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Liverpool and Sancho
My joy at seeing Klopp pissing on Fleet Street’s chips by pouring cold water on the Liverpool-Mbappe transfer nonsense, was immediately erased by The Guardian reporting that Sancho was a potential alternative. I know the press’ job is to get clicks, but the chance that Sancho ends up at Liverpool are pretty much zero for the simple reason that the media collectively cream their pants every time he gets an assist or scores a goal. Consequently Dortmund know they have “England’s next big thing” on their hands and that some clown who has more money than sense (probably Woodward) will foolishly pay twice what he’s actually worth. Liverpool have done exceptionally well in the transfer market over the last 2-3 years by intentionally not signing the shiniest player out there. In fact, pretty much all of their major transfers have happened quickly and efficiently without a protracted media circus (remember Fabinho signing… literally nobody in the media had the faintest clue before it was announced).
So will Liverpool sign a new attacker next summer? Probably. Will it be Sancho? Probably not. Will he be some player the press has never heard of called Fredinho or Van Scoren-Goals playing for some Europa League team whose name Robbie Savage can’t pronounce? Probably.
Money for nothing
Football media has to be the worst. Just watching post game interviews or pre-match Q&A sessions and a pet badger would come up with better, more interesting questions.
Do they do no homework? Do they not understand the rules? Are stats beyond them?
Yes, there are sites like F365 and decent podcasts with people who can truly analyse and provide more interesting insights on the game, but the TV teams are probably the highest paid and the worst caliber. Meanwhile, how papers choose which reporters go to the pre-game scrums god only knows, because it clearly isn’t on merit.
Every reporter has to have a grand title – senior sports reporter, senior football reporter, etc, which is totally unrelated to their capacity to intelligently report.
One can only imagine that staff working on other parts of the paper, except perhaps ‘culture’ (as in TV and Movies) must roll their eyes whenever they hear their colleague questioning a manger or player.
Rant over. Just frustrated with all the ‘Southgate made a terrible decision because this thing is going to just run and run…’ when in fact it was a sensible decision and the ONLY reason it’s going to run and run as the reporters have a limited capacity to think of something more interesting.
In defence of AWB
F365 is quick to basically point out AwB while staying back – good, while going ahead – bad!
Any player that’s good going ahead – good!, any player who knows how to tackle – bad!
Apparently teaching tackling and positioning is easier than teaching how to cross, that in itself is such a silly statement and something that really underestimates the amount of time any attacker, full back or defender spends time honing their skills.
TAA might have a sweet right foot but I’m sure he’s putting hours on end perfecting his technique. If tackling and positioning was easy to teach Xhaka would be a beast by now.
The lads 21 yr old, lets praise him for what he’s good at, being a solid RB in a team that’s struggling to attack and a team where the RW position is something that hasn’t been nailed down by a player in ages. Given time, a constant partner on the right hand side, and a forward who can actually score from headers I’m sure AwB can improve his attacking output.
Tactically not all full-backs have to be as attacking as TAA and Roberston, Liverpool does that by sacrificing creativity from their midfield and that by no means is a blueprint that has to be implemented everywhere. Teams can easily have a more attacking and a more defensive full-back to provide cover while the other bombs ahead, having a more defensive RB allows the RW to have more attacking freedom.
As for being uncapped, as F365 have themselves pointed out the RB spot in England has probably been one of the most competitive spots in international football. You’ve had Trippier who was smashing it at a point and is just getting back his groove, Walker who is a domestic treble winning full-back, and TAA who’s just crazy good as competition. I wouldn’t take not being capped as a slight if I was AwB, as United improve his performances will stand out more. (If anything I think AwB’s defense first strategy actually suits England more than TAA’s attack first natural game, but that’s a debate for another day).
Coming to the final conclusion of the article that United might have to go out and spunk a huge amount of cash on a full-back who knows how to do his job, can I point to Diogo Dalot who’s been unlucky with injuries so far but has shown plenty of verve while going ahead. United have two promising young full-backs both with different strengths, who will hopefully give plenty of competition to each other which will bring out the best in both of them.
Yash, MUFC (with Brandon hopefully nailing the LB spot)
…Interesting piece by Will Ford on Wan-Bissaka. A lot of valid points were made, however comparing AWB to possibly the greatest full backs in the world could be construed as a little unfair. Now you may point at the fact that in comparison with everyone else in the league, he is still streets behind, not just the world’s best, but let’s look at things in context.
United first and foremost had to stop the leaks at the back. We have had proper, lauded attacking players in our right back positions for a while with mixed success. We had some stellar years with an in form Valencia, and not so much with Ashley Young. “Get better attacking full backs then” I hear you cry, but let’s take a breath.
We have leaked opportunities to opposition players down that flank for the best part of a decade and the crack has widened significantly in the last few years since Young and others occupied that area. We have also heard non-stop, for years, that even the worlds top full or wing backs have been poor defensively, and now we get a brick wall of a player and some cry it is a throwback to a bygone era, non sense. In that case just have two bloody wingers and forget the defensive element if attack supercedes defence.
Even if he doesn’t develop enough on the attacking front, fine, we have 9 other outfield players to help with that. It might also account for the fact we don’t have a midfield capable of doing much, despite it’s recent improvements. Is he going to rely on James, Perreira or Fred to cover him if he ventures too far forward? Christ no, bar James, they can barely do their own jobs, let alone his. He also has a famously immobile Maguire to his left. This is a counter attacking team, plays are built from our own half with quick passing to midfielders or a cheeky through ball to the front players, not bombing down the wing and swinging crosses in.
