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Reds on the beach
Liverpool’s loss last night guaranteed they would not be breaking City’s 100 points record. Now that brings to mind a curious question: have they missed a chance?
The chance to be among the true greats. What will this team be remembered by? What feats will future teams strive to emulate or even outdo? There have been several champions but there’s a reason we talk about the Invincibles and The Treble™ winners. City’s 3-digit points total also comes to mind. It feels weird to say but Liverpool haven’t made a unique impact on the league. Not Invincibles, no Treble, no record points, record goals scored/goals conceded, most clean sheets, 100% home/away record etc. They did have an insane start, mind you. But ultimately, they are, it seems, just another league winners.
They will be remembered for ending the wait for a Premier league title but that’s only significant in Liverpool circles. And perhaps for being champions in the corona virus season (no asterisks just an unfortunate and unforgettable coincidence). But have they produced the greatest Premier league season? No. They may not even be in the conversation
Now before we all lose our heads in responses, this isn’t a dig or meant to trivialize what the team did achieve. This has still been a phenomenal season under a brilliant manager and it is perhaps unreasonable for anyone to expect more from any team. But standards change and expectations evolve. This Liverpool team certainly proved themselves worthy of a fair few ‘unreasonable’ demands. If anything, it’s a compliment.
Liverpool’s manager, players, fans will not care (nor should they, really) or have sleepless nights in the coming weeks wondering what else they could have done. Understandably, every other thing pales into insignificance in the context of a 30-year title drought. But maybe, just maybe they could have seized the opportunity to really stamp their authority and brilliance and cement their place among the greatest.
…The fundamental problem with being a bit sh*te after you win the league in record time is that it doesn’t half take the shine of being, yer know, champions.
Nick Glover, Scouser in Brum.
…I was quite worried about the possible fallout of Liverpool after securing the title and it’s there for all to see. While media just talk about what records can be broken, these are falling by the wayside with every poor performance.
Finally earning that champions tag is amazing but the drop off to a mid-table team is alarming. It is always much harder to win back to back titles but this type of form stinks of the type of drop off suffered by recent champions Leicester and Chelsea.
Next season, Pep will undoubtedly want his title back, Chelsea, Man Utd are looking like serious threats and the likes of Southampton, Wolves, Arsenal, Spurs and Leicester all seem to be improving. If we don’t halt this rot before the end of the season we’ll be lucky to be fighting for that 4th place trophy with everyone else next year. Next year will not be our year – you heard it here first.
A concerned fan (and don’t tell me to calm down)
…Liverpool at Arsenal was a proper case of the ghosts of Christmas’s past; we had Mignolet in goal chucking them in the net, Lovren in central defence giving the ball away for a laugh and a little flavour of Voronin and Ngog up front offering close to zero threat. Only players who can take credit from today are Trent, Mané and Minamino. It was the latter’s best game since he signed. Still, I guess the league champions have earned the right to not turn up if they don’t fancy it.
Broadly they stunk the Emirates out and allowed them to press us and score the types of goals that we usually score. Fair play to Arsenal for taking such clinical advantage; you’ve got to think it shows promise for next season under Arteta if he can get the dressing room right.
I’m not overly disappointed beyond not getting a call to join Alisson and VVD on the ale last night. Frankly we could’ve gone at 100% and tried to break the 100 point record or we could’ve taken a breather to try and recuperate a little before next season. I think the fact we are unlikely to sign anyone major this summer means a rest is important so the team can be ready for a new fight next season.
As a side note genuinely astounded how many times Tyler got the players wrong. He mistook:
AOC for Firmino
Minamino for Salah
Wijnaldum for Mané
Obviously happens to the best of us but he’s literally a professional commentator. He basically only gets paid to say who’s got the ball and what’s going on.
…For the Liverpool players it must feel a bit like winning the Wimbledon final in three sets then being asked to play the other two. And then having people question why you’re not pushing yourself to win all five.
