This Liverpool squad is ‘ageing and only getting worse’

Date published: Saturday 27th June 2020 11:00

We have finally caught up. Send your thoughts on Liverpool and whatever else to theeditor@football365.com

 

Enjoy it while it lasts
As Liverpool fans celebrate the most compromised and anticlimactic title win of all time, I realised I genuinely felt irritated.

I’ve never felt irritated before about any club including Liverpool winning any title. I was jumping around the living room watching Istanbul like everyone else for example.

It wasn’t as if Liverpool winning the league were a surprise or a shock as it’s been both a certainty and an irrelevance for months, so it can only be a specific combination of Liverpool and the Premier League that grates on my nerves like any program involving Catherine Tate does.

It’s the fans. It’s “this matters more”. It’s “the Liverpool way”. It’s “30 years of hurt” in the same assine entitled arrogance that Baddiel and Skinner shat all over us in 1996 and every 2 years since. It’s not 30 years of hurt. No-one stole anything from you for 30 years. It was never yours.

It’s Richard Hammond being loud and obnoxious when he wins to hide his deep seated insecurity and desperation to be liked and included by those he considers his peers. It’s cringe inducing and pathetic. And it won’t end well.

Of the current Liverpool squad:

Mane, Salah, Firmino and Van Dijk are 28
Wijnaldum is 29
Henderson and Milner are 30 and 34
Lallana and Shaqiri are leaving.

Thats a majority of the first choice side at or past their peak, and I’m not sure Minamino and Origi are going to be entirely seamless replacements.

There’s supposed to be an African Cup of Nations next season.

Liverpool can’t bring in long term replacements as that would mean players signed for big money being prepared to sit on the bench (see: Werner) and in any case the club can’t afford the wages while the current big hitters are still in place.

So this Liverpool squad is it. It’s ageing and only getting worse, and Klopp won’t stay to build another.

Next season is the last where this Liverpool squad can be expected to compete at the top level, and I for one very much look forward to City, United and Chelsea all strengthening and making these two seasons the last where Liverpool and their fans are relevant in title terms for a long time.

It’s nice for my analogy that a lot of next season is on Amazon Prime.
Tim Sutton

 

Mediawatching Mediawatch
I think it was irresponsible yet understandable for the Liverpool fans to be celebrating outside of Anfield and ignoring social distancing measures. I think F365 is right to criticize them and right to criticize BT, Sky Sports and anyone else who glorified/promoted it. I think Mediawatch is right to point out that Joe Anderson called it right.

However, I think the way in which Mediawatch scrutinized what was written by The Anfield Wrap, Dominic King and LFC themselves, was very obviously disingenuous. Each and every one of them was arguing against playing football at neutral venues being a solution to fans congregating. Given that the match last night did not involve Liverpool playing in any shape or form, and given that Liverpool fans did not congregate en masse on Wednesday evening (nor Sunday evening at Goodison), I believe they were all proven to be correct in their assessment.

– As the Premier League decided to proceed without neutral venues, Liverpool fans congregated upon winning the league (despite match occuring in London between 2 other clubs);
– If the Premier League had decided to proceed with neutral venues, Liverpool fans would have congregated upon winning the league regardless;
– If the Premier League had decided to end the season and decide it on PPG, Liverpool fans would have congregated upon winning the league;
– If the Premier League had decided to null+void the season, Liverpool fans would have congregated to protest the decision.

I do not see any scenario in which celebrating (or protesting) fans would not congregate, given the circumstances. And this has absolutely nothing to do with Liverpool fans as a fanbase, only the momentous-ness of the occasion. I imagine we will see similar scenes with Leeds if/when their promotion is confirmed, we saw similar in Naples 9 days ago, etc.

The only way to mitigate the risk is to put controls in place (probably policing + physical barriers) to prevent people from congregating in likely areas. I’m not blaming the Merseyside police as I don’t have the facts on what steps were taken + how they were overcome, but they are the only ones who could have prevented this from happening.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

Johnnybruff’s attack on Anfield celebrations is a sterling reminder that football is always more guilty of everything than anything else in reality. Footballers are bastards for making so much money but the bankers that sunk the economy in 2008 have earned it. Football is full of racism but celebrities appearing on Question Time whitesplaining Britain is the most tolerant country are just sharing their opinions and yea, the police’s racial profiling is them just doing their jobs.

