Let’s have your mails: email@example.com…
With regards to the positivity with Arsenal, the main thing I like about Arteta is that he actually seems to want to coach his players. Despite what is said about transfer fees, he could have easily tried and signed some big name replacements, or tossed aside some of the underperformers, but instead is coaching his players to play in his preferred style, noticeably (as mentioned by you guys) Xhaka and Mustafi.
While I dain to utter the names Klopp and Poch in comparison, the similarity I see is that they too wanted to coach their squad, and saw that the club had talented footballers, they just needed to be trained. Sure transfers happened, and who knows what Arteta will do with a summer, but the signs of a plan and structure seem to be in place, which can only bode well!
As as a side, labelling Sanchez, Fabregas, and Van Persie as heroes for Arsenal, Chelsea and United respectively is a bit of a stretch, and that’s being kind. Hell, the latter two would be considered more as ‘heroes’ for Arsenal than Sanchez!
Néill, (But then again, Alex Song was more of a hero to me than all three of them, so what do I know), Ireland
Ighalo looks bang up for this. I know it’s a bit knee jerk but watching that interview, he looks and sounds like this means a lot to him and he doesn’t want to waste the chance.
I emailed a while ago to say United need a TEAM over individual stars on huge wages. This could actually work. Yes Ighalo isn’t that massive name. Yes he is a bit older than the “profile” of player they were going for. But if he can come in and play as a proper number 9 he could be a great foil for Martial, Dan james and Greenwood.
Of course he could play well for 6 months get his move then go right off the boil. Or it could just be a massive waste of everyone’s time but I can see positives in this. The team needs a proper number 9 and he is most certainly one of those.
One other thing. His goal record has been pretty decent in China which to me shows that at least he hasn’t just sat on his arse collecting his money!
To follow on from Dale Marlow’s point, in yesterday’s mails, about the difference between Manchester City and Liverpool being highlighted by the attendance at the respective FA Cup 4th Round home games, listening to the LFC TV commentary, the Anfield atmosphere was hostile (especially in the first half), like it was against Chelsea or Barcelona in Champions League semi-finals. If those teams, of seasoned professionals and internationals, froze before the Anfield roar, League One Shrewsbury, who were also arguably favourites, with so much to lose, really had all the cards stacked against them, and on reflection, the result was in little doubt.
What an extraordinary season for Liverpool this is turning out to be, we’ll never see the like of which again.
On a similar note, if player of the season should go to the player who has played the best all season, then the award should be retained by Virgil Van Dijk, and not passed to Jordan Henderson or anyone else. Virgil is the reason Liverpool are probably going to win the league this season. If you are in any doubt, just look at the first game against Shrewsbury and how Matip and Lovren played without him. The best player in the Premier League, if not the world, and he should not be taken for granted.
FSG don’t deserve criticism
Sporadically throughout the season, Liverpool and their owners have been criticized for the lack of perceived financial/other support for the Women’s team, who have been struggling this season and could be relegated.
The narrative has been that FSG deserve criticism for having neglected the women’s team in favor of supporting the men’s.
The reality is that FSG took over Liverpool FC in October 2010, and the Liverpool women’s team won the Women’s Super League in 2013 and 2014. This did not happen without investment.
There are things LFC and FSG could be doing much better for the Women’s team, especially providing groundskeeper support/consulting to Tranmere to help the quality of the pitch, but the idea that FSG are neglectful because the women’s team are performing badly is nonsense. I heard one commentator on a podcast this week complaining about how relegation would cost the LFC Women players’ their livelihoods – I’d sympathize with them, sure, but are we saying that we should have no sympathy for the players at Birmingham City and Bristol City facing the same risk?
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
I think we can safely retire the “what a lovely guy” narrative around Son after tonight. One of the clearest pieces of cheating you’ll ever see, and yet again VAR was nowhere to be seen when it was actually needed.
Spurs v Saints conclusions
5 things I learned/noticed/couldn’t have missed.
1) Tactical Plans…
Watching Southampton play through the Spurs midfield multiple times in the second half, it struck me how well Saints were drilled, and by comparison how poorly Spurs were. Southampton regularly were able to play short vertical passes to break the lines, whilst Spurs were only able pass it round the back before Alderweireld would attempt a long pass. Southampton’s attacks seemed to break down due to a lack of quality; Long, Bouffal or Redmond misplacing a pass. Spurs on the other hand were pretty useless and were clearly reliant on moments of magic from Son, Moura or Dele once he’d come on to make things happen. You could see which team had been coached more.
