How Everton can beat Liverpool in the derby and more Mails…

Date published: Wednesday 19th February 2020 2:28

Liverpool Everton Roberto Firmino

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Nullifying Firmino
Seamus in this morning’s mailbox was spot on about Atletico, their shithousery, and the way it was reminiscent of a Benitez or Mourinho team from the 00’s.

Re the tactics by Simeone, I’d elaborate on Ryan’s 5th point. The way teams need to defend against Liverpool is to play narrow. Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are good, but I feel they play well with space across the pitch. What you need to do is nullify Firmino, he is key to how Liverpool play fluidly upfront, and create that space across the pitch for the fullbacks. Yes, you might get a pinpoint cross onto someones noggin, but you’d bet against Liverpool’s front three versus in a battle against tall centre halves.

This is what Everton have to do in the derby with Mina and Keane staying in a straight line and just clearing crosses. However, we all know that Pickford will make a clanger and Origi will score.



I am so bored of the Paul Pogba saga already and we’re not even close to the summer yet. It’s all that the insufferable Adrian Durham talks about on the commute home (why can’t Radio 5 move off AM?) and is taking up significant column inches in most of the papers today, primarily because of Raiola desperately trying to keep his client relevant despite not kicking a football in months. He’s probably panicking because Pogba isn’t playing, isn’t likely to get an acceptable offer (to United) in the summer and Raiola will miss out on his signing on bonus.

The best outcome for United, in my opinion, is that we get somewhere near our money back for Pogba, Raiola buggers off and takes Lingard with him for good measure. It may have been a factor in missing out on Haaland but I would rather not deal with Raiola and miss out on players than to have to put up with his unsettling tactics every year. Even when Pogba was fit he was only effective when he could be bothered and, assuming that Ole sticks with his counter-attacking football as plan A, Pogba rarely moved the ball fast enough to fit in with this style. I’d rather have a fit McTominay, despite his occasional headless chicken impression, as he would drive towards goal whenever possible and doesn’t just slow play down while showing how strong he is, as Pogba does.

Please let this saga be over soon, getting the Pogba/Raiola pantomime out of the club would be the best move Ole can make this summer.

Paul, Man Utd


So after watching the 2-0 win against Chelsea on Monday, I was actually very impressed at how we managed to keep a clean sheet (Somehow due to Chelsea players not being able to finish) and how we kept our composure and improved our passing lots in the 2nd half. Seeing Eric Bailly fly into some tackles and turning players in his own box goes to show how good the guy could be if he wasn’t made of glass. I personally think he is United’s best all round defender and he just needs to stay fit and consistent and he would form an amazing partnership with Maguire. I will say this though, I think its crucial that Ole and his backroom staff make sure the players do not become complacent going forward until the end of the season, ESPECIALLY against the smaller teams. United play Watford at home next in the league and in the reverse fixture, they made us look poor at best at Vicarage Road, as we didn’t even score. It might sound old fashioned, but you see some players celebrate wins on Insta & Twitter as if they have won the bloody World Cup. I get it, they are happy and proud to win the game, but has anything fundamental actually been achieved? I think once everyone comes back fit and ready to play (Especially Rashford & McTominay), United are definitely capable of playing with more pace and quality.

However one player I am not too excited for in coming back from Injury is Pogba. After the latest reports of Raiola mugging off United & Ole AGAIN, I think Gary Neville was spot on in saying the club have to separate themselves from an agent like that. And in my opinion, United should separate themselves from Pogba and transfer list him in the summer. Fair enough, he has had two big injuries this season and I think fans thinking he has faked his injuries are being a bit too judgemental and not thinking logically. However if his heart isn’t in it anymore for the club and doesn’t want to play for United anymore, then its time to sell him. You cannot force a player to stay if they do not want to, they are human at the end of the day. Mourinho was right in a sense about Pogba, he is a bit of a ‘Virus’ and I think he said that because he thinks Pogba thinks he is better than everyone else. It may be a harsh statement, but its a valid statement from Mourinho and he knows how to read players better than most people. Sell him to Madrid or Juve for 100 Mill and its a good deal for all parties in my opinion.
Rami, London (Bailly please stay fit for the rest of the season)


Mighty Merse is on his way
Paul Merson’s assertion that Liverpool’s success in the Premier League this season could help Manchester City avoid a player exodus at the end of the campaign was interesting. Not because I think he’s correct; are players really going to want to stay if there is no European football for two years just to get Liverpool back for winning the league this year? Bearing in mind most of the City players are multiple league winners (assuming these medals don’t get rescinded of course), will they actually have that motivation? As usual, I think Merse is barking up the wrong tree. What happens with Pep will be more decisive in my opinion.

