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Is Klopp onto something?
A lot of Liverpool fans have been frustrated this summer about the lack of spending from Liverpool. As it stands, there’s a list of 22 clubs, including Brentford and Bristol city, that have spent more than Liverpool in the past 2 years. If we compare transfer spending and income from transfers, Liverpool are in profit. Indeed there are only 2 clubs in the whole of England that have made a greater profit on transfers in the past 2 years.
Now, I know that’s a rather simplistic way of looking at football finances. Clubs don’t balance the books in that way, as much as we’d like to believe they do, and there’s a whole host of complex financial systems that go on behind the scenes. I don’t really know whether Liverpool can afford major signings, whether their owners are being greedy, or merely prudent but I would like to challenge the notion that Liverpool ‘have’ to sign players.
This has been the main position of many fans and pundits and probably the reason that Liverpool are second favourites for the title. We have this preconceived notion, that every summer teams have to strengthen in order to stay competitive. But what if that’s not true?
I’ve heard Klopp talk in the past about his greatest regret at Dortmund. The fact that every year, his best players were lured aware and they consistently had to rebuild. He has said in the past that he would have happily had no new signings, if it meant keeping together the squad that he had. What if Klopp is really onto something?
Conventional wisdom states that Liverpool cannot repeat their form of last year. But that’s exactly what everyone said at the start of last season. Almost every pundit said that there was no way Liverpool could reach 97 points again. Instead, they surpassed that total with ease.
Compare the team now from 2 years ago. No key players have left, and young players such as Robertson and Trent have developed from good to ‘world class’. New signings such as Minamino and Keita have had time to bed in and are starting to put in better performances. Williams and Jones add quality to the squad that we simply didn’t have 2 years ago.
Maybe signing Werner would have been fantastic, or maybe it would have unsettled the front 3. Same goes for a number of other players we could have signed. We’ll never know but there’s surely something to be said for a settled squad.
In the past 10 years, every single champion has changed their squad, either by adding or selling players. No one has retained the title except City. Perhaps going against conventional wisdom is a risk worth taking.
Mike, LFC, London
Liverpool are still slight favourites…
I know this seems strange as United fan to write, and it’s not that I’m writing Liverpool off (on the contrary), but I can’t help but wonder why Klopp and Liverpool aren’t strengthening their team.
City being favourites for the title next year is wrong in my book too; as much as I rate Ake highly, he is not the type of defender that they missed with Kompany leaving. Ake seems too similar in qualities to Laporte and both will be good when City are dominating small teams, but the defender they needed was the more old school type: a shouter, a fighter, an organiser. VVD, Terry, Ferdinand, Vidic, Chiellini, Puyol and Kompany himself are what they should be signing to play with Laporte; a defensive duo is like an attacking duo, it needs balance. So Liverpool are still slight favourites in my eyes.
But, having won the title, I can’t understand why Klopp doesn’t want to assert his dominance from this point. I mean dominance for years, across multiple competitions. I know the Club World Champions thing is important to Liverpool fans now, but really, it’s two trophies in two years for an outstanding team. They are the best trophies, but even from the outside looking in, I just think that with an extra maybe three top players, they could be winning doubles, or possibly trebles. And the team that is so great now, won’t last forever. Besides from the physical aspect that Liverpool players are going through by playing so many games a season, there is the mental side. Competing at that level wears you out. Only Kompany, Silva and Aguero were able to balance both for ten years at City. At Bayern, only four players that won the Champions League seven years ago were around to win it this year. Madrid have kept the few that can balance both and Barca the same (albeit that’s changing now). Despite not being successful in terms of trophies, Spurs are also a good example of waiting too long to make changes. It just feels like a waiting game Liverpool don’t need to play from this position of strength. Even with Covid, can they really not afford 30m for Thiago? The danger isn’t just for this season (like I said, I think they are slight title favourites), but it’s that next summer, if players are completely drained, how many might need replacing.
Before people say it’s hard to buy good players to sit on the bench, City have been doing it for years. In nearly every match they play, most of City’s bench players would start for a majority of teams. Van De Beek himself said after signing for United, he expects to have to compete to be a starter.
