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Let’s not fall into that trap
I know that there is an understandable wave of optimism engulfing Anfield in the wake of the Champion’s League win, and it’s certainly a lovely time to be a supporter. However, next season has the propensity to be a difficult one – relatively speaking of course – and I would encourage all Liverpool fans to live in this moment and appreciate it.
There is a big Manchester City shaped-shadow looming across the premiership, and it would be a huge surprise if they don’t join Huddersfield, Arsenal and Liverpool as winners three years running. I can’t see Liverpool getting 97 points again (see below), yet I can see City being at that kind of level. Going into the season, one would expect both City and Liverpool to be the two main challengers, but surely City are way out in front. Surely.
Liverpool are going to have a long season. As well as the Community Shield and the European Super Cup we have a mid-season trip to Qatar to be FIFA’s playthings in the World Club Championships. Whilst it would be lovely to win it, it’s not a trophy that will mean very much – like the European Super Cup – especially if the trip costs us points in the league. We’ll be left playing catch-up and I can see December being a hugely difficult month for the club.
I don’t expect any big players to leave Liverpool in the summer, but a World record bid for Salah would have to be at least considered by the owners. We all know that when Real or Barca come calling that they usually get what they want – there are many precedents here. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Real making a £200m+ bid this summer.
Look, don’t get me wrong – I am looking forward to the future under Klopp with the squad he has (and predict Sancho coming in this summer, based on nothing except that he would be a good fit and we’re light up front), but I can see a very realistic possibility where we have a decent season with some proper highlights but end up with little of actual consequence. We’re clearly the second best team in England by some margin (and surely the best European cup team), but the idea that we will get to a third Champion’s League final in a row seems fanciful, and I can’t see anyone unseating this City team in the league.
So, Liverpool fans, enjoy what we have right now. Enjoy being European Champions. Revel in the fact that we have the best manager in the World, fantastic owners who are running the club brilliantly and a young, vibrant, talented and happy squad. Because despite all this, we may have just peaked. Appreciate where we’re at, because outrageous fortune might mean that this team takes a step backwards next season. And then, who knows what might happen?
The best thing about Manchester United‘s downfall was the over-confidence of their fans, many of whom are still in denial about the mountain they have to climb to be challenging again. Let’s not fall into that trap. Smell the flowers whilst you can.
Mat (still scarred by 2002-2003 and Diouff, Diao, Cheyrou et al. It’s the hope that kills you in the end.)
VAR and respect
I would love to think that VAR will lead to more goals and better football but the pessimist in me thinks that they’ll just end up making up reasons not to use it. They brought in the directive to punish wrestling in the box and gave a few penalties for it before just seemingly forgetting that it was a thing because wrapping your arms around someone and throwing them to the ground is “just football”. When the big clubs start complaining that they can’t get away with their dark arts we’ll see VAR take a backseat.
VAR will also highlight the problem of not respecting the ref as players will continue to try to influence the ref and protest their innocence in the face of video evidence. They need to introduce sin bins or a similar immediate punishment for abusing the ref or continuous fouling to truly fix the sport. But they won’t because it damages the brand. They can’t go through a period of months where each team is down to 7 players until the clubs stop using crowding the ref as part of their tactics.
VAR however has shot down one of the great myths about making the sport better, that any changes to the sport has to be made to every level of football. So now that we’re getting VAR at the top can we also get four linesmen? Can we get an assistant who stands beside the goal at corners and free kicks? Can we get a yellow for the captain when a team consistently fouls when hit on the counter (see any Pep team)?
The rules of football, and more importantly their enforcement, should be about fairness and entertainment first. They should not be about reinforcing the status quo or allowing teams to game the system. On paper this season seemed like it should have been the most exciting in history but in reality, as someone without an iron in the fire, I found it the dullest. You can only watch so much of City and the officials not allowing the other team to play actual football before the whole thing just turns into a farce. I can’t remember who it was because honestly there were so many incidences but seeing a City player actually mount a counter attacking opponent and not getting a yellow just shows how little the officials and the Premier League care about an honest contest.
Project fear we go again
Yeah, that’s right Jonny Dance, I voted Brexit because I want to exacerbate the divide between the haves and have-nots. There’s clearly no other reason for wanting to leave the EU so call me a fascist and cover me in milkshake. But anyway, you posit an impending future where the top teams attract the top players and the mid to lower teams have to make do with slightly less talented players. Isn’t that exactly the situation that already exists in nearly every team sport in every country in the world?
England fan trouble
There is so much to like about the current crop of English players. Their coaching in the Premier League (and by Favre in Dortmund) has been of the highest standard which means they will undoubtedly be capable of incredible football over the next cycle of the European Championship and World Cup.
However, all of the positivity is ruined by a number of unbelievably stupid fans. Here in Spain we lamented the fools who came to Sevilla and today you can only feel for the people of Porto who (along with their children) were subject to ridiculous behavior from the English. Tonight there will absolutely be more disruption as more fans arrive in Porto.
It inevitably makes England far, far less like able. Go on the Netherlands.
