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Write Liverpool off at your peril…
Two Andy’s wrote in on the weekend. One felt that Man Utd lack a visionary like Klopp whilst the other thinks that Man Utd aren’t as far behind as the table suggests.
Maybe both are right and wrong. Firstly I don’t think the visionary is Klopp; I would give that title to John Henry. He has overseen a monumental transition in the way Liverpool is run. Little things like expanding the stadium or rebuilding Kirkby all the way through to building a back room of analysts that are looking at football from a different perspective to most other clubs in world football, the club has undergone a revolution through a series of small (and some huge) steps. He’s made mistakes but he’s smart enough to evaluate and learn from those. I don’t really know but it is plausible that the gulf might actually be bigger than people realise until other clubs start hiring our geniuses and finding out what we are actually working on. Arsene Wenger was a revolution in the league from a dietary and lifestyle perspective which gave him a competitive advantage in the early Arsenal days but that advantage eventually got eroded away as other teams caught up. Nobody even knows how our internal team picks players for transfers or evaluates teams tactically right now. For context we have a dude with a Harvard pHD in particle physics running our data science team…it might be that John Henry wants to use LFC to explore a theory about the origins of the universe (first, there was nothing. Then God created Dani Pacheco and he saw that it was good…) but it might be that he wants to look at football in ways nobody ever thought to before.
I am not saying that Liverpool are an insurmountable colossus but I am pretty sure nobody thought we could improve on 2 seasons ago in the league and yet we did without a signing or a change of approach. Amusingly we seem to have been written off already for this season by many but there’s no certainty that any new signing guarantees success for Chelsea or Man Utd. Man City lost David Silva this summer and I don’t think it’s easy to replace club legends – Kompany proved that last season already.
Write us off at your peril is all I am saying. Next year could be our year (again).
It’s simple really
Just some thoughts on one the topics I’ve been reading about in the mailbox for the past few weeks…
The reason why there is some scepticism behind Man U or Chelsea winning the premier league next is that both of their managers have not proved that they can win big titles, let alone against what is the best crop of managers anywhere in the world.
It’s quite simple really…To win the league, OGS and FL would have had to have been better than Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho (all previous winners). Not just one of them. But ALL of them. Does anyone truly believe that this will happen over the course of the next 38 games?
PS: To Garey Vance, MUFC and similar thought warriors, please stop with the comparisons with Klopp/Liverpool when trying to argue about points gaps/reversals: Klopp had won two titles and reached European finals before said gaps/reversals.
The strange fate of the German World Cup winning squad
As an Arsenal fan it’s still weird that one of our only world class players of the last decade seemingly can’t even make it into our mid-table match day squad. However, strangely Ozil is not the only one from the Germany 2014 World Cup winning team to seemingly self-terminate his career early.
On the face of it with Bayern winning the Champions League you would think the majority of the team went from strength to strength. Sure Neuer, Boatang and Muller were all in the 2014 final and last month won the Champions League (although all have had huge question marks over form in the ensuing years), equally Tony Kroos has won a hattrick of Champions Leagues since then. Father time took Klose out of the game and Hummel’s and Kramer have done okay. However, I think there is question marks around the other 7 players who participated in that game.
There may be good reasons but to me a number of players retired from football completely at a fairly young age, Benedikt Howedes at 32, Phillipp Lahm and Mertesacker at 33 with the latter openly stating that he suffered from anxiety attacks and felt relief when he retired.
Schweinsteiger came to Man U at 31, was awful for 2 year then found his new level in the USA.
All of above are probably not that strange then you come to the final 3 players. Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil are 3 of the most expensive German players ever yet have had dramatic declines in their career. After falling down the pecking order at Bayern, Gotze went back to Dortmund where he has just finished a 4 year contract which has not been renewed and at the age of 28 is currently without a club (I understand that this is likely to change). Ozil, as we know got a bumper contract at Arsenal then has continuously failed to deliver for 3 managers and in all likelihood is probably going to be paid to leave for free to join a team in a 3rd rate league, and strangest of all Schurrle at what should be the peak of his powers at 29 has retired citing psychological issues related to competitive football.
In isolation all of this is understandable but am I the only one that finds this a strange coincidence?
Paul K, London
Is football 20 years too late?
For those that haven’t watched The Last Dance, a docu-series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls 90s dynasty, please do so immediately. Even if you aren’t interested in basketball it’s brilliant story-telling, and it’s always fascinating watching elite competitive athletes be dicks to each other. If nothing, you will at least get a bit of a 90s nostalgia-fest, and as we all know, the best nostalgia is from the 90s.
Anyway, the point of my letter is this. It seemed very visionary and almost prescient that way back in the 90s the Bulls had camera crews following them everywhere, especially when it comes to our appetite for reality TV and instant social media (for better or for worse). And look how much better we are for it. I’m sure many viewers of the show will agree they had a really intimate view of the dynamics and personalities behind the scenes in a way that fans of other clubs going through their most iconic phase have never had the privilege of.
With the explosion of footballs fly-on-the-wall propaganda shows lately, is football 20 years too late? Was there anyone out there not video archiving their seasons up until recently? Just imagine watching the 90s Man United equivalent of theThe Last Dance, and all the drama and rivarly mentioned in this mornings mailbox. How difficult would it have been for a top-tier club to have appointed a camera crew to record everything. Given how easy it must be to organise such a thing, it’s a crying shame that so many childhood memories of excitement and drama will be lost to posterity.
