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Liverpool let Duncan down
It’s interesting to read some of the responses from Liverpool fans and the heavy ex Liverpool presence in the media to Bobby Duncan’s claims of bullying and his decision to leave the club. It has reminded me uncomfortably of the reaction when a young Raheem Sterling decided to leave Liverpool and the racial undertones to that criticism. Which is clearly a contributing factor to the constant, racially motivated criticism Sterling has so eloquently spoken out against.
Despite football’s new founded commitment to mental health, at the first sign of a player accusing one of the big 6 clubs of bullying and claiming subsequent mental health issues, the football family (or certainly the Liverpool branch) have responded dreadfully. Examples include- “Not unless Bobby does the right thing and issues an unreserved public apology to Liverpool Football Club.”, said Robbie Fowler. John Aldridge has gone along the lines of “I never fancied her anyway” by suggesting that players Liverpool let go never come back to haunt them (despite listing him as one of his “three young stars who can break through at Liverpool” less than 2 months ago). The wheeling out of faithful ex players to dismiss claims against the club by player daring to speak out, is not only unpleasant, but doesn’t sit right with the image Klopp likes to portray to the media. I would hope at the very least there is an internal enquiry at Liverpool. As European Champions and Premier League title contenders, I would hope such an establishment would want to set an example of confronting mental health issues in sport. However previous examples from the club do not give me too much hope.
John Collins, WWFC, London
No words for Kane
All the mailbox judgements about Harry Kane and whether he dived or not got me thinking. Is the polarised debate an inevitable result of the limited words at our disposal to describe complex moments in football?
You either dived and cheated or were fouled and should be exonerated. A binary polarising vocabulary with unsurprisingly yes vs no results. Good /bad moralising. Zzzzzz.
Lucas from my team was a great exponent of sudden slow running which regularly reaped free kicks. Mainly defensively but did win an important penalty vs Arsenal too. Dietmar Hamman another crab-like suddenly flopping ball grabbing maestro. Neither got the same moralising debate Kane and others get. Probably because winning fouls in your team’s defensive areas rarely raises much of an eyebrow.
Kane ((and others) much to some chagrin) obviously shows a pattern over time of leaning into a collision with a defender where there is little intention of orienting his body balance to create enough core stability to execute a clean strike. His rapid reduction of velocity combined with a critical lean = dive.
What if there there were other more precise words for what Kane and others do? Like the reported multiple words for snow in very very snowy places. Pure nuance. No more polarisation and condemnation. Just meandering words coalescing from the miasma into emerging true meaning.
I give you ‘Kane-ive’ or ‘Kane-iving’ a penalty. No mention of diving yet honouring the man who was the inspiration. New word/words to capture the enigma of penalty area collisions in the modern age. There may be more popular ones like Salah Daze or Martial Floor or Delle Alli. Any others mailboxers?
…Shade of Grey on Kane (Spurs fan here surprisingly).
Problem nowadays is people view the incident and those of similar ilk as either stonewall penalty or dive. It’s not black and white.
Did Kane dive? No. There was contact. A dive insinuates no contact whatsoever. Was he looking for it? Of course, 100%. It’s the 90th minute in a derby away at your biggest rivals, if your striker isn’t looking for an opportunity for something from nothing then you’re in the wrong sport.
Kane did not dive, he was inviting a challenge, Which came, contact happened, and may have ended with a penalty, everyone has seen them given for less. But not every challenge is either a dive or a foul, there are inbetweens.
Final comment, how often does a defender shield the ball out for a goal kick, slow down and invite a challenge from the striker, collapse, and win a free kick? Common method defenders use, do we now call these out for diving?
Grumpy Dip, THFC
Xhaka should be dropped and replaced with Guendouzi now, Xhaka should only be a squad player for us. Just because we payed over the odds for him does not mean he is actually a 35 million pound player – we shouldn’t have paid more that 20 million for him, but because of the price tag Emery feels the need to play him – that coupled with the fact Emery likes a big f*cker in central midfield (see Nzonzi at Valencia). Xhaka is a foul machine, he just can’t stop himself, even after the stupidity of the penalty he continued to give away needless, momentum breaking fouls in needless areas of the pitch. He seems to have no control and has shown this so many times over the years – but still he gets in the team before younger, more skillful and more disciplined players – EMERY you are turning into Arsene Wenger re team selection.
Why play the front three as they were then provide no link between midfield and attack with a midfield that was formed to shoehorn Xhaka into the game – EMERY ween your self of the big lumox, he is a squad player at best!