The reason I say it is interesting is because it got me thinking about how the ban will actually be bad for Liverpool. Here they are, finally with a team who are excellent and capable of winning a few leagues on the bounce before needing a rebuild, yet their closest rival (currently) has been given the easiest route to winning the league possible i.e. no European football. City will generally have a week between games to plan and recuperate, whereas Liverpool will be embroiled in another European campaign for most of the season. Of course teams want to be involved in Europe, but this could devastate any hopes Liverpool had of winning 2 or 3 leagues on the bounce. As a United supporter, I know how hard it is to win the league, but retaining it is much more difficult.

I suspect City will appeal and that will be reduced to a 1 year ban. By that stage United will be ready to reclaim our throne as the rightful bestest team in England, the peoples champs I hear you cry, the dark days will be over and we will dominate for 10 years hence. Thereby showing this year to be an anomaly filled with devastating world events, such as Brexit, the coronavirus and Liverpool winning the league.
Garey (next next year is our year) Vance, MUFC


Soap Opera vs High End
Before I go into my ramblings from last night, here my two cents on the game.Well executed game plan by Atletico Madrid. Liverpool were kept at arms length and there seemed to be little potential to find an equaliser. I will take a 1-0 back to Anfield. It will be a different kind of game methinks.

The thing I actually wanted to talk about after yesterday’s game was the honest to god Daytime Emmy worthy diving and crying Atletico produced. I mean there were situations where even after the third replay I was trying to find the shiv hidden in any Liverpool player’s hands to elicit such reactions from the Madrid players. I am not mad, just made me think of Football like TV series. To me, La Liga and possibly Serie A are like Soap Operas. There is drama, there is intrigue, overly passionate fans, every game leaves you with more questions than answers and you never know when someones supposedly dead mother-in-law shows up carrying their baby. The leagues seem to be character driver rather than plot driven. In comparison, I would say the Premier League is High End Drama. There are stronger plots, higher Budgets to produce higher Production Value, and it just seems that little bit more engaging. This is not meant to be offensive, everyone enjoys his/her type of series, my point is just that I do not watch soap Operas, and therefore would not be able to watch La Liga week in week out.
Nik (Ramblings of a crazy person?), Munich


Questionable away record
Quite a bit was said this morning about how good this Atl. Madrid team is and yes last night they where brilliant. Full of hard work, covering ever blade of grass and getting the result their performance deserved. However I think Liverpool have something that is going for them in the second leg and that is that maybe this Atl .Madrid team actually isnt that great, certainly away from home anyway.

In the Champions League over the last two seasons Atl. Madrid have played 7 away games and conceded in 5 of them keeping clean sheets against the mighty Club Brugge and Lokomotiv Moscow only. In La Liga this season they sit 7th on the “away table” and after 12 away games they have conceded in 8 games including conceding against the teams in 9th, 12th, 14th and 16th. Their only La Liga clean sheets have come against the teams in 6th, 13th,15th and 18th. They also went out of the Copa Del Ray in their first game conceding twice against Cult. Leonesa (yep me too, they are 3rd in the Spanish 4th division) and yes you’ve guessed it, they where away from home in that game. Maybe Simeone’s plan is to rile up the home crowd, get the noise level up, the adrenaline pumping and under the opposition’s skin. This is pretty hard to do away from home with just a few thousand fans tucked away in a corner somewhere.

Saying that he’s still a phenomenal manager and any team would be lucky to have him.
Robbie DFC *Loves a stat.


The schadenfreude among the anti-LFC brigade after last night’s game is understandable. Enjoy it while you can. Might be worth putting it into perspective though ahead of the second leg..

Every football fan knows that Atletico are a beast at home. I believe they’re now unbeaten at home in their last 14 European games, with 12 wins and 2 draws. They had us all cooing last season too after a similar display saw them bully Juventus (and Ronaldo) into submission at the same stage of the competition.

They won that game 2-0 and looked like potential tournament winners. Unfortunately, though, they’re not the same beast away from home. They lost 3-0 to Juventus in the return leg in Turin and put in a fairly meek defensive performance if I remember correctly. They’ve also been having a pretty poor season by their own standards – last night was without  doubt the best 90 mins they’ve played all season.

Meanwhile, according to Opta, Liverpool have now lost more Champions League matches away from home than any other side (except Crvena Zvezda, both on six) since the start of the 2018/!9 season. They still managed to win the competition last year despite their bad away form.

