Mails on Liverpool’s worst, London’s best and voided seasons

Date published: Friday 27th March 2020 9:03

Keep your mails coming in to…


Five nations
All the XI’s being put up have got me thinking about a lovely idea. What if there was a tournament every odd summer between the British states and Republic of Ireland? So a five team competition where they all play each other once and the group leader wins. I should mention, I’m in my mid twenties and I think there was once something like this. I can’t be bothered to research it though and can’t remember it so for me, it has never actually happened.
You could even split England into North and South based on place of birth to make a more even competition. Matches could be played in regional areas such as Newcastle, for example, to give a novelty feel to it all, with venues changing each time. Tickets would be cheap and the whole thing would last about two weeks so games come thick and fast.
I know that this would never happen because of money ( got to fit those South East Asia tours in somewhere) and clubs worrying about players getting injured, but it filled a gap this afternoon imagining it. What other football things would you like to see if you had the power to make it happen? Also if any older mailboxers can remember when this actually used to happen, what was it like?
Dave (custody battle between North and South England for Raheem Sterling as he was born in Jamaica), Brighton


London boys
GK- Rob Green-OK, for the London purists, Chertsey is a stretch but it’s inside the M25 and the only decent keepers I could find within that measurement were him and Ian Walker. Calamity Green it is.
LB- Ashley Cole (Stepney)
CB- Rio Ferdinand (Camberwell)
CB- Sol Campbell (Plaistow)
RB- Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Croydon)
LM- Joe Cole (Paddington)
CM- Frank Lampard (Romford)
CM- Scott Parker (Lambeth)
RM- David Beckham (Leytonstone)
ST- Harry Kane (Walthamstow)
ST- Ian Wright (Woolwich)

Ok maybe they’ed only make the quarter finals of a WC at best, but still a pretty formidable team, while I’m at it though, here’s a B-team that would surely give the A’s a run for their money. Lining up in a 4-3-3:

GK- Ian Walker (Watford)
LB- Stuart Pearce (Hammersmith)
CB- Tony Adams (Romford)
CB- John Terry (Barking)
RB- Glen Johnson (Greenwich)
CM- Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Lewisham)
CM- Dennis Wise (Kensington)
CM- Ray Parlour (Romford)
LW- Trevor Sinclair (Dulwich, until Sancho signs for a prem team anyway,)
ST- Jermaine Defoe (Beckton)
RW- Theo Walcott (Harrow)

Honestly take your pick out of the defences, both pretty incredible, I’m sure there’s someone I’m forgetting in midfield, but the B-team still have enough steel and craft in the centre of the park for me, while their attack has pace in abundance and a natural finisher in Defoe, although I was tempted to stick Sheringham in there somewhere. Who’s next?
Andy, Guatemala


Worst Liverpool XI
Maybe you’ve been flooded with these as the nation adjusts to “working” from home, but I enjoyed the challenge of naming a Worst Liverpool XI of the Premier League era, so I’ll send it on in anyway. The original mailboxer was clearly taking crazy pills – Igor Biscan?!? LEGEND. Lazar Markovic? Misunderstood genius. In compiling my own effort, I applied a couple of rules:

– this is not a ‘most hated’ eleven, so El Hadji Diouf gets away with it this time.
– young kids who sorta kinda made it through, but then weren’t good enough, get a free pass (within reason) – not really on them. David N’gog and Gabriel Paletta breathe a sigh of relief.
– your Pellegrinos, your Kyrgiakoses and your Lamberts don’t get punished for being a bit slow and old at the end of a relatively distinguished career.
– not putting a number on the minimum appearances, but if you barely troubled the anfield turf, or were never intended to play regularly, you can’t be blamed for making up the numbers.
– sorry if the line-up/formation is a bit Crooksy

GK: Karius – sorry mate. You seem nice. I tried to stick up for you. But…wow. You just aren’t good at being a goalkeeper. And judging by your form in Turkey, that concussion is still affecting you…Maybe you’re a winger? Or a hair stylist?

RB: Degen. A veritable smorgasbord of options. Phillipe Degen, you were the most pathetically lightweight of the Josemi – Kronkamp – Degen sequence of shame.
LB: There can be only one. He who must not be named. He knows who he is. Not just the captain, but the Triple-Captain-In-A-Double-Gameweek of this team. Why, Roy? Why?!
CB: Sebastian Coates. Mate, I honestly forgot about you. And you were young, in fairness So young. But you also cost £8m (let’s call it £25-30m in today’s money), and were supposed to be the best thing out of South America since Maradona, you loveable clumsy, off-side illiterate oaf.
CB: Phil Babb. I agonised over this position more than any other. We’ve had so many ‘solid but not great’ CBs, or ‘great but not solid’ CBs, it was a tough call. But we signed USA ’94 Phil Babb, and judging by all the jittery panics you caused in our spice boys defence, big Jackie Charlton must have left the real Phil at the hotel, along with flamboyant-young-winger-jason-mcateer.