And yes indeed celebrations at Anfield are a travesty but the thousands who have been descending on Britain’s beaches AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME are just stocking up on a bit of vitamin D…Football reflects society…no more no less. Selective outrage may capture attention but it does a huge disservice to the game we all love.
Miguel  L. ( Klopp is class, FSG are brilliant, the team is awesome and the perch is getting closer- just 2 more to go)

 

Chelsea v Man City Conclusions
My first mailbox – which I wrote while sitting in the corner watching Liverpool fans celebrate and singing that song they stole of us Irish fans. 16 conclusions here we go.

1) Man City are so good at suffocating teams. They ping the ball around in your half for what seems a lifetime and when they lose the ball they come after you like dogs. It’s amazing to watch as a neutral however I was very worried as a Chelsea fan in the first 20 mins

2) Water breaks are a great idea let’s keep them around

3) The thing about Man City is, they always try and walk it in. So they should have scored in the first 20 mins. But Chelsea did a great job of not controlling the game but remaining way more dangerous than city. Hats off to franky because that’s exactly the tatics we had to follow to win this game.

4) Christian ‘Hazard’ pulisic is the one. What can I say. He was alert to capitalise on city misplaced pass. The way he suckered Mendy in to tackle him and then flying by him once he did. Beautiful to watch. Reminds me if someone I used to know.

5) Kante In holding role means a few more misplaced passes or less sharp passes than jorgi. However, my anxiety levels are hell of a lot lower with him there.

6) A first half that highlights City not replacing Kompany was silly, and why City are 20 who gives a fuck points behind Liverpool. If Kompany was on the pitch pulisic would have been expertly fouled in way that didn’t even get a yellow card.

7) KDB is the one. Best midfielder in the league. A fantastic strike to go 1-1. I think it’s amazing that he shines so brightly and is severely missed when not there, while playing in such a ridiculously good midfield. However Chelsea could have completely avoided this goal IF WE NEVER SOLD HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE. Looking at you mourinho.

8) Chelsea showed great resilience overall but city had us for 10 or so minutes. City could have done what they wanted to us. Our defence was all over the shop. Thank god sterling hit the post.

9) I’m going to give water break 2 another conclusion cause I absolutely love them.

10) Chelsea again retained the ability to be dangerous off the ball even with city’s suffocating. Giroud for Tammy was a great switch. Tammy is great at running in behind and his fitness levels ahead of the city defenders was very evident. City were dead on their feet. Good job boys.

11) I haven’t been confident as a Chelsea fan at all this season but I knew we’d get the goal for some reason. We had city where we wanted them. We’d comfortably deal with city in our half and get them on the break. We had mason mounts chance and pulisics shot cleared off the line. A goal be a brewing my friends.

12) Willian. Willian. Willian. His name repeated for the amount of years he wants in his next Chelsea contract. First of all, the fact he didn’t go down after KDB’s blantant foul was fantastic to see. You really don’t get that often anymore. Then he fecked the pass but we still managed to get the peno. A great summation of his Chelsea career. Put away the peno fantastically. He’s been a legend and Willian hate is too much for me. Give the contact boys.

13) Oh Fernandinho. Doing a great Thierry Henry impression. I understand it. But VARs around now bud and you would have been better off letting it go in. Maybe not the time for this mention but why oh why is the best holding midfielder in the league playing CB?

14) Chelsea showed great resilience to score again and not let in another goal. Some people may say it’s because a draw didn’t matter for city but I prefer to say it’s because we had one of our best defensive performance. Christensen was an absolute boss. More of that please.

15) This is Frankys best result as a manager. He was pragmatic in his approach and took a massive step forward in answering the question of whether he has the managerial ability to compete with pep and klopp. With Werner and Ziyech coming in (And Havertz??) you cannot convince me we’re not winning the league within the next two seasons. We’re gonna win the league with Franky as our manager. It’s gonna be fuckin beautiful.

16) Fuck you Liverpool for taking over a massive Chelsea win. Goodnight.
Cian CFC

 

As Tim (Ireland) mentioned, where are the 16 conclusions on one of the best games we’ve watched since football returned? Since it probably won’t come, I’ll just give my views on it anyway.

