The Mailbox discusses which of the big six are best set up for the future. Also: Manager upgrades, and Kurt Zouma’s cat…
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Salah’s deal decisive
Looking at how the Big 6 might fair over the next few years, my view as a Liverpool fan has swung quite dramatically over the past 6 months but is now quite optimistic.
The first thing any fan will point to is the transition away from the Mane-Firmino-Salah triad. I think it’s clear that Mane and Firmino have not been consistently world class since 2020 and that’s likely to continue. The consensus amongst fans seems to be that Salah should be kept at all costs (he shows no signs of decline, in fact the opposite these last 6 months), then sell one of Mane/Firmino in the summer and let the other run their contract down for one last season next year. As for their replacements, Jota has already usurped Firmino and Diaz looks like a good bet on picking up Mane’s mantle. Add in the backup for Salah in the shape of Minimino or perhaps the young Carvalho and now the front three long term plan is looking promising.
In Defence we look very future proof. Alisson has plenty of years left and Kelleher is proving to be the best No.2 keeper we’ve had in years. VVD may have lost a bit of pace but he’s still going to be our mainstay due to his supreme technical and tactical skills. Matip may drop off with age but Gomez led us to a PL title and Kounate looks very at home. So CB looks deep with long term options. Trent is remarkably only starting his career so the only need there is to ensure we have a good back-up and that might simply vary from year to year with Academy grads or a transfer. Robbo’s game is reliant on his ability to charge up and down the touchline incessantly but he’s 28years old in a months time and you’d think he’d gradually drop off by 30/31. Tsimikas has been an impressive deputy though so I expect if these two are used wisely it could prolong Robbo’s career and will keep Tsimikas happy.
So it’s in Midfield where the biggest unknowns lie long-term. Milner will go in the summer. AOC is having better games this season but via appearances in the front 3 and he’ll never be seen as a dependable option there. Henderson is not having a great season and his age suggests he will not be first choice from next season on but he is integral to ‘The Boot Room’ so will stay for a couple more years. First choice midfield currently is potentially Fabinho, Thiago and Keita. It’s the latter two that suggest that this is not a solid midfield to rely on long-term as Fabinho could replicate Fernandinho and go on into his early thirties in his position. Thiago is 30 and perma-crocked but his class will mean he’s kept on for a couple more years, I suspect. Keita is younger (26) but more inconsistent with both form and fitness. He will probably be sold as Liverpool look to establish the Next Generation. That could well be Elliot and from the whispers going around it may also be Bellingham. Jones has been great in some games and looked lost in others so if he can improve his consistency he’ll remain an option. But Bellingham or not it is clear that a first XI midfield purchase this summer is the highest priority for this team.
I agree that City will remain the team-to-beat. Playing Football with cheat codes (60 mil squad players every window + Pep) has that effect. But if I’m right, then Liverpool only need to focus on two positions this summer to set themselves up for the next few years and one of those is simply for backup (RB). The massive IF here is Salah’s contract. If that doesn’t get signed then you can put Liverpool firmly in the ‘Uncertain’ category for long term sustainability at the top.
JMG (If we lost Salah I say go all out for Saka or Martinelli. Arsenal have a couple of gems there)
…I liked Anthony’s email just want to point out a few things. The core of city’s side is already in it’s 30’s (including De Bruyne, mahrez, gundogan, walker and fernandinho) … Even Bernardo Silva will be 30 by 2024 ..A rebuild will be necessary does. p
Pep stay for it
A few of United’s exits look like they are 5 planned for the names mentioned lingard and matic along with Mata barely feature while Cavani while a bit more regular 5 been ear marked to leave for a year .his replacement issk probably already known to the board .it’s really Greenwood situation that is a bit left field
Of course. No one knows how the recruitment drives at each club will be … however; United could use this to draw closer
I just read the report and watched the video of Kurt Zouma in which he drop kicks his cat, and beats it whilst laughing in front of a child.