So, all in all, last night’s result shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Atletico have only scored 25 goals in 24 games in La Liga this season so the second leg is likely to see them park the bus for the full 90 mins and fight for a 0-0 draw. Liverpool have often struggled against a parked bus admittedly but I’d be majorly surprised if Atletico can pull this one off. 1-0 just doesn’t seem enough of a cushion.

In other words, not that worried.
Mick, LFC


Haaland vindicated
I watched Dortmund v PSG last night. Such a great game of football with Dortmund looking so sharp and quick in the transitions. Sancho was everywhere and involved with everything.

Haaland though… He’s a strange one. At times his touch is like a trampoline and he looks so raw. Then he gets a typical poachers goal and an absolute worldie. I think his decision to go Dortmund has been vindicated. United could still potentially get him later in his career but for his development a young team with attacking verve like Dortmund is a perfect fit.

Also I’ve just realised typing this out that I could have been talking about Lukakau! Touch of a trampoline, raw but still got 2 goals.. United could have replaced Lukaku with Lukaku 2.0!
Chaz (Essex)


Klopp v top managers
It took me 30 seconds to Google this.Klopp v Mourinho: Played 11, won 5, drew 4 and lost 2. Klopp v Ancelotti: played 7, won 3 drew 1 and lost 3.

I know its a game of opinions but can we at least have some grounding in fact. For another manager to have his number they should have, at the very least, won more games against Klopp than Klopp has against them.
Kev (I’m not a Liverpool fan, I’m just getting really sick of this s**t) 


It’s ATLETICO!!!! Will people stop adding the additional H?!!

It really annoys me especially as Atletico are my Spanish team – purely because upon my first visit to Madrid, I was damned if I was getting a Real Beckham shirt.

Ajax, PSG and Sporting are my teams in Netherlands, France and Portugal simply because I picked up their shirts as a souvenir of my trips to these cities – any other mailboxes do this and what weird and wonderful shirts do you have? I also have an adidas India home shirt circa 2005 for the same reason.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


VAR offside solution
I think the way the offside rule needs to evolve has nothing to do with tolerances, armpits or heels, but a re-think of what offside is for.

The solution is to actually use ONLY the torso when determining the line of the defender or the attacker, this will remove the issue that are arising from errant limb parts resulting in silly looking calls being made. Much as a 100m sprinter dips when he reaches the line to gain a few 100ths, this will be the same, but in reverse, (although it’s unlikely any players will have the ability to actually lean back slightly as a ball is played through).

It simplifies the process of VAR review, as instead of looking for stray heels, knees or noses, you simply draw a line from the front (or the back) of the torso that is closest to the goal-line.

The integrity of what offside is about is retained as you are more concerned about if a player is ahead or behind another player, not that all of the parts of the body he can score with are behind all the parts of the body that the defender is allowed to defend with.

Essentially, it’s the same reasoning of why a 100m sprinter isn’t able to reach out and use the extended tips of his fingers as the finish of his race. Despite the fact that the tips of his fingers have travelled the 100m at the quickest point at that point the runner is only deemed to have finished the race at the point the front of his torso reaches the line.
Dale (Lighbulb moment) Marlow


Can I just shock you? I actually like Arsene Wenger’s proposal. The issue with VAR and offside is not that the decisions being given are wrong, but that the increased level of accuracy being applied is causing goals to be disallowed that would previously have stood because the offside was so minimal. By moving the test so that the whole of the attackers body must be offside to disallow the goal it will redress the balance and see those goals (and more) now given. Yes there will still be borderline decisions but I don’t think fans will complain about a goal being disallowed if the striker is so offside that not a single part of his body that he could score with is onside.  Good work Arsene!



I 100% agree with Seb Stafford-Bloor (a rarity in itself) on VAR and the real issue. Moving the lines doesn’t change anything other than the perspective of injustice.  It might not even lead to more goals- if you can kill me in behind now I have to set my team up deeper and kill the game to survive. No press. Just a very very low block.

Anyway – why can’t VAR just be administered differently? How about this-

– looked at by ref only
– VAR official just there to give a heads up
– looked at only in full speed.  No slow motion
– no lines on the pitch being drawn in

The person reffing the game gets several other looks at an incident after the fact.  But they still get to judge the incident as they would have done if they have that angle.  A normal human making normal human decisions.

On Sunday I’d wager the first goal gets chalked off and giroud stands.  Seems about right to me.   Although Maguire still gets sent off all day so “inconsistencies” will still keep the pubs buzzing and sell media space.
Mark Johnson


European Super League
Following on from more comments in Seb Stafford-Bloor’s excellent article about Man City where he alluded to the Super League movement and how this case could hasten that, am I the only one who thinks it would likely be doomed and the fan meltdown of some of those clubs in it would probably be hilarious.