2) Dier and Winks.
Really bad. My impression is that Dier is largely the problem here. Rarely showed for the ball, even more rarely played a good forward pass. Winks for his part woke up after 2-1 and showed for the ball and played some good passes. Why does Mourinho like Dier so much?
3) Angus Gunn and Perfect Kicking
It’s only a small thing, but Gunn’s distribution is really poor. No left foot, and not very good off his right.
He’s really good. Quick, two footed and such a clean striker of the ball. This isn’t an interesting thing to notice – it’s incredibly obvious.
Have you ever seen a player look so glum to be substituted? He looked absolutely devastated by the substitution. Maybe he’ll be off in the summer somewhere sunnier.
Turns out that recognising more than two tactical things in a game is really hard.
Sam Leitch, Bristol
Klopp on his jollies
At the risk of massively beating a dead horse on the Klopp FA Cup issue, imagine your boss told you to go on vacation. He/she said they were proud of the job you’d done, that you’d exceeded their expectations, and that they wanted to reward you, and keep you happy and refreshed for more work that had coming up for you. Would you say “nah boss, I got to do this other little thing you don’t seem to care about” or “but people are criticizing me for taking a break”, or would you enjoy your well earned rest?
It’s easy to forget that these players and coaches don’t work for us. They work for their owners, and their job is to do whatever their owner wants them to do. If FSG wants to keep Klopp happy with a week off, and if they care more about setting EPL records or winning the CL, then who are we to critizing Klopp for taking a week off. Try viewing them like real humans, with real jobs, and the decisions will make a lot more sense.
…They should just ban Klopp from the FA Cup. At least for the rest of this season, or just make it 5 or 10 games. You don’t wanna be here, OK, only fair.
…One option that I think would at least give some transparency to the FA Cup, at least in terms of team selections, would surely be to follow the PL and CL approach of teams having to name a squad of players from which they will have to choose from during the competition.
It would work as follows:
At a set time before their first match (let’s say 1 week in this example), each team names a squad of 25 players who will then be the only ones who can be used during the competition. So for teams lower down the Football League, this would be prior to the 1st round proper, and for PL and Championship teams, it would be before their 3rd round tie in early January.
If you can then only use those 25 players, then each manager will have to decide how to balance their squad. If a team wants to use the FA Cup to give experience to lots of younger players it also means they can’t later revert back to their first team squad once they reach the later stages, if those more senior players were not named in the squad.
At the end of January, the 25-man squad can be updated to reflect any transfer business, but only on a strict basis. Wholesale changes wouldn’t be permitted, but any new signing could be added at the expense of an existing squad member, and similarly and sold players could be replaced by someone not currently included.
By having to name the squad in advance, it allows fans, pundits etc. to see how seriously each team is likely to take things. If your team names a whole squad of development players, then this also allows you to make informed decisions about buying tickets. Similarly, the clubs will need to consider pricing matches sensibly based on the type of team that is likely to take part. If you charge 50 quid for what is a reserve team fixture, not many people are going to come. But maybe at 20 pounds, you might get a few new or younger fans coming to a match. Similarly, TV companies will know whether to consider showing a match live if they think the quality will be less.
This alone won’t save the FA Cup, but it might help a little!
Liverpool picking and choosing
…In response to Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London’s mail asking whether we Pool fans would rather draw one more game to deny our arch rivals, Man U, the bragging rights of being the only team that nearly chinked our unblemished armour during the current season, I have the following to say;
We are comfortable with them erecting a monument or a statue or a stand at Old Trafford chronicling this particular achievement. They can pass the legend down generations and we won’t feel an iota of disgruntlement.
Martin Wambugu, (We are going to win it at City) Githunguri, Kenya
…When City walked the league 2 seasons ago I was genuinely annoyed that they contrived to lose at home to United, it was already clear they’d wrapped it up and I wanted the ‘bragging rights’ that we were the only team good enough to beat them. Funnily enough, now that I’m watching the best Liverpool side I’ve ever seen casually stroll to the title, I couldn’t give a shit who we dropped points against, I just look at a points total that used to be a decent seasons work for us, and that widening chasm of a gap, and have a little smile.
