Liverpool are struggling without their ‘sheer unadulterated luck’

Date published: Tuesday 9th March 2021 2:11 - Editor F365

Xherdan Shaqiri Liverpool

Keep your mails on Liverpool and anything else coming to theeditor@football365.com…

 

Liverpool’s luck
I read Jonny, Ian, & Ferg’s emails with great interest.  They’re filled with myriad excuses/explanations for why Liverpool have been such dreadful champions.

But they’re all missing the point, no one’s blaming Liverpool for the drop in standards & performances, it’s the sheer “level” of the drop that’s bemusing.  Ian mentioned the affect Pogba’s injury has had on United’s recent performances, & he’s correct.  But they haven’t suddenly dropped from 2nd to 8th, incapable of beating anyone.  They still hammered a good Sociedad team 0-4, drew with a solid Chelsea 0-0, & beat the “unbeatable” City, 0-2, all away from home.  I’m sure with Pogba, the draws against West Brom & Palace would’ve been turned into wins.  So, no one’s blaming Liverpool for “missing” VVD (& to a lesser extent Gomez), but are you seriously claiming Liverpool without VVD are relegation fodders?  Cos’ that’s your current level of form.
Again, Ian mentions Henderson’s absence as an excuse, but he’s only been missing for 2-3 games, Liverpool have been one of the worst teams in the league for a while now, 8 home games without a win, last 6 being losses?  How many did Henderson miss?

Ferg mentioned Cantona, the season he was suspended for 8 months (I think), United still finished a close 2nd, not 10th!  He was as influential, & as much a talisman (arguably more so) than VVD.

The point is, the excuses and reasons are all somewhat valid, but they don’t explain the sheer level of drop.  There’s no comparable example in football history, where the absence of 1-2 key players has resulted in such a monumental drop in performance levels.

The factor no Liverpool fan wants to accept, & I’ve been banging on about for months, is LUCK!  You’ve had it in abundance, much more than your fair share, on & off the pitch, in the past few years, & now its deserted you.  Ferg mentioned Cantona never got injured, but Cantona was very much a luxury player, he wasn’t running at full pelt for 90 mins in every game.  In fact, I’m sure I read somewhere that Fergie had exempted Cantona & Ronaldo from defensive duties, so they could use their undoubted talents where it did the most damage.  What’s incredible about Liverpool’s “quintet” of Trent, Robertson, Mane, Salah & Firmino barely getting injured for 3 years, is that all 5 spent the whole 90 minutes of every game running at full speed (Mourinho expressed his amazement at Robertson’s speed & energy levels, when United got beat at Anfield one season).  Cantona & Ronaldo not getting injured is understandable, as is any “keeper” not getting injured.  But it was nothing short of miraculous that the aforementioned quintet barley missed a game in 3 years.  That was sheer unadulterated LUCK.

So, to summarise, I accept & sympathise with a lot of reasons put forward by Liverpool fans.  But none of them want to accept that a huge factor in their incredible success under Klopp, was LUCK, & that’s gone now.  And without it, Liverpool will not win another title under Klopp, & will have a fight on their hands to finish in the top 4, with this current “knackered” squad.
No one doubts you’ll be “better” next year, but champions, or thereabouts, I think not!
Fred (would not be surprised if Klopp leaves for the Germany national team post), London

 

Interesting mail from Fred, London about Liverpool’s malaise and his view of how lucky they have been over the last three years, especially with injuries. In a sense, he’s right – you don’t get to two UCL finals and get 97 and 99 points in the league without some luck. But having said how lucky they’ve apparently been (eg coming 2nd with 97 points, the jammy b*stards), it’s a bit weird not to acknowledge the bad luck this season, which I think you could argue has been as bad as the previous luck has been good. And that’s not just the injuries (as it happens mostly to players that have not been part of the high intensity of recent seasons – centre backs, Alisson, Jota, Thiago, Keita). Also in contrast to recent seasons, opposition players do seem to be raising their game, as you’d expect as champions – eg the two games in December which seemed to mark the start of the wheels coming off, West Brom and Newcastle, both had the opposition goalkeeper as MoTM (according to the BBC). In Everton’s historic win at Anfield, their MoTM was a centre back. So maybe a season of ‘average’ luck would see them finish half way between this season and the last two, which is probably high 70s/low 80s, implying 2nd or 3rd. Fine with me for an ‘average’ season

