Liverpool, Klopp splitting at ‘right time’ after four anti-Edwards transfers; Ratcliffe is already a ‘joke’

Editor F365
Liverpool trio Darwin Nunez, Jurgen Klopp and Michael Edwards.

The Mailbox reckons Julian Ward’s return to Liverpool and four anti-Michael Edwards transfers prove Jurgen Klopp’s exit is coming at ‘the right time’.

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Did Klopp inadvertently squeeze his people out?
News broke today that FSG / Liverpool FC are well and truly in the midst of getting the band back together, with a returning Julian Ward to come in and resume playing well-timed transfer wall passes with old rondo partner Michael Edwards. They’ve hired a new drummer to keep beat and some backup vocalists to add their voices, but make no mistake the frontman and guitarists remain the same and they’re back to crank familiar tunes.

To me, this is more evidence Liverpool staff began abandoning ship over the past few seasons because Klopp rearranged one too many deck chairs on a listing vessel. To me, this is more evidence that Darwin Nunez (and possibly Gakpo, maybe Endo too) might not have been signed under an Edwards-directed regime. To me, this is more evidence that Edwards likely did not believe, on principle at least, that Thiago Alcantara was an acquisition fitting of the Wijnaldum-shaped hole in Liverpool’s midfield when the side were at peak power and needed only spot insurance, durability and some stardust. To me, this is perhaps more evidence that it really could be the right time for Jurgen to move on.

None of this is to say I don’t love Jurgen Klopp to bits (I really do) nor to say that Arne Slot’s possibly more data-centric and modern footballing worldviews will be the answer to this 2.0 push or whatever you want to call it. This is only to say (or to theorize) that the band is probably getting back together and only getting back together because the previous lead, who’d slowly begun amassing song-writing, mixing and producing duties while still hogging the tambourine, decided to wander off and go solo.
Eric, Los Angeles CA

Darwin Nunez and Arne Slot at Liverpool
Darwin Nunez and Arne Slot at Liverpool


Fred and Casemiro
Not sure if you are taking any more emails on the Fred topic but in case you are.

Selling Fred and buying Mason Mount was a pathetic decision from United and ETH has to take some responsibility for it by allowing it to happen. Fred was turning from an almost constant liability into a great partner for Casemiro in United’s midfield. I think a great deal of managers tend to ignore personal relationships when building a side and sometimes this can really turn around and bite them. I think for Casemiro having a young, energetic countryman alongside him in a new team, in a new country was invaluable and Casemiro’s experience really rubbed off positively onto Fred. I think if they hadn’t been split up and with the emergence of Mainoo, United were more than well stocked in terms of midfielders. Instead Casemiro’s form has suffered from injuries and being played in defense and yet pundits are criticising him.

Ratcliffe is getting to be a joke even before he’s made a player signing. His first few changes have been cost cutting measures in the organisation as if that’s going to help our defense.

The next thing he seems to be fixated in are jobs for mates and potential mates in the organisation. I think Jason Wilcox was a decent player but which team has been knocking on his door after he stopped playing? And yet Ratcliffe has somehow identified him as an important jigsaw piece, I’d be laughing if this was happening at a different club.
Mike, United supporter since the mid 70’s


I agree with the assertion that Fred’s sale was the biggest mistake Man United made. I touched on it in my submission yesterday.

To improve on their third place last season, Ten Hag needed to maintain the players in critical areas that helped him to achieve that feat and Fred was part of that double pivot midfield with Casemiro that defeated Man City 2-1 at Old Trafford. This season, United lost both legs 3-0 and 3-1 respectively compared to last season’s 6-3 and 2-1. That is the first point.

2. Ten Hag went in for 18year old Kobby Mainoo who is not experienced with premier league matches. Fred has been under Mourinho, Solskjaer, Carrick, Rangnick and Ten Hag. In fact it was Rangnick who first deployed Fred as an attacking midfielder besides his holding midfield role that led to scoring a vital 1-0 win against Norwich City at Old Trafford. Rangnick started preparing the player before Ten Hag used his first season to polish him.

How do you sell a player that could help you get your returns on investments the following season? Too bad and one of the major reasons United’s midfield is bleeding this season when Casemiro is used out of position.
Ernest Tetteh Kabu

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INEOS Issues Doesn’t Mean Ratcliffe Is Wrong
To George (Little Spruffleton on the Waters), my understanding is whataboutism is not cool these days.

Criticize INEOS subsidiaries’ pollution sure, but that doesn’t mean Ratcliffe’s criticism of the cleanliness of United’s facilities as wrong. Rather, explain why Ratcliffe criticism is wrong and why it’s fine for United’s facilities to be messy and unkempt and how that is productive to the functioning of the football club.

