Liverpool’s planning and execution has been driven by Pep

Date published: Tuesday 11th February 2020 2:26

Pep Guardiola Manchester City Liverpool

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Pep is the Manhattan project
To the Editor

Well it is a slow winter break and time for reflections. More so than the stirring victory over United last month that made our darkest dream become almost certain reality and the flood of relief that followed, nothing has struck me harder (in footballing terms) in this new year is the sacking of Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona. It has been like a bell that cannot be unrung in my head. It all comes back to Pep Guardiola.

I guess when you look at at, even post-Pep Barcelona can sit top in the league, breeze through to the next stage of the Champions League and Copa del Rey and still sack their manager. What more does a manager have to do? After Pep, everything good tastes like ash, because this winning isn’t the WINNING they are used to, they were the brightest star in the footballing galaxy, poetry, anything was possible. Pep set a standard so high at Barcelona it was like a bell that could not be unrung.

As Liverpool romp to a title a lot has been made of Pep’s failings and future as City dropped some major points, they were “slipping”. We watch a Premier League where dropping points away to a good team is seen as failure, a sign of incompetence and malpractice, the standard is that high. When you earn 198 points across two seasons that is reality. That standard has been set for a whole league.

This is what Pep has done to the League itself, he is the Manhattan project, the coaching/attacking/stylistic arms race that has driven this unbelievable standard over the past +3 seasons at the top of the League. I cannot believe anyone can question what Pep brings to the League, you can question some transfers, occasional tactics and even his temper, but it is clear that this bloke is the most transformational force in world football. Like a good arms race the spoils go to those richest and prepared to keep going (So the experiment wouldn’t work at Delta Vigo).

To knock Pep over (once) in 2011-12 the Real Galacticos that earned 100 league points got Mourinho and had to spend just shy of 400M Euros between 2009-11 on players (holy fuck). That absolutely stacked team only won the League once and the club didn’t win La Liga again for 4 years (holy fucking fuck). Pep shows us you cannot just spend your way to success (it helps) but you cannot be this good without the whole of club planning and drive that Pep brings.

What I am getting to is the planning and execution (and sure the luck) that has been required to get Liverpool to where they are today (73/75 points) has been driven by Pep and his excellence. The season and a half where I wake up with dread to the idea of Pool losing points because City can snap off a win streak that lasts the rest of the season. He has set the standard so high the collective anxiety around Anfield to any blip is a real thing. Dropping points could mean the title and with Pep around you simply can’t claim anything until he it mathematically done. Thank fuck 22 points actually feels like enough of a gap….

Liverpool should have been able to drop points away at West Ham, Everton & United in the last year without giving the whole game away. With Pep and that team chasing it was never going to be enough. Brutal. That is what he brings.

So I say respect and love this bloke while we have him in the League, respect what has to be done to even lay a glove on him, City fans especially, because when he leaves you may be on top of the League, but it may just taste like Ernesto Valverde’s ashes at Barcelona.

Jim Ando, LFC, Canberra (With Pep, 22 points could still be a close run thing)


Super League

Long time reader and occasional mailer, though none published from what I can tell..shame on you!

With all the talk of Premflix and Super leagues in the mailbox thanks to Johnny Nic’s article the other day (has he gone so far to the left that he’s actually on the right now?), I thought I’d chip in my thoughts on the European Super League, which feels inevitable, money talks afterall.

I think I’m in the minority of not being totally against the idea, however my main issue is it being a closed shop with no ‘relegation’ if you like.

Having briefly looked at the teams that would be involved and the countries they’re from, it seems quite difficult to work out how relegation could work.

You could start by saying the bottom teams from each nation get relegated back to their own league and the winner of that league then goes up into the Super league, however what if all the English teams finished 1-6 in the super league, is it fair to relegate the team that came sixth out of 20? Then going on from that, if we said just the team that finishes last gets relegated, could we end up with a situation where the Portuguese teams always finish at the bottom so it is just their teams going back and forth from their division.

