Klopp should take a break from Liverpool. Give it Rafa ’til the end of the season…

Ian Watson
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Rafa Benitez share a joke

The Mailbox floats an idea for Jurgen Klopp to recharge his batteries while Rafa Benitez steps in for the rest of a season already written off. Also: Man Utd and Qatar; Haaland; and walking away.

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com

Give it Rafa ’til the end of the season
Jürgen Klopp is clearly an incredible manager who has won everything with Liverpool. However it’s clear that the team is struggling to replicate the dominance we saw in recent years. Frankly, the season is already a bust, once Real Madrid knock Liverpool out of the CL, there will be nothing left to play for. Klopp himself seems to be struggling under the weight of it all.

For his own health as much as anything, I would suggest that Jürgen Klopp takes a sabbatical until the end of the season. It’s the sort of thing you see in so many other industries but is never seriously mentioned in football. This would allow him the time to recharge and plan how to overhaul the squad in the summer without the daily pressure of managing the club, hopefully coming back next season with an upgraded squad and a fresh approach.

Liverpool just need to find a manager willing to take over for a few months to see the season out. Someone with a connection to the club, who could quickly start to get results and is available… dare I say, someone like… Rafa Benitez?

I believe that this decision would be in the best interest of everyone involved and would lead to a successful future for Liverpool and Klopp.

The alternative might be that Klopp and Liverpool limp to the end of the season at which point he walks away, unlikely to return to the club. Possibly able to bring success elsewhere once he recovers.
Mike, Reading


Injuries the real reason for Liverpool slump

“Another bad defeat for Liverpool at Wolves puts the club in a difficult position, but what do you do if results are bad but the manager is unsackable”

So here is one of the headlines on Thursday morning….this adds to a good few ‘Klopp out’ mentions over this season. I’m really wondering why no one is paying any attention, or at least not enough, to the ridiculous injury problems Liverpool have had this season. Klopp is an absolute worldy of a manager, if you’re not aware of that yet then change to another sporting interest, this ones not for you. Rewind 2 seasons ago when Liverpool had literally no centre halfs for most of the season and had to play their midfield out of position. They lost 6 home games IN A ROW that year and then pulled it out of the bag with 8 wins and 2 draws in the last 10 league games to get champions league football when it seemed impossible at one stage. And then what happens the next year with the exact same squad bar Konate and no decimating injury list??? They almost take home the f***ing quadruple……………………………………………. Anyone seeing any parallels? Klopp’s shown he can get the team out of this already and even if he cant this season due to having a banjaxed squad then he is still, and always bloody will be, one of the best managers on earth. So everyone pipe the bloody hell down and open your eyes to the real problem.
Patricio Del Toro


Read more: Is Jurgen Klopp still Liverpool’s best option to get out of this funk?


Klopp and cash
I think the problem with Klopp is related not to the lack of finances, but rather the availability of them. I know if sounds crazy, but Klopp’s approach is highly dependent on motivating the players and building team spirit. But you can only hear so many speeches before you stop getting influenced by them. He also needs his players to give more than they have ever given for his ways to work. At Dortmund, his best players were taken away and he had new set of players to motivate, using the same methods again. Also, he was signing lot of unknowns who were ready to commit to the cause because they had nothing to lose. At Liverpool, he has his best players staying with him, even when they are on decline. He is not used to breaking his own team or sell his loyal players (others did it for him at Dortmund). Also, the players he is signing now are not completely unknown and are signed for big money. They are superstars before playing a game for Klopp. They will never do more for him physically and risk losing a few years from their career.

I am not saying Klopp needs to go. He is the best I have seen in my time supporting Liverpool. But he needs to learn new tricks soon. Otherwise he will soon find himself at another club. Where he will have a start from zero and will be successful again..
Dushyant Jamwal, LFC, Dubai


Seen it all before
So Liverpool host Everton on Monday night in a game that has got the haters slavering with anticipation and the media breathless at the prospect of a Liverpool defeat and the clicks they’ll generate from articles covering the crisis going on at Anfield…

But amidst all the relish and consternation being displayed, people seem to have forgotten that we’ve been here before – and not in the distant past either… Virtually two years’ ago to the day, Liverpool played Everton at Anfield, off the back of three consecutive defeats (spankings from Man City and Leicester and a 1-0 loss to Brighton) and they duly did us 0-2. Although we beat Sheff Utd away a week later, we followed that victory up with two more consecutive home defeats to Fulham and Chelsea, before going on that long, unbeaten run to – improbably – sneak into third place on the last day of the season.

