‘Pep Guardiola believes the Premier League title could go down to goal difference’ – The Sun.
Considering they could literally go top of the Premier League table due to goal difference on Wednesday evening, it hardly feels revelatory.
So now you call, I deClyne
On Tuesday evening, Tim Sherwood became the latest man to tell Jurgen Klopp he was a fool to loan out his third-choice right-back. He told Sky Sports’ The Debate:
“To let Clyne go to Bournemouth is amazing for me.
“Why would you get rid of someone? Trent Alexander-Arnold is injured as well so in the right-back area you really are struggling.
“You’ve got Milner who is going to play in there and do his best, is an outstanding professional and is capable – but to let Nathaniel Clyne go to Bournemouth is incredible to me. I think it is a massive error of judgement by Liverpool.”
On Wednesday, Jamie Redknapp joined that particular chorus.
“With Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold injured, why would you let Nathaniel Clyne go to Bournemouth? Jordan Henderson and James Milner have had to fill in at right-back.”
And Chris Sutton, the second of the Daily Mail‘s ‘THREE WISE MEN’, was not too far behind.
“Liverpool’s lack of depth is alarming. Letting Clyne leave on loan – with no ability to recall him – is the biggest mistake Klopp has made at Liverpool. It could cost them the title.”
That hottest of takes actually provides the back-page headline of ‘KLOPP’S MADE THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF HIS ANFIELD CAREER’.
He once signed Steven Caulker on loan and played him almost exclusively up front. Stop being silly.
Firstly, Clyne had played 282 minutes of Premier League football for Liverpool since May 2017. Questioning why they didn’t keep a player who has struggled with injuries to help cover for possible injuries seems a bit disingenuous.
Also, Liverpool loaned Clyne out to Bournemouth on January 4, a day after Alexander-Arnold played the full 90 minutes in defeat to Manchester City, and eight days before he picked up an injury against Brighton.
And Liverpool confirmed that Gomez was set to miss ‘up to six weeks’ after breaking his leg against Burnley on December 5. The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that was nine weeks ago, the defender having to undergo surgery due to complications the club – and certainly Klopp – could not possibly have envisaged.
Oh and Milner played an entire Premier League season at left-back; he can reasonably be expected, as a right-footed player, to cope with a couple of games at right-back.
But no, ‘the biggest mistake Klopp has made at Liverpool’, the thing that ‘could cost them the title’, was to not foresee one player getting injured, one player’s injury getting worse, and one versatile player not being immediately versatile.
Next week: Why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was stupid to loan out Joel Pereira in January. After all, what if David de Gea, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant all become simultaneously unavailable?
Keown your actions
The third of the Daily Mail‘s ‘WISE MEN’ might not think loaning out Nathaniel Clyne is worse than taking almost three years to sign an actual goalkeeper, but Martin Keown is still here to offer some insight.
“It is interesting that despite this being such a close race, neither Klopp nor Guardiola has engaged in mind games. If Sir Alex Ferguson was in Guardiola’s shoes, he would have made a point of Liverpool dropping points.”
Lovely, lovely thoughts, Martin. It has been a quite refreshing change, hasn’t it?
It’s just a shame that you said this on December 21:
“This is the start of the mind games from Jurgen Klopp. He is trying to throw all the pressure on to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City.
“If you’re in City’s position and you hear that, it makes the blood boil a little. ‘Only we can throw it away? So you don’t think you can win it?’ Of course Liverpool think they can. It’s the first shot from Klopp and there will be more to follow.
“Liverpool and City are in a tussle. Your opponents are very much on your mind. You only play them twice but, really, you’re playing them every game. You have to match their result.
“If they slip up, you have to take the chance to punish them. Klopp is trying to get into the mind of Guardiola.”
Aside from all that, there’s been nothing.
Also from Redknapp junior:
“Both City and Liverpool have started to panic recently. They must be relieved that Manchester United are so far behind.”
This just in: Tottenham.
Don’t be Rash
‘The club are ready to more than TREBLE Rash’s wages to £200,000 a week’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, February 6.
‘Marcus Rashford in talks with Manchester United over new long-term deal that would double wages’ – James Ducker, Daily Telegraph, February 5.
‘Marcus Rashford still in talks over new £150k-a-week Man Utd contract with Real Madrid preparing to pounce’ – Gary Stonehouse, The Sun, February 5.
Those must be some confusing negotiations.
The Sun have struck SEO gold with their URL of ‘https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/8363403/neymar-better-ronaldo-27-stats/’ on Wednesday. But we really will have to see these ‘incredible stats that prove he is better than Ronaldo at same age’ before we believe it.
Apparently, ‘the numbers suggest he is already enjoying a better career than five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo’ at the same age. Because Neymar, who turned 27 earlier this week, has more goals and assists than Ronaldo did. Playing in the famously defensive, competitive Ligue Un might have helped a little.
Ronaldo won the literal Ballon d’Or at 23; he was probably a bit better then than Neymar is now.
Headline of the day
‘This is when Guardiola thinks title race with Liverpool will be over’ – The Independent.
‘Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has made his prediction for when the title race with Liverpool will be decided.
‘And the City boss is predicting it to go down to the wire.’
Man thinks season will end at end of season.
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his Manchester United staff they must not call him “boss”‘ – Paul Hirst, The Times.
Sounds exactly like the sort of rule a boss would impose, to be fair.
Recommended reading of the day
Matt Cheetham on Everton’s set-piece problem.
Ben Fisher on Aston Villa.
Gabrielle Marcotti on Neymar.