Liverpool and Manchester City are the best ever; there’s no shame in coming second and winning only one trophy.
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If Liverpool are second-tallest man, they’re still tall
For the record, I do not think Liverpool will do the quadruple. I think Man City will win both the Premier League and Champions’ League. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Chelsea lift the FA Cup.
However, even if they do, would the loss of the league by a point or two, and two cup finals mean this Liverpool team is not great.
I often hear how in order to be considered one of the greats, this Liverpool team need to win more. I find this reductive. It’s analogous to saying the second tallest man alive today should not be considered tall, as he is not the tallest. Turns out he’s taller than all other men that lived before, he just happens to have lived at the same time as the very tallest. Make no mistake, if it wasn’t for Pep and City, Liverpool would be winning a hell of a lot more.
I hear how Arsenal’s Invincibles team cannot be matched. However, can any neutral actually, honestly tell me that a record of 26 wins and 12 draws, amassing 90 points is a more impressive Premier League season than 30 wins, 7 draws and 1 loss, amassing 97 points? Considering that one loss came away at Manchester City and was decided by that famous 11mm? Simultaneously, the Invincible record was only possible because of Pires cheating against Portsmouth. If you can, you’re not being honest with yourself. Whilst we would all rather have a shiny (golden) Premier League trophy in the cabinet than a second-place medal around our necks, the point remains that the team and the squad achieved a more impressive league run, they were just up against a behemoth.
So in short, the ridiculous claims that this Liverpool squad can only be considered great if they win more are simply that. This squad is fantastic and may well win more, but they are up against the very best Premier League team/squad of all time, were City to win a double this year, it makes Liverpool no less great.
We are witnessing the two best English clubs of all time right now.
LIVERPOOL WIN ‘EASY’ SEMI! 📭 F365 ‘Mailbox Live’ – 28th Apr 2022 https://t.co/Q60ZLAmk2n
— Football365 (@F365) April 28, 2022
Draws are easy when you’re this good
Everybody accusing Liverpool of having an easy draw in the Champions League this season seems to be missing the obvious. People usually consider a draw easy if one side is significantly better than the other. For the past four years Liverpool have been better than just about every other club in world football. Therefore every draw they get will look easy.
As for people accusing Man City of always getting the easiest draws in domestic cups could that be because every team who we’d consider slightly more difficult seem to throw the cups? It’s only this season that Man Utd, Tottenham and Arsenal were eliminated by lower league opposition, while whenever Man City face these teams they make such short work of them we forget they ever played. Can you really accuse them of easy draws when all the sides who could make things a little more difficult keep getting eliminated?
On a final point are Liverpool now favourites rather than outsiders for the quadruple? They’ve won just about every game they’ve played this year and are showing no signs of slowing down; the only exceptions to their winning run being dead rubber 2nd legs and a draw against City, who they blew away a couple of weeks later. There’s an inevitability about every game they play right now, while City still feel vulnerable in one off games and Chelsea seem to be running on fumes. Real Madrid feel like the only potential obstacle given Benzema’s Herculean form but they’ve been far from convincing in the knockout stages this season. I assume Liverpool supporters might feel differently, from the outside though they appear utterly unstoppable.
Kevin (fearing for Newcastle at the weekend), Nottingham
Beginning of the end for Pep?
As Barcelona limped to a defeat against mid table Rayo Vallecano a 15 point gap opened up between them and table topping Real Madrid. A win at home to Espanyol will see them wrestle back the La Liga title from their neighbours Atletico. So when City come to town next week, they’ll be facing the newly crowned champions, at their home ground.
With Benzema on fire and the likely return of Casemiro in midfield I think it’s not unlikely that Madrid will make the final.
Whether City make the final or not, they will again have to go all guns blazing in Madrid for the second time the season, perhaps even go into extra time if Madrid nick an early goal and the scores are level at the end of regular time.
If City don’t make the final and Liverpool do, I think it might cause a ripple effect where they drop points in the league as well. Should this happen and Liverpool go top, hang on to 2-0 lead at Villareal and play the final in Paris at the end of may. By then they could also have beaten Chelsea in the FA Cup to claim at least two trophies of a possible four.
How does Guardiola recover his team from there? I think that if City don’t win the CL but do win the PL it might be the end of the line for Pep.
I also think if Klopp wins four trophies he should call it quits, epic legacy right there.