This parade through empty stadiums is clearly wearing and can’t be how anyone imagines winning a title – no fans greeting the bus or singing your names, no ‘champions’ banners, no family to wave to in the crowd. It’s disappointing to lose games to mid-table teams in the way they did, but a lack of drive is understandable.
It’s been a brilliant season and one that will always be remembered – for football and non-football reasons. Hopefully, they can finish in style over Chelsea as losing the game before picking up the trophy would be a shame for such a fantastic team.
In 16 conclusions I see that you are comparing Liverpool and City’s performance after winning the title. It’s weird that in your oh so effervescent strive to always provide ridiculous sensationalism you forget to note that Liverpool’s games played after the title are in empty stadiums, coming one every four games and are being played after a four month break with a two week training period Whilst City’s games were played on the trot with momentum, in front of fans, and not after a break forced by a global pandemic. Classic 365 only including part of the truth to get your narrow point across.
Reading 16 conclusions from The Arsenal’s surprise win on Liverpool I was surprised there wasn’t any mention of Martinez. He made his first mistake since he came in the team with the dallied clearance that hit Firmino but after that, and as he has been every game, he was excellent. His handling is top class. It’s actually quite old fashioned to see a GK so comfortable claiming crosses and catching shots rather than punching or parrying them away. But the most praise has to be for the save in the 96th minute from the deflected Trent shot that was spinning in to the corner. In terms of GK technique, the footwork to re set after the deflection and the timing of the full stretch dive to turn it round the post made it one of the saved of the season, but as it wasn’t made by De Gea or Allison it was given little attention in the game.
The problem with Pep
Here’s the thing, how come Pep Guardiola continuously gets preferential treatment from the fawning British press? Could you imagine the witch hunt any other manager would have endured had their team, as defending champions, put up a piss poor defence of their title as City this season? NINE games lost.
Seán (I realise I’ve gone full on tabloid with the shouty NINE but it was warranted here) Dublin
In it to win it?
I’m getting the impression from Man City fans that what they crave is to be to the Premier League version of what Barca/ Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich and Juventus are to their leagues. Serial winners because they are you know so much more richer.
I won’t risk a Little and Large metaphor because that could involve a collective Mancunian losing of their shit again and excessively twisted melons. Just say Debbie McGee. No don’t.
That gripe aside where do Man City fans now stand on the European Cup? My understanding is thatvthere was a unified and rather gauche response of ‘UEFA’s corrupt, the game’s gone, it’s bent’. But now your club has been ‘fully exonerated’ what then?
Is the competition less corrupt now? Do you even want to win a corrupt/non-corrupt title? Now is your time to come off this neither Little nor Large fence.
Happy to start you off talking amongst yourselves
A couple of important questions were answered this week – did Manchester City disguise where they got their sponsorship from? No. Are Liverpool the best Premier League team ever? Again, no.
Much was said in the Arsenal v Liverpool commentary and pre/post-match analysis about players losing the drive once a title is secured. It didn’t seem to be a problem for City two years ago when Gabriel Jesus played til the final whistle, thereby securing the 100 points.
Which brings me to the main point of my e-mail. We City fans need not worry about life after Aguero. Don’t get me wrong, Aguero is the best striker we’ve ever had, or are likely to have in the next decade, and you’d always pick in him your first eleven. But Gabriel Jesus is more than capable of operating as our main striker. I say striker, with him dropping deep to get hold of the ball and Ederson pushing up from the back, it is like Pep is playing with eleven midfielders sometimes.
The point is that Jesus does so much to get involved and, equally, also does so much to get others involved that City under Pep have not missed Aguero too much since his injury. Jesus’ hold-up play is brilliant, and as he showed last, his finishing isn’t too shabby either. We have six or seven players who are well capable of hitting double figures, with Sterling and Jesus realistically capable of 20+.
So when our destiny in the two cups is settled, we can look forward to next season and find out how strong our opponent’s drive really s.
