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So long, Sturridge
A little tribute to Daniel Sturridge..
It may not have come as a surprise but it’s still sad to see one of my favourite players leave Liverpool.
Make no mistake, Daniel Sturridge is one of the most gifted English footballers in recent memory. His scoring record in his early seasons at Liverpool was incredible and he scored all manner of goals. Placed finishes, instinctive efforts, audacious chips, long range drives, volleys, headers, you name it, Sturridge produced it.
It’s a shame injuries robbed him of his pace and burst. Without that he never really fit Klopp’s system. His Liverpool career looked to be over at the end of last season, so even though he didn’t get a huge amount of game time this season, it was still great that he was involved in the majority of match day squads and a part of winning number 6. He deserved to go out on a high.
Not only was he the best English striker since Rooney (I’m including Kane in that, peak Sturridge > Kane), he always comes across as a great guy, a fun loving character and very friendly. He has matured a lot too and shown mental toughness to overcome the injuries and to deal with not being the main man in the side anymore, whilst still being hugely popular in the dressing room and a mentor to the likes of Brewster.
He worked incredibly hard last summer by all accounts to get himself back into shape and it showed. I think he still has plenty of goals left in him for mid table Premier League side. He’d rip it up in Spain or Italy if he fancied a new challenge. Wherever he goes I’ll be keeping an eye out and wishing him every success. He won’t be forgotten by Liverpool fans any time soon
Shane, LFC, Ireland
Bosses Ballon d’Or
Interesting questions regarding the Ballon d’Or top 10 managers; Here is my list, which was a lot tougher to complete than I thought it would be.
1) Klopp: Liverpool had an incredible season. They lost only once in the league, kept the pace with City, and won the Champions league. Lucky or not, he is #1.
2) Ten Hag: led Ajax to a champions league semi-finalist by defeating Juve and three-time holders Real Madrid. Rather unlucky not to be in the final too. They were also an incredible team to watch with their passing game and won their domestic league
3) Guardioloa: Domestic Treble, played wonderful football. However, failed in Europe again.
4) Pochettino: Trophyless, yet he managed to bring Spurs to the Champions League final and qualify for next year’s campaign. All this done with no money spent, injuries to Kane and Trippier being beyond crap throughout the season.
5) Galtier: Took over struggling Lille last year and hasn’t looked back. Buoyed by a strong and pacey forward line up of Ikone, Pepe and Bamba, he led Lille to a convincing 2nd place and a famous 5-1 victory against PSG.
6) Lucien Favre: May not have won the league with Borussia Dortmund despite being ahead for much of the season, but they were a young, fun explosive team.
7) Valverde: Disappointing season for Barca, but they still won La Liga and went to the Champions League semi finals for the first time in 4 years.
8) Marcelino: Led Valencia to a top 4 finish and a Europa League semi-final. Solid presence behind Real Madrid, Atletico and Barca.
9) Tuchel: Would have been much, much higher in February, but the way the team fell apart during that United game and thereafter is almost surreal. Still won convincingly the league, and were unbeatable during much of the fall/winter.
10) Allegri: Winner of Serie A, but a disappointing Champions league exit for Juve and Ronaldo.
Is the solution to the Eriksen problem which Matt Stead highlights staring us in the face?
Sign Coutinho as the replacement?
Baz Foster, Glasgow
Liverpool’s unsung hero
Since it’s a quiet time for football action can I offer a few words of praise for Liverpool Goalkeeper Coach, John Achterberg. In my mind he’s one of the unsung heroes of the CL final.
For years he has been criticised by Liverpool fans for not improving Mignolet and Karius and apparently being rubbish at his job. Despite Klopp and everyone associated with the club praising him, the fans apparently knew better and wanted him gone.
Watch highlights of Alisson from his time in Roma. Even in his highlight reel his big weakness that worried me before he signed was that he would almost always send the ball back into a dangerous area around the 6-yard box when making diving saves. In the final, however, when he was called upon repeatedly in the last 20 minutes he timed the saves to perfection, sending the ball out of play or at least out of danger and wide, away from the onrushing attackers.
It looks like a simple thing but is obviously something that he has worked hard on with the coach and it’s worth giving some credit where it’s due since Achterberg was so often slaughtered in the past by people who claimed he didn’t have a clue despite never having witnessed him work. Thanks, John!
David, LFC, Dublin
I am a Man Utd fan and thus am definitely biased against Liverpool. However, this luck thing is absolute BS.
Gary player (or whoever said it before him) said it best when he said “the more I practise, the luckier I get”.
Jon, Cape Town (can’t wait to see which over the hill over-rated player in a position we don’t need we waste our money on a few days before deadline day)
…For all those bemoaning Liverpool’s -or anyone else’s- luck, I’ll paraphrase Louis Pasteur, “Luck favors the prepared.”
Stephen – USA (MCFC for the record)
…To wade in on the claims of luck that come into Liverpool winning the Champions League, yes, there is luck, and there will always be luck in football, not that any of this luck helped domestically. Hypothetically if Liverpool losing luck and last minute winners meaning they’d still be 10 points clear of 3rd place and still not win the title.
