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Man Utd will be alright
Ok, the Manchester United team is in shambles and are playing some of the worst football seem outside of the sunday league. But, the injuries that they have had would have drastically affected most teams.
Imagine a Liverpool side with no TAA, Robertson, Mane, half fit Firmino, Fabinho/Salah for long parts of the season.
In no way i am saying that any of the United players are as good as their Liverpool counterparts. But having all of Pogba, Martial, Wan Bissaka, a fully fit Rashford, Luke Shaw FIT TOGETHER would have made a hell lot of a difference against the likes of Palace, Newcastle, Southampton etc. We would not be in the top 3. But we would be around Chelsea or Arsenal or a few points off.
I think once the players start coming back, United will be absolutely alright and well within the reaches or top 4/6. Lets not panic.
We have seen what a few injuries to City did to them. So lets take heart that once we have a fully fit team, we can start closing the gap in the second half of the season.
Liverpool will win but…
Liverpool will definitely beat Man Utd this coming weekend. There’s not even a single shred of doubt in my mind. With Alisson back Liverpool are basically at full strength whereas United have 5 first team players missing (Shaw, Lindelof, De Gea, Pogba, Martial).
But, this isn’t going to last for Liverpool. Bringing back our old friend XG and similar stats, according to Understat Liverpool have scored 2.5 more goals than they ‘should’ have done, conceded 1.4 fewer goals than they ‘should’ and are a whopping 7.3 points ahead of their statistical expected position. Man Utd on the other hand have scored 3.1 goals fewer than they ‘should’, conceded 1.8 more than they ‘should’ and are 7 points behind their statistical totals.
And I think this backs up what we’ve seen recently, especially with Liverpool sneaking past Sheffield Utd courtesy of a goalkeeping howler and Maguire missing a couple of basically open goals in recent matches. Whether you’re a stats fan or a ‘follow your eyes’ fan, these things do have a tendency to even out on the long run. Whether that comes from a change of manager, a change of fortune, or something else entirely is another matter to be seen.
Calum, (Liverpool to win by 3 or more) MUFC, Wokingham
Seriously people, come off it
What is this attitude that we have just resigned ourselves to Liverpool winning the Premier League? There are still 30 games left, that’s 90 points to play for. We’re being chased by a team who are one of, if not the best ever Premier League side.
Can we shelve our arrogance and please accept we’ve won a European Cup, but nothing more, and the league title is by no means guaranteed with 30 GAMES STILL LEFT TO BE PLAYED.
They want us to become complacent and then bottle it, so that they can continue laughing at us.
Wik, Pretoria, LFC
Christmas fixture congestion
Some good points from Greg this morning in the Mailbox about Broadcast packages and travel accommodation, however I don’t think these broadcasters would truly care about if the fans can physically reach the games and get back home in a respectable amount of time, they care about their viewing figures and subscription numbers, during the cold winter period they assume that a lot of people would prefer to watch a game from the comfort of their own warm house, especially on Boxing Day when we have eaten far to much food and don’t wish to move even an inch.
I totally agree that fans should be priority when it comes to travel over this period, but sadly they have had to manage for many a year since the Premier League has begun, I cannot see that being changed, as money is sadly king.
Mikey, CFC (I am certain most will watch the Boxing Day games via not so legal methods anyway)
Gangs of the EPL
A couple of times recently there have been some excellent suggestions from fellow mailboxers regarding football podcasts. Many referencing the inestimable excellence of AC Jimbo’s Totally Football Show (featuring the ever knowledgeable @DanielStorey etc) plus the other usual suspects such as the Guardian’s Football Weekly, That Peter Crouch Podcast etc, etc, etc.
If I may briefly offer a slightly left-field one of my own. Left field in that it does feature football quite heavily but it is more about football personalities. If you haven’t tried it yet please give Athletico Mince a whirl. I’d recommend starting at Warhammer (Ep 70) and working your way to the present day from there. Fans of Bob Mortimer will delight in his sidekick Andy Dawson’s uncanny Woy ‘Warhammer’ Hodgson impression but Bob himself excels with his Peter Beardsley, Mick McCarthy, Sean Dyche and many, many more. The British Managers Lunch Club would have Johnny Nic wryly smiling in it’s PFMness.
Sean Dyche’s motivational wavs, Slaughter’s meat feasts and Steve McClaren are one of many, many highlights. Do yourself a favour and add it to your feed. Neil Harris’ Nonsense Pottery Shop has me in fits. As I say, the fact that Andy is a Sunderland supporter (also highly recommend Sunderland ‘Til I Die on Netflix) is about as much as it covers football in truth but the rip that Bob Mortimer takes out of footballers and manager past and present is absolutely brilliant.
Anay; I reckon United are going to win. It’s their cup final and they’d love to stop us equalling the record of top-flight wins on the spin.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
England fandom reverting to type
Does anyone remember that strange period of time, ages and ages ago, during which Gareth Southgate guided England to their first World Cup Semi final in almost 3 decades and their best tournament performance of my lifetime, uniting the country and reinvigorating a nations love for the Three Lions?
