Is it possible to kill the Man City monster? And Klopp’s let-off highlights Tierney’s ‘lack of integrity’…

Ian Watson
Jurgen Klopp receives a yellow card during Liverpool's win over Tottenham.

The Mailbox says Paul Tierney letting Jurgen Klopp off the hook only serves to highlight the ref’s bias against Liverpool. Also: Man City’s dominance; and AI in charge of Chelsea.

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City monster
Isn’t Manchester City’s strength unutterably dull? Is it me, or is this unprecedented?

At Manchester United strongest, other teams felt at least they could try for the title? Seeing Manchester City now, won’t the other teams feel… “oh, what’s the point?”. Pre Haaland, it all felt different, but the [cheating] induced strength of the team with Haaland is just ridiculous.

Arsenal [and if it weren’t Arsenal, before them Liverpool], could give it a really good shot and are great teams and title contenders and probably winners in any other league, but Manchester city is simply another level all together… I’d even venture to say than Pep’s Barcelona. It’s so goddamn boring… every team they come up against they just blow away at a canter.

Have Abu Dhabi unwittingly created the most odious team in world football history? A team which should never have been built because normal limited resources simply cannot build such strength? What monster have they created, and more to the point, how the hell do we kill it, incinerate it, banish it into a black hole, and bring old school joy back to competing?
Angus Hulme

Read more: Manchester City’s biggest enemy in this title race is not the yips but ennui


Fulham pay the penalty
What’s that you say? Klopp spends all week complaining about Liverpool’s treatment by refs, and lo and behold they get another marginal decision in their favour.
Kevin, Dublin


…Liverpool’s penalty is so embarrassing for everyone involved.
Anonymous (because the keyboard warriors will be out in force somehow trying to justify it!)


Klopp’s let off
So Paul Tierney books Klopp and apparently says ”in my opinion, it should be a red”. Now, I don’t know the rules of the game well enough, is what Klopp did a red card offence?

If it is, then Tierney hasnt followed the rules of the game and given Klopp a lesser punishment, showing a lack of integrity and/or knowledge of his profession.

If it isn’t a red card offence, then Tierney has clearly told Klopp he’d rather a harsher punishment for the Liverpool boss than the rules say. Again, lack of integrity and a bias against Klopp.

Maybe Klopp has a point?
Clive LFC (for the record, I think Klopp should be punished for the way he acted towards the officials. It is totally out of order and managers should know better. But refs should be held to the same standards)


…First things first, Klopp should have got a red and been sent, hobbling, to the stands. He’s certainly deserved it before, but the British game doesn’t have the same quick dismissals that Italy hands out.

At the same time, he gets away with not being hugely disliked in general because he’s been very upfront about his character. That he explodes during matches, but afterwards seems a fairly empathetic, engaged, forgiving guy. This isn’t Mourinho letting his emotions get the better of him, and then spending the next month running a respected medic out of the club for the crime of treating a player for their injury.

To be clear, this isn’t a good thing. As I said, Klopp should be punished more often. He should get a handle on his need to run over to the, frankly, uninvolved fourth official and give him a spit-flecked shower. It’s not an okay thing, and the fact that the madness appears to end thirty minutes after the game isn’t a reason to excuse it.

Cool? Cool.

Let’s jump to the other side. Why does Klopp feud with Tierney? Well, partly because Tierney feuds with him. This isn’t one sided. Hells, it was Tierney’s linesman who elbowed Robertson (investigated, nothing to here bub). But also because, well, when Tierney referees Liverpool, Liverpool don’t win.

There can be different reasons. Maybe the way he treats the high-press is different to other referees. Though Man City with exactly 90% of the games he refs, above their overall average, and until recently they were also an extremely high-pressing team. Whereas for Liverpool, over the 23 games since Klopp arrived: 56.5%.Up until this season these two teams were divided by a point or so over the last five years, and that’s the variance in how often the sides win when Tierney refs?

Paul Tomkins went into a deep dive on this, as he is wont to do. I’m not always convinced by the statistical models he digs up, but plenty have shown themselves to be solid. This one is not one of his better ones, but the raw data is fun.

Since Klopp first clashed with Tierney, Liverpool have gotten 1.6ppg with him in charge. Which, even for this woeful season, is a little low. But as it includes three seasons where Liverpool shot the lights out, it’s bizarre.

The irony is, I personally think that Klopp raging on the sideline started this feud. Because Tierney was statistically fine before that clash. But the feud now exists, and seems that it’s affecting how Tierney refs Liverpool. We’ve arguably lost titles because of it. (See the last Anfield Tottenham game).

To circle back, Klopp needs to work out his in match anger. He needs to be punished. He needs to spend some time in the directors box angrily shouting into a headset that he pretends doesn’t exist. Maybe hire an anger management puppy to sit on his lap during matches, I don’t know.