But if luck or poor officiating were considered for City it is what handed them a chance at the domestic treble. Think – Hazard was onside and 1-1 with Ederson at 90 minutes in the EFL Cup final, yet was flagged offside, this could have cost City that cup. Then think to the FA Cup quarter final, with Man City benefiting off two incorrect decisions to level and win the match. Without this ‘luck’, would they have done this treble, maybe not, as these are better claims than those that say Divock Origi is too lucky.
…Had Liverpool won at Man City (which, given they were 11mm away from taking the lead, isn’t entirely crazy) they would have been hailed as the best team in Premier League history – an unbeaten season, 100 points, and Champions of Europe.
So near, and yet so far… so ‘lucky’, and yet so unlucky.
Are there other teams who have come so close to being ‘the best team ever’?
Will (enjoyed watching with Spurs fans in a bar in Madrid; a good bunch of guys) Graham
Watching the Portugal Switzerland Nation’s League semi and the thing that really struck me as I watched Cristiano stroke home his third was just how lucky he was for each of his three goals.
1 – Really lucky that the ref gave Portugal a free kick for a pretty clean tackle. Even more lucky that the wall didn’t jump and then also quite lucky that the keeper chose to cover the wall side of the goal and not the unprotected side like most keepers would have.
2 – Again really lucky that he was given a free kick for falling over. Bernardo’s miskicked cross luckily bounced its way through two defenders to Cristiano perfectly on the half volley.
3 – Granit Xhaka.
Another one of Cristiano’s hattricks down to pure luck….
Will, Canary Wharf
Postcard from Madrid
I know this is late – but I wasn’t late to the party…I was there….but I want to share my Madrid experience with you. I travelled from Melbourne, Australia with my 2 sons having booked flights an hour after Barcelona HOME…much to their shock and sheer delight. 22 hours on a plane with an 11 and 13 year old giddy with excitement. Funds were tight so I booked an air bnb an hour out of Madrid…….it was cancelled 6 days before we flew…..so I found another (budget accommodating) only it was 2 hours out of Madrid. In the last week I have driven the equivalent of Melbourne to Sydney and back which equates to about 18 hours or in laymans terms a shitload of driving on the wrong side of the road with the sterring wheel on the wrong side of the car.
My boys will never forget this trip.
The night before the match was incredible. We met so many Liverpool fans and when they heard where we came from for this they were in awe. My youngest had more shoulder rides that night than he did his entire toddler years. My boys managed to sneak into a second floor apartment in a street above a mass of heaving Liverpool supporters to unveil their flag to the delight of the throng as tears welled in my eyes. We were offered tickets to Anfield by season ticket holders next time we made the trip to the UK. We met Steve Staunton on the Metro. We sang and danced all night and then hit the fanzone which was amazing if a little bit bloody hot.
We watched the game in an Irish pub with loads of Pool fans who went out to get my kids water, soda and food as it was an hour wait at the bar and they knew I couldn’t leave the boys alone for too long. The people we met and the celebrations in that pub were incredible. Then we partied in the streets. We slept in our hire car….
I had my wallet stolen by the local toerags but it didn’t dampen the trip.
We lost our hire car because I forgot where I parked it when we went shopping for Champions League memoribillia the day after the match. (That “parked car” check in on google maps is good eh – shame I didn’t know about that until after 2 hours walking the streets) – but it didn’t dampen the trip.
The game was shite but it was the result that mattered and being their for that atmosphere.
I am so broke and so behind with my work and so jetlagged but I don’t care.
My sons have grown up in Australia but have been to Anfield. They know how much Liverpool means to me – I have a YNWA tattoo and was in Liverpool for the Hillsborough verdict ceremony. I have a signed photo of the 1983 team when I left England for Australia that my junior school chums gave me. I watch every match no matter what time it is on in Australia or wherever I am.
I had a good feeling about this and I wanted my boys to really see that raw emotion and passion. They experienced that and then some. Family had their concerns about violence and risk but I have many good Spurs fans and I knew we would party. Sure I had me wallet nicked but I was drunk and stupidly had it on show in me back pocket – my own fault.
I will never forget this trip, this season and neither will my boys.
We are home in Melbourne which is why this is late to maybe getting published but thank you Madrid, thank you Spurs fans, thank you Liverpool fans and thank you Liverpool Football Club for a truly amazing experience.
Absolutely disgusted seeing reports of England fans causing mayhem in Portugal! Where the hell have these muppets come from?
I was in Madrid from Thursday, and spent time with Spurs fans all over the weekend in bars and restaurants, and we had a ball! Yes there was banter, but no animosity! Even after the final whistle and going back to the bars, Spurs fans congratulated us, shook our hands, and we drank together. As Liverpool fans, we were in the Spurs fans positions 12 months ago in Kiev, so we new how they were feeling, and we weren’t going to gloat, because it had been such a brilliant weekend together!!!
