The problem with Liverpool winning the title so early…

Date published: Monday 6th July 2020 2:31

Virgil van Dijk Liverpool

Send your thoughts on Liverpool and anything else to theeditor@football365.com

 

Record-breaking Reds…
Good day! The downside about winning the league so early is that it put Liverpool fans in a situation they aren’t used to. We literally went from praising FSG’s transfer model to criticizing it the next day. From insulting Firmino to begging Klopp to put him on the pitch against Aston Villa. We are an emotional bunch,Liverpool fans and honestly, I blame Klopp for causing all this. How dare he win the league with 7 games to spare? He has taken all the fun out of it. How dare he not sign Werner? I know his transfer rating is 99% so far in Liverpool but come on….we’ve dropped 10 points in the league this season, surely that’s too much for a team like Liverpool.

How did that sound? Silly right? You know I’m just joking….or am I??
Josey (101 points this season)

 

Would Sir Alex move De Gea on?
First things first, for the first time in a long time, it is actually exciting to be a United fan again.

Two trophies and a top four finish is a genuine possibility – who would have thought!

Despite all the excitement, there are a few areas where United still need to improve in order to bridge that chasm to the top of the table, and we are probably still 3 or 4 players short.

These players/positions have been debated at length here and elsewhere, so I won’t go into that again, but one key position in any title winning team – and the one that will likely cause most debate among United fans in the off season – is the goalkeeper.

I will always be the first person to defend David de Gea. He has been a shining light at the club since Ferguson retired and saved us countless times. Yes, his Player of the Year awards are just as much a sign of decline everywhere around him, but that’s not his responsibility – he’s been top notch for years and probably the best in the world at points in the last five years.

But it is undeniable that he has been off his game for the last 18 months or so. While he has rarely dropped a proper clanger like a Taibi or the sheer lunacy of Barthez from time to time (he did drop a bollock against Watford earlier this season mind), the majority of goals he has conceded lately have been avoidable (Spurs and Bournemouth since the restart alone).

Again, in his defence, he has conceded very few and has 9 or 10 clean sheets in this 16 game unbeaten run, which is to his credit. Are the avoidable goals a sign of irreversible decline? Is it Maguire running through treacle from time to time? Did United crack and give him that huge contract just at the point where they didn’t really need to? Who knows, maybe it’s all of the above…

Among multiple other things, what made Sir Alex great was his ability to sense when a player had reached his peak and then move him. Hughes, Ince et al were moved on from the double winning team to make room for the young players, Bruce & Pallister were moved on ahead of the treble winning season. van Nistelrooy was sacrificed when he was confident that Rooney and Ronaldo could take over.

Watching the game on Saturday, it was again clear that while he’s not finished (far from it), De Gea just isn’t quite as good as he used to be – mistakes have crept in.

Of course, a United captain and £80m defender needs to do better (certainly not get ‘megged in the box), but that doesn’t change the fact that De Gea was beaten at his near post for the opener. This should never, ever happen – at any level.

Shortly before the second Bournemouth goal, he was again beaten at his near post, but saved by the post.

All of this, and a looming shadow from Sheffield, brings me to my point – would Sir Alex pull the trigger this summer and move De Gea on to make room for a young, hungry, homegrown Dean Henderson?

While loyalty is important, of course it is, United and Solskjaer can’t allow sentiment to cloud their judgement here. De Gea has been a fantastic servant, but his time might just have come.

Young, hungry, homegrown is something of a mission statement for Ole’s United so this could be a watershed moment for Solskjaer.

On the one hand, it could send a strong message to the dressing room. Nothing less than 100% focus and commitment will be accepted – there is no room for complacency – and establish Ole as “the boss” and not just a cheerleader. Not just a friendly face around the place.

On the other, it could alienate the players – “If De Gea isn’t safe and doesn’t get a second chance then why am I breaking my arse for this guy?”

It’s a tough choice that needs to be made. But this is what separates the men from the boys and separates top managers from the rest.
James MUFC

 

Gomes left because of lack of playing time, not money…
Rob, Guangzhou, see, this is where you and the rest of Ole’s defenders on this issue have got it backwards. Gomes has left, not because the money on offer wasn’t high enough, but because of a lack of playing time. As I said, and I really can’t stress this enough: if you’re not given a chance to show what you can do because Lingard and Pereira are getting the games, why on earth would you stay? And why would you not stay, if money was your motivator, when you’re offered £30k a week? Fair enough, I’m not saying Gomes should have been getting loads of games since Bruno arrived – he’s the first name on the teamsheet right now – but they had up until the back end of January when Pogba was injured and Bruno hadn’t arrived.

