Are Manchester City more deserving of the title than Liverpool? Plus, Jon Moss, Schrodinger’s champions, Erling Haaland, big six scavenger model and lots more…
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Manchester City deserve the title…
Having spent a lot of time watching Liverpool and City this season I’m gonna be objective and say if City take the title they will deserve it.
No fixture highlights this better than our games against Newcastle. Where Liverpool, at full strength and a good run of form, struggled against Newcastle’s well organised defence, City cut it open at will. This has been repeated many times this season.
When Liverpool have come up against opponents who sit deep, don’t venture forward and pack the 6 yard box with bodies we struggle. Most of the time stilll scraping a 1-0 win but struggling.
The reason we struggle, and also why klopp doesn’t like it, is because our tactics rely on fast transitions creating space for our quick attackers or high turnovers catching defences off guard creating space. Teams sitting deep give neither away. Comparing us with city I noticed a few things, we send the ball back to the keeper, a lot. Obviously it’s to draw the other towards our goal and create that space for a fast transition, but when the other team doesnt take the bait…we’re stuck. Relying on Salah to slalom past 4 defenders in the box and score, a tactic which most teams have been able to stop very comfortably since he came back from afcon.
City on the other hand just continuously recycle the ball outside the box pulling and moving the defence around until a gap opens, and this is more effective against teams which sit deep and refuse to come out.
Both teams are equally devastating against any other kind of play but it’s how they handle deep teams which separates them with city doing it better in my opinion. It’s a shame we couldn’t win the title this year because all season I kept thinking “wow if city had an actual striker this could have been a win/cricket score” against Liverpool the lack of a striker cost them 2 or 3 good chances. Put haaland in that team and they would have buried us fairly easily and the race would have been over weeks ago with no hope at all.
It’s a testament just how good pep and city are that with one (very average) striker and no replacements they have scored the most goals, won the most games. You can maybe even argue city don’t need a striker but now that they have an excellent one, expect this years close title race to become an easy stroll in future with there being almost no competition from anyone in future.
Klopp could figure out a better way to beat those teams that play the way he doesn’t like, but with the expected sales of Salah and/or mane it won’t be soon we are competing again. Hope y’all enjoyed the competition while it lasted, maybe someone else can keep getting 90 point second place finishes now because aside from Liverpool nobody has really challenged city for a few years now.
Having watched Liverpool grind to a win over Villa last night, I am getting tired of the stress of it all.
It has occurred to me that by not watching any more games for the rest of the season, Liverpool can be Schrodinger’s Champions.
I will not watch tonight’s game and will assume City lose 3-0, before going on to drop further points as Liverpool romp home to a quadruple.
Well done lads, it’s all coming up Milhouse.
Dom (just need to stay off social media forever – win/win!) Littleford
It’s the hope that kills you
It was great to get the win last night. Not because I think Liverpool will now win the league, but because for it all to end there would have been very deflating. At least now there is the tiniest bit of hope. City play twice before Liverpool’s next league game, so I can watch those games, be invested and hope for a minor miracle.
For pretty much every year of my life as a Liverpool fan I’ve gone into the last day of the season with no chance of them winning the title, so to still be in with a shout at this point is incredible. We’ve got 2 cup finals to look forward to, so even if we don’t win the league, I’ve got no complaints.
What happens now? The good news for Liverpool is that City’s next 2 fixtures are not easy. They’re both away against top 8 teams. Wolves and West Ham are both still fighting to be in Europe next season. A win puts West Ham above United and into the Europa League. Both these matches were tight affairs in the reverse fixture at the Etihad this season. West Ham knocked City out of the League Cup. City have defensive issues.
The bad news is that City are really, really good and are still a relentless winning machine. They also have a goal difference advantage, which makes things hard for Liverpool. Even if City were to lose a game, they’d still be title favourites. Say they lost 2-1 then won 2-0, they’d have a 4 goal advantage over Liverpool. That leaves Liverpool just 2 games to make that up.
The fact is, it’s also possible for City to pretty much wrap up the title before Liverpool play again. let’s say they win 2-0 and 3-0 (which is probably more likely than them dropping points). They would have a 6 point and an 8 goal advantage over Liverpool, with Liverpool having 2 games left. That would be pretty much seal the title (barring a Bristol Rovers style miracle).
Whatever happens in the next 2 City games, fingers crossed Liverpool win against Southampton next week to keep the title alive until the last day. And who knows, maybe it will be time to break out the narrative klaxon if the title race is in the hands of Steven Gerrard.