And remember how that was followed up with an incredibly exciting run of games against Spain and Croatia in the Nations League? All while nurturing and putting faith in the most promising collection of youth that I can remember?
That must have been years ago now, based on the overall mood of most England fans during those last international break. Both first XI announcements were greeted by an absolute torrent of negative feeling from the general public claiming Southgate was out of his depth, that we needed to get someone in that knew how to pick a team etc etc
People call for him to give players a reward for form. He has and will continue to do so exactly that. He has always included players that are in good form for their clubs. Granted, he has often overlooked the odd player that is playing well but A) there are only 23 available slots in the squad and B) these omitted players tend to be flashes in the pan that can’t maintain form through to the next squad announcement. Ashley Barnes being a key example (hope you’re reading this, Charlie Austin).
He also has a responsibility to look the the future as manager. There is little point including an older player that is unlikely to continue form as this has no benefit in the long run.
His refusal to drop players that aren’t doing well for their club is actually a good thing, contrary to popular belief. Through giving Ross Barkley an extended stay of execution, he has been rewarded with great performances. Lingard played well for England to a point, as did Dier. But Southgate has been able to cut these two from the team when the time is right. As he has throughout his whole tenure. Of the 23 players that made the latest squad, Henderson was the only survivor from Southgate’s first squad.
He’s constantly evolving the squad. He’s showing faith in players that need a confidence boost and is often rewarded for it. He’s a fantastic ambassador and spokesman for English football and has the trust of the players (the unfortunate recent Montenegrin and Bulgarian instances are proof). He’s responsible for the greatest footballing summer for a generation and we look like being a force for years to come.
Basically, this is a long way of telling people to stop their whining because a player from their favourite team isn’t starting and appreciate what we have. It isn’t all about you.
Sam, West Ham Fan (I think Winks is a better option than Rice – see how easy it is?!)
Is Marco Silva easy to sack?
I’ve been reading a lot about the pressure on Marco Silva this weekend and what could be a huge game for him personally against West Ham.
My question is, does his managerial record in England make him easy to sack? As in, is he a victim of his rapid climb?
If I can explain, some managers have an emotional attachment to a club – see Man Utd, which makes them harder to sack. Other managers are just bloody brilliant – see Man City. Some managers engender patience due to a long track record with individual clubs – see Crystal Palace. All these things work both ways and mean these managers can afford bad results, they get a bit of patience.
Silva, as far as I can see, has none of this. I appreciate his achievements prior to coming to England and since, he’s undoubtedly a good coach. But do the fans really buy in to it?
22 games at Hull, 26 games at Watford, now 50-odd at Everton. If a bigger job came along you know he’d be off….so if he’s under pressure it’s just as easy to sack him, no? I guess what I’m driving at is, in my opinion, had he behaved better at Watford, he’d have more in the bank at Everton, and also have a track-record that could show he can turn it around. If you move every half-season (regardless of the reason), how do you build a reputation?
Just a thought, would be intrigued to hear from Everton fans, basically do you trust him to turn this around? And do you think he deserves patience, given his track record for moving on?
Cannot discount LFC’s Qatar trip from fixture congestion discussion
I really enjoyed the latest “Fight! Fight! Fight!” article, this one discussing the fairness of the festive fixture list for City (in contrast to Liverpool). It seems, though, that Will Ford’s position rests entirely on the idea that Liverpool will rest players during the Club World Cup in Qatar, therefore they will be well-rested for their Christmas Eve and Boxing Day fixtures.
There is no factual basis for this assertion/assumption. If you look back at the last 15 years of CWC finals, you won’t find a single instance of the European side fielding weakened sides. This includes Chelsea in 2012, United in 2008 and Liverpool in 2005. Factor in the flight (8 hour duration, 2 hour time difference) and it’s hard to fathom how this constitutes a rest for the Liverpool squad.
I also don’t know where Will gets the idea that clubs don’t care about the competition. It’s huge from a marketing point of view. First of all, you get that special gold badge when you win it, which probably has a massive impact on kit sales. Secondly, sponsors around the world value the ability to say they’re affiliated with the “world champions”. Thirdly, many global fans around the world probably see it as more important than fans in Europe see it. Last but not least, its embarrassing if you lose it.
There is a big difference between “clubs don’t see winning the CWC as a massive achievement”, versus “clubs pretend they care about the CWC, when they really don’t”. The former is probably true, the latter almost certainly isn’t (despite the fact it proves little to nothing in a sporting sense).
Oliver (was hoping to go to the Qatar final, but flights are prohibitively expensive) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Psych – let’s get ready to rumble
Long time reader, one time published, looking to come back for some more action.