I’ll concede that Ole does indeed see him every day in training and is best placed to make a decision but that is just further evidence for the prosecution. Please, please, please tell me one good thing about either Lingard or Pereira that has justified their repeated inclusion over the last two years. Tell me any other Premier League club for whom they would deservedly start games. Even with the most objective view, I cannot see one single footballing virtue from either of them. Are you really going to sit there and tell me that Gomes is or would have been worse than even them? And I completely reject your comment about height, there are plenty of players of a similar height to him who have succeeded. Juan Mata isn’t exactly the tallest or the strongest and he’s not exactly struggled, has he? Even the cited Ryan Fraser was doing very well until Bournemouth capitulated around him.

As for Ole’s youth record, is it really as good as you say? No it’s not. Greenwood has featured a good amount, I’ll give you that, but Brandon Williams, whose drum is repeatedly beaten as another regularly playing academy graduate? Nine starts in the Premier League. His best run was three consecutive starts, which were immediately followed by three matches where he remained on the bench and two where he wasn’t even in the squad. The last of his PL starts was against Chelsea, eight games ago. In the intervening seven PL matches, he’s played a whopping 109 minutes of a possible 630 (for which he was in the matchday squad). Tuanzebe? Two PL starts. Chong, Garner and Gomes combined? Zero PL starts. Out of all the youth academy products that he’s supposedly so good at promoting, which of those other players has been “regularly” starting? Even Greenwood has only started 7 Premier League games (despite injuries to Martial and Rashford, and we didn’t even have Ighalo until January!), and has played 921 Premier League minutes out of a possible 2,340 (for which he was in a matchday squad) and look how well he’s done.

So that’s why I’m p*ssed off about it. Look, I’m happy with Ole overall, and I’m glad Greenwood is starting to feature with increased regularity. Wan-Bissaka and Bruno have been phenomenal signings, and I love the Ighalo signing, but that doesn’t give Ole a complete a free pass or absolve him from all criticism, and it doesn’t mean that he can’t be better, or at fault for things that have gone wrong.

Maybe Gomes was just garbage, or not cut out for the Premier League, or too small, or whatever else people have accused him of, but that doesn’t stack up either. If all or any of those things were true, why did the club try so hard and so publicly to get him to stay? I’m not saying he was the next Messi or whatever, I just don’t see why he couldn’t have had, say, 5 PL sub appearances or 20 minutes, or even a League Cup start – just a fraction of minutes that matter, which were otherwise assigned to the godawful Lingard (WhoScored.com rating of 6.37) or Pereira (6.59). If he had been given a chance, would he really have done any worse than them? 19 PL substitute minutes to their 2,381 (this season alone) is an insult to the academy. What it’s saying is: no matter how much potential you have, how hard you work, who else is injured, no matter how good you could be given the chance, you’re not getting to play, over two players for whom “bang average” would be a significant step up. I would have left too.
Ted, Manchester

 

Liverpool conclusions
Some thoughts and conclusions from the Liverpool game:

1. Naps are underrated. After about 10 minutes of the first half I fell asleep and didn’t wake up till half time. Great nap though.

2. The second half started in much the same manner as the first, so I was able to take the washing down and fold it.

3. As the game carried on I thought I may as well use the opportunity to get some ironing done, so all my shirts are now ironed and ready for work. Result.

4. This meant that I was in the good books with my wife, as she came downstairs to find that washing was folded and ironing done, even though the football was on. Thanks Liverpool for giving me the opportunity.

5. Mane’s goal showed how important he is and why he is probably our player of the season.

6. Jones’s goal was a lovely thing. Salah’s header was excellent, Jones read it perfectly and it was a tidy finish, It was nice to see the celebrations from the other players, who were clearly thrilled for him.

7. Overall, as I’ve alluded to, it was a very dull game. But, along with City’s game that evening, it pretty much sums up the season. Liverpool have had many games when they’ve not been great, but they still win. City, for all their ability to play scintillating football, still seem incredibly inconsistent.

8. 101 is still the target, so there is still something to play for but if I’m honest, I’m already looking ahead to next season.
Mike, LFC, London

 

Firmino mystery. Really?
Firmino has scored twelve goals for Liverpool. By the time the last ball is kicked that figure may be up to fifteen. A lot of people are now referring to him as ‘the forward who doesn’t score goals’ and this is patently not true. Many are of the opinion that he doesn’t score enough, yet if you look at the scoring charts for the premier league I’m sure Mane and Salah will be up near the top. Most of the other clubs will have one player on that list and Liverpool have two.