We lack balance up top if you play all three but don’t set them up correctly – Emery should have played Auba and Pepe in a wide two (witdth of the penalty box wide) and Lacazette as a number 10 (he is a great passer). Play Guendouzi at the base with Torerra (Guendouzi with licence to get vertical) and willock or ceballos (or as Jamie ‘wheres my dad’ Redknap says celabally – doh!).
Also Sokratis was not good sunday, he was so unaware it was worrying, he was poor in his last year in Dortmund and seems to have gone back to that standard – real shame.
Ideal team – Leno, Tierney, side show bob, holding, bellerin, Guendouzi, torerra, willock or ceballos, laca, auba, pepe
We missed a real opportunity against Sp*rs – they were so lucky to get a draw.
Doing it for the kids
Why is Solskjaer a promoter of youth Ted? Erm, second youngest matchday team (average age of 24.5 – joint with Chelsea and 0.1 behind Southampton) and filling the squad with youngsters instead of ready-made older players. You bring them in gradually, you don’t just throw them all in at once FFS (see LVG vs MK Dons for an example).
It really is that simple.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Kick the habit
Thank God Chelsea got rid of this goon after one season. Juve lost their first Seria A game of the season today, as ESPN politely reports “Juventus didn’t look ,much like a Maurzio Sarri team – possibly because his illness means he hasn’t taken training in several weeks and watched from a luxury box ….”
And what “illness” is this? Let’s see from the Bleacher Report after it was reported he had the ‘flu:
“In the late afternoon he underwent further tests that confirmed he has pneumonia, for which specific therapy has been prescribed”.
Afterwards, according to Sarri on his cigarette smoking affecting his health: “It’s 60 a day, probably a few too many. I don’t feel the need to smoke during games, but straight afterwards it really is necessary. I had back problems tormenting me for weeks, but I feel much better now”.
The “specific therapy’ I hope says “Quite smoking or you’re fired”.
Three packs a day in a top-class sport? It goes back to what I said last week, you cannot insist your players are fit or beyond fit when you can’t walk the length of the pitch. What a selfish twunt that man is. Chelsea got rid quite cheaply, thank heavens for that.
Steve, Los Angeles.
Why clubs stick to the benefactor model
Jonny Nic asks why do clubs insist on overspending and relying on benefactors to fund them, rather than just relying on retained earnings and an overdraft like most small businesses. The answer lies in the fact that for the last 20 years football has failed to protect clubs that were run responsibly. Alex Ferguson was the last manager to win the Championship based on finances generated from the club. There will not be another.
A look at David Conn’s analysis of the financial position of each premier league club at the start of this season shows that the only club without a net debt position are Arsenal and Man City (though there income streams have a serious question mark against them). Every other club owes significant money, mostly to owners who are in the habit of loaning money to clubs rather than giving it. At some point it may become of more than just accounting interest that Chelsea owe Abramovich £1.25bn.
The problem is that this ownership situation cascades through the leagues, leaving clubs in a position where debt finance is needed just to gain competitive parity, or in Scunthorpe’s case clearly not even that. So if the addiction to owner loans is to be kicked without leading to clubs becoming uncompetitive and losing income through relegation and reduced attendances we need sustainable models to be adopted en masse. This is what financial fair play has been trying to achieve, since unilaterally reducing owner finance would lead to competitive disadvantage we need sides to work together to develop frameworks that can exist throughout the premier and football leagues to encourage better business models.
The obvious critique of this position is that without benefactors it would be impossible for league 2 sides to do a Man City again. However back in the real world, the consortium looking to take a club out of liquidity are far more likely to be SISU than Sheikh Mansour And here’s the crux of the problem with football club ownership, if you regulate tighter who can own a club and how much they can invest, sensible owners and fan ownership models are more likely to do well, if you regulate less then more clubs will suffer financial mismanagement.
Sam, Bath, Afc
How best to measure the top six
You’ll probably get a million of these, but I myself have come up with a really good way of measuring the strength of the top 6 Premier League teams, and it’s a damn sight simpler than Andy from Newcastle’s completely subjective (and, in many cases, completely hilarious) evaluation of individual players. I’ve gone to a lot of trouble to build out this methodology, but a neat summary can be found here. Pro tip: keep checking it every few weeks. It does change here and there but it gets more accurate the longer you follow it.
…You’ll no doubt get a few other boring so-and-so’s like me who actually checked Andy from Newcastle’s maths.
