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Euro 2021 squad
So, with work officially advising us to work from home for the foreseeable future, and the news that Euro 2020 has been moved to 2021, I thought I might have a stab at predicting the 23 man squad.
Henderson – another season in the Premier League will likely see him go as fourth choice
Pickford – Hard to see him dropping out of the squad completely, given he does have it in him to be a very good GK
Pope – reliable and steady. Much like Burnley are in my mind, despite their streakiness in the actual world
Chilwell – most likely our best LB right now, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon
Shaw – personally I prefer the more crunching style of B. Williams, but Shaw has been playing well lately and if his fitness holds, he is one of the better LB’s in the Premier League
Alexander-Arnold – a shoo in on current form, and despite some weaknesses defensively, a brilliant modern FB
Wan Bissaka – with another year to add to his attacking output, plus some more absurd defensive brilliance, he gets the nod ahead of Trippier, who is basically an own brand TAA. Also, these two RB’s really complement each other
Maguire – massive forehead and looks like a farmer, but the improvement he has made to United’s defence is undeniable. A certain starter
Stones – this hinges on him getting more game time next season, which will likely involve him having to move in the summer. Not a crazy idea though
Smalling – there is room for a defender who just does the basics. Another good season in Italy and he can’t be ignored
Gomez – some room for improvement but couldn’t have a better mentor in VVD. A likely starter alongside Maguire if his form and fitness hold up
Henderson – I’ll admit to being somebody who really didn’t rate Henderson for a long while, but you can’t fault what he has helped Liverpool achieve. Really changed my opinion of him, which I’m sure he is most proud of
Winks – not a particular fan of his, but we really do seem a bit light here. If Spurs bin off Jose and get someone else in, he could be a starter
Oxlade-Chamberlain – Can’t see Liverpool falling away next season, so as long as he gets enough minutes, will go to the Euros. Klopp seems to be a fan of his
Grealish – another year of Premier League football, hopefully at Manchester United, like the current season and he needs to be starting, with play going through him. Probably cares about his hair too much for Souness’s taste
Foden – hopefully a year in which he will play pretty consistently, although massive shoes to fill in David Silva. Looks to have the ability to deliver though. Quite harsh on Maddison, but I’m not as convinced as some others seem to be about him
Barkley – not at all convinced by him, but feel he is a more rounded player than Maddison
…I am probably missing someone really obvious but this does not fill me with confidence. Can TAA play in CM and we can bring in James at RB?
Kane – will likely be half fit. Doesn’t really matter as he is genuinely world class
Rashford – probably quite happy the Euros has been moved. Starting to really step it up before his injury, and if he can pick up where he left off, a match winner of the highest quality
Sterling – needs to find his form again, but was one of the top attackers in world football for periods of last year
Sancho – has huge potential, and is already delivering ridiculous numbers. If he gets a big move over the summer, fingers crossed it works out for him. Likely that only injury will keep him out of the squad
Hudson-Odoi – needs to step up his end product a bit, but there is a quality player in there. A consistent season with Chelsea will see him over the line
Ings – harsh on Abraham, but I feel that if Chelsea sign a striker, Ings getting regular games for an improving Southampton will give him the edge
Midfield is a bit of a concern, but I feel like I am missing someone really obvious. Forwards and FB are the obvious strengths of this team – can we try and play like Liverpool!? Almost certainly not.
Jack (Pretty confident I have missed some really obvious names… only explanation for considering Longstaff) Manchester
Unforgivable referee decisions
This is a bit of a butterfly effect decision here. The year is 2004. Man United are playing Porto for a place in the Champions League Quarter Final. Roy Keane is missing due to a ridiculously Roy Keane-y red card. Eric Djemba-Djemba has actually been passable in midfield. Paul Scholes has scored to set them on their way to the next round but another goal would settle the nerves of everyone (not least Tim Howard).
And in nips the Ginger Ninja himself, poking home a cross from the left to seal the deal. Straightforward goal, the favourites are easing through. But what’s this! The offside flag? Surely the ref will overrule that. He doesn’t! But there were 4 players playing him offside! Jesus, I sure do wish there were video referees.
The rest is history. Costinha, Howard forgetting how to parry a free kick away to safety, Porto’s manager nearly wetting himself with excitement. Porto get the easiest latter-stage run on CL history by beating Lyon, Deportivo and Monaco to lift the Big Cup. Roy Keane retires without ever getting his hands on it. Tim Howard’s career at the top lies in tatters. But, most importantly, it launched José Mourinho’s career into the stratosphere. The result – years and years of what should have been exciting, top-of-the-pile clashes becoming turgid, uninspiring affairs, with the man himself eventually becoming the head chef at Old Trafford, serving up the same fare with lower quality ingredients and with the mindset of a man who felt that he deserved better than this. All because a lino switched off for 5 seconds.
