and a team with players like Silva, Kompany, Aguero and Sterling.
Why the reluctance to say that he’s a luxury manager?
Invincibles > mentality monsters
Jamie Bedwell, I get it. This is a very exciting time for Liverpool fans. Very easy to get carried away and why not? This is certainly the best Liverpool team since they last won the league oh, so very, many moons ago. But better than the Arsenal team of 2003/04? Nope.
And I’ll tell you why – Arsenal won the League in 2004. This Liverpool team lost it in 2019. As great a calendar year as Liverpool has had, that loss of the Premier League back in May is a blot on this team’s record in 2019. It’s really interesting to go back to how the Premier League looked just before they lost their last Premier League game against Manchester City in January 2019 and compare it to where Arsenal where with the same number of games played back in 2004.
Liverpool were top of the League seven points ahead having played 20 games. Arsenal, after 20 games in 2003/04, were second, three points behind the leaders. Fast forward to the end of each season; Liverpool come second one point behind the winners and Arsenal romp to the league title eleven points clear.
So there you have it. Liverpool were leading after half the season but came second and Arsenal came from second to win it back in 2003/04.
This Liverpool team will actually have to win the league before they can start being compared to other teams that have.
Still though, enjoy. This is a darn fine side. I even quite enjoy watching them myself.
Rob Y, Stockholm
Jamie Bedwell raises the question of who’s better.. the Invincibles or Liverpool 2019.
Firstly, who cares. They were/are both amazing sides that showed what can be done when an entire club is pushing the same way, with brilliant players at their peak producing magic.
Secondly, it’s impossible to tell. The league has changed massively since 2004. The influx of cash means most teams have skillful players and can actually play football, rather than setting up to disrupt, as a lot of sides did back then. Yes some try to do the same now, but defending ain’t what it used to be, clean sheets are less cool than goals and everyone wants to attack.
Just enjoy your side, they’re ridiculously good, and don’t get your knickers in a twist about the Invincibles. Though I would love to see that match.
Alay, N15 Gooner
Jesus, just thinking about that Arsenal side… Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira… Gilberto and Campbell… Too much man, too much good.
Now I really want to see them play this Liverpool side.
Alay, N15 Gooner
Liverpool have made their own luck
At the midway point of the season, Man City have lost as many games as their supposedly dire cross-town rivals, a damning statistic. Guardiola is no fraud, but it does appear his heart is no longer in it. My guess is that he has one eye on the exit door and will leave in the summer. He just doesn’t seem to have the stomach for a fight.
This has left Liverpool free to canter to a maiden Premier League crown. Fair fucks, their form has been unreal, for at least 18 months now.
(Un) interestingly, at the same time as the Liverpool v Leicester match on Boxing Day, I was watching the Royal Institution Christmas lecture, on the subject of luck. A man employed by Liverpool FC was featured on the show to talk about his role as number-cruncher and data analyst, part of a team hired by the club specifically to skew the odds in Liverpool’s favour and improve the on-field team’s luck. OK, he seemed to confirm what we already knew – that shots taken inside the 6-yard box have a 99% chance of resulting in a goal and that shots taken further from goal have a much lower likelihood of succeeding, but I still found it interesting how the team of data analysts are able to use millions of numbers and calculations to finally help turn Liverpool’s luck.
I know Liverpool fans don’t like anyone even hinting that their team may have rode their luck at times this season and they’ll probably pile in on me with the force of a tonne of bricks, raining down abuse, insults and invective at me, a random internet stranger. But your club has hired people to change your team’s luck! To deny that is to deny the obvious.
But what do I know? I’m just another bitter Munich. The only crumb of comfort I cling onto is that a dip in form and downturn in results for Liverpool is bound to happen eventually, although that may not be until they’ve already wrapped up the league title in record time, somewhere around February at this rate!
Lee, not Fred, honest
After 2 wins on the bounce and a clean sheet in a rare away win, have Manchester United turned a corner?
A deep dive
There have been a couple of incidents over the festive period which have highlighted what I perceive to be an issue in relation to diving and the way the powers that be go about trying to eradicate it from the game.
Firstly, Mahrez vs Wolves was heading to the byeline when Dendoncker stepped on his foot and (potentially) fouled him. He could have continued his stride but realised that the foul would lead to a penalty and went down dramatically. That was seemingly universally accepted as a penalty (quite rightly so imo). Compare that to Almiron vs Everton who was heading towards the goal and was grabbed and tugged – at pace – by Fernandez who didn’t even know where the ball was, let alone try to play it. He somehow managed to stay on his feet and got away half a shot which was significantly affected by the tug. Pundits all seemed to agree that if he’d gone down it would’ve been a penalty. However no penalty was given and again this has seemingly been accepted as the right decision too.
I don’t understand why Almiron doesn’t get a penalty (even after VAR checks) and Mahrez does. Is it because Almiron wasn’t fouled enough for his shot to be affected enough for the penalty to be given? Or because advantage has been played because he’d got a shot away? Either way it doesn’t benefit the honest player who tried to stay on their feet to do so again. It rewards players who are savvy and incentivises them to continue to go down in 50-50 calls and force officials to make decisions they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Since the game I’ve seen articles stating that Bruce will be encouraging Almiron to go down more easily in the future and even Chris Waddle calling him naive and saying he cost Newcastle the game because he stayed up. Surely this isn’t what we want – players not trying to play on and having to consistently go down easily if they perceive a foul has been committed because officials won’t give key decisions their way if they stay up? It will only lead to more diving and more simulation. There is always a lot of talk about diving being a stain on the beautiful game after high profile incidents but I think it’s this kind of precedent that leads to it throughout the game and at all levels.
I think we should instead be looking at how to support and reward tenacious players in these situations – by giving more of an advantage to attackers who try and score without losing the penalty/foul. Until then, we can all look forward to plenty more diving.
John Jack (AFC Dons)