Whilst I agree that there are some significant differences between this LFC team to that one, and that the quality of teams above us is much better now than it was two years’ ago, it seems that all these people questioning Klopp’s capacity to fix things at LFC, or claiming that this team has reached the end of its cycle, have completely forgotten about the 20/21 season and how Klopp got things up-and-running again during the last 10 games (we’ve still 18 games to play this season btw) and then followed-up that campaign with an almost perfect bounce-back season.

That Wolves game last week has been labelled the worst defeat of Klopp’s LFC tenure by some, but everything about it reeked of that crap run we had in 20/21, from the possession, shots, shot accuracy and corner stats (which are almost identical to 3-1 defeat to Leicester on 13th Feb, 2021) to the general absence of confidence and energy on display and claims that Salah looked ‘shot’. What’s more, Liverpool’s transfer business was generally derided that year too, with Thiago allegedly not fitting in with our style, Jota being labelled an overpriced panic buy and, why-oh-why-oh-why didn’t they buy a centre-back in the January window?

The similarities with our current run are obvious, as are the chances that we’ll get through this mess and go again, so let’s ease off on the ‘Liverpool in Crisis’ articles, maybe?
Bob Stoker
PS: Man Utd finished second in 20/21 and everyone thought they were well-placed to push on and go for the title in 21/22; they subsequently finished 6th, 16 points worse off than the previous year. These fluctuations in form happen.


Ill-gotten gains
Liverpool getting a stash of trophies due to the ill-behaviour of other clubs? Do me a favour.

As an Everton supporter I still remember the chants and banners about ‘Steaua Bucharest 1986’ that the Liverpool supporters sang and paraded in front of us.

So, yeah, cry me a river.


Docked points
Read Chris from Croydon’s email and it got me thinking.

Was there an Arsenal conspiracy as long ago as 1991? I mean, how come Man United got docked a point and we got docked two? The only player not involved in the brawl was David Seaman.

Those where the days eh? Man United involved in a mass player brawl on the pitch with a London club. Wouldn’t happen these days of course.

Anyway, I wasn’t at Old Trafford in 1991, but I did go to Highbury for the Man United game/title party. You don’t really get the sense now from the highlights, but I remember the North Bank singing ‘You can stick your f*****g two points up your a***’ over and over. Of course I have self censored due to this being a family website but you get the message. This leads to my second question:

If Man City do get docked points this season, will their fans be at the Etihad at the end singing the same song we did all those years ago?

Oh, hold, on, of course not. There won’t be anyone there.
Exiled Gooner (Chris, 50 years, respect. You’ll have to tell us just how good Chippy Brady really was)


Throwing the book at City
The punishment for City if & when found guilty, is really simple.

1. Fine them 500m that covers the entire period they were found guilty of financial doping.
2. Put that money into subsidising the fan tickets for the top two leagues over the next 5 years
3. City will be allowed a sum zero loss over the next 5 years, which includes their 500m fine. So essentially they will need to make a 100m profit every year from club activities purely just to break even. Forget buying players.
4. A 10 point deduction per year for 5 years starting next season.

It is a fantasy to think City will be relegated. I find that since they got a huge advantage over the period due to excess investment, they should now learn to live skint & start off with a disadvantage. And the fines should directly go into helping the fans, which i think is best by subsidising the tickets for the EPL & Championship games.

It’s a win win for all, City will survive but will be a toxic place for 5 years, which will slowly see their best talent leave, as no one is loyal to city like players were to Juve. They will pay for exactly what they did, no more, no less.

A one time fine or ban or points deduction wouldnt make up for the years of advantage, so the punishment has to be prolonged and harsh. Ofcourse, all of this is only if City is found guilty by law.