As for the pollution problem. You can also write in to the local authorities of the local area and report it if it is not following to the prescribed local regulations. Raise awareness if it’s not a widely known problem there and help ensure that the people there know the tradeoffs.
Yaru, Malaysia 


Arsenal fans take the bait…
The man does love terrorising gooners, does our Stewie. And his latest hypothetical, if Leverkusen complete an invincible treble would be better than Arsenal’s version, well… it tickles me.

Because it’s already better. They could lose both cups and it’s already better. We’re talking 49 games undefeated in a row. With a mid-table team. And a rookie manager. With half a year to instill “his way of playing”.

Arsenal, by comparison, never went more than about two or three months undefeated at a time. Sure the league was carried through (a fabulous achievement, don’t get me wrong) but they fairly consistently dropped games in all the other competitions.

Last night Leverkusen were winning the tie 4-2 on aggregate and decided that didn’t matter – losing 2-0 on the night would not stand. Sure they could claim it was an aggregate win, and most sports writers would have gone along with it. But they didn’t. They attacked, relentlessly, at a time when doing that only made them more likely to lose. And they pulled it back. It’s the dumbest, most glorious thing ever.

49 games undefeated. No asterisks. No brackets. Just 49 in a row. From no-where.

If they finish it off, then it’s probably the greatest football achievement I can think of. Yes. including Leicester. Just madness.
Andrew M

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Is this Bayer Leverkusen side better than Arsenal’s Invincibles? Join the debate here


Ok ok ok Stewie, I’ll bite because you’ve mentioned it a few times now. I called Xabi Alonso ‘flavour of the week’ but and here is the important thing you are purposely ignoring…context.

It was mentioned on the bingo card of things you would say because it’s just what you do, nothing to do with Alonso’s talents but with your willful bouncing from whatever manager is doing well at that moment to the next to criticise Arteta. Off the top of my head, we had the comparisons with Conte and how much of a mistake it was not getting him onboard and how he’d embarrass Arteta and Arsenal and then….silence.

Then we moved onto Edin Terzic at Dortmund and how he’s embarrassing Arteta until Dortmund completely collapsed right at the death and then….silence. Until now though as Dortmund have reached the Champs League Final but that doesn’t tell the whole story does it? They are also 5th in the league and 24pts off the top. I’d love to know what mental gymnastics you’d perform to use that exact situation as a stick to beat Arteta with if the situations were reversed.

Finally, we moved on to Xabi Alonso, I mean throw enough stuff at the wall and something will stick but that’s your vibe isn’t it? Broken clock is still right twice a day sort of thing (insert emoticon). Ultimately please stop dining out on words you’ve twisted to suit your narrative, it’s worrying, to be honest, how myopic you choose to be just to feed your own ego (insert emoticon), Trumpian levels of manipulation if you will… actually your emails very much feel like emails Richard Keys or Jamie O’Hara would write in such is your disdain for anything Arsenal.

Oh and in response to your question of course it’s more impressive than the Invincibles, why wouldn’t it be? Why even compare it? Oh yeah Arsenal…. Surely if you want to ask something then the question should be ‘is winning a treble with the Europa League but undefeated in the League more or less impressive than winning a treble with losses but including the Champions League?’

Personally….I don’t really care, winning that many matches and that sort of consistency is borderline perfection and each should get their flowers. Every impressive feat does not need to be compared to another, it can exist on its own. You don’t need to dull others light to make yours shine brighter, more power to those managers and clubs and I hope they enjoy their success and football is better off for having young managers like them in and changing the game.
Lee AFC (insert emoticon) Bristol


I know Stewie is probably looking to annoy people or find yet another reason to be miserable about the club he chooses to support. BUT it’s Friday and I’m bored. Should Leverkusen remain unbeaten, it will be the a greater achievement than Arsenal’s (also very great) unbeaten season.

Arsenal lost games in the champions league, league Cup and FA Cup. Leverkusen are unbeaten in the Pokal and Europa league. Leverkusen have already won a higher % of their league games and scored more goals. Leverkusen are a team greater than the sum of their parts. Arsenal had generational talents in Bergkamp, Henry (in a golden boot winning season) and Viera, along with the talents of Pires, Ljungberg, Cole etc. So for the Leverkusen team to remain unbeaten in every competition this season would be, unquestionably, a better achievement.
Kevin, Dublin

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Hating inverted full-backs
Is it just me who hates the “inverted fullback”??

I do understand that its better to talk about football than not but also lets not give false praise to “genius tactical thinking”.