Do I think Liverpool will win the league? No. But there is the tiniest glimmer of hope. And while the hope does indeed kill you, it’s also what watching football is all about.
Mike, LFC, London
It was a tired performance, but ultimately a succesful one. Sadio Mane is a less celebrated part of our team than Mo Salah, but since Xmas, he’s been a much more effective performer. We might be able to weather losing one of these two, but we absolutely can’t lose both – so contracts need sorting out sooner rather than later.
I wouldn’t pay Sadio as much as Mo, but it wouldn’t be a huge difference. Perhaps he doesn’t see himself as second fiddle and part of him fancies being number one elsewhere – where the extra visibility would lead him to winning the big personal awards. The Neymar argument basically. And like Neymar, he’d regret it less than a season later – as would Mo. If people want to experience a different culture, country, language etc, more power to them – it’s a short career. But they absolutely cannot move to a club more likely to win trophies as we’ll be right in contention for a lot next season as well. So both Sadio and Mo need to consider their next move very carefully and not price themselves out of the club.
Anyway, the focus is back on City to win their game against Wolves and I can’t see them failing to. But the unexpected frequently does happen, so we need to keep our fingers crossed. And now is the time to win the league, what with Haaland coming in next year. It’s a great signing and should add a necessary extra dimension to the side. *However*, these things do not always work as anticipated. At the beginning of this season, Lukaku was going to be the player who transformed European champions Chelsea into genuine title contenders. More people were backing Chelsea than ourselves with that in mind. And look what happened, they’re now in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League at all.
Good time to be playing them in another cup final really.
I’ll tell you what, were still fighting for this title, they still have to go to Wolves and West Ham, and I would love it, love it we beat them to the title.
John Moss (not the one in Culture Club)
STH at Villa and at the game last night. Happy we made a game of it. Both goals we conceded looked avoidable especially the first (deary me Tyrone) and yes Watkins looked offside.
John Moss though had a mare, especially first half. Given he’s retiring, he shouldn’t referee anymore games this season after that. Sour grapes it might be but social media awash with the same opinion he was a shit show.
The new breed of refs look just as bad and that’s a terrifying thought. I’ll miss Mike Dean though.
(Anyone know when Kevin Friend is retiring?)
One certainty about Haaland
As with everything City do, I responded to the signing of Erling Haaland with a shrug; they’ve proved they’ve got the financial means and the loopholes to spend what they want, they’ve got a manager who plays mechanical keep-ball as a method of killing most of the matches they play, so they’ve become a peripheral interest in the overall football landscape.
However! Surely – *surely* – Haaland will be rotation-proof, even under Pep’s ‘names out of a hat’ approach to team selection – and therefore we’ll finally have an attacking City player worth owning in fantasy football. Surely?
So that’s good news at least.
Dan (still hanging on to Mahrez like a doofus), Worthing
With all the talk of Man City become even better with the signing or Erling Haaland, I’m not so sure it will actually be true. As some people have already mentioned, big name striker doesn’t always guarantee you anything (Lukaku being prime example).
Haaland is a quality striker and phenomenal goalscorer. Man City have already had one of these in Sergio Aguero, yet still were unable to win the Champions League with one of the Premier Leagues best ever strikers. Haaland is most likely being signed to win the Champions League. In the Premier League Man City already win around 30 games a season, and score lots of goals. Not sure Haaland will make an awful lot of difference to the number of games City already win. They may hand out a few more 5-0 + beatings where he adds a couple of gloss goals.
The problem for City/ Pep is getting him to fit into their system of play. Even the great Aguero struggled at times when it seemed Pep didn’t feel he fit the change of system as well as he previously did. Haaland is a pretty static striker, he won’t drop deep like say Harry Kane does. The whole City system will need to change.
Dortmund have had Haaland for a couple of seasons, and they are further away from winning anything than they were when they signed him. For all his goals, the team haven’t really moved forward. May obviously be different for City, but it could also end up similar for them.
Haaland may be great for Fantasy Teams next season as he will no doubt score plenty of goals. Whether he will actually make City even better we will find out.