There are two decisions I can’t forgive, neither involving my club but both to my country. Both are likely to feature highly on many England fan of the age of 40+ I’d guess.
First up is the Hand of God goal. I mean WTactualF? I was 9, watching a live feed from Mexico on a mid-80s TV and it was as clear as day to me despite the grainy picture quality, so what had the referee and linesman been smoking? I’m rarely in agreement with Peter Shilton’s opinions on life but I’m firmly with him in holding a grudge on this one.
Second up, Graham Taylor’s bete noire Karl Josef Assenmacher’s remarkable decisions to only book Ronald Koeman for hauling David Platt down when clean through on goal and compounding the sense of injustice by awarding England a free-kick rather than a penalty. Of course, you all know that this occurred shortly before Koeman stepped up to score a free-kick and break the deadlock on the way to a 2-0 win for Holland which dumped England out of World Cup 94.
Like Howard Jones’ example, the galling aspect of both was not just the sense of being cheated and losing (how very English, I hear you cry!), but the fact that none of the officials involved, referees nor linesmen (as they were still called back then) later admitted culpability.
Jonny (I’m sure Assenmacher was the inspiration for the criminally under-rated TV show featuring Todd Margaret) Dance
Howard Jones brought up “What was the worst refereeing decision?” Well the worst one against Chelsea would be between Luis Garcia’s Ghost Goal back in 2005, or and the most likely winner for worst refereeing decision, arguably display against us was the Semi Final of the 2008/2009 Champions League, Tom Henning Øvrebø certainly doesn’t have many friends who support Chelsea that’s for sure, as Didier Drogba said, it was a disgrace.
I have two for MUFC.
1) Scholes’ disallowed goal v Porto in 2004. Would have put us 2-0 up. Instead we let in a late equalizer and went out. Porto went on to win it, Jose went to Chelea and so on etc. etc.
2) We were denied a stonewall penalty v Pompey in 2008 in the FA Cup. Given the final that year was Pompey v Cardiff, can’t help but feel we were denied the treble because of it.
Andy (we’ve been crap for ages, am I really still a ‘glory hunter’) Barnes
Long time reader yada yada…
Arsenal v Portsmouth 2003/4
The invincibles season. Pompey go 1-0 up. Highbury is silent, and had been until that point. As a Pompey fan I found it eerie, I’d never seen people sitting so quietly watching a football match. We of course were going beserk all game. Anyway, Pires then famously dives for a penalty. Alan Wiley mistakenly gives it. Arsenal go on to be unbeaten all season. The Arsenal “fans” suddenly become animated like a switch had been flicked. Years later, Wenger admits that Pires had dived. What might have been!
Mike Edwards, currently Cornwall (the sea is the safest place)
To continue the wonderful topic of “Worst referring decisions”, i would like to name two, one which benefited my club, and one which din’t.
1. Red Card to Nani – United were easily winning at Madrid, with a much weaker team, purely through the tactical powress of Sir Alex, and then there was a high ball, Nani got the ball down with his foot just above waist high, and eyes ONLY for the ball. A dumbass Real Madrid actor then flopped around the ground for a bit, which led to a red card, a Modric goal and game over for Manchester United.
2. The double red card for Chelsea vs United in the FA cup (If i am not mistaken). There is no way we would have survived the Chelsea onslaught if the ref did not send Torres off for a dive. It was hilarious to watch. I was rolling literally.
Most heartbreaking referee decision was a world cup qualifier: France vs Ireland.
We remember, Thierry.
Happy Paddy’s Day to the Irish readers and hope all readers everywhere are staying safe.
The decision that I’ll never forget was in 1996 when City got drawn at Old Trafford in the 5th round of the FA Cup. We were garbage that season and got relegated, while still being surprisingly fun to watch sometimes. I got a ticket with my Dad, but we weren’t expecting very much from the trip. However, the lads came out like a team possessed and played United off the park for the first half hour, with Uwe Rosler putting us ahead in the 11th minute with a well taken chip. Uwe had had his run-ins with manager Alan Ball that season and you could see how much it meant to him.
Unfortunately, Alan Wilkie the referee had other ideas. Shortly before half time with United huffing and puffing and not producing much, a corner came in. The ball sailed over everybody’s head and the referee blew his whistle. Roy Keane started complaining to the referee and then realised that he’d actually given a penalty and started clapping. Mr Wilkie probably remains the only person who thought it should have been a penalty, due to Michael Frontzek and Eric Cantona having what looks like a bit of a hug miles underneath the ball. Even Cantona didn’t protest that he’d been fouled and no one could understand what had happened. Watching it again doesn’t make it any better…
WHat makes it even worse on the clip is the commentator trying to justify it. That of course completely blew the wind out of our sails, United got a winner near the end and we were relegated while they beat Liverpool at Wembley in the final. Ho hum.