RW: Antonio Nunez: “Rrrrafa Benitez! Rafa Benitez, Xabi Alonso, Garcia and Nunez.” To the tune of La Bamba. Spot the odd man out. Real Madrid are still sniggering. £8m + Nunez for Michael sodding Owen. Aye. Cheers lads. No pace. No strength. No skill. No crossing ability. Found his level in the cypriot league. Sorry Cyprus.
LW: England’s Joe Cole. A free transfer, no brainer. How wrong we were. Terrible value, even on a free. Slow, selfish, lazy, over-indulgent, tactically inept, momentum-sucking washed up disaster. Clearly had ability, but his career was wasted, even before joining us. “Let me just take 5 touches, pretend to take on a defender, go back, pretend to play a through ball, then play the simple 5 yard pass that was on 5 minutes ago, but without the space”. The least effective footballer ever to pull on the red shirt.
DMC: Christian Poulsen. Signed from Juve. By Uncle Woy. A £4.5m traffic cone would’ve been a better investment.
AMC: Bruno Cheyrou. The new Zidane. Nope!

CF: Andriy Voronin. There were a lot of contenders here (honourable mentions to N’gog, Aspas, Borini, Meijer, Dundee), but none could quite boast the same combination of ineffectiveness, lack of talent, ludicrousness of hair, and general “Why are you at Liverpool mate”-iness of our Andriy. Awful taste in tracksuits.

CF: Mario Balotelli. At least Paul Konchesky (…ugh, sorry.) is only Paul Konchesky. He was born that way. Mario could have been so much more. Arrogance and selfishness personified. My grandad – 95 years old – has been watching Liverpool for a very long time, and he agrees with me: Balotelli is the worst player in Liverpool’s long history.

Manager: Not a good look for Woy. Thanks Hicks & Gillet. Imbeciles.


Bogdan – do we still own you?
Dossena – we’ll always have Madrid/Utd
Josemi – I’ve got nothing
Song – Oh Rigobert. You just loved to let a high ball bounce over your head, then turn and run in a panic towards your own goal. And then overhead kick the ball to safety. Sometimes it worked.
Diao – you were the nicest bloke from Senegal we signed that summer
Jovanovic – we’ve had a dearth of good wingers in the last 30 years. You’re lucky Joe Cole was even worse.
N’gog – I’m a bit sorry to do this to you David. Morientes was more disappointing. Diouf was more despicable. But bless you, you just weren’t very good. Not at all.
Steve, Belfast



Greatest PFA Team of the Year
So I saw on Social Media this week about the best Premier League PFA Team of The Years from years gone by and it got me thinking, which one since the Premier League began is the greatest, which one would beat out all the others, there are some incredible vintage sides with some even more incredible names in their XIs, I certainly won’t decide a winner I will leave that to you mailboxers to debate, but here are the sides that I feel would stand the best chance;

1998/99 – Martyn, Neville, Campbell, Stam, Irwin, Beckham, Petit, Vieira, Ginola, Yorke, Anelka
2004/05 – Cech, Neville, Terry, Rio, Cole, SWP, Gerrard, Lampard. Robben, Andy Johnson, Henry
2007/08 – James, Sagna, Rio, Vidic, Clichy, Ronaldo, Gerrard, Fabregas, Young, Adebayor, Torres
2018/19 – Ederson, TAA, VVD, Laporte, Robertson, B.Silva, Fernandinho, Pogba, Sterling, Aguero, Mane
Mikey, CFC


Six degrees of separation
Inspired by the Father & Son degrees of separation in today’s mailbox with Patrick & Justin Kluivert and Danny & Daley Blind, I’ve got a challenge for a few more nepotistic challenges. Five father and son combinations. Bonus points if you can solve them all in 20 steps or less:

Alf Inge Haaland -> Erling Braut Haaland (I managed it in 5 steps, surely this can be beaten)

Ian Wright – Bradley Wright-Phillips

George Weah -> Timothy Weah

Gheorge Hagi -> Ianis Hagi

Diego Simeone -> Gio Simeone

And yes, quarantine has not been great for my boredom levels.
Jim (Lost Little Irish Boy) Vancouver


…Some other father-son combos:

George Weah
>> Christian Abbiati (AC Milan 1998-2000)
>> Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus 2005-06)
>> Timothy Weah (PSG 2018-19)

Enrico Chiesa
>> Gianluigi Buffon (Parma 1996-99)
>> Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus 2017-)
>> Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina 2016-17)

And one that has been itching me since I read it a couple of days ago…

>> Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos 1977)
>> Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich 1974-77)
>> Walter Zenga (Inter Milan 1984-87)
>> Clarence Seedorf (Sampdoria 1995-96)
>> Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan 2010-12)
James, Switzerland


…I’m delighted I managed to beat the challenge of linking Pele to Zlatan in 6 steps by doing it in 5. I figured the hardest parts of the task would be linking from Pele to Europe since he played most of his career in Santos in the 50s-70s, so not much overlap there, and in bridging the 20+ year gap between their careers. I also decided I wanted to do it with as good a set of players as I could – it hardly felt appropriate to use some random journeyman en route.