Rob, Manchester, MCFC
I wanted to offer my 2 pence on the CAS decision on Monday and the reaction that has followed. I like most people believe that money was funneled through the sponsorship of Etihad Airlines to Man City by the Sheikh. Like James in the previous mailbox asserted, why would any company sponsor a little known club like Man City with so much dough as to dwarf every other major club in the world? That part for me is very apparent, whether it can be proven when there is so much lawyer firewall in the way is another thing. The part I disagree with is, in a free market why should the Sheikh have to funnel money via bogus sponsorship deals?
Here’s how I’d propose it be done in future. Scrap the FFP, because it’s obviously bullsh*t. At the very least FFP needs major reform. There are so many working models in the business world and one where an owner puts their money at a club should b a model that is acceptable. In such a model, the owner outlays the money for all contracts when signing new contracts. For example, if Man City give De Bruyne a contract extension for 5 years at 12 million a year, the owner should put 60 million at city’s bank account. Do this for all assets for the club so incase he decides to bugger off after a few years, the money to cover the contracts is there already. Meaning the club doesn’t go burst when the owner decides to bugger off. Newcastle want Neymar for 250 million and pay him 50 million a year for 5 years? No problem, we will need that 500 million to be in the clubs coffers with no loan attached to it though Bin Salman.
This to me is a much fairer way and totally clears the waters. It’s akin to the Marijuana legalization act. There was so much shady/criminal activity over something that most people participated in that it made no sense. Once it became legal, now some countries are gathering tax off it and you don’t have to hide or interact with shady individuals, aka lawyers.
Now, the above approach could lead to Man City, Newcastle and PSG hovering up all the talent, but this can be offset by allowing associations with organic support to monetise and get leverage. Can we let the likes of Barcelona work under debt the way Tesla and Uber operate? This can extend down to where an association places strict cap rules for participation. The premier league could place a cap such as, a squad should not cost more than 500 million. So yes Bin Salman, you can buy Neymar for 500 million, but he’ll have to play that game against Villa by himself. This ensures competition will continue throughout, the only caveat with caps is, the owners keep the profits. To prevent this, associations should do a yearly review and introduce a minimum contract amount. A club can make as much profit as they can, but a huge chunk of that goes to the players, coaches, staff etc.
So if each competition introduces a cap, it ensures competition is alive but also does not deny billionaires from investing.
Dave(Can I buy Watford on loan?), Somewhere
…This CAS verdict is exactly what City and their oil rich owners ever wanted. It gives them the go-ahead to continue spending and accumulating league titles for their fans all over the world. However, the reason i think they’re really happy with it is they now have a legitimate army of folks in all walks of life, in every social media and news outlet, fighting their fight for them.
Sports-washing, we’re all familiar with the term right? Now I’m seeing and reading people saying “FFP is just a mechanism to protect the white money from the oil money” or “haha the big clubs just use FFP to slag off non-white owners” whatever, etc…
Have you all forgotten the reason Qatar, Saudi Arabia are in sports? Do you not wonder why that blow hard Dana White now has a “fight island” on Yas Island FOR FREE?
Yes money from the likes of Abramovich, leveraged take-overs by Glazers and various other malevolent machinations taken on by the established elite are not welcome in my opinion. But how can you use their interventions and schemes as a way to excuse LEGITIMATE, ONGOING examples of mass disregard for human life, human rights or basic safety? How many immigrants die in those countries every day to build the stadium the world cup will be hosted in? How many starving poor Mongolian workers are crushed by steel beams that are not properly secured because billions go to fighting a court case at CAS instead of some of that money going to build a secure worksite, or to pay the worker’s fairly?
Amnesty International has highlighted this so many times. Yet, all anyone cares about is whether or not City got off on a technicality.
People are dying. People are being taken advantage of. There is no justification.