Will Ford asked if Chelsea could abandon their gun-ho approach to the game, and Frank did just that. I was expecting him to start with 3 at the back, to add extra defensive stability, and nullify the ever present danger that is Marcos Alonso defending in his own half. When I saw we were going with the usual 4-3-3, my immediate thought was that this was a bold decision. Matching pep in formation (on paper at least) could go horribly, horribly wrong.

It didn’t. Chelsea were cautious and allowed themselves time to grow into the game. It was 12 minutes before we had our first sight of Ederson, but was the best chance of the game up until that point. That was the blueprint, and a pattern that the rest of the game followed. Chelsea sat deep, pressed around their box and had Kante following Kevin De Bruyne wherever he went.

Don’t get me wrong, city looked dangerous. They had scored 8 goals without reply in their last two games, and I couldn’t see Chelsea’s fragile defence withstanding the kind of pressure City put you under. Through discipline and possibly sheer luck, we managed it. City’s best change in the game came from a counter attack after a Chelsea corner. It was beautiful, rapid counter attacking football at it’s best. Sterling was incredibly unluck, the finish would have been delightful.

Normally these types of games would be the games Hazard would have hauled Chelsea through, buying fouls, creating space, piercing passes and devastating runs at the heart of the defence. Pulisic filled in admirably well. He’s nowhere near Hazard levels yet, but at 21, he’s got plenty of time to build on what he already has (technique, composure and pace to burn). He beat Mendy all ends up, and his finish was perfect. The way he went around Ederson reminded me Hazard, up until the moment Walker pulled of a wonder save.

Mason Mount was his energetic self once again. He pressed, harried and tracked back throughout the match. I knew that he’d played a fair bit of football this season, but to be honest the commentators star that he had played the most games for Chelsea this season surprised me. The break seems to have done him a world of good, and now that he’s back, he’s quitely gone about his business of being an exciting, hard working young talent.

F365 gave most of the plaudits to Azpi for the Villa game. In my opinion, Mount better. Yes Azpi got the assists, but the number of failed crosses he out into the box before one finally found its target was frustrating. A final remark on Mount’s performance. I had been discussing next season with a friend of mine, we were speaking hypothetically about if we did sign Havertz and what our team would look like. He didn’t have Mount in the team. Whilst he is is no way equal to Havertz in talent or skill, the energy that Mount brings to the midfield is remarkable. He always presses and isn’t afraid to put his foot in. Against City, my friend saw my point. Popping up at just the right time, in our box on this occasion, and clearing what was becoming a threatening attack.

Did Pep get it wrong by not starting Jesus? Playing against a pacy, direct striker would probably have struck more fear into Rudiger and Christensen.

KDB, what a bloody free kick. Trent, take a seat.

The build up play for the second goal reminded me of the goal against arsenal. Willian breaking at pace, finding Tammy in the centre. I had no idea how City kept the ball out, until Fernandhino was caught… Red handed (I’m sorry). Willian converted expertly, cool as you like.

The last ten minutes had me on the edge of my seat. We’d succumbed to far less pressure, by much weaker teams. Ultimately we held on, Alonso was surprisingly effective (there was a point whe I thought he was going to pull a David Luiz and foul Mahrez, but he controlled his inner demons) Rudiger was solid and Christensen composed. Azpi had a good evening, but if I’m not mistaken he lost Fernandhino for the header from the early free kick. Kepa was decent. This backline did a job, but it still needs improvement.

Does anyone know why Giroud is starting ahead of Tammy?

Lampard did a prime Mourihno. Sat deep, was willing to suffer, high levels of concentration and lightning counters to complete the smash and grab. Its good to know that Chelsea do have this in their locker. What I found most appealing, though, wasn’t just the football. The fact that you could see lampard was happy with the result, but not particularly proud of having to sit deep to get it tells me he wants Chelsea to be able to go toe to toe with the City’s and Liverpool’s of the league. To be able to play our football and still come out on top.