In response to Pierre, LFC, Bristol’s well-articulated email, I fully agree on all points. Personally I think it’s mainly down to psychology (even including Messi and Ronaldo in that) and how secure / happy you are as an individual. I actually think one of the main reasons Ronaldo has remained so consistent is that he has moved around to different leagues, different challenges, re-inventing himself and his lifestyle relatively often. Messi I just don’t know 😊
Think back to when you felt you were at your “peak” as an individual, compared to now (assuming there is a gap of course). When I look back to my late twenties, I was cocky, confident, pushed boundaries both in my career and personal life. I wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone. But now… due to many circumstances I’m nothing like the person I was back then. I imagine as a professional footballer that is potentially magnified infinite-fold and in a much shorter time frame. Dele Alli is a great example, he appeared fearless and cocky just a year or two ago but look at him now his confidence is shot. His media coverage, off and on-field incidents, form, home life. Who knows… but how do you get that back? I’d argue you can’t, and if you are constantly striving for something you were instead of what you can be, it must be a heck of a pickle for someone that is constantly under pressure and in the public eye.
I imagine a loan move is a good way of getting yourself in a new challenge with fresh faces, fresh coaching, and a new environment. But what if that goes wrong? He may not have the same level of support / respect shown by the current manager and staff. I’m pretty sure Pep (in the Foden case) knows what’s best for his personal development mentally as well as physically.
Anyway, that’s too much thinking for a Friday. Have a good weekend fellow F365-ers.
Steve (Liverpool > Wales)
Would I swap Matip for Big Sami? Absolutely
Just a quick response to your question. Would I swap Matip for Big Sami? Absolutely, not only does he look like Dolph Lundgren (which is reason enough) but for my money he’s one of the best centre halves we’ve ever had. Wijnaldum over Macca? They play in different positions anyway but on his day Mc Manaman was a force of nature. And as much as I love Bobby Firmino for the legend that he is, I couldn’t put him in the team ahead of our despicable cheating genius Suarez. If Gerrard says he’s the best player he’s ever played with then that’s enough for me. Also, Xabi Alonso for any of our midfielders all day long.
Dave (LFC, United are going to scrape a draw aren’t they)
Love Jay’s question, about swapping new for old. So here we go:
Allison: No – the best keeper I can ever remember. Reina at his peak was fantastic but Allison edges it with his distribution.
Roberston: No. Riise comes the closest but full backs have always been a tricky one for us and there’s no one better than Robbo.
Van Dijk: No – obviously.
Matip: Yes. Matip has been great this season, but I’d choose Hypia or Carragher over him. Carra would be my pick.
TAA: No. We’ve not been blessed with right backs. Trent remains.
Henderson: Yes. Right, I love Henderson but come on. Hendo v Gerard is not even close
Fabinho: Yes. Just. Fabinho is a tough one. Ask again in a year and maybe I’ll say we wouldn’t swap him but for now a peak Mascherano (or even a peak Hamman).
Wijnaldum: Yes. I think Jay might be forgetting a Mr Xabi Alonso who gets in the team all day, every day.
The forwards are more tricky as it’s very positional. If we’re playing the current formation then there’s no place for Owen or Fowler. Torres is one of best strikers we’ve ever had but could he lead that line in that system? Maybe. Also remember, Saurez thrives on the left or the right of a 4-3-3 so doesn’t need to play down the middle.
Therefore it’s either:
Suarez – Torres – Salah/Mane
Salah – Suarez – Mane
Either way. Bobby misses out.
Now a question to Chelsea, United and Arsenal fans. Is there a player who you currently have who you wouldn’t swap for someone from the PL era?
Mike, LFC, London
To Jay B, I’m sorry mate, most of your statements I agree with but as much as I love Firmino (and I really, REALLY do) Suarez would replace him. He was unbelievable (not withstanding all the crap that came with him). Him interchanging with Salah and Mane would be very exciting to watch and I don’t think we’d lose more than we gain by not having Firmino dropping into midfield because Suarez pulled defenders out of position in other ways.
I’m sure an army of better mathematicians than me will wade in with all sorts of weird and wonderful formulae but the reality is that 18 wins in a row is a record and therefore hasn’t happened that often. Therefore it’s ‘statistically’ very likely that we will drop points at some point in the next game or two or three. Of course we all know that when that happens the press will be screaming from the hilltops that Liverpool are bottling it again, especially if the dropped points come against the current iteration of Manchester United.
Speaking of bottling it, people assessing whether or not the Reds will bottle the title, such as Chris, Croydon are wasting time and effort, there’s just too many variables to be able to accurately predict it. Liverpool are in a great position but Man City have injury problems (forget about whether self-inflicted or not). It’s equally possible that we could be without key players in the last 8 games of the season and we may struggle.
And finally, I love the comparison of Ole’s first 29 games with Klopp’s first 29 which shows that Ole is doing better. You see? Yet more evidence that you should keep him Man Utd fans!
Adam LFC (Worried about counter attacking)
Welcome back Peter G!
Dear Sir or Madam,
Just wanted to say welcome back Peter G. I always enjoyed his writing and he seemed a likeable chap in his responses to comments. I’m not sure if you said he was ill or if I imagined that but I hope he’s ok and look forward to reading more.