As an aside, clearly everyone expects their team’s players to stay motivated, but if ever you could understand a loss of spark after scaling the heights, surely it would be in a season where colossal bad luck with injuries is combined with all the personal and professional effects of the pandemic. I can accept Fred’s argument that the successes of the last three seasons have involved some luck, but I can’t accept the argument that next season, with key players recovered, an obvious source of motivation to prove the doubters wrong and crowds back in stadiums, we should expect to see the malaise continue.
Shappo

 

To Ferg, Cork: Who ever said that Liverpool were lucky to win the league last year because City were poor? Liverpool were deserved winners last year, and all I’ve ever seen from opposition fans is admitting that. Comparing a team who finished 2nd and one in 8th after 28 games (could be worse depending what Villa do with games in hand) seems a little odd. Liverpool are being bad champions. And picking the 1998 title loss as a stick to beat a man who won 7 titles, 4 FA Cups and a Champions League seems really, really odd. They ended up losing by a point; in which case it’s similar to Liverpool being ahead of City in the 18/19 season and then losing by a point. Are they bottlers too or is it only other teams that can be?

To F365: As much as I don’t full-heartedly agree with MM yesterday of a conspiracy, it does seem like Ole and United are getting an asterisk beside their season and no one else is. I keep reading how it suits his tactics for the season being compressed, but then doesn’t that jar with Guardiola’s tactics being perfect for 21 games? There is a continual reluctance to ever give Ole full credit for being in second and the second highest scorers in the league. If it’s a case of just putting out better players than the opposition and letting them do what they want, then why did Lampard get sacked? Why can’t Liverpool win at home when their players are clearly better than their opposition? Surely it is obvious that there is more to top level management than that. No one just happens to luck their way to a position in the league. And I keep reading Alex Keble say United have no patterns of play and Ole with no tactics, maybe get someone who watches them play football and can see the repeated patterns or ideas to get them there. They aren’t Pep level, but they are obviously good enough to get to second and to beat Pep.

And where did this thing come from that Ole was under some form of pressure again before the City game? I know no United fan who said it, even those who’d rather another manager. They were 4-0 up in a second leg with Sociedad, and Chelsea are flying pretty high under Tuchel and the game was in Stamford Bridge and United drew, surely neither of those count as pressurising results? The Palace performance was bad, but that can happen. I have no clue where that pressure came from. The biggest compliment I can give to Ole, as someone who doesn’t think he’s on Pep’s level, is that for the first time in a decade, United beating City doesn’t feel that surprising. Even the last years of Fergie felt surprising when we beat them. When United beat City 3-2 under Mourinho, as has been referenced, it felt like a monumental team talk done it and playing 110% – it doesn’t feel that way now.

As much as I love Mediawatch (and I do), maybe it’s time to do one on F365 and pull up the quotes against Ole that have been used in the last year as you have with other journalists. “P.E. teacher, worst manager in the league and hasn’t actually improved anyone” are the ones that come to mind most. It’s not saying he’s a genius, but again, this is the most stable United have felt at the higher levels of football in a long time.
James, Galway

 

From my memory  the last 30 years LFC have been slightly  above midtable. Finishing in the top four sixteen times but mostly bottom of the top 6.There was a period in there where Stevie Gerrard literally carried us on his back.

For some reason opposition fans and media associate us with ‘Premier leauge elite’. We were elite In the 70s and 80s but Man u. Aresnal.,Chelsea and City have all been more successful in the premier league era.

Recently we have had some good seasons but as a fan what I’ve witnessed over 30 years  has been quite average.I read the critisims and think of Biscan,Balotelli, brink of amistration under owners Hicks and Gillet,being in the relegation  zone under Roy Hodgson. I smile to myself and wonder are the criticisms the result of jeoulousy, envy,frustration.How can a team struggling to make the top four  be so lucky to win those European trophies In some ridiculous ways.

Winning a uefa cup final 5-4, come back from 3 nil down champions leauge win, draw 3-3 in the  FA cup final and win on Pens. 4-3 comeback against Messi’s Barcelona, For me those games were were amazing to watch.I can imagine how frustrating it must have been for the haters…secretly wishing it was their club.