Right this has to be the solution. Instead of worrying about who gets promoted/relegated…merge the Premier League and Championship for a season (and League One and Two)!
First half of the season: Regional leagues where everyone plays everyone else once…
North: Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Sheff Utd, Burnley, Everton, Newcastle, Leeds, Preston, Blackburn, Sheff Wed, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Wigan, Hull, Barnsley, Leicester, Forest, Derby, Wolves, Aston Villa, Stoke
South: Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Palace, Southampton, Brighton, West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth, West Brom, Norwich, Fulham, Brentford, Charlton, Luton, Bristol C, Millwall, Cardiff, Swansea, QPR, Reading, Birmingham
Everyone plays each other once (split as fairly as possible home/away), top half of each league gets promoted for the second half of the season
Second half of the season: Back to relative normal, two leagues. Everyone plays each other once, Europe/relegation places decided as normal
There’s an even balance of Premier League clubs in each, there would be reduced travel as the virus dies down and the only geographical issue was having to split the West Midlands clubs. Think of all the local derbies and the opportunities to face teams you wouldn’t normally!
Or we could come up with a different more straightforward system, but God I’m bored working from home.
Liverpool fan here. Just declaring my bias from the outset.So what to do about the season? It’s currently suspended but, let’s be honest, it’s likely 2019/2020 matches won’t resume for quite a while . . . if at all. Who wins? Liverpool.
Why? Because of their lead. It would be a travesty to blithely assume they’d win with, say, a 7-point lead. They could slump, City could catch fire, such a lead could evaporate quickly.
But 25 points? No team in Premier League history has ever had that sort of lead. Heck, Liverpool’s 82 points would’ve won the league outright five times and tied the winner once. And that’s with nine games remaining and 27 points still on the table.
Nor is their present point total somehow a fluke. They finished second last year with 97 points. That would’ve won the Premier League in 26 of 28 seasons.
What to do about relegation, promotion, European qualification and all the other contentious issues? I’m not sure because, truthfully, I’ve given it little thought. Instead, I’ve focused on what a travesty it would be to pretend LFC aren’t 2019/2020 champions.
(That said, I do like the idea of starting next season with this season’s last 9 fixtures, if necessary, and counting the results for both seasons. Of all the proposals out there, that one seems most reasonable . . .)
Chris (social distancing in Canada) R.
The end of the season
So as a Liverpool fan making their peace with the voiding of the season, I’ve come to a conclusion. It doesn’t matter. I will always remember what this team did, and so will they. Whether or not the PL deigns to give us a medal or what have you, we still won this year in every way that matters.
I’m actually quite glad we got knocked out of the cups, just cause wondering if we’d seen the greatest team ever robbed by coronavirus would have been hard to look back on.
As it is, I’m fine with whatever happens, and hope that we all survive corona
Dan, Plastic LFC
Crap football memorabilia
Reading the stories of John Barnes in the mailbox has jogged my memory for what is surely one of the crappest pieces of football memorabilia I had the fortune of collecting.
In September 1996 at Filbert Street Leicester were host to Roy Evans’ Liverpool who had made a flying start to the season and 11 year old Chris was fortunate enough to be at the game. Having watched the reds secure a 3-0 victory thanks to two great goals from Patrik Berger I then had the opportunity to go down to the Players Bar (do these still exist??!) to meet my heroes and get some autographs.
Cue much excitement as Steve McManaman, Stan Collymore and goalscorer Berger amongst others all deigned to scribble their autograph in my notebook. But the man I was looking for was not to be seen in the bar and only once we left to go home did the figure come in to view at the end of the corridor – John Barnes.
Pestering my dad to get one last autograph I ran up to him excitedly and watched in awe as he finsihed his can of Sprite before signing my book.
‘Can I have it?’
‘Your Sprite can!’
(confusion spreading over his face) ‘Why? It’s empty.’
‘I don’t mind.’
And with that I ran back to my dad proudly showing him the empty can I had just got from the John Barnes.
It spent a good 5 years on my bedroom shelf alongside my completed Premier League Sticker books and Corinthian bigheads.
So, what’s the best/worst piece of football memorabilia you’ve collected?
Chris (Bristol, Robbie Fowler was actually quite rude when I asked for his autograph – something along the lines of ‘Fuck off, let me get a drink first’)