City should’ve signed Kane
Agreed with pretty much everything in Dave Tickner’s article regarding Haaland. It’s odd to say, but this guy who’s probably going to finish on 40 Premier League goals this season is a hindrance to the team overall. Haaland’s doing his job great, which somehow means the other nine outfield players are not. And yes, they should have bought Kane.

So why did Man City buy Haaland when Kane was doing all he could to join them last summer?

My thoughts are that City bought Haaland so no one else could have him. City would rather have Haaland be imperfect for their style so he couldn’t be perfect for anyone else’s style. Imagine Haaland up front for Man Utd, Liverpool, or Arsenal this season. Imagine Haaland up front for Real Madrid or Bayern. It doesn’t bear thinking about for City. They couldn’t let it happen.

City play a possession-based, high-pressing, defence-smothering game. Haaland plays best starting deeper, making runs, and finishing off counters. Ironically, should City have got Kane and Arsenal got Haaland (instead of Jesus), then I think both teams would be clear of the rest, by some distance.
Dale May, Swindon (Wengerite)


…Let’s face it, Haaland is City’s Ronaldo, a supreme goalscorer who screws up the dynamic of the team. Where Ronaldo wouldn’t/couldn’t press, Haaland can’t/won’t play intricate build-up football.

So how about this? Swap Kane for Haaland? City get the Premier League’s finest false 9 1/2, while we get the ultimate counter-attacking goal machine. It saddens me that we’d probably have to sell Sonny in order to afford Haaland’s wages, but we’ve seen this year what happens when Kane stops dropping deep and Son is forced to work in tight spaces so maybe it’s time to move him on from the Kane-Son partnership while we still can.

Just a thought.
Neil, London


…Interesting article about the Haaland ‘problem’ at City: should we (United, that is) sign Kane in the summer, I wonder whether ten Hag and Pep will spend next season jealously eyeing up the other’s number nine. After all, Haaland would be a perfect fit for this United side, who play the ball quickly through the lines (where possible) and are in desperate need of a striker who can stay on the shoulder of the last defender and run in behind, giving Fernandes and our wingers room to do their thing, while—perhaps more importantly—finishing off a few of the countless chances we make but don’t take in every game at the moment. He’s also worked well with Sancho in the past, which would be an added bonus.

While Kane would probably be brilliant anyway, just because he is brilliant, he still isn’t quite as well-suited to our style of play, and I can imagine him dropping deep to play the ball up to… nobody (more often than not), as well as rendering Fernandes a little obsolete. As your article makes clear, he would be ideal for City, however, and their way of playing.

There obviously isn’t a feasible prospect of it happening—City would never sell such an asset to us, even if it holds them back just as much to keep hold of him when Kane is (possibly) available—but it’s curious in a counterfactual kind of way. Likelihood is we won’t get Kane anyway, or Osimhen, and Martial will flatter to deceive for the ninth (!) year running, but you never know—perhaps there’s a relegation clause in Haaland’s contract somewhere…
Tiger (MUFC), Cambridge

Man City beat Leeds

Haaland to Leeds
There’s a good deal of irony in the current Erling Haaland situation. Not the Alanis Morrisette kind of irony which is just bad luck incorrectly labeled irony, but actual irony.
An article in F365 today brands Haaland as “the most brilliant and successful flop in football history”. The point being that City’s style of play has been altered to accommodate him, and while he has amazing personal stats it’s ultimately to the detriment of the team. For a non-City fan that’s pretty funny, but not ironic. Here’s the irony.
Erling Haaland was born in Leeds. In 2017 he gave an interview to a Norwegian newspaper where he said “The dream is to win the Premier League with Leeds”. He apparently once whispered “Marching on Together” to Stuart Dallas after they played against each other in an international. Jesse Marsch, the now former Leeds coach, worked with Haaland at RB Salzburg. Leeds need a striker.
What are the chances that Leeds were ever going to get him? 0%, zip, zilch, nada. It was never going to happen. Realistically when he went to Man City last summer there was no way that Leeds were ever on the radar. They had just barely escaped relegation, and there was no way that a superstar of his calibre was coming to a struggling team.
What about the previous season though? Leeds finished 9th in their first season back in the top flight. They were aggressive and exciting under manager Marcelo Bielsa, and a new striker could have been just what they needed to push forward. Hypothetically what were the chances of him coming to Leeds had he been available at the end of that season? 0%, zip, zilch, nada. There was no way that Leeds were going to be able to afford a player that was scoring at the rate of more than a goal a game in the Bundesliga. Before signing Georginio Rutter earlier this season Leeds record transfer was £27M for Rodrigo, and Haaland went to City for almost twice that. Even if they had been able to afford the transfer they would never have been able to afford his wages.
And so we have it. A team in need of a striker, and a striker who loves a team. Seemingly a match made in heaven that just isn’t going to happen.
It always seems to come down to money.
Ironic, don’t you think?
Andrew – (still suffering) Canada