N.V.M. (past evils do not justify new ones)
Winning isn’t everything
There was a comment yesterday about how judging a team by the entertainment they bring isnt important, when someone was trying to compare Solskjaer to David Moyes. It struck me as odd. We watch football. I know fans want their teams to win..but we spend time watching football, and surely we love it for one reason, the entertainment. Watching 45 minutes of David Silva is 45 minutes well spent, he probably doesn’t have the stats to be one of the premier leagues best ever midfielders…but hes definitely one of the premier leagues best ever midfielders. There was a disparaging remark about kevin Keegan but I cant be the only neutral who absolutely loved to watch that Newcastle side? I guess the crux of it is, if you’re only watching sport for the feeling when your team wins, you’re missing out on the whole reason we began watching it in the first place. Watching the ball arrive somehow at Nesta’s feet, watching Rui Costa nonchalantly ping the ball to Batistuta, watching Berbatov pluck the ball out of the sky..I’ve rambled. But the narrow world view that dictates Twitter and social media conversation really misses the point of the ‘Beautiful game.’
Donal (it always comes back to James Richardson nursing that cup of coffee)
No more emergency keepers
So, I see they’re making the 5 subs per game the new standard.
Of course, this favours bigger clubs and will make injury time unnecessarily longer. But the true tragedy of allowing 5 subs per game is that we will now probably never again see an outfield player be forced to go in goal for the last ten minutes thanks to all subs having been used. RIP one of the best things in football. No more Harry Kane having a go in nets as he’s already bagged a hattrick, no more John O’Shea actually doing surprisingly ok, never again the excitement and surprise of discovering which member of the squad is dynamite in a 5 a side goal. Game’s gone, Mate. Game’s gone!
Pop a cap
Alan’s idea of a salary cap is one that has been floated before, but would just never work in practicality in Europe for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there’s the issue of currency. While most of the top European clubs deal in Euros, clubs in the UK obviously do not. This clearly raises potential inconsistencies between the leagues. If the maximum wage was say, €250,000 a week, a strengthening of the pound could see a players’ wage rise over the cap, just because of the change in currency rates.
There is also the issue of tax. Different countries throughout Europe have vastly different tax rates. If the salary cap was pre-tax, then clubs operating in countries with lower rates of tax would be more attractive for players. You could argue that’s already the case, but when a binding salary cap is in place, the effect would be more marked.
You’d also have to ask, what is the point of the cap? The point of FFP is not only to prevent clubs spending billions and joining the European elite, it’s also to stop clubs in other leagues spending outside their means. A salary cap that had meaning for clubs like Man City would be completely irrelevant for clubs in Scotland, Belgium, Portugal, Norway or any league outside the top 5. So you could still have clubs dominating domestic leagues by outspending their rivals.
The USA is often the go to comparison regarding salary caps, but the two systems are so different that comparisons are meaningless. It’s true to say that American leagues are more competitive, but the salary cap is only partly the reason. A huge consideration is the draft. The worst team in the league gets the best youngster in the land and can sign them on a long term deal. It would be like Norwich, with no relegation signing Phil Foden or Jadon Sancho on a 7 year deal.
That links onto the next difference: contracts. When players in the US sign a contract, the number of years has a far more significant meaning than it does in Europe. If you sign an 8 year deal, that will be your contract for the next 8 years, come what may. Even if you are traded, the contract goes with you. In other words, buying a player with a year left on his deal is very risky. The player does not sign a new contract, he joins you with only a year left on his contract, free to move as a free agent after that year.
Players also don’t really have the power to block a move. The idea that Aguero would have to sign for Bournemouth just couldn’t happen. He would just refuse to leave and stay on his contract at City. European players can hang around, even if their clubs don’t want them, players in America cannot.
It wouldn’t even be Bournemouth that players would end up. It would be China, Qatar etc. who would be free to offer players far more than they could earn in Europe.
But realistically that wouldn’t happen either, because the minute UEFA tried to impose a salary cap, you know what would happen. You’d see a European Super League formed before you’d finished reading the press release. Liverpool, City, United, Juve, Barca, Madrid, PSG etc. are all quite happy with things as they are. FFP is good for them, because it protects their interests, as they earn the most money. The minute you bring in something that looks to make the leagues more equal they would be out of Uefa like a shot.