Stijn (Ten Hag, not Ten HAAG) Ajax, Amsterdam
On those Salah race claims
Szymon Marciniak was born in 1981 in Poland. He wore two hats, one as an amateur footballer, and one as a referee. In 2006 he became a professional referee, and his career has been on an upward trajectory ever since, due in no small part to his commitment and diligence to his job. The pinnacle of his career so far was perhaps officiating the European Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in 2018, but he also took charge for three games in Euro 2016 and games at the 2018 World Cup. He is on UEFA’s panel of referees and regularly takes charge of Champion’s League games. In referee terms, he is elite.
Tommy Tuchel was upset at him being jovial with Ancelotti after Chelsea were knocked out of the Champion’s League this season, but apart from that. I can’t find much controversy about his refereeing performances, and I gave it a damn good Googling.
He seems like a decent enough man, trying to walk his own path, and making a pretty good job of it.
Why am I telling you all this, you ask?
Well, according to mailbox stalwart Minty, Marciniak has a terrible secret. Minty says he’s a racist.
See, last night, after Liverpool utterly dominated the Champions League semi-final, and won at a canter, Marciniak apparently singled out Mo Salah, and didn’t rule in his favour once. And the reason for this is, apparently, because Salah is not Caucasian. And if indeed this is the reason that Salah didn’t get decisions, then the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that the man who makes those decisions has a prejudicial view of non-white people.
I mean, Minty didn’t actually drop the r-bomb when referring to Marciniak, but he strongly implied it.
I’ve said it before : I despise racism. I despise any form of inequality or inequity. I’m a proper old school leftie, and this has led me to challenging people, you know, in actual real life, when they display bigotry. It makes for an unpleasant conversation, because bigots aren’t usually very keen on identifying as bigots, despite their bigotry. They go through some form of mental gymnastics that justifies their bigotry, but that is invariably because they aren’t terribly bright and lack self-awareness.
My position here is crystal clear. I. Despise. Racism.
But if you are going to accuse someone of being racist, then you need to have considerably more ammunition than a white guy didn’t give a non-white guy a penalty. Slurring someone who has worked hard to reach a level of respect and standing in their chosen career based on lazy insinuation without a shred of evidence isn’t just appalling, it is counter-productive in the fight against racism. This is the kind of thing that white supremacist arseholes love, because it makes a victim out of the white guy. And they love making a victim out of the white guy.
Why the f*** you couldn’t just enjoy the fact that Liverpool breezed past their opponents and are strong favourites to get in yet another Champions League final like it was just another day at the office is beyond me. All that we as Liverpool fans have to celebrate and appreciate right now Minty, and your big take away is to try and trash the career of a stranger because he didn’t give a debatable penalty for a player that we all now has gone down way too easily in the past?
Mat (You’ll deny it, but it’s there for all to see)
…Felt compelled to reply to Minty and his view that Mo Salah does not get free kicks or penalties as frequently as Anthony Gordon because the colour of his skin. Now a couple of things – Firstly is he suggesting that ALL refs are racist as Liverpool games aren’t being reffed by the same guy every week and secondly if you look at the most fouled players in the Premier League this season (who get the most free kicks / penalties etc) it is a list that contains names right at the top such as Zaha, Ayew, Sarr and Ivan Toney.
My son (similar skin tone to Salah) plays football every weekend, he gets kicked all over the park some weeks – sometimes he gets the free kicks and sometimes he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that the ref is racist it probably means that he’s a bit shit.
Minty will probably conclude now that its the players committing the fouls that are racist or anything else that he thinks will provoke a reaction.
…I know that Minty LFC likes to air his thoughts on all things Liverpool but the man has had an absolute mare with his mail this morning. To suggest that Salah is not given pens because his isn’t white is ridiculous. To believe this to be the case we have to believe that all officials in the EPL, as well as Europe (given it’s in this context that he’s mentioned it), are all racist and favour white players. Dear me. And then to use Gordon as an example of a favoured white player is odd given he wasn’t given a pen at the weekend, that many people thought was, after he was “fouled” by (checks notes) a non-white player.
Minty, feel free to drivel on about Liverpool every single day but stop sending in this nonsense please. It does not help legitimate discussions about racism at all.
…Salah doesn’t get enough free kicks because of racism? 4 players most fouled in the Premier League Wilfrid Zaha, Ivan Toney, Ismaila Sarr and Jordan Ayew, so shut your row up. I’d like to start an immediate campaign to ensure poor old white players get their fair share of free kicks too as there’s such an obvious imbalance!
