Keep your mails coming to email@example.com…
Steven Gerrard is the most overrated player in English football history. All he did was run around a bit, throw in mistimed tackles and boot the ball at goal from 30 yards out. He was like a less skilful Coutinho. The overrated Giggs, who played on the left of a midfield four and then as a defensive midfielder, got only 30 goals less and over 100 assists more than the former Everton fan who basically played up front for a lot of his career. He only ever lead England’s “Golden Generation” to a succession of early exits from major tournaments as well and didn’t even QUALIFY for 2008.
English fans love Pashun however and Liverpool fans are desperate for everyone to regard them as big dogs so they did their best to turn the Local Boy Done Good into a myth. ‘See? We’re a big club because Stevie G plays for us.’ If he didn’t play for that sad tribute act of a football club, he’d have retired as a Tranmere reserve and nobody would have remembered him. And my God, how pathetic does he come across these days? Still banging on about Liverpool while he’s playing for probably America’s biggest football club and managing Rangers. Remember that Christmas special of The Office where David Brent keeps coming back to the office after he’s been sacked? Really, only John Terry can claim to be a more embarrassing figure than Steven Gerard.
Also, to the chap who cites BT Sports declaring the Bundesliga over as some sort of evidence of, I dunno, something; Can BT Sports declare the official champions of Germany before the season is over now? I can’t seem to find reference to that kind of power anywhere on the internet? Perhaps you were talking bollocks and, like many sensitive souls before you, responding to something I never said? Maybe you were. Who knows? Crazy world, so it is.
Paul Murphy is certainly attempting to slay some sacred cows out there, but I think he couldn’t be more wrong about John Terry. In both of the Terry eras, the blood–and-thunder Captain-Leader-Legend era, and in the post-Bridge and Anton racist adulterer era, the focus on his personality traits tended to overlook that he was a very very good footballer indeed.Genuinely two-footed to an extent I’ve never seen in a central defensive, arguably a better passer than either his Chelsea defensive partner Carvalho or his England defensive partner Rio, and good for approximately a goal every ten games.
Probably a terrible human being, but his gifts as a footballer are, if anything, understated.
Dara O’Reilly, London
I’m bored .. I’m the chairman of the bored.
As a result of reading this continuous stream of arse gravy in the media on the subject of supposed Liverpool transfer targets, I thought I would chip in with some thoughts on what I feel is more likely to happen before the start of next season.
First off, lets frame a couple of club principles that I feel are more than likely going to be followed:
1) LFC will not bust their wage structure to sign a ready-made worldy (that young PSG player who sounds like a Hanson song won’t be coming to LFC in a month of Sundays)
2) Klopp is not likely to purchase in positions where he feels he may unduly block the development of talent being nurtured through the youth setup.
Now working through the ‘likely to leaves’.
Karius …definitely – I was there in Kiev to witness his goalkeeping masterclass in the flesh. He’s as reliable as Trump’s health warnings.
Defensively we are likely to see Clyne depart and also Lovren which will free up the 4th CB slot.
Further up the pitch we’ll see the departure of Lallana and Shaq.
Probably recoup £30-40m on that bunch (Karius being minus £10m of that).
So what do we need ?
Goalkeepers – seems fine as they are. Highly unlikely I feel that Adrian will be moved on after the champions league mistake – definitely not watertight but possesses clear moments of quality in his saves that is hard to find, particularly in someone who has to be satisfied with bench warming most of the time.
RB – Nico William’s solid progression will continue with him being the back-up for TAA (Gomez providing a 3rd option). We will definitely not be splodging 6 figures per week on someone like Meunier to sit on the bench .. no way, Jose.
LB – definitely a priority purchase area. Larouci is too raw currently so I strongly feel Klopp will be in the market in the same way he was for Robertson when he was bought – around a $15m British player in his early 20’s with the potential to develop makes sense to me.
CB – Lovren departing opens up the 4th slot behind VVD, Gomez and Matip. It may be a season too early for Hoever (an absolute blinder of a player in the making) and Van den Berg, so I can see potential for a cover purchase around in the £20m range but not a starter like Koulibaly (why spend a lot of money to block the progress of Gomez?)