I travelled with my son to see Liverpool v Newcastle this season and was shocked at the effect Firmino had on the game. He came on as a sub for Origi in the first half and Liverpool were transformed. And not just the front three! Andy Robertson for example, had been playing quite poorly and immediately improved. Even his most ardent admirers often concede that he should score more often. But how many goals do we want Liverpool to score?If we think of Firmino as a creative midfielder at the top of a diamond, while Salah and Mane are two forwards who make runs, then his goalscoring form would be incredible over the last few years.

So please Liverpool fans, don’t get obsessed with the number on Firmino’s back. What he does is terrific. He’s the hub of the team, dragging defenders this way and that. He’s way more impressive when you see him in the flesh and we don’t need three 20 goal players at the club. Nobody else has this luxury and if there were three people making forward runs, there’d be nobody to pass the ball forward to them. Also… forget that he hasn’t scored at Anfield in the league. There is no reason for this. The only outcome of that stat is that instead of calling him the forward who scored twelve goals this season, people are starting to call him the forward with no bloody goals!!! What he is in fact, is a superb creative midfielder who scores about fifteen goals a season in a team containing two prolific goalscorers who rarely look their best without him. Mystery solved!
Michael, Ireland

 

To fans of other clubs who can’t understand what Bobby does, it might be helpful to repeat this (apocryphal?) exchange from a while back.

Reporter to Firmino: “what is your role in the Liverpool system?”

Firmino (bemused but completely without arrogance): “I AM the system”

Aside from being the system, he has a more important role, in genially taking the p155 out of the rest of the side (see his reaction to Salah and Mane fighting, mimicking VVD goal celebrations, etc etc etc)
Aussie Red

 

Mourinho again…
Sorry, back to make fun of Mourinho again.

Him getting upset about Arsenal posting a slightly tongue in cheek highlights thing of Sheffield United just after Spurs lost at Brammall Lane is such a tell of where he is right now.

Prime Mourinho wouldn’t have given it the time of day. This one is broken and bitter.
Tom, Walthamstow

 

City…
After the City vs  Liverpool match  last week Raheem Sterling commented “next season started today”. After the second match of next season it’s good to see that things remain status quo for City.
Jason G, Montreal

 

How is it that Pep and City have gone almost unscathed from the media and even reputable sites like you for their very, very weak title defence

66pts after 33 games. Lost 9 games. 20 points behind Liverpool

This isn’t Bayern or Celtic dominating teams with lesser resources, they’ve spent even more than Liverpool and are one of the most expensive squads ever

What are your thoughts on this ?
Demi, Lagos Nigeria

 

Show some love…
I might be going against the grain here by not mentioning any of the prevailing topics in the mailbox but I would like to take a moment to show some appreciation for a not often heralded footballer – at least not as often heralded as he should be.

David Josue Jimenez Silva has been a fantastic player at Manchester City Football Club and I, for one, will be more than a little upset when he eventually leaves at the end of this season.

He has never been one to blow his own trumpet so I would like try to do that for him by pointing out that his Premier League assists total during his time at the club (90) is the best of any player in the Premier League over the same period, next closest is Christian Eriksen sitting on, a paltry by comparison, 62.

The man is a majestic footballer possessing the grace of movement and vision that is the preserve of only the very finest of players.

Manchester City and the Premier League have been lucky to enjoy watching him play this past decade and the game in this country will quite frankly, not be the same without him.

Ciao David, its been emotional.
Andy West CTID

 

BBC punditry hit a new low last night
Dear Editor,

The standard of punditry on the BBC has long been a source of ridicule. Last night, for me, it hit new lows.

Shearer has always been terrible, we’re used to it. But it was Micah Richards that really surprised me. Now his enthusiasm and all-round chat are great. But last night, the analysis from both, Jesus Christ.

Take for example Curtis Jones’ goal. The lad picks up the ball – drives at the defence – plays a delicate ball to Henderson at speed – moves in to the box – gets close to, then drops two yards off his marker to create the space – then finishes with a volley.

Top quality play, loads to discuss, or at least point out. What did we get? – ‘he’s a quality young player, just signed a new contract’

My expectations for pundits are low, but come on!

Shearer similarly didn’t fail to disappoint. Aston Villa played really well on the break, had some chances – did he discuss where things went wrong? Did he discuss where they can improve, or play a better pass? Did he mention even the obvious exploitation of the space in behind Liverpool’s as usual absurdly high full backs? No, he said – ‘Liverpool were poor’ about 15 times, as if it were the most controversial statement ever uttered.

It really just reminds me why I usually don’t watch MOTD in real time – watch on catch up and you can skip Neville/Shearer/Wright. Treat yourself.