The other side of it is competition for places and ensuring players know the standard they must keep. One of Fergie’s great strengths was ensuring no player thought he wouldn’t be replaced and there is a danger to Liverpool doing the same. Klopp seems to like to shout which is good, but if Salah plays a bad game, he can look around and say “yeah, but who are you going to start instead of me next week?”. Right now, any Liverpool player rested knows that’s exactly what it is, and knows they’re on the bench to come on to save the day. It wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to look out and have some actual worry about their position. They have set their standard, but now they should be thinking how to raise it across competitions.
That time Alan Smith thought he was actually Roy Keane
Alan Smith’s comments about United still needing to replace Keane took me back to that very strange moment in history when Smith began cosplaying as Roy Keane for a while – in either 2005 or ’06. He was a limited but likeable player at United, someone who followed the Fergie manual of endlessly chasing lost causes. But then Fergie put him in the centre of midfield (during an injury crisis maybe?) and tried to refashion him from a striker into a roving centre-mid, and Smith was absolutely TRANSFORMED.
I mean, he did an adequate job in the position – better than he could have been expected to, in my memory – but more than that, the guy short-circuited somewhat. He cut his hair short like Keane, started playing with a permanent sneer on his face, hissing at his own teammates, diving into tackles, randomly picking fights against opponents three times his size. I think he actually believed that he was Roy Keane. I don’t remember if his horrific injury ended that experiment, or whether it happened after he returned. Either way, nothing substantial really materialised from it but it’s a fond memory. It was all just so weird and endearing.
Akhil, Man Utd, Delhi
Back off from Greenwood and Foden
Wow, I’m amazed at the moral superiority of the mailbox! Or are the editors chuckling at their selection of mails printed, and rubbing their hands with glee at the expected backlash?
On the one hand, we have a pair of 18 year olds, both exceptionally talented footballers and with little history of documented bad behaviour. In fact I’d go as far as to say they are model professionals so far. So these 2 18 year olds invite similarly young women into their rooms, and by all reports everything is consensual and the young men behave entirely as is appropriate as far as the women are concerned. So far so good. But we have this Covid19 thing going on, so this becomes a strict no-no. So they are reprimanded and sent home – primarily because they can’t train with the team any more. Not as a punitive measure. Silly yes, but really quite low in the recent history of transgressions.
On the other hand we have Dominic Cummings.
Seriously though, there have been a few hundred known cases of breaches of Covid19 guidelines by various people across a range of professions. Politicians, sports people, and many others. Before we go all Samuel Jackson and start quoting the scriptures to Foden and Greenwood, are we asking all the others to be sacked from their jobs too? And if not, why not?
Get a life!
Ved Sen MUFC (when you come at Greenwood, you come at all of us, etc. etc.)
In relation to players sent home from international football due to bad behaviour, I feel you have missed out a good one.
A few days before our famous win over England at Windsor Park, Jeff Whitley and Philip Mulryne decided to visit a nightclub on the outskirts of Belfast. They got caught and got sent home and neither were selected again for the national team however Mulryne obviously being so ashamed of his actions gave up football a while later and is now a priest.
Jeff Whitley now also helps fellow sports people with addiction issues at the sporting chance clinic.
Evaluating Chelsea vs the top two
All the pressure being piled on Lampard is understandable but is it fair? Evaluating the first XIs vs Man City’s and Liverpool’s:
– Kepa vs Alison vs Ederson
– Azpi and Chilwell vs TAA and Robertson vs Walker and Mendy
– Silva and Rudiger vs VVD and Matip vs Laporte and Ake
– Kante, Kovacic and Havertz vs Fabinho, Henderson and Keita/ Milner vs Fernandinho, Foden and De Bruyne
– Werner, Pulisic and Ziyech vs Salah, Firmino and Mane vs Sterling, Aguero, Mahrez
Keeper is clearly a huge gap (where a signing could still help), but the rest of the matchups look ok on paper, albeit without as much PL experience for a lot of the new joiners and Liverpool’s XI in particular still winning all matchups except for maybe center mid.
Squad is hopefully an area where Chelsea has caught up – Caballero, James, Alonso, Zouma, Christensen, Gilmour, Mount, Barkley, CHO, Loftus-Cheek, Abraham, Giroud seems stronger than last year and with the ability to match up to the other 2 squads well. It’s where Liverpool look weakest so limited injuries are crucial for them.
