Would Gerrard in his prime improve the current Liverpool team?

Date published: Tuesday 4th February 2020 2:28

Steven Gerrard Liverpool

If you have anything to add, you know what to do – mail theeditor@football365.com

 

Would Gerrard in his prime improve the current Liverpool team?
A genuine question for the mailbox, would Steven Gerrard in his prime improve the current Liverpool team? The midfield currently is expected to be selfless and do a very disciplined role, would Stevie G’s all action scruff of the neck play fit within this? Or would he get in the way of the front 3 or the full backs bombing forward, would he retain the ball the way the current bunch do, etc?

Graham Kirk, lovely mail, brightened up my morning!!
Mel – Dublin, Berlin, Athlone Town, HaHoHe

P.S. seems unfair to discuss the merits of teams from a different era when the original Invincibles PNE are excluded.

 

Van Dijk’s worth to this Liverpool team
There’s been quite a lot of talk between gleeful Liverpool fans and salty opposition fans in the last few weeks, especially around injuries, luck, squads etc. For example this morning Ade in Guildford said he’d pick Robertson over Evra ‘for the assists’, but I’d posit that pretty much everything Liverpool do is based on the utter class of Virgil Van Dijk.

There are certain players that seem to be worth more than one player on the pitch, and VVD is certainly one of them. The only reason that Robertson and TAA can both go forward and both provide so many assists, as well as the second threat when the forwards aren’t firing, is because VVD is there. He effectively does the job of two players, allowing everyone else to bomb forward and overload their opponents. With VVD sitting there, and because he is just so, so good without any weaknesses (he’s fast, strong, good in the air, great positioning, great concentration, leadership) it prevents Liverpool getting counterattacked. Do you remember Arsenal under Wenger sending both full backs forward and quite often losing games to counterattacks? That doesn’t happen to Liverpool because, mainly, of VVD.

The last player I can think of with this kind of impact was Kante in Leicester’s and Chelsea’s title winning sides. He covered enough ground and had enough defensive capabilities to allow an extra player go forward, inevitably helping break down teams and get wins. He was the linchpin of both of those sides, just as VVD is the linchpin of this Liverpool side, both of them indirectly creating all of the positive attacking play with their sheer defensive brilliance.

And this season VVD has played every minute of PL football and every minute of CL football (thanks topical top ten). He is two players for the price of one and without him this Liverpool team would be challenging for the title in a normal way, probably ahead of Man City by say, 6- 9 points or so rather than 22. But they do have him, and they’ve had him ever since he signed, with basically no missing minutes in his time at the club. And the fact that in that time he’s basically had no contact injuries, no muscle injuries, barely any fatigue is certainly fortunate. Liverpool lost Fabinho, Allison etc to injuries, but if you took VVD out of the team they would just be fantastic, instead of the unbelievable record beating side they are.
Calum, MUFC (It isn’t a coincidence that Liverpool’s brilliance basically stems back to the January when he was signed), Wokingham

 

Topical top ten
Nice list, that.

Would be interesting to see an Italian or German version? I guess a French one would probably be full of Arsenal players plus a couple of Chelsea.

Anyway regarding the list no arguments with VVD currently being fourth. If anything I would probably have Jaap Stam at #1 and Bergkamp at #2 but that’s splitting hairs and likely because I have always been a fully paid up member of the defender’s union. As someone once said (was it Alexander Ferguson?) “Attackers win you games, defenders win you titles”…

Loved the Dimiflop Berbaflop reference from yesterday. Honestly; that’s how bad things got under Wetched Woy – we made dracula (who’s now had a terrible hair transplant I see) look decent for one match. Probably the only game that happened in for him which tells you everything you need to know about how likely we were to go down with him at the helm.

As an aside we’ve tended to buy awfully from Italy for some reason. You could make a decent fist of a ‘top’ 10 worst Italian players to showcase their awfulness at Anfield.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC

 

I was about to lose my shit when i saw the number 1! Scrolled down and all was well in the world. Should have also mentioned how Henry said he is the best player to have played with if my memory serves me. And who can forget that goal against Newcastle? I’m sure Dabizas still has nightmares!

Thank you for sharing that story Mr Kirk! Very heart warming on a cold morning. Long live Captain Kirk!

Kind Regards,
Jimmy

 

The Milner exponential
As a Liverpool fan, I had a hope at the start of the season. As the season wore on, that hope became more and more of a likelihood. Now I am just riddled with fear that it might not come to pass. I am talking, of course, of the Milner exponential.