Midfield – we need to recognise that Curtis Jones will be given more game time. Klopp may feel that he wants to buy another young quality player due to previous injury experience, particularly with Ox and Keita, but I’m not sure. The key name being pimped around is Havertz who admittedly looks fairly useful but competition (and therefore price) will be high. Curveball – I really like the looks of Eze at QPR who may be worth a punt as a cheaper more attacking midfield option … he looks like the sort of player who will improve further when playing with better players.
…. and if Leeds somehow don’t go up, have a look at grabbing Kalvin Phillips (but I genuinely hope Leeds do make it back up … putting aside their history for a sec, just look at the quality of their football at times … just brilliant in the FA Cup game at Arsenal this season …. Biesla is a genius, pure and simple).
Attack – Elliot comes through to cover off the loss of Shaq from a bench perspective … only 17, but gee what quality he looks to have in that left foot – apparently Harvey is suffering more than most in the lockdown due to the continued closure of his local barber at “Sh*t Clips”.
All other things being equal I do see the Werner thing finally getting over the line – too many pointers in that direction (good club relationship with Leipzig / comments by Werner about LFC filtering through the press / zoom chat between him and Klopp / under the same agency management .. I think).
If he does come there will clearly be the ‘4 into 3’ debate. Although a potential solution would be to play Firminho behind Werner, I just don’t see that being plan A.
Bobby plays .. full-stop.
I think the Traore talk will only move forward if Mane or Salah move on, in which case we should clear over $50m on that net move.
It’s more important to keep Mane.
So concluding before you all flat-line, I think we will probably have a net spend of around £50m bagging Werner along the way and securing some needed cover at the back.
Up the Reds !!! …. Over & Out.
I think Kevin raised an entirely valid topic of conversation yesterday afternoon, in response to my own morning mailbox submission, regarding the impact playing behind closed doors can have on the likelihood of home teams winning. That said, I’m not sure I agree with his conclusion.
He is right to point out that very few of the games played in the Bundesliga so far have been home wins. This was also put to Archie Rind-Tutt, the Bundesliga expert who appears on the Guardian’s podcast. Archie pointed out that it is too soon to draw any conclusions from this, because if you look back at the previous weeks of Bundesliga results, you would also find fewer home wins than you would intuitively expect. It has apparently not been since January that 6 home teams won their fixtures in the same weekend.
The Bundesliga away wins Kevin cites includes Augsburg beating Schalke, Wolfsburg beating Leverkusen, Bremen beating Freiburg, and Hertha beating Hoffeinheim. These are not relegation-threatened teams, but these are all away teams getting wins against clubs higher than them in the table.
There have been 22 matches played at the time of writing, of which 7 were draws. For the 15 remaining matches, 3 were won by the home side, which is indeed lower than you’d expect. But given that 4 of the 12 games won by away teams were won by the “underdogs”, I’m not convinced that the statistics support the PL relegation-threatened clubs’ position.
Here are their home results thus far:
* Norwich have 4W 3D 7L in 14 games;
* Aston Villa have 5W 2D 6L in 13 games;
* Bournemouth have 4W 5D 5L in 14 games;
* Watford have 4W 5D 5L in 14 games;
* West Ham have 4W 3D 7L in 14 games.
And their away results have indeed been utterly terrible:
* Norwich: 1W 3D 11L in 15 games;
* Villa: 2W 2D 11L in 15 games;
* Bournemouth: 3W 1D 11L in 15 games;
* Watford: 2W 4D 9L in 15 games;
* West Ham: 3W 3D 9L in 15 games.
Someone who is better at math would need to do an actual analysis of what the behind-closed-doors data implies about how this would affect the PL relegation-threatened clubs’ survival chances, but based on the above, my guestimate is that they may very well have the same-or-better odds of survival thanks to increased likelihood of actually getting wins or draws from their away matches, rather than losses being foregone conclusions.