But also, Paul Tierney and PGMOL need to work out how to get past this. Or if Tierney can’t get over it (and I wouldn’t blame him – we’re all human) they need to schedule him less for Liverpool. Because due to weird quirks, he’s reffed us seven times this season, when the max anyone usually does is five. (No-one has done seven with one team since the mid ’10s.)
Andrew M, Streatham.


Pull the other one
One can only assume that Klopp did some real damage when he twanged his hammy recently, because I didn’t see him make a frantic beeline for the 4th official after Nunez took a swan dive to win a penalty against Fulham.

Get well soon Jurgen.
Garey Vance, MUFC


Champions League not attainable
A pleasing win last night, even if it wasn’t an outstanding performance. A clean sheet is always a good thing. I know the media always have to hype things up, but there was a lot of exaggeration going on about Liverpool’s top 4 hopes. Realistically, those are over and have been for some time.

The maximum points Liverpool can reach now is 71. That means Newcastle need 2 wins out of 5 and United need 3 out of 6. And that’s if they lose all the other games. E.g. United could also go WDDLWD and they would still guarantee Champions League football. Newcastle could win 1, draw 3 and lose 1. Their fixtures are also fairly kind.

Liverpool’s focus needs to be securing 5th and getting Europa league football. Go into next season off the back of a good run of form. Thankfully that seems to be the message from Klopp and the players. The CL dream is dead, but things are still improving and hopefully we can kick on again next season.
Mike, LFC, London


AI in charge at Chelsea
I have a feeling you’re gonna get a sh*t ton of these. I’ll put my questions in italics to help you skim.

Me: You have been hired as the new manager of Chelsea FC. Name your lineup and describe your strategy

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal preferences or opinions, but I can suggest a potential lineup and strategy based on statistical analysis and player performance data.

Formation: 4-3-3

Edouard Mendy

Reece James
Thiago Silva
Antonio Rudiger
Ben Chilwell

N’Golo Kante
Mason Mount

Christian Pulisic
Timo Werner
Kai Havertz

My strategy would be to play a possession-based game, where the team dominates the midfield with quick and accurate passing. The midfielders, Jorginho and Kante, would be responsible for controlling the tempo of the game and breaking up the opponent’s attacks. Mason Mount would play as an attacking midfielder and provide support to the forwards.

In the attack, I would rely on the pace and movement of Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner to create chances and score goals. Kai Havertz would play as a false nine and drift into the channels to create space for the wingers.

Defensively, the team would adopt a high-pressing approach to win the ball back quickly and prevent the opponent from building up play. The backline, consisting of Reece James, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, and Ben Chilwell, would be responsible for ensuring that the team remains compact and secure at the back.

Overall, the team would play an aggressive and attacking style of football while maintaining a solid defensive structure. The aim would be to win possession high up the pitch and create quick counter-attacking opportunities while dominating possession in midfield.

Me: Your first game in charge, Chelsea concedes the opening goal after 10 minutes when possession is carelessly squandered. What is your halftime team talk?

ChatGPT: If Chelsea conceded a goal after 10 minutes due to careless possession, my halftime team talk would focus on regaining control of the game and addressing the mistakes that led to the goal.

First, I would remind the team of our game plan and the importance of maintaining possession and controlling the midfield. I would emphasize that we need to play with more composure and accuracy when in possession to prevent giving away the ball cheaply.

Secondly, I would address the defensive mistakes that led to the goal. I would encourage the players to communicate better and be more aware of their surroundings to prevent similar errors from happening again. I would also emphasize the importance of staying compact and organized as a defensive unit to prevent the opponent from finding gaps and exploiting them.

Thirdly, I would emphasize the need for the team to stay focused and continue to play our game. I would encourage the players to keep pushing forward and create more chances in the attacking third, while also remaining disciplined and focused on defensive duties.

Lastly, I would remind the team that the game is not over and that there is still plenty of time to turn things around. I would encourage them to stay positive and work together to get back into the game.

Overall, my halftime team talk would be focused on remaining calm and composed, addressing the mistakes that led to the goal, and emphasizing the need to stay focused and disciplined in both attack and defense.

Me: Would you make a better Chelsea manager than Frank Lampard?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal opinions or biases, and I cannot compare my abilities to those of Frank Lampard as a manager. Both Frank Lampard and I have different skill sets and approaches, and it’s not fair or appropriate to make such a comparison.

However, as an AI language model, I can provide insights and recommendations based on statistical analysis and player performance data, which could be useful for a football club like Chelsea. It’s ultimately up to the club’s management to decide who they believe would be the best fit for the role of manager based on their own criteria and objectives.

Me: Very diplomatic of you. Todd Boehly is impressed with your calm demeanor and will give you the job on the condition that you allow his 10-year-old nephew to meet the team at halftime next game, and whenever he damn well pleases. Do you accept, and if so, what are your wage demands?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I’m not capable of accepting job offers or making wage demands. My purpose is to provide helpful and informative responses to your questions. It’s important to remember that decisions related to managerial positions, such as hiring and wage negotiations, should be made based on professional qualifications, experience, and other relevant factors.

Me: Well played. He’s going to beg you to sign.