Or maybe there’s a stash of video reels in the basement of Old Trafford and Netflix are currently working on it? We can only hope.
My football journey…
Fantastic new game in the mailbox…so here’s my football superstar journey
Development club: Forest Green Rovers (My club in FM)Move at 21: Borussia Dortmund (would love playing under the black and yellow wall, guaranteed playing time and development for up and coming players)
Move at 24: the Arsenal (my dream club)
Move at 27: declined to stay on and give my best years at my boyhood club
Last 3 clubs: Juventus (the lure of the Old Lady proving too much after becoming a legend at the Arsenal), Shenghai Shenhua (the lure of a fat paycheque proving too much), Karachi United (hoping to do my bit to promote professional football in Pakistan)
All or Nothing: Chelsea 04/05
Well as a Chelsea fan I would have to pick the 2011/12 season, Andre Villas Boas comes in, tries to get rid of the old guard, gets sacked, Roberto Di Matteo steps up, old guard returns and then the comeback against Napoli and the lifting of the UCL title in Munich, as well as the FA Cup of course.
That would be just perfect to watch, so now has anyone got a time machine that works so we can get this to happen?
Mikey, CFC (2002/03 a close second, if not just for that last game against Liverpool when we secured UCL football and inspired Roman to save our club)
All or Nothing: Liverpool
Great question from Rich, AFC! As a Liverpool fan, I think it would be one of these
10/11 – Seeing Roy Hodgson completely out of his depth might make for uncomfortable viewing, but we’d also get to see the feuding Hicks and Gillette, with subsequent rants about the ‘epic swindle’ of the FSG takeover. Then, in the second half of the season, the return of King Kenny, and the look on Luis Suarez’s face when confronted with the reality of Andy Carroll as a strike partner.
1990/91 – This is the last time that Liverpool started the season as defending league champions. They ended as runners-up to Arsenal in the league, but this season saw Dalglish unexpectedly resign in February. Enter Graeme Sounness and his plan to drag the club into the modern era by improving diets, etc., and subsequent unhappiness amongst the senior squad members.
15/16 – this would serve as a fantastic companion piece to ‘Being. Liverpool’, bookending the Rodgers years and documenting his increasingly inappropriate use of the word ‘outstanding’. Klopp’s arrival in November brings positivity, but not as much of an improvement in results as expected, although the runs to the final of the League Cup and Europa League do provide cause for optimism.
Honourable mention: 04/05 – Rafa’s first season in England and THAT night in Istanbul are the obvious highlights, but it’s hard to see anyone other than Djibril Cissé being the star of the show
Gareth M, Cape Town
The Ultimate All or Nothing Season, in 35 minutes.
If there was ever an all or nothing season, it’s Man United 1999, surely. Let me take you back to the 14th of April 99, to the 75th minute of the FA Cup semifinal replay to be specific. Captain Roy Keane is sent off against Arsenal. United are down to 10 men, against Arsenal who are already leading them in the league, and still face a daunting away trip to Juventus for the Champions league, having drawn 1:1 at home. It gets worse when Arsenal win a penalty in the 90th minute. This is perilously close to ’nothing’. Bergkamp misses/ Schmeichel saves. But is injured in the 4th minute of extra time. Has to play on because all subs have been used. 15 minutes later Giggs scores THAT goal. These 35 minutes of football gives United a belief and an invincibility that sees them overcome Juventus, haul in Arsenal, and famously Bayern Munich, of course. But if Bergkamp scores the pen, and Arsenal win the game, it’s likely that heads drop, and Juventus becomes a step too far, and maybe even the league slips away. Who knows, but that half hour is the sliding doors moment of the season. Every time I read or watch something about the 99 season, I’m reminded of how much of a knife edge the entire last 2 months were.
Ved Sen, MUFC
I love Danny Rose…
Damn, did Danny Rose shag Dr C***s wife or something? If so, she’s a lucky lady. He gets up and down all day. If not, I don’t understand why the Doc is so very, very angry. I will readily admit that I love Danny Rose. The subject of conversation doesn’t even have to be football-related. But the walking red card accusation feels quite unfair. He has picked up two red cards for Spurs; one was overturned, the other occurred when he was 21. So back the fuck up off my Danny. He is the absolute epitome of commitment on the pitch, no matter what is happening off it. And, unlike almost every other person involved in football, he speaks his mind despite knowing he will be accused and abused as a result. By hateful people like the Doc.
PS I love you Danny. Lift the restraining order please. I’ll be better.
Jonny makes some good points about the England kit. Football kits have been stupidly priced for a long time now but this who Vapour kit really takes the biscuit. To be honest though, if you’re over the age of 16 and you’re nit stood on a football pitch then you shouldn’t have a football shirt on. It makes you look a bit of a twat.
Dale (Been visiting for 10 years. When did brackets stop been a thing)
In Stan’s defence…
The description for Mediawatch this morning certainly caught my eye. What has Stan Collybore (gerrit?) Been saying about El Loco in the rags this morning.
How dare this neanderthal speak about one of the games greats. Well I need not worry as I figured Mediawatch would take him down. Well after reading Mediawatch I now side with Stan the Man.
Since you are based in Leeds I thought you would know better F365. Theres a city full of people who proclaim that Bielsa is the best manager in the world.
I agree with Stan. We were right.
Has anyone else noticed that Ryan Giggs always looks like he’s standing in front of a green screen.
I don’t know if it’s the stubble, the impossibly carved facial features or the uncanny-valley style vacant stare but it’s really starting to freak me out.