Oliver (delegating math since as long as I can remember) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
I decided to rank all the elite strikers and wide forwards currently playing in world football, based on these factors:
goals record (total goals, goal per game ratio)
conditions (league quality, teams dominance within the league)
Now to keep this organized and simple, I have focused on No.9’s and wide forwards who are heavily focused on goal scoring, and my whole tier list is focused on the ability of players to score goals. This means that I have not included players like Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Leroy Sane or Firmino in the discussion, who have decent goal scoring stats, but for me are more comparable to traditional wingers and no.10s. I have also only included players still playing in the top 5 European leagues, otherwise guys like David Villa and Falcao would also be included here. Here is what I came up with.
Tier 1 – Messi, Ronaldo
This tier consists of only two players, and they are of course Messi and Ronaldo. No need to elaborate further, these two are incomparable to any one else currently playing (and pretty much anyone who ever played before). Within this tier however, Messi is slightly elevated in my opinion. Statistically, these two are pretty much neck and neck over their careers to the extent where you can call it even for arguments sake, although the stats show that Messi is slightly better at the vast majority of things, and much better at some, while worse off in just a handful. Trophies wise, one could argue that Ronaldo has won 1 more champions league, has won with different clubs in multiple leagues and has won with his country. Alternatively, you could argue that Messi has won almost double the amount of league titles, and more trophies overall, plus one more balon dor. My point is, overall, on stats and numbers you can call it even out of respect to both players, for both have enjoyed astonishing careers. For me however, Messi edges it for intangible reasons. It is that magical quality. He has more of a ‘supernatural’ aura about him, and is more of an artist with the ball at his feet, versus Ronaldo’s more military style, Terminator aura. While Ronaldo is also astonishing in his own right with his relentlessly clutch goal scoring and physical dominance, Messi is astonishing in a larger variety of ways. The range and weight of his passing, the laser-precise close control and dribbling that makes a mockery of world class defenders, the elegant technique and accuracy of his free kicks. It is all so fluid and effortless. Not to mention that he has the ability to both smash an arrowed shot into the top corner, as well as literally pass it into the back of the net from 18 yards out right into the bottom corner. It is a matter of personal opinion at the end of the day. However since we are focused on goal scoring, Messi does have the overall superior goal per game record, having played just a few games less, and will no doubt also overtake Ronaldo eventually for total goals scored, as well as the Champions League goal scoring record. For me, Messi is slightly above Ronaldo in this tier.
2. Tier 2 – Ibrahimovic, Suarez, Aguero, Lewandowski
Legendary Strikers. Here are 4 forwards, who in my opinion, stand out from every other forward right now amongst the mortals. All four of them have over 600 appearances in club competition, and have maintained incredible goal scoring consistency over that period. All 4 have won a glut of trophies, although interestingly only Suarez has won the Champions League out of these 4. Ibrahimovic deserves special mention for having achieved longevity over the longest period out of these 4, and is the leader of this tier. Suarez is a close second to him, and is the only player to win the European Golden Shoe outside of Messi and Ronaldo since 2009, and he did it twice. This deserves special acknowledgement for that feat alone. Sergio Aguero is leading the table for goal per game ratio in Premier League history, beating out legends such as Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Van Nistelrooy. Lewandowski is enjoying an absolutely phenomenal season with a goal scoring record to rival any of Messi or Ronaldo’s best seasons. If he maintains this type of form or even close to it for another 2 to 3 years, he will rise to the top of this tier. Four strikers of the very highest order, whom at the peak of their powers, would comfortably start in the vast majority of any of the great teams from previous years.