Kevin (for Liverpool I would love us to sign Darwin Nunez if any of our forwards leave)
Haaland to Man City & Liverpool running out of steam? ‘Mailbox Live’ May 11 2022 https://t.co/gaidwKhKz4
— Football365 (@F365) May 11, 2022
One thing that has struck me regarding the signing of Haaland by Man City is, whether this is the first signing by a PL team whereby the player has been coveted by the big clubs across Europe but has chosen to join the PL? We have always seen in the past the box office players join primarily Barcelona or Real Madrid, and to a lesser extent, Bayern or Juventus ahead of the PL. Pretty much any box office player who plied their trade in the PL became box office in the league rather than being signed as a box office attraction.
Whilst there have been some huge signings in recent years (ie Pogba to Utd, Lukaku to Chelsea), it seems that the Haaland transfer could signal a shift in the dynamic of European football clubs. It’ll be interesting to see where other players who are being chased by a myriad of the big clubs across Europe (Nkunku for example) end up going in the summer.
Can anyone reading this think of a ‘box office’ player signed whilst being coveted by the other big clubs (Ronaldo to Utd the second time round doesn’t count as despite his superhuman performances he is obviously past his peak)?
In answer to Shappo’s question – Klopp is certainly incomparable if you pick incredibly niche (and basically meaningless) statistics like “90 point premier league seasons”.
What does that even mean? Taking the number of points Klopp gets in a season in 2022 and comparing them with what Ferguson got in 1995 is completely meaningless. More points today doesn’t mean a team was better than a team that played 25 years ago – it just doesn’t. It just means that the league was more competitive back then and that even the best team wasn’t guaranteed three points against two thirds of their opponents before a ball is kicked. More competitive could mean that the quality was consistently higher or consistently lower – either way, the points total for the winner would be lower.
For what it’s worth, the quality was lower back then in my opinion, but that’s because of 30 years of development in sports science, an influx of cash to commit to training facilities, learning from the lessons of the past and countless other reasons. In thst sense Klopp probably is a “better” manager in a strict qualitative sense, but so too are most of the top flight managers.
If Klopp’s Liverpool of 2022 played Fergie’s United of 1999, would they win – very probably, because almost everything, in every avenue of life has advanced significantly since then.
A more useful metric of quality in context is what they actually managed to achieve with their time. Klopp has one league title in six seasons. Ferguson has 13 in 27 (so got one on average once every 4.5 years), Wenger got 3 in 22 years (one every 7.3 years). Klopp is not as good as Ferguson, but better than Wenger (but if he doesn’t win the PL in the next couple of years, he’ll slip) – of course, I’ll conced that that is another entirely made up metric to support a straw man argument, which others would be right to ignore. Liverpool have a great manager, just enjoy it for what it is!
Big six scavenger model is a flawed concept
I’m a little surprised you didn’t receive more rebuttals to Will Ford’s article yesterday, which suggested that Newcastle look at top 6 cast offs for much of their summer business. Mainly because Newcastle amongst others have been down this road before, which failed dismally. If you’d indulge me in a short history lesson…
In the summer of 2004 Newcastle were recovering from finishing 5th after a season long battle for the last Champions League spot with Liverpool, having finished the previous two campaigns in 4th and 3rd . This failure, and the shameful dismissal of Sir Bobby Robson a couple of months later, saw the club switch their transfer focus from young and hungry players to those deemed surplus at what was now the big 4. Between summer 2004 and 2007 Newcastle signed the following from the Premier League Big 4, Real Madrid and Barcelona: Nicky Butt, Celestine Babayaro, Patrick Kluivert, Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Damien Duff, Giuseppe Rossi, Alan Smith and Geremi. These players contributed very little on the pitch and in some cases damaged the club’s reputation off it. It’s telling that the two greatest successes/tallest dwarves were Butt and Smith, due to their performances in the Championship rather than anything they achieved in the Premier League.
That example may be a little dated, nonetheless Newcastle are far from the only club to have been stung by a superstar scrapyard policy. West Ham spent most of the mid 2010s chasing whichever rancid apple fell off the Champions League tree (Evra, Nasri and Wilshere being powerful examples) and have begun to thrive the moment they finally started scouting new players. Everton meanwhile are a live case study, while the Championship play offs are littered with clubs who handed Liverpool tens of millions for redundant squad players.
There will be some players worth pursuing amongst those top sides no doubt, as a supporter though I prefer the idea of shopping for players who regard the club as career progression rather than regression. Bringing in a player who has been released by their boyhood club and couldn’t make it work at a trophy chasing side is always going to be a balancing act and I hope the club really do their homework before making any moves for the likes of Lingard, Henderson or Nketiah.