At the moment, we have United fans getting their collective knickers in a twist about whether Ole should stay or go yet they sit just outside the Champions League spots whilst Arsenal fans are not really sure what to feel about being 10th – but success for both these clubs in some description again is just a matter of time.  In a European Super League, would it be?

For English clubs in particular, would life be rosier in an ESL?  At the moment, they have the money and the power due to the Premier League’s dominance so can often attract player that say Bayern, Paris or Juve could not but that would change if they were all playing in the same league.  The money would be pretty equal across the board so would you rather earn 200k and live in Manchester or Bavaria or Milan or Rome?  Suddenly the players have more choice and English clubs may end up weaker as a result.

In more general terms, the clubs who want the ESL are the richest and they tend to be that because they win. A lot.  Maybe not trophies but the majority of their games – realistically, how would a Real, a Bayern or a Liverpool like to go from being all conquering in their national league to finding themselves 14th at the halfway stage having only won 5 games.  The season will be over for them and someone has to finish last – imagine any of the English clubs finishing bottom of the lot – you think you’ve seen fans losing their collective minds as a result of being 7th, being 18th and last will be a whole new ball game.  The effect of that, is if a team struggles for a few years, fans will start to drift away and viewing figures for these clubs will tail off, you may even start to see empty seats in some grounds as a 3rd season of losing half you home games starts to lose it’s appeal especially without the trap of relegation to still add some excitement or the chance to go away, rebuild and come back stronger.

So yes, an ESL will likely happen but those clubs involved need to be careful what they wish for.

Paul, Germany


Man City salary cap
Interesting mail from Chris about the Man City situation saying he’d accept a salary cap. So let’s assume that happens and most of the squad suddenly have to take a 25-30% pay cut. What’s the betting that Aguero suddenly becomes an ambassador for Abu Dhabi and has to spend a weekend there each year promoting the place all for a very reasonable fee of £5m?

If there’s one thing we should take from this whole episode it’s the complete lack of respect for the authorities and rules within Man City. Perfectly encapsulated by the email from their club lawyer saying “one down, six to go” upon the death of a UEFA investigator. Measures like a salary cap can (and will) be ignored one way or the other. You have to hit them where it hurts and that means a Champions League ban, a huge decrease in revenue with the associated drop in ability to recruit, retain and pay players. Those are the sanctions available to UEFA (it’s debatable whether or not a salary cap is even an available sanction), the Premier League can administer their own starting with stripping City of their titles and a points deduction for next season.

Punishments should fit the crime, not a slap on the wrist where City can just pull their hand away.
Jim, Norwich


Why I’m not angry at Man City
The reason I’m not angry at city is because the whole system is flawed and this very much feels
like a witch-hunt.

FFP is no more of a scam by the established elite to keep themselves at the top of the game, so I’m sorry but if you want in to the shiny castle when the moat has been dug and the drawbridge pulled up then you have to be creative.

Do I think my team are squeaky clean no, but all the fans taking joy in this situation need to take a step back because if you think for one minute that this starts and stops with Manchester City then you are naive beyond belief. I would bet my life we are not the only club in the premier league with a creative accountant and I’d bet everyone’s life we are certainly not the only ones in Europe.

But it’s new money, it’s a threat and we don’t have “history” so we’re an easy target.

Don’t get me started on PSG

Now all these figures are rough but you get the point

Man Utd debt £500m up 181m in 2019
Barca 800m
Real 400m
Juve 150m

City have no debt

Now one of these clubs is deemed to be run in a irresponsible  manner the others however are the template for European football clubs to follow. Erm how???

Fiat paid the Ronaldo fee for Juventus, no one says a word. They are also sponsored by JEEP who coincidentally are owned by Fiat who coincidentally own Juventus………that’s all fine.

Real Madrid have been financed by the government for years, UEFA would
Never dare challenge them…….moving on

PSG are owned by Qatar now the man who implemented FFP non other than Michelle Platini who has subsequently been sacked for corruption and arrested in connection of handing bribes in awarding the World Cup to Qatar. So UEFA step tentatively because they don’t want the world to keep bringing up what happened and steer clear of anything connected to Qatar.

Also not forgetting that all this is based on illegally obtained and hacked emails (anything obtained in this manner must surely be 100% genuine) which would not stand up in any court in the land. And the hacker is currently under arrest for cyber crimes and extortion, he seems a trustworthy fella.

Now the club are adament and insistent that they have evidence to prove they have done nothing wrong. No one seems to want to hear this as UEFA have spoken and suddenly they are the most clean cut and trustworthy organisation on the planet, I’ll wait to hear both sides of the story thanks.