Expecting Lampard to win the title with the above is understandable but still feels like a stretch goal. Mourinho in 2004/5 wasn’t up against sides that had racked up 95+ points in the last 2 seasons. I suspect no PL or CL will be curtains but personally I’d be happy with an 80+ points total, FA or Carabao cup and SF appearance in CL
Jay B, CFC
Football’s biggest disappointments
Everybody has their biggest disappointments in football. Losing a cup final, getting relegated, losing the league by 1 point etc. And your favourite players leaving your club would also be high up there.
But my own biggest disappointment is when a youth player that hasn’t quite made it in the first team leaves. I am currently looking at all the rumours of Brewster leaving Liverpool with a sense of loss. It is not that I am certain he is going to become a world beater. In fact, based on most of Liverpool’s discarded youth players I think LFC usually have a fairly good handle on who to keep and who to sell.
Nor am I trying to tell them to do what I want. I am just so disappointed that a decent youth player may not get to play for the first team for any extended period after I have been looking forward to seeing his progress for so long.
The same could go for players who just had a bad run of injuries that stopped them from showing their best while at your club (Cazorla, Ings). But the youth players are the ones that really hurt.
I suppose I would just rather a youth player being an inadequate back up than buying in an inadequate back up – at least long enough for me to see that the youth players were in fact inadequate!!
Where are the null-and-voiders?
Brian, Ireland asks Where are the null-and-voiders? And says “it’s almost as though there was some other agenda at play then…” when it was discussed in relation to the just finished 2019-20 season.
There has always been another agenda involved. The agenda of the Premier League to make money, which I don’t expect such a fine, upstanding club as Liverpool or it’s supporters to understand, being the wonderful Corinthians they are.
What most fans have now realised is greed will always win the day, as will stupidity. The league should have been voided last March and this season shouldn’t even have been timetabled until a vaccine had been found and tested at least, but since when did fans have any say? I still wonder how much the spike in infections in the north-west can be traced back to idiot fans jumping up and down outside Anfield, but we’ll never find out because it’s not in the Premier League “agenda” to bother investigating.
David, Tottenham fan
To Brian who wonders where the null and voiders are, is his memory so short that he cannot compare two times less than 6 months apart. The talk of null and void was back when hospitals were being stressed to their limit, temporary hospitals were being put up around Europe and some places couldn’t handle the level of people dying.
I imagine if we go back to that situation the null and voiders will be right back to the front and you can argue the merits of Liverpool winning two in a row to some poor soul who has lost 2 grandparents to this disease. Have a bit of awareness please.
Never have I seen such a ridiculous email than Brian, Ireland in this morning’s mailbox. Brian would have us believe that everyone wanted last season cancelled so that it would deny Liverpool the title. Brian, maybe get your head out your arse and see what was going on in the country at the time the season restart was being discussed. We had over 1,000 people a day dying, many more being admitted to hospital and on life support, inadequate testing being undertaken and millions either shielding or simply having their movement restricted. Not to mention the financial implications for millions. Football seemed completely irrelevant at the time and the thought of possible testing resources being directed to enable such things didn’t seem right.
Right now, whilst cases are increasing across society, not just footballers, things seem in a little better shape than they did back then. That’s why no one is calling the season to be null and void. Your email is as tone deaf as you can possibly get.
In answer to Andy West’s email about the Glazers taking £69m out of United in dividends… I don’t especially like it Andy, funnily enough.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a pro-Glazer United fan, so I’m not sure what the point is. Is it a “your owners are naughty too” point?
Having said that, the owners of real, for profit business like United do sometimes get paid dividends when they are financially successful… its one of the ways people who own their own business make money.
You could ask what they do to earn that money but they, or the people they employ, have turned the club into one of the most profitable sports businesses in the whole world, so maybe they do deserve it? They don’t in my opinion, but my opinion doesn’t count for anything.
Anyway, its not like they are not investing in the club at the same time (as fans of rivals like to point out), they could just do with investing it more sensibly…
16 Conclusions – All or Nothing Episodes 4-6
Much like the season, this is going to be a real struggle.
- El Levy the Insightful One tells us transfers are really difficult because the target player’s club has to want to sell, the player has to want to come to the club and you have to deal with the agent – who knew?
- Daniel replies to every email that is sent to him by fans.