(The last sentence was tongue in cheek so don’t write in saying it’s racist, it’s not. (Thanks Alan))
…Right, so racism is preventing Salah from getting free kicks?
So, how does that explain Sarr, Toney, Zaha and Ayew being 4 of the most fouled players in the league?
D’uh. Engage brain first, pal.
…Are referees racist? Maybe, probably some are. It’s ever present in our society and chances are there are some are.
Does Salah not get as many fouls as other players simply because he is not white? Funnily enough Mane, also not white, has been in the top 10 most fouled 2 years running in the premier league, in 19/20 the top 3 were all non-white. Almost every season there is a healthy mix or in the top most fouled players lists.
So yea maybe some referees are not all top blokes, but Salah doesn’t get less decisions because he is not white. Maybe he draws less fouls? Maybe he is just so good defenders don’t get a chance to foul him as often?
Unless Minty LFC has some other proof or evidence, I am inclined to disagree.
Rob A (nervous for derby day already) AFC
Salah does not get fouls though
So there was a lot of people referring to Salah as a diver who wins free kicks a lot. But just how true is that?
A data analyst has done the hard work for us and compared how often speedy, skilful wide forwards are given decisions by referees.
As you’d imagine certain players are awarded decisions quite often with Grealish leading the way getting a decision every 20 mins of play followed by Madison, Moura and Jota with decisions every 24,25,26 mins. Finally the top five is rounded off by Messi who get one every 30 mins.
On average players win a free kick every 39 mins or so. With the player winning the least getting one every 80 mins (gnabry and b. Silva).
Actually I lied then. The player who is awarded free kicks the least is only given an award every 100 mins. That player is Salah. So the average player wins a free kick every 39 mins but it takes one of the world’s best, fastest and most attacking forwards 100 mins. In fact, according to refs, Salah is only fouled 1.3 times every three games. Does that seem right? Grealish, a good player but not on Salahs level gets one every 20mins he plays…. Salah every 100 mins. It takes him 20 mins longer than even second and third place. Is it just that every tackle on Salah is a perfectly timed steal or slide? That doesn’t seem very likely.
Salah got booked for diving once in his entire career, in 2014 against Chelsea. And that tag stuck with him so much that now even when teams kick the shit out of him he never gets a decision. He is literally the harshest treated wide forward in all of Europe by referees. That not even hyperbole it’s just statistical fact.
What is also interesting is teams with English players win more penalties than teams with foreign players and English players are 3x more likely to be awarded pens than foreign players. There is a strong correlation in this area. If we take the last completed season the top 5 teams for penalties awarded were; Leicester, Man United, Chelsea, city and Brighton. All teams with a fair amount of attacking English players (except city). No really relevant to Salah, I just found that interesting.
Is Salah a diver? Not really no. He gets challenged and tackled as often as any other top forward but he receives decisions 5x times less. And that’s over the course of three seasons too.
…I see Minty’s mail this morning has stirred a few definitely not racist people who don’t believe that racism could possibly exist, as they don’t like Salah, and he’s just a pansy who dives, unlike our brave soldiers from this shore, such as Gordon, who was brutally taken out by Matip at the weekend.
Now I’m not saying there is definitive proof of racism, but something is amiss, and I will use everyone’s favourite – statistics – to prove it.
Mo Salah is obviously a very good attacking player, using stats from fbref, compared to all other attacking midfielders/wingers:
He is in the 99th percentile for goals, shots and shots on target. He’s threatening, so you may want to foul him more often. His xG is also 99th percentile, so you don’t really want to have to rely on your keeper.
But he’s not just a threat when shooting, 93rd percentile for xA, 74th for key passes, and 96th for through balls. Even when further away, it’s best to pay him close attention.
What about when moving? Not quite as high, 68th percentile for number of dribbles (though 82nd for completed ones), 76th for number of players dribbles past.
All this points to a dangerous player you would expect to win fouls. Maybe an average to above average number? 10th percentile. 90% of attacking midfielders/wingers in Europe win fouls more often. 0.88 per 90 mins. So every 102 minutes.
When comparing Salah to the 5 players most statistically, we have Sterling (for a premier league comparison) and even Diaz. Sterling is fouled 2.02/90, Diaz 1.79. Both more than twice as much.
There will of course be people who just say he dives, but that doesn’t explain why he doesn’t get fouled in the first place. Are players not tackling him at all? Is he particularly exposing the ball when in possession? If so why does he score so many goals?