Basically the midfield cannot gain success so an extra player from defence is chucked up front!!

Its a shame these lads dont have a real union behind them.

How would you fancy going to work and then being given a completely different job to be done at the same time??
Imagine building a house…

You are doing the plumbing…

The blokes on electrics are crap so the boss says go on lad get in there and help them out but finish the plumbing too. Balls.

Anyway all the best and keep up the good work.


Joey Barton gets a well-deserved kicking…
Weird one for a Friday afternoon and perhaps weirder that I – a semi-regular contributor to this revered mailbox – am going to anonymise my contribution as I’m sharing a few personal details to add some context to the absolute kicking I’m about to give a certain someone.

In my crosshairs today is everyone’s favourite rent-a-gob, Joey Barton. A man who I think has been described on these pages (and / or elsewhere) as a thick person’s idea of what an intelligent person sounds like. A bully. A player with a tiny fraction of the skill he seemed to think he possessed. A failed manager. Now a professional online troll in a tragic, Katie-Hopkins-esque, desperate attempt to remain relevant to… I dunno… someone, somewhere. I know I shouldn’t respond to his bullsh*t, get angered by it or give it the oxygen of any further comment.

But his recent Podcast garbage on Lionel Messi’s growth hormone treatment has really got my fucking goat (no pun intended). I definitely don’t want to stir up the tedious culture war debate about who is “best” footballer ever because we all know that is an entirely subjective and often an aesthetic choice. The one thing I think we can agree on is that it’s not Joseph Anthony Barton.

What has prickled me, is the astonishingly ill-informed comments from Barton suggesting that Messi’s irrefutably remarkable achievements warrant an “asterisk” because of his growth hormone treatment in his youth. Now the context. My 11-year-old son suffers from a mild but somewhat restrictive genetic condition which, amongst its major symptoms, includes a progressive curvature of the spine and a growth hormone deficiency. Aside from 19 previous operations, he has been treated with a growth hormone supplement, similar to that which was used to treat Messi, requiring a daily injection since he was around four years old. Since the age of 10, he has been administering this himself, which I mention only because I think that’s quite a big deal for a 10/11 year old and will give you some context for the stoic way in which he has taken these physical setbacks. So I take that sh*t a bit personally

I’m especially sensitive this week, as we’re one week away from a significant surgery on my son’s spine. Though the recovery will be tough, that had been cause for certain celebration as it was expected to be the last surgery that he would need. Unfortunately (and coincidentally, on the same day I read Barton’s crap), we also learnt that his growth hormone treatment has essentially failed and that the best we can hope for is that my son creeps just above the height threshold at which his condition would be classified as “dwarfism”.

I don’t judge people for their height. I’m not exactly a tall person, myself, at (a non-genetically modifiied) 5’7″ – coincidentally around the same height as Lionel Messi, though that is where the similarities end… who knows, maybe it takes some talent, hard work and discipline to become as phenomenal at football as he is, rather than just being boosted to a particular height. But as an adult man of barely 5′ in height, I know my boy is going to have it tougher than many and, even with the hardest work imaginable, is unlikley to have the phyical attributes to become a top athlete, therefore Barton’s nonsense about the corrective treatment representing an advantage really cut me up. If anyone saw fit to describe anything my son achieved as warranting an asterisk, I’d likely respond in ways that would make Joey Barton himself wince.

So, Dr Barton, can you please look up the difference between hormone treatment and genetic modification, you ignorant cretin. I’m not a trained expert in this field, but I know from experience that a growth hormone deficiency is a medical condition. Growth hormone treatment for someone with a deficiency is not juicing. It certainly isn’t genetic modification. As mentioned above, it doesn’t always work and it sure as shit doesn’t suddenly produce one of the top four or five greatest talents in their particular field. Treatment of a childhood medical condition isn’t grounds for diminishing someone’s achievements.

Joey Barton is just wrong and if I can educate even one person to that fact, remove even one subscriber to his podcast, or just open some eyes to what Messi has had to overcome, then the time I’ve spent writing this will feel worthwhile.

So, you know what, Joey. You can get f***ed.

For what it’s worth, a quote from Joey from 2016 reads: “In any other era Cristiano would be best of his generation. In the Messi-era everyone who has ever played is no.2. Maradona. Cruyff. Pele.” Not sure if that means he has just learnt of Messi’s juvenile medical condition (which has been public knowledge for as long as I can remember) or is just spouting controversial sh*t to get his name in the papers again. I’ll let others decide that. (Although it’s obviously the second thing).

More: Liverpool | Manchester United | Arsenal | Jurgen Klopp | Sir Jim Ratcliffe