One title in 30 years is not the form of Premier leauge elite.  Dont hate us because we were lucky. Just happy to be included in the conversation again.
DonP LFC

 

Low out
Are Liverpool fans going to be happy or nervous about this?
Andreas (I wonder what another trainer can do with those players) Brussels

 

Man City and dominance
I think there’s a point somewhat missed in the discussion about City’s dominance of the past decade (give or take). And that’s the sheer magnitude of their expenditure. It’s easy to say, oh but look at Abramovich’s Chelsea, or Liverpool buying the most expensive keeper AND defender, or Arsenal spending 70m on bloody Pepe – it’s all the same! All clubs spend!

But that’s just a clever little trick imo. In the last 10 years (source transfermarkt.com) City have spent over 1bn on transfers, and always been in the top 2 of wages, for the majority at the top. Okay I hear you say, but all clubs spend!

Over a decade – so a full squad – that is twice as much as big spenders Chelsea. Twice! Three times Liverpool with their expensive defense. Two and a half times Arsenal. It’s about 17% or the ENTIRE premier league spend in that time! The only club that comes close is United, so please do pick on them rightly for being awful at transfers.

And this is a new phenomenon in English football. United actually spent LESS than Liverpool in the 90’s, despite the narrative. Arsenal were competing for years and only in the top 5 spenders.

Maybe Pep could do it with Liverpool’s spend. We’ll never know unless he one takes a job that isn’t ‘take the best squad in the league and win it’.
Ryan, Bermuda (Seriously, City have spent more on full backs than two/thirds of the league have on their whole squads)

 

Hope for Liverpool fans…
Everyone is wondering what happened to Liverpool, why are they so bad, why all the injuries, mentality midgets, Jurgen Flopp etc etc.

I cant help but feeling it may be my fault.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you believed your actions had a direct result of the outcome of a game you were watching (I used to leave the room to see if it would make liverpool score for example,) I know, I know silly kids stuff, mad Liverpool fans yadda yadda but this year has been a bit weird for me.

I wont divulge too much personal details but I got into some bad stuff last year in the darker recesses of the internet and if there is a hell then I was took up residence in one of its circular neighborhoods the night before we played Aston Villa. I watched the horror unfold in front of me and knew deep down it was mostly my fault. The same with the Everton game earlier this year.

Sorry for being so cryptic and not giving details but what I got myself into was so deeply shameful it could drive a man to his grave. The internet is a dark and scary place at times.

Carl Jung spoke about the collective unconscious, if that is true is any way then I have been polluting that space like slimer from Ghostbusters leaving his filth all over the shop.

If it offers any hope to Liverpool fans I have found a way out of my pit of depravity and despair so things so should start improving from here on out if I can stay away from the darkness.

Apologies to Jurgen, the team and all fans all around the world.

If we win the champions league after all of this there will be no stopping my imagination.

(Before the mailbox and comments section loses its collective s**t I am aware my mental state is not the cause of all of Liverpool’s woes – the above email is meant to be an insight into a fans mentality and to open a conversation about mental health and the internet, I normally wouldn’t put in an explainer but have found some people need it spelled out to them).

Mind your minds everyone out there.
A Liverpool fan

 

Newcastle’s relegation
I’ve been supporting Newcastle by choice rather than geography for about 25 years. And football has always been about entertainment for me, rather than living and dying on my clubs results. So what I am about to say is probably not representative of many Newcastle fans. I think the fairest thing for all concerned is that we get relegated.

The club will be a shambles so long as Mike Ashley is the owner. A third relegation might finally get rid of him (depending on who offers. I know the last sale collapsing was not necessarily his fault but we may get a more suitable buyer if he is more motivated to sell) We have played some truly awful, awful football this season. We have seen how this team can be set-up to be greater than the sum of its parts in previous seasons. We have a solid keeper and our back up is decent too. We have a defence that can be coached to do the basics well and create a decent platform for the midfield/attack. In Saint-Maxim and Almiron, we have a bit of creativity, albeit with some dips in form and injury issues this year. Wilson is a finisher (again, injuries) There is enough quality in the squad to try and win games, as opposed to trying not to lose them. Bruce seems a nice bloke but he is not cut out for management at this level. it’s time we all accept that.

My main reason for thinking it’s best we go down is from looking at the teams around us, namely Fulham and Brighton. Fulham had a rough start to the season but, through good recruitment, coaching and a solid game plan, they have given themselves a great chance of surviving. They try and win games, they play positive football and they do it without sacrificing defensive stability. Brighton’s season is, frankly, ludicrous. Their xG and xPTS could see them comfortably in the top half. They play good football and create chances. They just can’t finish them. It would be a shame for either of these teams to be relegated, managers potentially sacked, players sold etc while Newcastle get to trundle on and finish 17th again next year due to belligerence rather than ability. I think football should be entertaining. In the current set-up, that is never going to happen. In the current set-up, only something big will force change. I am not actively rooting for them to go down, but i’ll be a bit hopeful of progress if they do.
Kev (Although, if Brighton or Fulham are relegated, maybe we could steal their coach?)