So, opting for the easiest link from Pele to Europe I went to Pele’s NY Cosmos days, which led me to Franz Beckenbauer, that titan of Bayern Munich. Looking at Zlatan’s clubs I wanted someone with real longevity to span the ages. I thought of Paolo Maldini but alas, their paths didn’t cross at Milan, missing each other by a year, so I went for Inter Milan and Javier Zanetti, whose own early days at Inter overlapped with another long-serving stalwart, Giuseppe Bergomi. Between those two I could link Zlatan to the late 1970s. Now I just had to link mid-late 70s Bayern to late 70s/ 80s Inter.

So, Pele – Beckenbauer – Rummenigge – Bergomi – Zanetti – Ibrahimovic. A genuinely top class group of players too.

With regards Zlatan being football’s Kevin Bacon I’d also offer up Christian Vieri, who except for a 6 year spell at Inter in the middle of his career never played anywhere for more than a season, or Clarence Seedorf, who saw a few major clubs across Europe in his time (including the Ajax team of 1995 who scattered far and wide) before finishing up in Brazil. Alternatively, the one-club giants such as Maldini, Zanetti, Bergomi, Messi, Casillas and Giggs must have some high value as well, as most of the great and good of world football have played for one of those clubs in the past 4 decades, especially one with as fast a revolving door as Real.
Jonny Dance


…Alf Ramsey to Klopp in 5 steps:

Ramsey managed Trevor Francis at Birmingham in 77/78

Francis played with Mark Bright at Sheff Weds

Bright played with Paul Konchesky at Charlton

Konckesky played with Steve Gerrard at Liverpool

Gerrard of course played with a whole host of players who played under Klopp at Liverpool.

Kept me entertained for a few mins!
Ray R, Man Utd, Mcr


…Lee challenged us to get from Alf Ramsey to Jurgen Klopp in five players – I’ve managed it in four. Ramsey gave ten England caps to Mick Channon, who ended his league career at Portsmouth in 1985-86 alongside Kevin Ball, who was at Sunderland in 1998-99 with Michael Bridges, who was at Leeds in 2002-04 when James Milner came through.
Simon, Leicester


…Toughy from “Lee (that definitely killed an hour), LFC” but here’s my offering to the trivia gods:

Alf Ramsey > Trevor Francis (Birmingham 77/78) > Ally McCoist (Rangers 87/88) > Brian Laudrup (Rangers 95/96) > Rafael Van de Vaart (Ajax 99/20) > Kerem Dembiray (Hamburg 12/13) > Jurgen Klopp (Dortmund 11/12)

I imagined it being a lot sexier if I’m honest. Keen to see what others came up with!
Jim (Long Time Listener) Man U


…How about:

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to Jadon Sancho

Also, I think we should call it Six Degrees of Simon Grayson. Or possibly Six Degrees of Danny Graham
Dara O’Reilly, London


Could’ve been capped XI
We’ve all enjoyed the Worst XIs and Best XIs that have been doing the rounds so I’ve come to add another variation: the best XI who could have played for your country, but didn’t.

I’m Irish (so cue all the jokes about the Grab-a-Granny rule) and decided to do one from when I would have started watch football, which coincidentally is when football started in 1992. The majority of these players are either retired, cap-tied to another country, or have made it abundantly clear they don’t want to play for Ireland. While a few, especially in the subs, could still get called up for Ireland, it is extremely unlikely any of them will at this stage.

This is my best could-have-been-Irish XI (3-2-3-2):

GK: Ryan Meara (Plays for NYRB in MLS, who previously stopped him accepting a call-up to the Ireland U21s. He’s only 29 so still could play for Ireland. The hardest position out of all of them to find a player for some reason)

CB: Steve Bruce (turned down a call-up & chance to play at the ’94 World Cup for Ireland at Fergie’s request due to the 3 foreigners rule in UEFA competition. His son Alex has 2 caps for Ireland and 2 caps for Northern Ireland)

CB: Martin Keown (Parents were Irish, he turned down a call-up in the early ’90s. Could have also played for Northern Ireland)

CB: Declan Rice (Did you know Rice played 3 times for Ireland? It’s rarely mentioned)

CM: Darren Fletcher (His mother is Irish)

CM: Kevin Nolan (Has some Irish in him according to the West Ham website)