If Qatar come for Man Utd
Yep, walking away if that happens.

Loved the club since I was 8, have collected and treasured my memorabilia, particularly that of our Busby Babes, and that will always be treasured.

But I just don’t feel like United needs to do this to remain relevant. (I did not use the word competitive)

Now I suppose that the use of the word relevant can be misconstrued, I mean relevant to the fans of the club and it’s story, not only it’s success, which of course is always cool.

Does Man United NEED to win trophies for me to support them, no, that is my point.

I understand that this train of thought will be in a sharp minority, and this mail isn’t meant to sound as insufferably “well look here, super-important ME says or feels something” as it probably reads to you, I am just saying times change, people change, institutions change, and this would be a fork in the road for some of us.

Anyway, I am looking at finally making my move home soon, so to speak, and will be settling up near Oswestry, feel really excited to go catch a few The New Saints, and Shrewsbury matches I have to say.

Cheers guys,
Manc from SA.

Read more: Mailbox: Now it’s Man Utd fans’ turn to wrestle with their conscience over Qatar takeover

…Terrible as the Glazer’s have been for the club, there is no conscience to wrestle with should Qatari oil money or Donald Trump or Elon Musk buy the club. 50 years of support would be consigned to the dustbin. My support of a club is a two way street and my opinions, though worthless, are nevertheless paradoxically not for sale.

That would be sad, but supporting questionable owners would be sadder.
Collin (MUFC?) Hack


…I’m trying to come to terms and understand this supposed Qatari interest in buying my club. For a start it’s reported in the Daily Mail which I trust about as much as I trust the Glazers. But for the sake of this missive, let’s say it’s genuine (hey a broken clock is right twice a day). The report says that the interested parties are ‘Qatari investors’ as opposed to the Qatar government. Does this make it better? I don’t know, as we don’t know yet if there is clear separation.

So let’s say it is separate, that these are just businessmen with no links to the regime. May be difficult to believe but if so, do the moral issues and concerns raised during the WC still apply? They’re just businessmen after all, like Boehly or the Glazers (stay with me here). My worry would then be that my club is treated like PSG and becomes a plaything for shiny stars with the soul ripped out it. Unlimited money? Sign Mbappe, Neymar etc. it would be horrible. And yes, I understand United are already rich and have done this in the past 10 years and how has that gone? We appear to have finally turned the corner with ETH. I want success (who doesn’t) based on great coaching, a style of play, youngsters coming through.
Now back to the earlier point, if there is no separation between alleged ‘businessmen’ and the regime (and honestly I’m not naive enough to believe there’s no smoke without fire), then I don’t want them in my club. Take your billions and go buy something else. I can put up with Old Trafford not being the best stadium in the world. I can take us not winning the league every year (see the last 10 years). I can take us not signing multi millionaire over-hyped, narcissistic players.

What I can’t take is ripping out the soul (or what’s left of it since my first game in 1974) of my club and my connection and pride in that team.
Steve (ex-Flixton red), Ontario


Life after football
I’ve wondered about the point of writing this mail quite a few times given it’ll probably be pretty long and also the subject means it might not get printed. There’s a good reason why Runners World have never reviewed or commented on Born To Run by Chris MacDougall because it trashes their sponsors! But I think it’s feasible that others will feel similar and have their own opinions so I’m sending it anyway. Maybe the events of the past week play a part as well.

