Lucas: A Great Player In Terrible Sides

Date published: Thursday 1st January 1970 12:00 -

Lucas: A Great Player In Terrible Sides

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More Loved/Loathed
Just 1 name for the universally loved/loathed mail from this morning.

Ashley Cole.

I’m sure everyone can guess which category he belongs to.
Dan, Afc

In response to Tom, Geordie in Toronto, I’ve often wondered is there another player like Sol Campbell. I can’t imagine any of the clubs he played for hold him in high regard. Yes Arsenal fans may have loved him at first for the fact he left Spurs for them but beyond that? Spurs, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Notts County, Newcastle, England and probably now the Tory party at best can muster a ‘meh’ I would imagine. The worst, something obviously far more hostile. Successful career but there will never be a ‘Sol Campbell Lounge’ is any stadium ever will there?
Iain, Perth

In response to Tom, Geordie in Toronto, I’m certain you will struggle to find anyone at Watford, Sunderland, Southampton, Villa, West Brom, Birmingham, Blackpool, Palace or Leicester with a bad word to say about Kevin Phillips. Goals galore and an all round good egg.

He’s not known as Super Kev for nothing.

Midfield Matters
Re Simon Banks, London

Simon, that is exactly the attitude that will see Arsenal without a title for quite some time. “We don’t need to sign a world-class centre mid because the other teams aren’t either”. Well ignoring Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin, they haven’t, you’re right.

The fact that other clubs aren’t making these signings is EXACTLY the reason why you should be making those signings. That is how you compete. It’s a reasonable bet that if your players are the same quality as the other players at other clubs, you will be able to match them. Coquelin is worse than Matic, worse than Fernandinho, worse than Schweinsteiger/Schneiderlin, hell I’d say he’s worse than Can and Bentaleb too. The same applies for striker and your defence. They don’t match up to the other teams, that’s why you’re pretty much always fourth. Silk purses and sow’s ears etc.

Sanchez and to some extent Ozil represented real progress; here were players recognised as being some of the top players in the world, signed from Barca and Real respectively. Since them it’s been a bit, well, meh really. Jury is out on Cech, I would withhold judgement until he’s settled.

At the moment Arsenal are standing still while everyone else is moving around them. Watch Swansea finish above them this season.
From Jack, in his twenties, somewhere in the South of England between Watford and Croydon, FFC.

Eden Isn’t Struggling For Form
Good morning F365 –

I found it interesting that the leading player in your “Big Weekend” feature is Eden Hazard, as a Chelsea fan who has watched the first three games of the season with an increasingly furrowed brow and have wondered about his form. There was an interesting quote from Hazard around this time last year where he commented on Fabregas’s arrival as being a positive from the point of view the responsibility wasn’t always going to be on him to create something or win games.

Having watched Chelsea labour this season and with Fabregas in particular struggling to impose himself on the game and Matic looking over-run in midfield, it seems apparent to me that while Hazard is the outstanding talent in the team, what he needs is a platform for success. There are only so many times a team can give the ball to Hazard on the counter and expect magic from him. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think that Hazard has lost form or is struggling to play as well as he has done – I think it is very much the centre of midfield that is struggling and that in turn has led to Hazard finding himself receiving the ball in positions with far too much to do – typically much deeper or out wide with 2 players surrounding him. A team cannot expect one creative player to shoulder the responsibility for the creation of all attacks both the middle and out wide which is how it has looked on occasions this season.

I just don’t think it is “Hazard has played badly”, I think his form has been affected by the struggles in midfield more than anything else and am not at all worried about his form.

Matic and Fabregas on the other hand – that is an entirely different story….


Worst Celebrations Chat
Being an enthusiastic natural historian I felt the urge to reply to Rob McMenzie’s whining about Bafetimbi Gomis ‘Panther’ celebration this morning. The main reason being that it is in fact he who is lacking accuracy.