That ambition/vision, combined with the common sense that we can’t do it with this squad, seems promising to me. A few more signings, and another year for this team to grow their chemistry, and Lampards football philosophy might be perfectly illustrated. He’s beaten Pep, Mourihno, Klopp and dominated Ole all in his first season as a Premier league manager. His second season in his management career. All without any signings, no Eden hazard and using academy players. Whisper it quietly, but he might actually be good at this whole management thing.
Tashen, South Africa 

 

Catching up
Hello,

Just had time to watch my recordings of both Arsenal games and the Chelsea vs Man City game, it’s been very busy at the hospital because of selfish covidiots and pandemic naysayers. I wish people had more self-awareness to keep safe while out and about or gathering en-masse.

Brighton game was terrible. Southampton game was better. Chelsea v Man City game was unexpectedly within expectations, I expected Man City to wilt, for some reason.

Then I went through the last mailboxes that I missed and wow…

Has the toxicity festered so much in football fans that it has given birth to people like the raging Dave of Manchester? His tilted over-reaction was epic.

Moving on, the lack of fans in the live games is kind of deflating to watch and it must be affecting the players too.

Whether you used to have a loud crowd or not, the presence of an audience would surely transform the entire atmosphere in? I hope we can see an end to this pandemic soon and get on back to our normal lives, here’s hoping.

Finally, congratulations to Liverpool whose league title is all but sealed. They were the best team this season and fully deserved to win the title, disruptions or not. Chelsea and Man Utd look to be moving in the right direction and Man City has a lot of on-field and off-field issues to sort out.

Somebody please defund Arsenal.
Jonny, Manchester

 

Toon in
Bad losers, worse winners. Already seen Liverpool fans on social media claiming this title means more than any titles won by other teams.

Only Liverpool fans, that have seen their team go to 4 champions league finals and win 3 European trophies in that time could bang on about 30 years of hurt.

It’s the sense of entitlement…

Great team, terrible fans.
Chris Stockdale, NUFC

 

A truly great team, with a class bloke as manager, playing the best football in Europe. The city is an underrated gem too.

But my god, (some of) the fans.

We know, 30 years. Wow, just flew past eh? Back where you deserve to be? Sure, good for you pal.

Along with the West Ham fans who think they’re the greatest club despite never having come higher than 3rd in the top division in history and Chelsea fans who think football began in 2005, simply the worst.

Now you’ve got it, can you please stop?
Tom, Walthamstow

 

Love you, football x
I’m a Newcastle fan and for us the fact that we’re in the FA Cup quarters is enough to make us all giddy, let alone the thought of winning the league.

But during this pandemic I’ve always maintained to people that football is even more important to us than we realise. As mails have said, it gives you joy and sorrow in ways that nothing else can.

And reading messages from Liverpool fans today you realise why. Chris D’s message brought a tear to my eye – and there’s many more people out there whose friendships and family ties are bound so tight by this wonderful game. I’m sure it’s not the “same” as if you were in the pub with everyone having won in the 90th minute but it must feel fantastic. It’s a feeling of jubilation that I can’t find elsewhere.

I can’t even begin to imagine how I’ll feel if we just reach an FA Cup semi at the weekend, but if Newcastle do ever win the league in my lifetime, the friends I have solely because of this horribly weird football club will be getting big hugs and that’s what makes football so special.
James, London. 

 

Vindication
Being an ardent reader for F365, this is the first time I am writing to the mailbox. Though procrastination is one of my super power, the reason for not writing is simply that I have been waiting for this moment.

I always imagined how I would react when Liverpool will win the league, I always thought I would be jubilant, dancing crazily, drinking like there is no tomorrow etc etc. To be true, I am just feeling overwhelmed with pride and relief. I am a Liverpool fan not because I was born in Merseyside, not because of Istambul, not because my parents are Liverpool supporters (they don’t even follow football). I am a Liverpool fan because I saw Michael owen scoring his 100th goal for Liverpool against West ham, and for the reasons I cannot explain it just stuck to me. I am an Indian who has been a liverpool fan for 19 years (2/3rd of my lifetime).

In a country in whichcricket is religion, you would not find many football supporters and if there are any they mostly support ManU, Arsenal, Barca and Madrid (since they were winning everything). I was mostly ridiculed among friends for supporting Liverpool. Only few know the feeling of being a lone supporter ( that too for a club which is thousands of mile away), I have supported Liverpool through its lowest points and this is my moment and my team has given me bragging rights.

So right now I am feeling vindicated and releived, not because we have won (trophies never matter to a true liverpool supporter) but because my team has filled me with pride and vindiacted my allegiance in the eyes of other club fans.
Aayush (This is our year)

 

Now waking up the morning after the day that finally came I wanted to try organize my emotions.