What a difference a few days make in our reputation as English fans abroad! Get over yourselves and grow up, and whilst I’m at it, hang your heads in shame!
Honestly, where have these so called football fans crawled out from! D1ckheads!
Gronkie (Grateful for the experience in Madrid) LFC
Interesting question Duckett, but my suspicion is Brexit won’t affect the Premier League’s ability to attract and retain the best talent from around the world.
Why? I hear the mailbox collectively cry (shortly after crying why do we even care?). Well, for players from all non-EU countries such as Brazil, Senegal, South Korea etc… it won’t make a blind bit of difference. For those players from EU countries currently in the Premier League it won’t make any difference either, at least in the short-term. I’ve read various theories on this ranging from being allowed to remain for the duration of their contract to being allowed to remain indefinitely, but the general assumption is there’ll be no immediate impact.
Where it gets trickier is either for players from EU countries who aren’t yet in the Premier League, or those whose contracts are coming up for expiry (assuming that particular scenario means they have to leave the UK). In these instances one would reasonably assume that whatever the rules are these days regarding non-EU players (it used to be that you had to have played 75% of your country’s internationals in the previous 3 years, or something similar) would apply to non-UK EU players as well. In which case, the best talent would still qualify for a work permit and be attracted to the Premier League.
The only players I can foresee having any issues are players who are not regular internationals and who don’t meet the work permit criteria, in which case one could argue that they aren’t the very best of world talent available anyway. That said, a regular starter for Luxembourg, Gibraltar or Andorra would be considered worthy of a permit, whereas an up and coming superstar who has just broken into the French, German or Italian national team wouldn’t, meaning in some cases lesser players would be eligible for permits ahead of better player, though admittedly that same scenario already exists for non-EU players anyway.
So ultimately, what it might end up doing is result in the top clubs still being able to attract the top players, but the mid to lower table Premier League teams having to look beyond established but non-regular international players and towards regular international players from other countries, which potentially weakens lower table teams further and exacerbates the divide between the haves and have-nots. Which is fine, because that’s what modern politics and Brexit is all about anyway, right?
Spurs will be just fine
Mike says Spurs should be worried if Eriksen and Toby leave because Wolves, Everton, Leicester and West Ham have “interesting playing pieces in place” and “top class managers.”
Well Mike, if Eriksen and Toby leave Spurs will still have a better squad than all of those teams and a top class manager. You have noticed that Pochettino is pretty good at this management lark eh? It is such a strange point to make based on Dier and Alli’s contracts being long. Alli would start for any of the teams you mentioned and you could make an argument Dier would as well.
You know your clubs up shit creek when Maradona offers to manage it.
Prepare for VAR
After seeing the header ‘VAR will create footballs climate change deniers’, I checked the Dutch KNVB website (the Dutch FA) to see some statisitics regarding the VAR. The Dutch FA are generally very happy about how the VAR has worked in its first season, but they agree that there is still a lot of room for improvement. When they looked at penalties, red cards and goals in the 2018-2019 season, the VAR got it wrong in 24 cases. That is relatively speaking a very small amount, but just imagine if your team was involved in 3 of these cases and it meant you ended up being relegated. Could you be accused of being in denial if you were then to complain about the VAR? Because a decision is reviewed by the VAR, doesn’t mean the final decision is right (24 cases). So get used to it, 50% of the discussions on Match of the Day next season will be about the VAR and the competence of the people in charge of the technology. What a prospect…
G Thomas, Holland
So, was about to discuss the issues of VAR tonight. Never a peno against Portugal. And the main reason VAR won’t work is because of respect. The players still go mental and abuse the ref when it’s called. And that influences the decisions. Look at rugby. Call made, they go to TMO, captains come up, have a word the ref, he says back off and they do, and the right decision comes up. The players need to start respecting the tec, and the refs need to man up.
Then we see scenes that remind us of the Engerlund fans in Sweden back in 92 (and more) and you think, man football is lost and has been forever and always will be, England Football should be ashamed. And every other county should just love the 90 minutes and the drama and the ups and downs. Football is no joke. It’s a joy.
I was going to be cheering for England tomorrow, however, let’s go HOLLAND!
…Some random VAR-related predictions for next season as it’s introduced to the Prem. I’ve based this on recent World Cup and Champions League experience.
1. Defenders will (quickly or not) realise they can’t be anywhere as physical in the box. Attackers will have more space resulting in an increase in goals from set pieces. Set piece delivery becomes even more valuable and long throw specialists also reappear in a big way – Rory Delap was made for a situation where defenders can’t grab onto shirts.
2. More penalties will be given. Each team will need a bigger roster of penalty takers.
3. Goals per game accordingly will increase.
4. More results will be open right to the final whistle because of the increased chance of scoring from dead balls. Teams will spend more time and effort in training just drilling the last 10 minutes of a game, specifically in forcing free kicks and throw ins.
5. Because 1 goal leads will be more precarious, teams will expend more effort to extend a lead rather than sit on it.
6. In a year’s time none of us will still be able to predict which way any given handball decision will go.