Name another industry in the world where an owner is not allowed to invest in his business and football is a business, why is he being stopped from putting money into the game, with no debt, with no financial risk to the club when people like the Glazers have took over £1b out the game, but they are doing things right???? Seriously!!!!!!

The owner has transformed the club, he’s created jobs, he’s invested not just in the club but the surrounding area, the City in the community scheme is award winning, the charity work is incredible, they are giving kids educations and putting them through college, all this is forgot about because the big boys don’t want a lottery winner moving into the posh estate up on the hill.

The reason that I’m not angry is that football is a mess, from agents to player power to FFP……you name it, it’s a murky dirty world and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

That said I’m a city fan, I always will be and if it all goes to shit and we’re playing Macclesfield next season then I’ll see you there and cheer them on like any other week…

I’m frustrated at the situation and there’s an awful lot to not like about the “beautiful” game.

Rant/Ramble over
Paul, Manchester


Re Seb’s article today about City fans, there are a number of reasons why we are more critical of UEFA and less so of the owners, much most journalists and fans of other clubs will not know of, or will fully ignore.

Firstly, you have to remember that for a generation, if not more, City were a joke club. To all of a sudden have these owners purchase the club, which in essence was like winning the lottery, and sign the players and managers we have, that generates an awful lot of goodwill. Yes there have been gripes about some of the recent season card price increases, but in the main, I know of very few City fans who are unhappy with the current ownership structure.

With regards to UEFA, there have been a number of incidents down the years which have caused City fans to question their credibility and also their impartial nature, as follows:-

1. Fining City more for being late for a second half than they fined the opposition for racially abusing Balotelli and Toure.

2. City were supposed to play CSKA Moscow in a ‘behind closed doors’ match a few seasons ago. The stadium ban was announced after the fixture dates had been confirmed and when fans had already booked flights and hotels, so losing out on money. But the real kicker was on match day, hundreds of Moscow fans had been allowed into the stadium to watch anyway.

3. Referees reporting City fans for booing the anthem.

4. Rightly or wrongly, a large number of City fans see that a significant number of referring decisions which have gone against us in the a champions League as a conspiracy of sorts.

5. The new model of redistributing money to include former historic glories, which many see as a way of guaranteeing funding for the established elite.

6. FFP, which many not only see as a method of maintaining the ‘elite’ clubs, but there is also a sense of injustice from City fans after the original fine, where many believe the goal posts were moved at the last minute to punish the club.

That there have been incessant ‘hit pieces’ from journalists telling City fans how they should be feeling, that the owners are horrible human beings etc, it has generated a siege mentality of sorts, where most fans would rather the owners lawyer up and destroy UEFA in the courts.

Hope that clarified why many won’t be following the path you wish for them to follow….
Mikey D, Godley


My footballing family and other animals
There once was a tortoise and a hare. This young hare was a very boastful animal. It bragged about how it was so much faster than all the other animals. This hare just couldn’t resist giving it large. ‘Ahareoooo!’ It would shout as it sped past the ass. ‘Ahareoooo!’ as it sped past the snail. As you can imagine this hare was very annoying.

Until one day the wise old tortoise challenged the hare to a race. ‘A race?’ chortled the hare ‘I’m a record-breaking animal. I’m the fastest and smartest there has ever been. As sure as eggs is eggs and the moon is blue!’.

The next day the race began. All the animals were there to watch. And as sure as eggs is eggs and the moon is blue the hare raced off into the distance way ahead of the tortoise. ‘Nah I’m gonna win this easy’ the hare thought to itself ‘I’ll take a kippax cos this tortoise is so slow’.

So the cocky hare had his sleep. When he awoke he looked in his Mirror unruffled his ears and took a leak. But little did he know he’d slept too long and the tortoise had kept up such a pace that it had moved 25 miles ahead. The on-looking animals couldn’t contain their smiles. And so it passed that the tortoise beat the hare. The race they had run had been won fair and square.

What might you ask became of the hare? Well he got one of these * fixed to his tale which slowed hare down to the same speed as all the other animals. Fair play for all the animals. Fair play for hare*. You might think hare* had learned his lesson? You’d be wrong!

Obviously hare* poznanned around telling any animal he could find that the race was ‘corrupt, a conspiracy, and you’re all bent!’ The case is now with hare*’s lawyers who are taking it to the Court of Animal Speed  for appeal. If only the hare* had bothered to know his history. The tortoise had won the very same race 18 times before! What a very foolish hare*
Aesop, Greece

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