Forgetting that for a minute, one of the main arguments against the Super League is the effect on the local leagues. In my mind it could actually work in favour of the local leagues, if we look at the Premier League we have the ‘Big 6’, then a few ambitious upstarts (Leicester, Wolves, Everton), then the rest basically just do enough to stay in the division. Lets look at Newcastle, why would Mike Ashley pumps hundreds of millions in only to realistically gain a couple of places in the table? Same for Burnley and whoever else.

If the big six were not in the division, would this not mean anyone would fancy their chances?

With the Big Six gone, we could move more teams up from the championship to have 18 or 20 in both divisions, then couple up from the leagues below, freeing up a few weeks in the year…

Now (bear with me) going further, why not have just a European league for all professional clubs in UEFA excluding the Super league to run alongside the local league, I surely can’t be the only one wondering how Bristol Rovers would fare against their French or Greek equivalents.

I would work this by splitting them all into groups of 5 across the continent, not play each team home AND away, but have two away and two home European games per season, top goes up, bottom goes down as well as a points system (similar to what they use now for the co-efficient), this will take strain off supporters finances plus give two trips a year to look forward to. At the end of each year this will give us the best of the rest in Europe which could help with relegations from the Super League as it wouldn’t be done by place finished, just if a super leagues co-efficient drops below the top places best of the rest from their own country, they swap.

I know the admin would be heavy but give me a UEFA salary and I’ll have it done in two-weeks!


Steve (Days off are dangerous) Bristol


And it’s Arsenal…
Does anyone else really hate the “And it’s Arsenal..” chant. I’m a Newcastle fan, so have no logical hatred for Arsenal, but this chant really annoys me. To claim to be “by far the best team, the world have ever seen” really is utter jizz. There may have been a claim during the invincibles period, but that was one season, and they won tit-all in Europe. It ticks all the wrong boxes:

  • Best team – NO
  • By far the best team – by extension, NO.
  • Ever seen? DON’T GET ME STARTED..

Surely Arsenal fans must be embarrassed by it? At Newcastle, we don’t claim to be any good, because we’re not. But the last time I checked, Arsenal we pretty shitty too.

I don’t think I have a genuine hatred for any other chant, but this is just too much for me. Any other readers struggle with this stuff?
Simon S, Cheshire


Bring back Brendan
What do people think about Gerrard re signing for Pool so he can lift the premier league trophy as he “deserves it”

I personally think that’s a massive insult, they should bring back Brendan (and any player who has since moved on) that was cost there winners medals by Gerrards slip

Gerrard should be held accountable for his poor performance that cost liverpool the title that year not rewarded

Russ Davidson


Sense of perspective over Ancelotti
Can we please put an end to the narrative being driven now by all quarters that Ancelotti’s appointment is the right one?
He has been in charge ten games now and has won five.

The five games Everton have won were against –

Burnley at home
Newcastle away
Brighton at home
Watford away
Palace at home.

These aren’t exactly games to judge  Everton on and some would argue correctly that these are games they were expected to win anyway.

In the other five games they lost away to Man City and Liverpool and drew away at Arsenal and West Ham while drawing at home to Newcastle. It’s not exactly ground breaking is it? Let’s get a sense of perspective here and re-visit Ancelotti’s tenure in a months time when Everton will of gone through what is looking like a testing few fixtures.
Ken, Ireland


Strike Partnerships that never were response
One strike partnership that never happened but would have been scary for any goalkeeper or player in a 3 or 4 man wall would have surely been Inter Milan’s The Emperor aka Adriano, alongside Leeds United’s Tony Yeboah, imagine facing a shot from one of those two, I may not have been old enough to witness Yeboah’s shots but from the many Premier League compilation videos available, wow his shot power was off the charts, I suppose you could create an entire XI who would scare a goalkeeper, the likes of Roberto Carlo, David Luiz, Alex and John Arne Riise etc come to mind.
Mikey, CFC