Glad to see that Liverpool are still comfortably 2nd having played the whole season with only 10 men, missing the current UEFA player of the year. They’d be on a 3.6 by my reckoning with a full strength back 4.
James (LFC, of course I didn’t look at anyone else’s teams but my own), Warrington
Hi, my opinion is a bit controversial on the racism, but just try and check where the f*ck is Calgiari on the map. Italy has an enormous problem with all the people trafficking from Africa. Currently they exploit poor people who pay thousands of dollars/euros to be transferred in the “promise land” where they’re stuck in no mans land… w/o job, w/o society to help them and they have no choice but do crimes, either because of lower education, or just pure hunger. This is why just some people are scared and turn racist… The fault is in all of us for not pressing well enough the decision makers to make life more normal in Africa. They’re in 15th century there in many areas but we sit in nice sofas and are discussing how shit is Rashford (big!!!), or is Poch strong enough, while people down south in Africa are dying in thousands per day (mostly kids!). Racism is bad but the way to fight is with work, love and supportive education and stronger economy, not with posters!
Doesn’t matter who am I!
– Paul Pogba has been racially abused this season;
– Marcus Rashford has been racially abused this season;
– Tammy Abraham has been racially abused this season;
– Yakou Meite has been racially abused this season;
– Cyrus Christie sister was attacked and racially abused at a game this season;
Yes, of course it is abhorrent what happened to Lukaku, and shouldn’t happen to anyone at anytime, regardless of being at work or not, but your email is very much a case of throwing stones in a particularly fragile glass house. Looks like the Italian fans aren’t the only c**nts in football, I guess you’re looking forward to the demise of the Premier League so.
And for your information, the English FA didn’t even punish Chelsea for their fans racially abusing Sterling last year.
Palace plodding along just fine
Following this weekend’s results in the Premier League and NPL, I’ve got two teams who have started with seven points from four games (Grantham lost 4-0 on Saturday to Whitby Town, in the interests of full disclosure). According to Opta:
Palace are only the 24th team in top-flight history to score 3 goals or fewer in their opening 4 games but gain 7+ points. None of them won the league, none of them were relegated & their average finishing position was 11th. That feels right & means Palace's season is done.
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) August 31, 2019
According to me:
“A lot of teams have made similar starts and none have been relegated. If anyone’s likely to be the first, it’s Crystal Palace. Don’t forget, a few years ago with Alan Pardew they started this well and then fell away spectacularly, only narrowly avoiding the drop”.
*Football is mad sometimes. That’s how Aston Villa can feel aggrieved to not getting something from a game they were barely in – their xG was just 0.31 and they had two shots on target. Having seen the incident on the highlights, the final moments were a refereeing error, but one that is very much a symptom of the way football is played. Bookings for simulation aren’t just where contact has been completely imaginary, but for what the NHL, for example, calls embellishment, so minimal contact is made to look much worse. On first glance, Jack Grealish looked like someone who was fishing for a penalty while doing everything he could do to make it look like he wasn’t fishing for a penalty. This is presumably why the referee believed it was simulation and regardless of what else was happening, decided it was enough of an infringement to merit sanction. Of course when viewed again, Grealish is off-balance because he’s been nudged by Wilfried Zaha, but the officials haven’t seen it that way, and we’re left with the irony of a team who had been playing a very physical style all afternoon being punished for not being stuck in. As Roy Hodgson said after the match, other than that one incident, the Eagles dominated the game, so deserved to win.
*The Athletic’s Matt Woosnam has written about Hodgson’s change in system, that seems to be bringing results, if not heaps of goals. Jordan Ayew has started well, adapting to a target man role and bringing more mobility to the front line than Christian Benteke. Ayew’s combinations with Jeffrey Schlupp have been very good and allowed Zaha to roam freely. Playing wide on the right, he drew fouls and caused problems all afternoon. The awkward part of the system is that there isn’t, as things currently stand, a place for Andros Townsend, one of their most consistent players last season, or Victor Camarasa, presumably signed to bring creativity. For other managers, this would be a cause for celebrating the possibility of tactical flexibility, but this is Hodgson we’re talking about. Either way, having a system that’s working and good players who would enable a different setup is not something to complain about.
*Another bright spot for Palace was the return of Mamadou Sakho. He’s been injured for a while but hopefully he’ll be starting alongside Gary Cahill after the international break. That sees the Eagles face Tottenham Hotspur, currently three points and six places below them in tenth. It’s precisely this sort of game that will determine whether or not Palace’s current Champions League aspirations are legitimate, or whether this is merely a tongue-in-cheek observation.