3. Tier 3 – Neymar, Kane, Benzema, Cavani, Aubameyang, Salah
Now within this tier is Neymar, who is for me the leader of this particular one, and could easily be thrown into tier 2 because his goal scoring record is absolutely phenomenal, but falls just (barely) short of the longevity of the guys in tier 2. Kane is another one, who for me as a goal scorer, is at home in tier 2, but again, one needs to respect the longevity of those 4 above. I am pretty certain, that both Neymar and Kane will be tier 2 forwards by the time they retire. Within this tier are Benzema and Aubameyang who have played a lot of games and scored a lot of goals, but just not at the same level of consistency as the guys in Tier 2. Then you have Mo Salah, who has developed into a pure goal scorer much later in his career than any of the others, and for the past 3 seasons, has been scoring at an insane rate, winning 2 golden boots in the process while in the hunt for a third this season. While his overall goal record is poor compared to these other guys, his record over the last 3 seasons shows a firm change in direction of his profile as a player, and having the best goal scoring season in premier league history plus 2 consecutive golden boots earns inclusion in this group imo. Cavani’s goal record is of the same level as the guys in Tier 2. The only reason I did not put him in Tier 2 was because half of his career has been spent in PSG in Ligue 1. Although his goal scoring stats were excellent in Serie A before that as well, I do question whether he would have been able to score with the same consistency he did had he been playing in Serie A, La Liga or the Premier League. To summarize, within this tier, Neymar and Kane are certainties imo to jump into Tier 2 eventually, with Salah possibly joining as well.
4. Tier 4 – Higuain, Diego Costa, Mbappe, Mane, Vardy, Icardi, Sterling, Dzeko, Lukaku, Immobile, Werner
As you go lower down the ladder of quality, the pools become larger. Higuain gets an honorable mention from me for being the leader within this particular tier. He has had a long career, won many trophies and scored at an impressive rate. He is one who could easily be placed into Tier 3, however for me falls just short of the class of the players there. Diego Costa is another one who could have quite easily be moved into tier 3 had he not suffered the amount of injuries he has over the last 3 seasons, that have unfortunately stalled his career. His quality level during the 13-14 season with Atletico Madrid and the two campaigns with Chelsea where they won the league was easily Tier 3, possibly even 2. However, injuries have robbed him of a place higher up this ladder. You may be wondering why Kylian Mbappe is sitting in this tier. The fact is that he is only 21 years old, and has only had 2 seasons of elite goal scoring thus far, and still has alot to prove to be compared to the guys in the tiers above. I have no doubt whatsoever, that it is only a matter of time, and he is without question a Tier 2 forward in the making. Mane, Sterling and Werner are 3 forwards with relatively recent shifts towards becoming goal scorers, and have put up elite numbers for 2 seasons each. Edin Dzeko, Icardi, Immobile and Lukaku are four forwards who have built steady and solid careers as goal scorers, and find a comfortable place in this tier for me. To summarize, within this tier, Mbappe is a certainty to jump to Tier 2, while Mane, Sterling and Werner will be tier 3 eventually, and possibly higher depending on how much they improve and prolong their careers. The rest of them will remain in this tier imo. Lastly, put some respect on Jamie Vardy’s name.
All bets are off
Eamonn has seemingly missed the point I was making in my morning mailbox submission yesterday, almost certainly on purpose. Eamonn, There is no need to take journalists’ or pundits’ opinions as fact. There is no need to ask for their validation. I just want you to name a single pundit, journalist, public figure – anyone – who shares your view that Liverpool’s title success is not a foregone conclusion. Otherwise, failing that, I want you to realize that your perspective is so unique and insightful that you have noticed something that nobody else in the Wide World of Sport has been able to discern. I want you to bask in glory and pride of the uniqueness of your perspective. Ideally, I’d want you to even seek out bigger platforms to share your perspective with the world. I just feel terrible that only readers of the F365 Mailbox have had this privilege.
I don’t know anything about boxing, but you have cited a series of 2/3/4-to-1 bets coming off. Liverpool’s odds to win the title are 1/50. I’m not sure the parallel you’re trying to draw is going to cut it.
That said, I appreciate you outright admitting that – despite writing in on four separate occasions insisting that Liverpool might not win the title – you would put your own money on Liverpool winning the title (or on results which would lead to Liverpool winning the title). What’s the opposite of “putting your money where your mouth is”?
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Phrase it out
Please may I add, “the likes of” to John Nic’s list. It drives me mad when commentators use the phrase and then provide an exhaustive list e.g. Liverpool look dangerous with the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino up front. Just stick with “with” no more is necessary.
I thank you.
We could not keep away from the camera for long so we made a Football365 Isolation Show. Watch it, subscribe and share until we get back in the studio/pub and produce something a little slicker…