 

Champions League inter-club transfer ban
This morning reading through the F365 articles i seem to have missed a quite juicy bit of news, well more opinion from the infamous Andrea Agnelli, not just for his “Last 15 minute Subscription” suggestion, which i can never see getting off the ground but more about his thoughts on a Champions League “inter-club” ban, so many questions and outcomes are raised by this suggestion, here is my take on it all:

– If a player is banned from joining another UCL based team, then you never get the Coutinho to Barcelona move, which in turn gave Liverpool the option to purchase Alisson, VVD etc etc
– Who will pay those big fees for a top calibre player whose team are in the Champions League? I could never see the likes of Eden Hazard, Mo Salah, Neymar, Mbappe and so on joining a team outside of the Champions League, so what happens next?
– The player runs down his contract, leaves on a free, which financially is a blow for the club losing such a player, is that player, even though a free agent then allowed to move to another UCL club or are they restricted?
– Finally, if UCL clubs are only allowed to exclusively bring in players from outside the UCL, that weakens the teams trying to break into the UCL positions, almost creating a monopoly on who qualifies each year, perhaps that happens already, the likes of Bayern buying up the best Bundesliga talent etc, but you see my point.

Overall, i find the entire idea quite daft and hope it never, ever, gets discussed, but what do others think of this proposal?
Mikey, CFC

 

West Ham with no fans
In response to the section on West Ham in this morning’s Topical 10, I wanted to combat the usual line that’s been spouted about West Ham’s form being due to not having to play in front of their fans.

– Firstly, we are here and can hear you, by the way. We have eyes and ears. We’re all sat at home in lockdown, dying to be able to get out to watch our team again. We’re trying to enjoy our team’s form but it gets very difficult when every journalist and pundit follows up every positive result with a line about how horrible West Ham fans are, to a man.

– The London Stadium is a truly magical place. It appears to defy the laws of nature, in that it can be a soulless bowl that offers no atmosphere whatsoever, while simultaneously being an unforgiving cauldron of swirling vitriol and hate. Positive noise somehow gets evaporated into the Stratford air, but negative noise is amplified tenfold. Odd.

– Every West Ham fan will tell you that they ‘back them team, not the regime’. The Burnley 3-0 pitch invasion was a culmination of everything bad coming to a head and a significant outlier. The second home game of this season was a 4-0 win against Wolves and we haven’t looked back. I struggle to think that fans would have booed through this run of form.

– It’s naive to suggest that the players’ only exposure to the fans’ opinions is limited to the 90 minutes that they’re physically in front of them every other week. They all have social media, they all have TVs, they’re all being questioned by journalists about everything. If they were playing terribly this season then they would be getting it in the neck on social media.

– It’s also disrespectful to the players and manager to suggest that they’re only able to function at this level in total silence.

– It’s arbitrary to suggest that the absence of our disgruntled fanbase is beneficial to the team when you consider the form of Arsenal and Newcastle. I’m sure Granit Xhaka has his own opinion on which fanbase is most toxic, it definitely hasn’t helped his form to not play in front of them.

Hopefully this may change some opinions. I don’t imagine it will though, but at least I’ve committed it to writing.
From Sam In Stockwell

 

Offside
The FA official website says that arms are not considered when judging a player to be on or offside.

Can anyone tell me then why we have seen goals disallowed, Werner and Bamford spring to mind, that we disallowed because of their upper arm being offside?

Thanks,
Paul

 

Learn and grow
Weird namecheck there Mark MCFC but thanks for your (no doubt entirely genuine) concern.  If you’re asking about activity in the comments section I’ve not bothered myself with that nest of toxicity since about September/October last year.  As for Liverpool’s recent form what else is there to say that’s not been covered over and over again?  We’re sh!t at the minute for a myriad of reasons and our 7th choice centre back was injured for the last game so all one can do is have a rueful chuckle at the absurdity of it all, hope that we can finish respectably in the PL and perhaps pull off a bit of magic in the CL.   Then we reset for next season and, as Klopp is famous for advocating, learn and grow from the negative experience.
James Outram, Wirral

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