Firstly, I would urge Rob not to use the Jungle book as a natural history reference. Mr Gomis’ name for is celebration could cause some confusion as the ‘Panther’ actually refers to the melanistic colour variant of any Panthera species. So a black panther in Asia and Africa would be a Leopard and in the Americas a Jaguar. However, both species do indeed roar and are ferocious stalkers and killers. This short burst activity will be interspersed with recuperating or ‘lounging about in a tree’.

I must admit to finding it fairly cringy but its also pretty funny and in a world where far too many people take life too seriously he looks like he’s enjoying himself so why not let him crack on.
Tom Wah, (11. Alan Shearers ‘punditry’) Shropshire

Surely Robbie Keane’s cringetastic forward roll and finger pistols celebration has to take the award for all-time worst goal celebration! I’d also like to give an honourable mention to the Aylesbury United duck walk seen in their early 90’s FA Cup run – as a foolish, naïve child I thought this was fantastic but looking back it is a special type of awful when the whole team gets involved rather than just one ‘wacky’ fool.
Ryan King

Dear Rob McMenzie,

I hope for your sake you have never played a game of FIFA online in the last 3 years as it would be seriously detrimental to your mental state.

All the best
Adam (one of the celebrations is the gangnam style dance), Essex

My favourite celebration is where the goal scorer runs to the home crowd screaming and proudly beating the club badge on his chest all king kong like.
He then leaves the club in the next available transfer window!
Andrew Moore

United Needed Pedro
Excuse my ignorance but I cannot seem to fathom why United fans have written in saying, Pedro was not really a key requirement at the moment.

Yes, I can understand a striker would be top priority but which really high quality ones are really out there? Muller? Benzema? Lewandowski? Call me a skeptic but buying them sounds like a stretch even for a club with United’s means.

On the other hand, following are United’s other attacking options: Young, Mata, Depay, Januzaj, Wilson, Chicharito, Rooney (you can even charitably add part-time RB-Winger Valencia to this list). The latter three are vying for the sole striker spot while four are vying for the THREE positions behind them. Januzaj is the same player LVG mistrusted last season and was even critical of him losing possession in his goal-winning performance against Villa. Sounds like a huge risk to rely on young Adnan on suddenly becoming consistently effective and hoping Young (even at his most effective, he will still barely touch United standard), Mata (quality player, especially behind the striker) and Depay (two brilliant goals but also two okay performances and let’s not forget his age and the fact it is his first year in the league) stay fit.

The reasoning, other positions should have priority reinforcement (CBs), sounds cack to me because reinforcing your defense and reinforcing your attacking options are not mutually exclusive options. You can do them both especially when your club has the means and the stature of Manchester United.

United needed Pedro (quality and at a reasonably good price) and they may have goofed up. Or am I missing something in my argument? The always reasonable mailbox could maybe enlighten me.
Ahad (Pedro attacks AND defends. He will be a huge success at Chelsea, unfortunately)

Two Views On Lucas
I agree with Minty, LFC on a lot but I’ll have to put a different perspective on Lucas’ potential departure. Before I go any further though, I will make it clear that I think Lucas is a really nice fella & that I was one of his supporters when he was getting stick, so it doesn’t make this a very easy thing to do.

In 2010 & 2011 Lucas was one of our key players. In the back half of 2014-15, he was one of our key players. In 2013-14 he looked a peripheral figure who couldn’t keep up with what we were doing & I wouldn’t have been shocked if he left that Summer.

Lucas is a great Liverpool player in terrible Liverpool sides. Under Hodgson & Dalglish our squad was pretty shonky and he shone because there was a lot of crap around him (Charlie Adam FFS). He did have a period of form when he was imperious, possibly one of the best midfielders in the league but then he got injured and he never got back there again, instead reverting to looking good in a defensive side lacking in quality and being exposed in a good side.

I wish Lucas the absolute best and I hope he does very well if he goes but if we’re trying to be a fast paced, aggressive team, Lucas doesn’t fit that and 2013-14 showed this perfectly.
Kris, LFC, Manchester

One thing that I think the departure of Lucas has highlighted is that for all Liverpool’s history, local pride and penchant for the moral high ground they are in actual fact as shallow as the teams (Chelsea/City) most of their fans chastise.