It’s a nice idea in a fantasy world but it will never happen in reality.
Mike, LFC, London
…From my point of view, salary cap would not work in football. it might works in America because their leagues are in the top tier of their respective sports, MLB to baseball, NHL to Hockey, NBA to basketball, NFL to American Football, forget about MLS… Teams in these leagues, they only compete against teams in their own league, and they called themselves “World Champion” after winning their leagues.. They don’t really have other competition to worry about outside their league.
If a top club in England needs to do trades to get rid of expiring contracts and restricted free agents to work under the salary cap, you will have to expect they might not be as competitive as other top clubs in Europe. You can’t expect other countries or league to adapt the same salary cap either. In addition, you don’t see relegations in American sports, using your example, Aguero to Bournemouth, imagine Bournemouth gets relegated and they have that huge contract of Aguero on their payrolls, where do they get the money to pay the guy? Trade him or release him? No that wouldn’t work, the player wouldn’t fancy it either.
…There needs to be two responses to Alan (LFC)’s Salary Cap suggestion
Firstly, unless every league does it, the quality of the Premier League will drop. Why would the top tier players play in England for 100k a week, when you could get 300k elsewhere? We all like hearing players saying they always dreamt of playing for so and so club, or always admired the passion of the fans, but with the rare exception of local kids coming through academies, money will almost always be the number one factor.
Secondly, channeling my inner Johnny Nicholson, it’s obscene that the likes of Man City pay De Bruyne 25 odd million a year for just being good a kicking a ball. But if you were to cap that, then the money isn’t just going to disappear. It’s still going to be generate (maybe less so, see point one), and in my pinko opinion, it’s infinitely more obscene if less of the cash goes to those providing the “product” being sold, and more to the suits upstairs.
Big D, Luxembourg
Did pep really just accuse Wenger of spending vast amounts of money at arsenal?
Is this the twilight zone or am I dreaming?
I was only 11 at the time when arsenal became a force under Wenger (not an arsenal fan BTW), but I distinctly remember him buying 90% of his players for under 10-15 mil and turning them into superstars!
Am I wrong?
Am I losing it?
Where 5ive really a band?
Does anyone else remember tomagotchis and millennium babies?
What the f**k is going on?
Kicking off over the Beeb
Just watching Burnley – Wolves, or at least I’m trying to watch, but all I’m seeing are replays and close-ups. The director is actually managing to miss half of the live action. And then there’s Dion Dublin who can’t shut up. Maybe somebody’s told him he gets paid per word. Are there people out there who would rather see a close-up of Mike Dean or Sean Dyche and 4 replays of a foul instead of the live action? Also, first one to see a kick-off being televised after a goal has been scored wins a night out with Ken Kratz ( do they still restart the game with a kick-off after a goal?).
G Thomas, Breda
Big man in the big time
Lovely article on Adebayo. Always had a soft spot for him, and as you say, is a big time player through and through. He was wonderfully for AFC Wimbledon in League 2, with my two favourite moments being the goal he scored from a corner against Brendan Rodgers Liverpool in a FA Cup game ( which Liverpool went on to win of course) and his last game for Wimbledon, when he scored a penalty at Wembley against Plymouth to get Wimbledon promoted to League 1.
A wonderful guy seemingly and a hard worker. I’m glad he’s finally made it to the championship, and hope he one day does make it to the Premier League ( as unlikely as it is)
On a lighter note
Do you ever read the mailbox and get triggered by something someone says and spend hours crafting a response and the minute you hit send you worry you’re a 30-something year old man about to get into an argument with a 12-year old? And worst of all, you secretly know the 12-year old has a better argument because she’s not consumed by anxiety about COVID and the collapse of the western world?
Niall (statistics are more boring than opinions so please stop), Denver