Cheers,
Marc

 

Saving next season…
Been having a few thoughts about flaws in the game and where we go from here to get football back to where it should be rather than having the same universal annoyance of the same issues again and again. And to me I think there are some fairly quick/easy fixes that for the life of me I can’t see why they wouldn’t work and am happy for fellow readers to point out why they might now work.
Firstly, VAR. ENOUGH with the 3mm his heel was offside decisions. Just remove the use of those lines. If the human eye can’t see if its offside from a slow motion replay then advantage to attacker, he was onside. Problem solved.

Secondly, you have one appeal each half from the captains. Thats it. Not every goal or every offside decision is scrutinised. They can review a red card incident, a penalty or a goal. This way VAR is used a maximum of 4 times a game. It actually makes the captains role have some significance and we can all stop blaming officials -if you missed a decision then you should have reviewed it.
Thirdly, VAR gets no more than 30 seconds review. If it takes longer than that then its not clear and obvious and referee’s decision stands.
Finally, any player that requires the physio to come on after a foul has 5mins treatment off the pitch. We’re all sick to death of players going down under the slightest touch only to be touched by God and miraculously manage to play on again. Its so boring and is rightly and widely mocked by every other sport. If a physio has to come on, off you go for 5mins which will instantly stop play acting as your team will be down to 10 men or you’re getting subbed.

You’re welcome football, thank me later.
Antony Dine

 

‘Next year is our treble year’
KP’s email this morning got me thinking. Has “next year is our treble year” replaced “next year is our year”? Not the worst thing to be mocked for to be honest.

On to Greenwood. The way he can ping off thunder bastards unexpectedly with hardly any foot swing reminds me of a certain Ronaldo. No not that one millennials, but the original fat R9.  I am in no way saying he can be as good as him, I’m just saying it’s been a while since I’ve seen that characteristic in a player.

Stay safe
Samwise, MUFC

 

Too much praise for champions Liverpool
The continuing fellatio of all things Liverpool by Matt Stead is rapidly making your site tedious and unreadable.

He may well have slightly nice line in prose, but I have never encountered writing so unprofessional in its bias before. All pretence of integrity and balance on his part has now been lost.

The clumsy crowbarring of Liverpool into the “Winners” section no matter what – most recently with pushing Firminho in there just so he could link to a previous article singing his praises – is jaw dropping in its hubris.

When Klopp praises his players it’s a sign of a manger giving his all in service of his team. When OGS at Utd does it with Greenwood, he’s just being a “fawning mascot”.

Define irony – Matt Stead accusing somebody else of being a fawning mascot for their team…sir, your constant dribbling cheerleading for your team is staggeringly overt.

Mr Stead should just go and get himself a job working directly for LFC, then perhaps the site can go back to being balanced in its praise and it’s criticism, instead of just giving so much space to a somewhat talented – if limited – and unprofessional shill.
Logan, Portsmouth

 

Solskjaer is underappreciated
Mediawatch (which I love) picked up on something that a few friends have pointed out to me – United have finished higher in the table or gotten more points than this United side under van Gaal and Mourinho. But the difference is not hating myself for loving the club anymore. The style of those two managers and the lack of excitement equates to more than just the points. Not that I want United to languish in 5th forever playing nice football, but I watched Mourinho’s interview after the Sheffield game and I felt like I’d been touched by the grim reaper for 3 minutes. He’s like a slow rot posion of dread.

I enjoy supporting the club and these players. It’s trivial, but even if Juan Mata is the slowest man on the planet, I like him, and I’m glad he’s there. These things do matter, like how Klopp being everyone’s favourite uncle matters to Liverpool fans. It’s a pride thing.

Solskjaer gets underappreciated for his tactics – there is a marked difference of how they build up on the left as to on the right and how he uses Shaw as opposed to AWB; AWB doesn’t make the run that Shaw made for Pogba’s pass on Saturday, and is the reason why Pogba now plays predominantly on the right and Matic on the left. The front three interchange, like Greenwood scoring from the left side and right side, Martial cutting in from the left for his goal and Rashford having a goal disallowed through the centre. There are tactics there, there are exciting players United fans associate with there, and there is a lack of self-hate for supporting them again. Hopefully the points follow those things too but it’s harder to measure hose things as compared to the table.
James, Galway

 

Where’s the clickbait?
I can’t help thinking that Football 365 have missed a couple of beautiful click bait headlines in one story…

Injury shock! Kane out for the SEASON

Injury shock! Liverpool reeling after midfield star ruled out for the season
Micki Attridge

PS It’s Herbie Kane in case you haven’t seen the actual story

 

Predictions
All in all, your “experts” really prove themselves to be anything but with these predictions.

Any thoughts on Pulisic, Sarah?
Paul, Chelsea

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