Lucas is currently the longest serving Liverpool player with a whopping 8 years at the club. Now whilst it’s a decent stint it’s barely even half of his career, yet how has he been rewarded for his loyalty? He’s been pushed rather than jumped. “Wasn’t in the managers plans” is no defence. I vividly remember the outrage and disgust that followed Lampard not being given another contract at Chelsea and the ensuing “truly abhorrent club” comments about their treatment of him. Lampard was 36 and in the twilight of his career. Lucas is 28, hardly a time to put him out to stud.

One can’t help but feel that Gerrard’s presence merely papered over the cracks of an already eroded reputation of a club that has been reduced to flashing a come hither look to any investor that’s interested whilst ignoring the travails of players that are dragging their name through the mud. “Look at Gerrard. He embodies the club.” was the stock line wheeled out by various pundits citing his loyalty, passion and morality for not leaving the club he loves. Six months down the line Gerrard’s gone, the mercenaries are in and what’s left is a club that’s shamelessly seeking success no matter what the cost or who’s in the firing line. Loyalty? It’s a foreign word at LFC these days.

At least they’ve got their history though ay………
Anthony, Kilburn

More Hates
1) When people say that poor decisions even themselves out over the course of the season. This just isn’t true. I don’t know why people think it is. No proof or logic.

2) Diving. It can never be said enough. Even though it really has been said enough.

3) The homogeneous nature of middling premier league players. Same sleeve tattoos, same hair, same use of clichés in interviews. I blame Geordie Shore culture.

4) The fact that AC Jimbo doesn’t present every football show available.

5) The lack of a truly exciting European league with a fantastic round up show on a Saturday/Sunday morning (see above in Football Italia discussing Signori, Batistuta and Del Piero while drinking a macchiato outside a café in Florence).

6) A League of Their Own (James Corden cracks a terrible pun, pretends his hands are guns, the laugh track guffaws, the people at home snigger without stopping to think, I die a little inside).

7) Michael Owen.

8) Soccer AM, particularly the LAD culture and banter that permeates Premier League football.

9) Red top ‘reporting’.

10) Parma’s demise.
Owen, Limerick

Loving the 10 things I hate about football, here’s some more;

1. Michael Owen
2. Kicking the ball out when a players pretending to be injured, just play on!
3. Alan Shearers Shirts
4. Ian Wrights dress sense.
5. Liverpool fans
6. Full kit w**kers (usually Liverpool fans)
7. Holding in the penalty area at corners, just give a penalty!
8. Players tweets
9. Arsenals wifi warriors, stay on the training ground longer, get off Instagram.
10. Micheal Owen, Bt sport why o why?
Simon Barber (open brackets, insert something witty, close brackets).

I’ll tell you what my pet hate – people who describe themselves as a fan boy. Fan boy is a tech term associated with people who have nothing better to do than queue up at an Apple store every time they unleash a slightly different product – it has no place in football.

Do some bloody research of your club’s nickname. It’s not that hard – Arsenal are the gunners but us fans call ourselves gooners, West Ham are the Hammers, Spurs are well… Spurs, Chelsea are the pensioners. Interestingly Forest’s old nickname was the Foresters before they changed it to the reds.

Your club has a nickname – use it – it’s part of the rich tapestry of its history.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

…And Some Loves
reading the mailbox during my boring job everyday fills me with some kind of fruitful opinions. however when did football and everything get so negative? yes we all want to see our clubs do well but this is the pl. these financial beasts are nothing we can comprehend unless we’re in it – even then, it’s not straight forward moyes, mcclaren etc. the fanboys, twitter, media, expros, the constant rehashing of opines on the games. ITS BEEN 2 1/2 WEEKS??!? the only negative i can see, which has been ongoing, is jose’s bad mood, is it because friend fergie didnt give him the job?

why dont we look at a positive top ten instead?