I live in San Diego in Southern California, not the Northwest. But I have felt a connection with the city of Liverpool from the moment I walked out of Limestreet for the first time. There’s something about the cities oversized importance to the world we live in, mixed with the passion and love for life of the people that spoke to me. Mix in the pure luck of happening to get Anfield, rather than Goodison, tickets and I became a Red for life. Even in moments when I thought this day would never come I couldn’t change my allegiance. The memories I have and the friendships I’ve developed were there, and as my own local sports team abandoned me and my community, my adopted one played an ever larger role.

Winning the title is amazing, but it’s the journey, not the accomplishment that i’m thinking about this morning.
Mike W, California Republic

 

Clear goalscoring opportunities
Dear Editor,

Firstly, sorry for not writing about Liverpool – but congratulations to them, they’ve earned it.

When Jack Stephens fouled Aubameyang yesterday, he was rightly given a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, as the last man. This only interesting thing about this happening in the 85th minute of a truly-nothing game, was the free kick leading to a second Arsenal goal, subsequently ruining all you non-Arsenal fans’ opportunity for another big dose of schadenfreude.

But what I found interesting, was the Sky commentator suggesting, tongue in cheek, that as Aubameyang recovered the ball, the foul hadn’t denied a clear goalscoring opportunity after all. Of course this wasn’t the case, outside the area with Stephens now between the striker and goal, and other defenders quickly recovering. But it is the right question to ask in these situations.

As is typical for Arsenal, you only have to look back two games for a perfect example of when it should be asked, when David Luiz brought down Riyad Mahrez, in what was certainly an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

As we know, the rules have recently changed to avoid the ‘double jeopardy’ situation of both a red card and a penalty in these situations, but only where the defender doesn’t make any attempt to play the ball. This itself begs a number of questions. In this example, and even more so when Luiz was dismissed in a very similar situation involving Tammy Abraham in January, Luiz’s fouls didn’t appear to be cynical attempts to prevent a goal, rather his pulls on the attackers being the first phase in his attempts to reach the ball. Against Chelsea, he even plays the ball momentarily after.

But as I said, the real question that needs to be asked, is whether a clear goalscoring opportunity has been denied. With the attacking team receiving a penalty, I don’t believe so. While different models will have different figures, a quick Google tells us that a penalty has an xG value of 0.76. This means that for every 100 penalties, 76 will be scored.

While Opta and other modellers for the most part keep their precise models under wraps, evidence I’ve found suggests that for a chance to have a higher xG than 0.76, it basically needs to be a comfortable tap in from the centre of goal, inside the 6 yard box, on the player’s favoured foot.

By this measure, it seems that by fouling Mahrez and Abraham, neither of whom were in that situation, Luiz not only didn’t deny a clear goalscoring opportunity, but actually improved the outcome for the attacking teams. I struggle to think of many situations where this isn’t the case.

So why do defenders get sent off for this? It really makes no sense and is an unfair rule. The obvious counter-argument is that it’s part of an attempt to rule out cynical, professional fouls, in the same way as the misguided attempted implementation of straight reds for not attempting to play the ball a few years back. But in almost all cases, the numbers show that any cynicism will only punish the perpetrator, and those situations where you do have a real obvious goalscoring opportunity or goal (need look no further than Fernandinho last night, but Suarez vs Ghana also springs to mind), can easily be treated differently.

The thing is, I don’t think the rule even needs to change, simply our understanding of what denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity means. In most cases, it isn’t denied, but enhanced.
Milton, AFC, London

 

RIP
The mailbox will obviously be inundated with Liverpool fans today and rightly so, they have waited a long time for last night. However, I wanted to mention the passing away yesterday of Theo Foley, a somewhat under the radar great of the game in my view with a football career as a player and coach stretching from the 1950’s right into the 21st century.

Among the highlights, he captained Northampton Town on their voyage to the top flight, was capped multiple times for Ireland, managed Charlton Athletic, was assistant manager and coach of “that” back four at Arsenal and was in the dugout on “that” night at Anfield in ’89.

He was a real gent, a great laugh and my favourite uncle. He will be missed.
Andrew W, Dublin

 

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