It’s a great time to be a Red, let Manchester United fans take whatever joy they can from that draw, speaking from past experience it’s nothing compared to being on top.
All that said, if they do somehow manage to win the rest of their games then maybe that one blemish will encourage them to stop shitting the bed at Old Trafford, we were better this season but still scraped a draw and it almost reminds me of Everton visiting Anfield, regardless of the teams on the pitch it’s like a mental block.
Manjo, LFC (has everyone forgotten that we were a bit crap in the Champions league group?)
I was pleased to read Andy’s mail on Sheffield’s United owners and the comparison with Manchester City. Sportswashing tends to be more of an issue when the reality of it has become clear to the general populous rather than at the start, when a club is at the beginning of a morally questionable journey. When the Al Nahyans purchased Manchester City there wasn’t much of an outcry, which disturbed me personally at the time because I have a strong interest in human rights. A lot of people have grown more agitated with Manchester City over time because they started winning things, their success makes them more questionable because it’s debated as to whether said success is fair or not. It is also the actions of the owners and club over a long period that thrusts them into the minds of football fans. If the Al Nahyans hadn’t have spent the most money on a football squad in history then people wouldn’t be as fussed. If they hadn’t have conducted dodgy sponsorship deals and paid consultancy fees to top up employee’s wages in order to get around FFP, there wouldn’t be as much fuss. If there hadn’t have been leaked emails talking about celebrating the death of a person on the FFP committee, there wouldn’t be as much of a fuss……and so and so on.
Finally it is the fans of Manchester City who are willing to defend their owner at all costs that adds fuel to the sportswashing debate and thrusts the club into the limelight on social media. Sportswashing is in full force when you have a group of people who will brush the crimes of a dictatorship under the carpet purely because of the football club they support. Great success on the pitch leads to more support worldwide and therefore more fans who will talk glowingly of Sheikh Mansour and his family and attack anyone who speaks out against them, even though they continue to uphold abhorrent beliefs, such as homosexuality being a crime. This is when you can really see the problems of sportswashing, it’s what these owners want to happen, a large group of people willing to defend them in Western Society. So, whilst Sheffield United (and perhaps Newcastle United in the not too distant future) may escape the media attention now, if their course follows the same path as Manchester City, be sure that they will face a similar backlash from people who want discrimination and human rights abuses as far from the football pitch as possible.
I only wish the FA and the Premier League hadn’t focused on the pound signs and had enough of a backbone to stop this from happening over ten years ago. No part of a dictatorship should ever have allowed to own a football club is this country. The Al Nahyans have set a very dangerous precedent and the football authorities only have themselves to blame if our league becomes awash with those who wish to sportswash.
Am a bit concerned for the mailbox in the coming days as it always deteriorates during an international week, so I expect the winter break to mirror this in many ways.
So let me try and spark a little debate amongst my fellow football loving contributors, do you support a “big” club? And how do you define this? I’m sure we did this a while back but I have a new definition!
If you visit an away ground and like Chelsea fans did at Leicester, sing ANY of the following, you are not a “big” team:-
Is this a library
Your support is ………
Shall we sing a song for you
We’d forgot that you were here
Don’t think I’ve ever heard LFC, EFC or MUFC fans ever sing these, although ManU may have let themselves down at times with “where’s your famous atmosphere”.
Can any other sets of fans claim not to have these in your repertoire?
Howard (we’ve won it 6 times is unique in the EPL) Jones
First time writer; Liverpool supporter not wanting to talk about Liverpool.
When Southampton scored their second last night I was on my feet applauding what looked to be a fantastic goal. Then watching the replay, and particularly the collective ‘yours, mate’ by Son and Alli in the build-up, I found myself thinking that the goal wasn’t actually that good due to the rubbish defending.
Which got me to thinking about Maradona’s second in the WC86 QF against England – totally ruined for me by Peter Reid jogging alongside him for a lot of Maradona’s run (I much prefer the Messi ‘equivalent’ goal against Getafe, as the defenders were pegging it trying to catch him).
Any other ‘great’ goals ruined for Mailboxers by shoddy defending?