1 – watch a full episode of football focus on a saturday
2 – any show where there’s no danny mills
3 – signs the club is progressing
4 – van gaal drunk – wait til he wins something!
5 – the fact that the epl is so competitive
6 – the premier league years show
7 – cupsets
8 – a decent super sunday
9 – that chant from the home fans when the away fans think theyve scored because they cant see properly
10 – the football league show with maniche…….. oh dear

also as a side note, will utd ever get out of the shadow of fergie? lvg seems get everything wrong however some scenarios im sure would have happened to good old sir aswell. missing out on targets, underwhelming games, european nights, not getting off to a good start – WHICH LVG HAS DONE.

football is ever evolving so lets juxt enjoy it. gosh.
Louis mufc

Bring Back Strikers
Fifteen years ago, in a front two, goal scorers of all shapes and sizes could flourish. Now with a single front man, unless that player is truly exceptional, a Messi or Aguero for example , only a certain physical make up meets the requirement.

Today you have to be at least 5′ 10, but preferably 6ft and over, be strong enough to hold the ball up and have the pace to run in behind and stretch defences.

This reduces the size of the available talent pool and pushes potential young strikers into other playing positions.

Jermain Defoe for example, would have probably flourished 20 years ago and be a 20 goals a season regular. Nowadays he finds himself played wide and almost seen as a luxury. The fact he puts the ball in the net is secondary to the role he plays within the team. Goal scoring, rather being the primary requirement, actually falls behind, “does he hold it up? Does he run the channels”?

When Harry Redknapp replaced Benjani at Portsmouth with the far superior Defoe it actually caused problems. Benjani was a lone striker, a tall, strong, willing runner with goals as a bonus. Defoe required a partner and Redknapp had to change his entire system to accomodate

Peter Crouch came in to play alongside Defoe and briefly they were a pair. When Defoe moved on, Crouch was played alone in attack. He struggled just as much as his formr partner. He was taller but didn’t run behind defences. He wanted the ball to feet, back to goal.

Just two examples of excellent forwards, completely different in physical make up. Both reliable goal scorers but both in need of a partner. What would happen to Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen today? Would Fowler become the kind of number 10 castigated by Jose Mourinho for lack of tackling? Would Michael Owen now be an inside winger tracking a full back deep into his own half?

So, lone forward, false nine, no strikers at all is the current vogue.

Blame it on France in 1998. Their wonderful midfield meant Stephane Guivarc’h got the nod in attack. He was there to run about, occupy defenders and create space. So what if he didn’t score? Blame Roma and their injury crisis in the early 2000’s. Totti became the first false nine by necessity rather than design. It worked, but then he’s Totti. Blame Guardiola. But he had Messi.

Until a manager is bright enough, clever enough or more importantly has the right blend of players to make a front two work, (and I’m thinking of Rush & Dalglish, Lineker & Beardsley, Henry & Bergkamp, Shearer & Sherringham – A clearly defined goal scorer alongside a creative partner – we’ll suffer from a lack of top strikers.

Today the centre forward becomes isolated and the second striker is now called an attacking midfielder, with by definition less goal scoring responsibility.
Liverpool’s Coutinho is a “star” creative midfielder apparently. Basically he plays in Kenny Dalglish and Peter Beardsley’s old position. So is he really just a forward that can’t hit the broad side of a barn? He can now play off of Benteke. Benteke can do the work and take the brunt. But which one will be the failure if they don’t score?

Teams today don’t seem to be set up to assist a striker. Strikers now seems to be the workhorses.

Bring back strikers.
Simon Doyle

Rooney! Depay! This go me thinking. If someone came up to me and called me by my surname I’d find it pretty weird. Why do we just call footballers by their surnames? Depay for instance hates to be called by his surname so I imagine it must grate badly when people shout it at him.

Oddly it seems that it’s footballers and public school children that are referred to only buy surname. What an odd dichotomy.
JazGooner (Mr Rooney, Mr Depay surely?)

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