Gronkie (Grateful for the experience in Madrid) LFC asked this morning where the idiots in Portugal who have been causing trouble come from. No doubt some will give me stick for this but the answer is simple, the lower leagues. Arrests figures for 2017-18 show that the Championship had the most arrests of any league in England and League 2 had the highest arrest rate with 8.6 arrests per 100,000 fans. Just look at the club names on the England flags at the stadium tomorrow and most will be from lower league clubs.
Sorry how long were you in Madrid for? 40 years?
Have you not seen what the country is like?
Do you not read the papers? (I can understand that there’s one in particular you wouldn’t read)
This sort of sh1t happens every week in every town – arguably boosted by the angry rhetoric shouted at us from the right of the political spectrum week in week out
This article sums it up for me.
Steve (Leeds – 50th season as a fan next year so I’ve seen my share of obnoxious fan behaviour)
Xhaka is Wenger’s worst ever signing
In Xhaka’s first season we finished one point below fourth place. Last season we were way off but this season we finished fifth by the same margin.
We have never qualified for the Champions League with Xhaka in the team.
There are many reasons as to why we finished fifth and we can’t put all the blame on Granit but matches are won and lost in the Premier League by fine margins and his brain farts have cost us time and time again.
If we get ANY offer for Xhaka – take the money and run – we’ll be 10 points better off just not having him in the team and can restore Ainsley Maitland Niles to midfield following his exile on the wing.
The worst thing about this guy is I think in his head he thinks his time at Arsenal has been a success when in all honesty I think, given the amount of money he cost, how much we pay him, and how many points we’ve lost because of him, he may well have been Wenger’s worst signing ever.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
All Time English Coefficient
A couple of domestic tables have caught my eye recently, namely the all time points tally for top tier football, and the table showing major trophies won. I felt it might be fairer to weight the trophies in order of magnitude / prestige etc – may paint a slightly different picture. Furthermore plenty has been made of the ‘achievement’ of reaching a final or being runners-up in a competition lately, so perhaps this should also be considered when gauging a clubs overall success and stature. No prizes for third place tho…
So I thought I’d add it up as follows: 10pts for the European Cup, 8pts – League, 6pts European ‘Other’, 4pts FA Cup, 2pts League Cup. Plus half the points total for runners-up in aforementioned competitions, so 5 4 3 2 1 respectively. I also compared the win rate % for all winner/runner-up instances, to see who the real bottlers where. As a bonus I’ve added 1% of each teams overall top tier points tally, so for example an extra 68pts for Liverpool (6833) or 50pts for Spurs (5049) etc (I think staying / performing in the top flight can be considered a genuine ‘achievement’ so there you go!). An all time English coefficient if you will…
The TOTP by my reckoning:
Liverpool – 429 11. Leeds Utd – 111 21. Burnley – 62 31. Charlton Athletic – 23
Manchester Utd – 422 12. Wolves – 109 22. Bolton Wanderers – 61 32. Cardiff City – 22
Arsenal – 316 13. Blackburn Rovers – 95 23. West Ham Utd – 58 33. Coventry City – 21
Aston Villa – 214 14. Sheffield Wednesday – 93 24. Leicester City – 54 34. QPR – 21
Chelsea – 211 15. West Brom – 91 25. Portsmouth – 48 35. Blackpool – 19
Everton – 210 16. Nottingham Forest – 85 26. Birmingham City – 43 36. Notts County – 19
Manchester City – 193 17. Preston North End – 72 27. Ipswich Town – 41 37. Bury – 18
Spurs – 158 18. Sheffield Utd – 68 28. Middlesbrough – 40 38. Norwich City – 18
Newcastle Utd – 133 19. Huddersfield Town – 66 29. Southampton – 37 39. Fulham – 17
Sunderland – 128 20. Derby County – 65 30. Stoke City – 34 40. Watford – 14
So Liverpool and Man Utd obviously in a league of their own, with Liverpool just edging the GOAT status with their latest (10pts) victory. Arsenal a distinct third place and the kings of London, but with 2/3 of all Chelsea’s trophies coming in the sugar daddy era, another 15 years of Abramovich vs Kroenke could well see the power shift. Villa obviously back where they belong in the big time, even though the bulk of their success came over 100 years ago! Blackburn jump out as a club that have traditionally punched above their weight. West Ham appear to be slight under-achievers, and also surprised by the low placing of Southampton and Norwich, and Palace (12pts) didn’t even make the top 40!
In terms of the teams that have ‘competed’ in around 20 or more major finals / league run-ins, the biggest stone cold losers appear to be Leeds with a 37% win rate. Everton and Wolves also have a slightly negative win rate (47%). The highest win rates are Chelsea and Man City at 63%, but this % has skewed significantly under their current ownerships – the next highest is Spurs with 59%, contrary to their chokers tag. Will we see Newcastle slowly climb up the ladder over the next decade?
How did your team fare – anyone pleasantly surprised or angered by my analysis?
Dan (that’s the real quiz)