The Shithouse Brothers
Callum, Scotland’s question about the most wonderful striking duos we never got to see brought a tear to my eye. Back in 2013, Liverpool broke my heart (for the 817th time out of 1095 so far) by missing out on one of the most glorious bastards you never want to see lining up against you, a prime Diego Costa. Just imagine, that absolute unbridled bastardry Diego Costa and Luis Suarez could have unleashed together. Jose Mourinho and Tony Pulis looking on in envy, Arsene Wenger compiling dossiers of grievances, Brendan Rodgers defending their characters without a trace of self-awareness, Felix Magath running out of cheese for his battered defenders, Sherwood and Allardyce in PFM heaven/hell, and all the while a young, innocent Phil Coutinho trying to remain sane amidst all the unrivalled shithousery before him. And so many, so many dives.

Maybe “wonderful” is not the word, depending on your perspective. The Costuarez partnership died so that we may have the Iago Aspas corner, I suppose.
Parmesh (Yes, I do like violence) Singh, Singapore


Naughty Nani’s one-incher
This doesn’t really count as a short-range goal (because it didn’t count), but I am fairly sure the ball was already over the line before Nani tried to steal this goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. It would have surely been the shortest goal ever (perhaps by Mane’s millimetres), if Nani hadn’t been ruled offside (which he probably wasn’t). Still old Cristiano took it all in good spirit…

Which brings me onto a related topic – what’s the best non-goal you’ve ever seen? A cracker ruled out, or one of those “that would’ve been amazing” moments?
Ollie (Can people please include youtube links when they talk about goals etc… please?)


It may or may not be the shortest goal ever scored but it would be remiss of me not to mention Nani’s wonderful close-range header from Ronaldo’s ‘assist’ for Portugal v Spain.

And for striking combos that never happened, Laudrup – Rush, had Liverpool not tried to add a year to Laudrup’s contract when a deal had been verbally agreed in the early 80s, would have been unbelievable.

Another one that did happen, but only fleetingly and once both players were long past their best, was Litmanen – Fowler. Sadly very infrequently used at Liverpool due to Gerard Houllier’s preference for Owen and Heskey, but on the occasions they did play together it was clear they were very much on the same wavelength, and a different one to most others on the pitch. The idea of a Litmanen – Fowler combo circa 1995 does curious things to me.
Jonny Dance


My favorite shortest goal (well actually no goal) is one from a Portugal V Spain friendly in 2010 where Christopher Ronald skins about 3 Spanish players (putting one on his arse), twisting and turning and then scooping a ridiculous (cheeky) lob over the hapless Casillas only for Nani to storm in and nod it over the line from about 1 inch and have it ruled out for offside. It was DEFINITELY going in as well. It was probably partly over the line already in fact. Chris’s paddy is tremendous, he doesn’t even try to disguise his disgust. It was already 4-0 but it is still kind of understandable…
Tom Wah


Rival player you secretly loved
Topic for the mailbox – player who turned out for a rival and you really should have hated but you secretly loved.

While I always admired Ledley King and Klinsmann for that matter – my vote has to go to David Ginola.

He of the head and shoulders advert due to his luscious locks, who managed to win player of the season when United were dominating the league, and was one of the most charming personalities the game has seen.

He even once thanked Lee Dixon before an Arsenal Spurs game by shaking his hand as Lee stepped into to appeal to the ref to not send Ginola off during an Arsenal PSG game – didn’t stop our Lee from kicking him up the bum for the whole game though!
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


If we accept that ‘Netflix’ as a word is comprised of ‘net’ (for internet) and ‘flix’ as a synonym for film, surely the Premier League equivalent should be Netprem (internet premier league) rather the wrong, currently used Premfix (premier league of film).
Elias (I would subscribe to Netprem and Premflix), JHB

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