I can’t believe f365 haven’t voiced a stronger response to this given their righteous stance on nearly everything else which is very disappointing.
It’s disturbing, strong links have been made between animal abuse and other crimes which would not be treated so lightly, including torture and murder. It’s psychopathic and incredibly cruel behaviour, exacted without remorse, unless you actually believe his apology and I don’t think you get to apologise for behaviour like this; there is certainly no way it can be genuine.
He should be sacked from his club, he should be charged as a criminal. It’s not acceptable at all.
And the poor cat! Bloody hell, they both should be taken somewhere safe from harm.
If anyone thinks I’m showing a lack of perspective, I’m sorry, but you are.
Alves sums up South America’s problem
Watching Dani Alves getting sent off for Barcelona vs. Atletico on the weekend emphasized one of the biggest problems in football today. If you havn’t seen it, Dani rakes his studs down the calf of an opponent getting away from him, nowhere near the ball, and VAR spots the dirty play and rightly sends him off. So far so good. The problem, however, is in the reaction. Not only do all of the Barcelona players surround the ref as per usual in disbelief, but Dani himself goes off on a rant, similar to a drunken tw@t who blames everyone else but himself for his stupidity, storming off as if the world is conspiring against him. Mate, you’ve been caught red-footed on camera – what exactly are you protesting?
But the episode raises a bigger question. Are we going to see another South American Team win the World Cup soon? Stick with me here – I appreciate I’m being highly stereotypical, but I’ve always felt that teams/players from that part of the world play a little differently than elsewhere. Specifically, the line between sport and drama is a little more blurred, with the amount of exaggeration, play-acting and dirty cheating elevated to levels beyond the rest of the world. With VAR now being able to stamp out more of this dirty play, and with the margins at the top so fine, will the disadvantage of not being able to use the ‘dark arts’ so much mean that teams who have relied on them in the past will suffer? By the way, I believe teams like Pep’s City are masters of the more subtle grey areas, but VAR should surely stamp out the more extreme examples such as Dani’s rake.
The Big P, Vancouver
Just wanted to respond to Roode, MUFC, re his thoughts on managerial upgrades.
One line that jumped out at me was “Pep hasn’t gotten his hands dirty building a squad since La Masia” but almost immediately after Roode says “he’s in charge of the best squad.” Bit of a contradiction there. I’m pretty sure most, if not all of that squad, have been signed under Pep’s watch. No, there aren’t many academy graduates but still, it’s very much Pep’s team. Agree with the overall idea; managers certainly need personnel who are willing to buy in and capable of doing so but thought the Pep example was odd.
Also, am I the only one who thinks Fred is a potentially great DM? (Yes, probably).
…Just in response to Roode, MUFC from yesterdays mailbox.
Klopp didn’t take 5 years to build a great team –
First full season – signed Mane, Gini , Matip – qualified for CL
2nd season – signed Salah, Robertson,VVD, Ox, promoted Trent – CL finalist, qualified for CL
3rd season – signed Fabinho, Allison, Keita- CL winner, finished 2nd on 97 points
4th season – signed no-one – won league with 99 points
So to summarise we haven’t even reached your 5 years and this squad has reached 2 CL finals and posted the 2nd and 4th best points totals in the history of English football.
And in response to Antony – Liverpool have signed Jota and Dias as long term replacements for Firmino and Mane. Elliot looks quality and they almost signed Carvalho so will presumably go back in for him. Not worried about the squad and recruitment at all but the toughest task in 3 years will be replacing Klopp.
Expect Newcastle to be in a better position than Arsenal or Man U in 3 years.
Mark Robbo, LFC
I should have been more precise in my phrasing, a sudden decline out of nowhere. There was no reason to think that Zambrotta had seen the last of his best days. He won Seria A again with Milan but he was a periphery figure, not the go-to weapon he used to be.
Dave (Mostly just wanted to gush about Gio anyway), Dublin