- Erikson’s demeanour reflected his performances in his last 12 months at the club, delighted his dream move is working out so well for him.
- Danny Rose is a very convenient scapegoat.
- Confidential employee information seems to be discussed in the canteen.
- Daniel’s greeting to the whole Bergwijn family was to tell Steven ‘not to let down’ Jose, hardly the Great Gatsby of welcomes?
- Whilst Harry Kane’s team talks are hardly Churchillian, Hugo’s are very impressively Charles De Gaulle-esque.
- I fear for the Head Physio Geoff Scott, maybe he needs to call Dr Eve for some advice.
- Erik Lamela has been at the club since 2013 and Luca Moura since 2018, one of them is happy to converse with the camera in English whilst the other…
- Why do the journalists crowd round Jose in certain press conferences?
- Speaking of which, I grew up in the same street as the Moose from Talksport and his football team was the worst in the street.
- Jose loved that dog.
- I give Kane one more season.
- Aston Villa are so far the only club to give us dressing room access at their ground.
- Series Composer Neil Davidge is best known for his work with Massive Attack something we weren’t left with after failing to buy a striker (again) in the January window.
- I’m looking forward to the Son/Hugo fight.
David Harris, Sydney
I’m with Mikey and I don’t see the problem with adults wearing replica shirts as part of their freedom of expression. Being an adult and wearing a full football kit without being part of a matchday squad is beyond the pale however. A couple of years ago part of my manifesto to become Chief Executive of the Premier League (I know that’s not how it works) was published in the mailbox, where I planned to offer points in the league table to clubs in exchange for certain actions regarding the launch of new kits. Among other items, teams who refused to manufacture and sell replica shorts and socks in adult sizes could start the season with 2 bonus points (up to 5 were available per team).
The idea was that it had the potential to slightly level the playing field by rewarding those who prioritise footballing success over yet another opportunity to fleece their fans in the name of growing a global brand. Clearly a ridiculous suggestion, but the first club to actually do it would be hailed as everyone’s second favourite team by the banter sites.
PS William – wanting F365 to be apolitical is still a political stance
Forgive me modern God for I have sinned.
It has been one year since my last confession and I feel greatly burdened.
I confess I don’t watch women’s football national or internationally. I fast forward the bits of my clubs podcasts where they discuss the women’s team. I only watched a very small amount of the women’s World Cup just so I could say so and I didn’t write any email denouncing those who didn’t.
For these and for all my sins I am sorry…
Modern God…are you there?
Is anyone listening?
Just tell me how i may atone for my sins, please I beg of thee?
No answer huh…ok
Well in my defence I don’t actually think I’m the worst man ever.
I am happily married and support my wife in all the non traditional ways, I cook and clean, spend more time with the kids, do the shopping, read stories and still do all the “men’s work”, ahem, sorry add that to my previous list please.
It’s just that I don’t enjoy women’s football. Is that really so bad? I don’t hate women. In fact I love my wife, daughters, mother, sisters, aunts all very dearly. People say I’m an old fashioned gentleman, perhaps. Most days I fantasise about women in all kinds of ways but I think this is normal, is it not? Does that mean I only value women for their bodies and “hotness”? I don’t think so, I think it is possible and natural to both love women and want to do the nasty with them.
I’m so confused modern God. Please show me the way.
I’m also not interested in cross country skiing, does that mean I hate tall Norwegian men? I don’t fantasise about them however, maybe that makes it ok.
Please help modern God, the high priests of the podcast and social media gots me all confused.
An abject male,
Hope for Scotland…
Here’s some hope for Scottish Mike from the unlikely source of an Englishman.
I had that same feeling about England just a few years back. We beat Germany 5-1 on their patch back in 2001 and just a few short years ago I couldn’t think of a decent performance since then.
The first decent performances and results since then have now come finally under Southgate who only started managing them in 2016. He had no right to do this as managers before him have been more experienced and better qualified and arguably had better players to choose from (although now I think we have talent coming through).
We had 15 years of dross yet still had every international tournament hyped up as ‘it’s coming home’. Maybe sometimes you just need the right man for the job to get the atmosphere in training and the dressing room to be right. Shame Fergie didn’t have another go at Scotland after leaving utd, that could have been interesting.
Jon, Cape Town (can we leave William of Leicester alone now please?)