The bottom line here is that I’ve largely stepped away from professional football albeit I was only ever really an armchair fan. Due to the amount of matches on I’ve actually been watching more than ever over the last few years and maybe that extra level of commitment has had something to do with it. When it was one or two games a month it doesn’t seem like much effort, when it’s one or two a week it does. And I kind of wondered exactly what I was getting back from all this. I’m not one of those people who live vicariously through a football club, almost celebrating the achievements of the team as their own. They play no part at all in my own self-worth, I support a team because having some supposed skin in the game makes it more exciting. I almost never watch games as a neutral.

It’s hard to see past the huge corruption in football, UEFA and FIFA have basically been a joke for many years now and most authorities are at it somewhere. Somebody needs to explain to me how the Premier League “Fit and Proper Person” test operates because I’m stumped. We seem to spend as much time discussing off the field issues as we do those on the pitch. Obviously it’s not a new issue but the dominance of money in the game is sad as well. Which brings us to Man City who we’ve known were fiddling the books for years while they strolled off with leagues and cups. However this is resolved most people won’t be satisfied because the punishment will either be too small or we’ll be arguing about the legitimacy of trophies awarded to other teams.

Talking of the arguing, that brings me back to the fans. They seem mainly to be divisive and horrible, making every attempt to belittle others and still singing disgusting songs. This is likely a case of those who shout the loudest coming to the fore but there’s a lot of them. I’m very aware of what the reaction will be to the next bit of my email so I feel the need to pre-empt any reaction. I made this decision in the summer following what most people would consider a very successful season and since then have watched 2 domestic games (neither of which I was particularly fussed about watching). Admittedly my timing was excellent but I’ve stopped watching Liverpool. No, not because they’re rubbish now, I didn’t know they were going to be rubbish when I decided in the summer. I sat through the Hodgson months, I sat through the 6 consecutive home losses, I’ve been through worse than now and stuck with it.

At this point you can stop reading if you want and maybe respond to what I’ve already said. Perhaps you’re still in love with football and can’t ever see that changing or maybe you feel the same but have different reasons. However, I also wanted to mention what I do instead of watching matches. Basically I look after myself in various ways by researching and enacting health and wellness protocols. We’re incredibly lucky to have free and immediate access to a mind-blowing array of knowledge on how to keep us alive and well during the one shot we have on this planet. I listen to various podcasts that give me the information I need (Andrew Huberman, Peter Attia, Matthew Walker, David Sinclair, etc..) as well as others that provide inspiration to push myself to do new things (Mark Lewis). I’ve changed my diet, my sleep, my alcohol consumption and found ways to manage my mental health and lower my dementia risk. My main exercise used to be cycling but I now run a fair bit (Parkrun down to 24:10, not bad for an old bloke, aiming for near 20 minutes this year), thinking about doing a Hyrox or long trail run.

I’m not saying I needed to quit football to do these things but it’s an incredibly happy result of it. I feel pretty amazing right now and maybe removing myself from this often toxic environment has had something to do with it. Hard to say. But there’s no way I’m going back.
Jim, Norwich


Singalong with the Seagulls
Just woke up from a dream/nightmare in which Brighton came to Old Trafford and completely played United off the park. After racing into a 4-1 half-time lead, they added to their tally in the 2nd half and as the sixth goal – a 30-yard Caicedo howitzer – flew into the net, the away fans in that corner of Old Trafford erupted into a rendition of Getting Better by Shed Seven.

Then I woke up in a cold sweat and tinkered with the lyrics a bit. Considering Brighton really are getting better all the time, in spite of countless setbacks, I came up with this:

It’s getting better all the time/
We’ve got our wings and we can fly/
And sh*t over you!
We are the Mighty Seagulls/
We sh*t all over Eagles/
It’s getting better all the time!

(add a few thunderous handclaps that reverberated around the rapidly emptying and dilapidating Old Trafford like gunfire and return to start)

Now I don’t know if there are any resident Brighton fans here, but if there are they can have that one from me, c/o Rick Witter!

Happy Friday everyone!
Lee, Britpop enthusiast