Bissaka was brought in to make that flank air tight for the first time in a long time, he has achieved that, and if that is all he does, you won’t hear complaints from me or many other Utd fans. It might force teams to avoid that flank altogether so few will their chances become and it shepherds the ball more centrally and onto our left.
It is clear Ole will not be relying on wide overlaps, and would like to play more centrally and spray or pass the ball through central channels onto road runners like James and Rashford / Martial. He wants lightning up top, so as not to leave holes behind, and for the most part it looks like it is coming together. Perhaps with time, Ole will bring the brick wall back into fashion, to leave the attacking and running to the attackers and runners.
Rowan, Red Devil Dub
…In his article about the inadequacy of Aaron Wan-Bissaka when it comes to his contribution to the attack, Will Ford makes an assumption which i think is flawed. He takes for granted that full backs will continue to be one of the most important elements of a team’s attack (as they arguably are today) in the decade to follow. I don’t believe this necessarily will be the case.
Football tactics and the roles/expectations of positions in football continually evolve and this position is no exception. As an example, lets take the role of a play maker. The presence of a creative midfielder which has always been considered a necessity in a good attacking team has become less important to the team that sits at the top of the premier league. Liverpool play with some sort of a false 9 and three not-super-creative midfielders. This doesn’t mean that the #10 is redundant but it does show that it’s not absolutely imperative to have a designated #10.
Maybe with someone as dependable in defense as AWB, United can push their right sided central midfielder wider in attack while AWB tucks in (Pep did it quite successfully with Delph and sometimes with Walker). Who knows, quite possibly in 5 years time we’ll have a whole horde of Wilder influenced overlapping centerbacks while fullbacks could be expected to stay put in defense. My point is that good managers are capable of finding new systems to get the best out of their players and change in football tactics is constant. If you can’t evolve to match what’s expected today, evolve differently to set tomorrow’s expectations.
PS: There’s no way Ole is going to come up with the right solution anyway, making my email as redundant as Beckenbaur’s position in the modern game
I desperately need reprieve from this awful non-story of Sterling and Gomez.
Instead, i’m offering a new topic that has fascinated me and also drove me nuts for many years and across sports. You often hear pundits talk about the concept of “momentum” being so important in a period of time. Liverpool now as the “momentum” since they beat Man City. Chelsea has “momentum” now that they won 6 games in a row. So often its used as a point of analysis for why one team has the advantage over the other. Beyond game to game, we even talk about whether a team could keep their “momentum” through the offseason. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised Liverpool are unbeaten in the league and 8 points clear when they had all the “momentum” after winning the Champions League final. My view is this is lazy analysis and offers no insight into why a certain event may or may not happen. Its so often relied on as the determiner for future events, with no accountability after the event has happened. Its not just football, people talk about “momentum” in the context of all sports. The problem is, momentum is often confused with confidence. If a team wins a few games, they have confidence, so going into their next game, surely they should win! And when they lose, its because they had OVER confidence. And didn’t take their opponents seriously. So which is it? The reality is, its neither. Confidence is an important factor, sure, but form is comprised of so many factors, including player ability, coaching, tactics, injuries, etc…Sports betting company prey on bettors by setting lines to take advantage of those who get carried away with the idea of momentum.
I once read this fantastic article on Grantland about momentum by Bill Barnwell where he so eloquently lays out why this idea of “momentum” is such a bogus concept in American football. Can someone smarter than me do a similar analysis for football so we can finally ban use for the word when talking about the beautiful game?
Best left-back on Merseyside
Read S’s team of the season and couldn’t argue too much really since it was the “team of the season.” However, and this is where S really showed us his Liverpool bias (to be fair, he did warn us) but saying that “Robertson is the best LB in the world, without exception” (italics emphasis mine) made me laugh out loud as he may not even be the best on Merseyside. Lucas Digne hasn’t had as great a year this year as he did last season but “Robertson the best LB in the world, without exception” is just codswallop and no amount of disclaimers preceding the writing of that covers that up.
TX Bill (I’m not biased, honest) EFC
Chelsea’s loan arrangers
All due credit to Chelsea for finally having a young and exciting team but that should not change the narrative from their “loan farming” way of hoarding talent to just loan them out with the ultimate aim of selling them at small profits to fund their big money moves (until now, mostly due to the transfer ban).
That in my opinion definitely stands on dubious grounds, having 40-50 youth players out on loan every season is Chelsea’s way of trying to control the pipeline of young players. This is not good for the players, as several of them have expressed their frustration with this transfer style. While most teams use loans to allow players to develop and have a shot at the first team Chelsea does so just to primp up their wares for the sale at the end of every season.
Several journalists and sites have run pieces on how this practice is bad for the players and for football. Just because now they have produced players like Tammy Abraham, Mount, James doesn’t justify the means to reach the end.
Internationals in non-league
Bladey Mick asked yesterday who had been called up to the national team between Guiseley AFC and Kidderminster Harriers which resulted in that game being called off this weekend, it was actually Guiseley goalkeeper Marcus Dewhurst who has been called up to the England U19 squad ahead of three European Championship qualifying fixtures, this according to their official twitter account.
Mikey, CFC (Cannot wait to see Sam Kerr make her debut for Chelsea in the WSL this season)
…To answer Bladey Mick, Hemel Hempstead have had fullback Craig Braham-Barrett called up by Montserrat, with Ricardo German and Tyrone Sterline being called up by Grenada. They’re taking part in the Concacaf Nations League which runs for two weeks, hence the postponements.