LW: Jack Grealish (Another player whose eligibility for Ireland has flown under the radar)

AM: Paul Scholes (Grandmother is from Ireland, Grandfather is from Northern Ireland)

RW: Tim Cahill (Received a call-up to Ireland ahead of the 2002 World Cup, but was cap-tied to Samoa thanks to 2 sub appearances for the Samoan U20s team when he was 14. Considered taking FIFA to court over it but the rule was changed in 2004)

ST: Wayne Rooney (Has an Irish grandmother, but turned down a call-up when he was 16)

ST Harry Kane (His father is Irish, but he always wanted to play for England)

Jon Flanagan (could still get picked)
Kyle Naughton (could still get picked)
Vinnie Jones (there was talk of him being called up to Ireland in the ’80s)
Mark Noble (could still get picked)
Nathan Redmond (could still get picked)
Paul Gascoigne (the reason I’ve left Gazza on the bench is that the only evidence I can find for his ‘Irishness’ is a comment by Jack Charlton that he was a “week too late” calling him up in the ’80s)
Callum Wilson (Was repeated talk of Martin O’Neill calling him up but it never happened).

I think the starting XI, at their best, would certainly do a job against a lot of teams. Keeper remains a concern though.


Dirty b*stard XI
With lots of elevens being picked over the last few weeks, I feel the dirty b*stard eleven has been forgotten about.
Tim Krul in goal hard to pick a goalie but I remember his antics in the 2014 world cup penalty shootout. With this team probably going to be facing a lot of them.

CB Richard Dunne has the joint record for most red cards in the premier League. Also the striker can’t score for his team if Dunne’s scoring them.

CBs Ramos and Pepe. These two pick themselves and there are countless examples that justify their inclusion.

DCM Vieiraa a hard man that help Wenger win the league. His battles with Keane where brilliant.

CM Roy Keane could control a game and is one of the best midfielders ever. But his revenge tackle on Haaland alone gets him in this team.

LM Marouane Fellaini a little out of position but could not leave him out. Loved him at United and felt he always gave his best. Pulling the hair of another afro while the barbers blade’s still warm from cutting yours. Exceptional.

RM Lee Cattermole if you have feet, can kick but you have no interest in getting the ball, you too could be Lee Cattermole.

WF Luis Suarez he just has that bite to his game.

CF Diego Costa had to be him. The man scored a hat-trick and got sent off in a friendly. He’s a brilliant stricker and definitely not afraid to do the dirty work.

WF Joey Barton completely out of position but snubbing a cigarette in a teammate’s eye gets you on this team.
Jack Cavan (long mail but there’s lots of time to read it)


Managers XI
Spurious XIs seem to be all the rage in this new world, so here’s my attempt at a current managers XI. There are obvious areas for improvement so I’ll take any suggestions. Simple 3-5-2 due to the lack of quality defenders.

Nuno Espirito Santo

Steve Bruce
Ronald Koeman
Frank De Boer

Diego Simeone
Pep Guardiola
Zinedine Zidane
Carlo Ancelotti
Patrick Vieira

Roberto Mancini
Thierry Henry

Apologies to Lampard, Conte, Gerrard and many more.
Lee ()


Season’s over
On Tuesday the decision was taken by all leagues at Step 3 and below to cancel any plans to try to finish the season, subject to formal approval by the FA council. What hasn’t been determined yet is how the final placings – particularly for promotion and relegation – will be decided, in the event that the season isn’t declared completely null and void so the 2020-21 season starts as the 2019-20 season did.

If the Northern Premier League decides that the current league table is the definitive won, South Shields will be promoted to the National League North as champions. This presumably then means FC United of Manchester, currently second place, will be promoted automatically instead of holding playoffs. However, if a more in-depth look were to be taken at the playoff sides, Basford United would have a case for claiming promotion, as having the best points per game record from matches against FC United, Warrington Town and Lancaster City (8 points from 4 games).

Points per game looks set to be the most likely determining factor for the relegation picture. Though Stafford Rangers would appear to be down however demotion is determined, points per game would give Atherton Collieries (21st, 28 points from 26 games) and Matlock Town (20th, 29 from 28) a reprieve at the expense of Grantham Town (19th, 30 points from 32). Gulp.

Even if Grantham aren’t relegated, there’s still the chance they won’t be in the NPL next season. As both teams in the National League North relegation places (Bradford Park Avenue and Blyth Spartans) would fit into the NPL at Step 3, there’s a chance two teams would have to be reassigned to the Southern Premier Central; as the only NPL team based further south than them this season was Stafford, it would put the Gingerbreads in the frame for moving leagues. It’s a minor thing, with so many more important issues still up in the air, but hopefully the decision to curtail the season gives all teams the opportunity to start planning for the future.
Ed Quoththeraven


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