This isn’t a conspiracy mail by the way. I do not think referees favour big clubs or small clubs or clubs in red or clubs in blue etc etc. Liverpool get their fair share of favourable decisions and their fair share against them, but Salah is a statistical anomaly with a track record of multiple seasons, and there must be an explanation somewhere. Personally, I do think him looking different does affect it. You can see the way fans talk him down all the time, he is judged harsher than similar players, despite having one of the best records of all time in the league. I don’t think a lot of this is conscious (though some undoubtedly is), but people just don’t like people that look different.
KC (Elneny is 19th percentile for fouled drawn p90, and 99th for fouls committed)
…Interesting assertion by Minty but he’s got his stats wrong (see end of my mail). There is something weird going on with the treatment towards Mo Salah from referees in the Premier League (in Europe its slightly better) and I think this stems from media and fans alike. For eg Graeme Souness said Mo Salah is the most selfish player he’s ever seen – yet who is top of the PL assist charts? Which is it Graeme? Then Adrian Durham and Simon Jordan on Talksport say he’s a diver and Frank Lampard said that he would have won a penalty if he was in Gordon’s position on Sunday.
Hilariously this just shows how bad British football punditry and analysis is. Here’s some facts and statistics:
Mo Salah is the 240th most fouled player in the Premier League – Norwich’s Ben Gibson has been fouled more times apparently – 57 players have had more touches than him, none of them are attackers.
Anthony Gordon won 4 free kicks in the first 20 minutes of the game against Liverpool – Mo Salah has won 4 free kicks in his last 900 Premier League minutes. In those 20 minutes, Mo Salah touched the ball twice as many times as Gordon.
Here’s a list of players and the fouls they win per touches vs the % of their touches that are dribbles
Richarlison – 12 – 7.4%
Gordon – 17 – 7%
Grealish – 19 – 4.2%
Zaha – 19.8
Kane – 20.1 – 6.9%
Saka – 21.5 – 6.1%
Sterling – 25.9 – &%
Son – 40 – 5.7%
Salah – 62.9 – 8.6%
Salah gets fouled at 30% of what Grealish does and dribbles twice as much (credit Simon Brundish for the statistic)
When Salah did get a penalty this season – Cascarino said Nobby Stiles would be turning in his grave seeing this, Garth Crooks (who hates Salah for some reason anyway) said he was a blight on the game. Literally since Mo Salah came to the Premier League nobody gets less penalties. In the past 5 years – most dribbles into the box per foul, most touches in the box per foul, he must be superhuman to avoid contact from defenders it seems.
I’d love the Premier League pundits, all these buffoons on Sky Sports, Talksport, BT Sport, whatever sh*te is employing Tony Cascarino to explain the above. If Salah dives that much why does he not get as many fouls (or yellow cards)? Or is Salah that good that he never gets fouled? In recent times people absolutely hate the media for creating narratives that don’t fit what they see or the stats that exist, an above is a prime example. If I was Salah’s manager I too would be wondering, is it because he’s an Arab, is it because he’s brown, is it because he’s a nice guy? Is he allowed to be choked by defenders, is it a new addition to the laws of the game?
Funnily enough, a world leading analyst at a world-renowned university did charting on previous seasons (last 5) on fouls per minute vs attacking play in the top 5 leagues and found a huge anomaly that made him do extra analysis on refereeing bias towards overseas players in the Premier League. Every single player fell between 20 (Grealish unsurprisingly) and 80 minutes except one – Mohammed Salah – 120 minutes. At the time of analysis for this season he had fallen to 100 minutes (but is now back at 120 due to the 4 fouls in 10 games). Racism? Incompetence? God knows but people like Cascarino are a blight on the game and the media is complicit along with PGMOL (statistical analysis has proven they have a clear bias against overseas players).
Ash Asani, Krakow Dragoons FC
It’s a Liverpool thing
The referee for the Villareal game often seems to let fouls go, in the games I’ve seen him at least.
In the Premier League, however, Salah gets so little because he plays for LFC. A lot of people in England harbour a mild to strong distaste for both the club and the city and this translates to referees.
I attempt to account for my bias’ but still perceive that the likes of Fernandes, Rashford and Sterling find it much easier to be awarded a foul than the likes of Mane or Salah.
No point being bitter about it and it has probably helped Liverpool in the development of their current mentality.