For those of you who haven’t heard of a phrase that I literally just made up, let me explain. Last August, in the warmth of a Greek summer, my thoughts wandered wistfully on the fresh Aegean breeze to Peter Crouch (of course). A “journeyman” who I knew had made more appearances for Portsmouth than QPR, probably more still for Liverpool and who had then settled down in Stoke of all places. Did he have a career where he gradually made more appearances for each club he represented? The answer was no. But it made me wonder – who might have the longest chain of clubs where they make more appearances for one club than they had for the previous? Usually it’s the other way round – you spend a while at your first club – or there is a “main” club in the peak years or there is often a jaunt to the US or lower league that could break a chain. But is there a player who has gradually played more times for each club he represented?. And then it came to me. Something perhaps in the rugged squareness of the cliffs around me – James Milner.

In league appearances for permanent clubs, Mliner is: Leeds (48), Newcastle (94), Villa (100), Man City (147), Liverpool (143*) and then injury. Provided he makes it back in time, surely Milner will clock up another 5 appearances this season? If he stays on another season, it’s in the bag. He even has scope to head back to Leeds (or, less likely, Villa) for a season for a swansong. This has to be the most boring, functional, durable, “James Milner” stat possible. But what if he doesn’t make it. This stat coming into play is what I’ve been looking forward to all season. Or, to be precise, sending an email to F365 pointing out this stat is what I’ve been looking forward to all season. His injury could ruin my entire season (ish/not really).

Assuming Jimmy Milner makes it, can anyone think of a chain longer than 5 clubs where the player has gradually made more appearance for each club throughout his career? Or other stats/quirks/stories that you think pithily sum up a player’s career?
Ollie (In all competitions, Milner is : Leeds (54), Newcastle (136), Villa (126), Man City (203), Liverpool (205*) – hence the focus on league appearances. What? The “best” stats are carefully handpicked stats – like strawberries)

 

Chelsea keeper options
I think for Chelsea fans the appointment of Lampard has been a success in one respect: Getting rid of the attitude in CFC dressing room that plagued all the managers circa 2005.( Oddly enough, Lampard was a part of the dressing room that saw many heads roll). Dropping Kepa is a case in point.

But knowing the Chelsea board, the possibility of him yanking Kepa off is zilch.

The solution may lie in the relegation basement imo. West Ham are absolutely rotten and Fabianski has been the silver lining in that team. He wouldn’t be someone for the long term but would have enough  quality to be an upgrade on Caballero. The only sticking point would be convincing him of a fair chance of starting.
Vikas, LFC, India (Shouldn’t Danny Rose be officially declared as John David Washington’s EPL doppelganger)

 

The “Best Ever” must be decisive or be a myth….
To my dudes in the mailbox….

Strong league, weak league, strong Europe, weak Europe the fact is ever team mentioned in recent mailboxes have been fucking good…. We remember them because they are good… We cherish or revile them because they are good…

Reasonably, the only way Liverpool could clearly and objectionably be the greatest of all of them is to:

Break the Points record (possible)
AND
Finish the League undefeated (possible)
AND
With the BIG Treble (possible)
AND
Win Three Leagues in a row (possible)

Possible but unlikely, bloody unlikely, you could maybe make a strong case for a combination of 2 or 3 of those together….
So maybe lets calm down and just enjoy the pure ride of it, the anticipation, actually pulling this shit off after so long. This is like a great robbery movie where everything is coming off and we can see the horizon and have the cash…. so close…. I don’t want any of those four amazing feats if I don’t actually get to enjoy this after so long for what it actually (might be)…

My real issue is some Pool fans in recent Mailboxes going from (This might ACTUALLY be our year if we stay focused) to singing (We are going to win the league) to (We are the greatest ever) before anything is in the actual won, it took maybe 2 weeks.
Jim (Catching myself looking at the ladder every day, the anticipation) Ando, Canberra, LFC

 

Until someone invents some sort of hot tub time machine and brings through the previous best teams from their era to play this current team I can’t see the debate over whether this current Liverpool team is the best side the Premiership has ever seen ending anytime

In the meantime, opposing fans can argue that the standard of the other teams this season has been poorer than most however, I feel this is doing a massive disservice to the most ruthless, well-oiled and exciting team to watch than I’ve ever seen

I can’t imagine that even the most ardent supporters could argue that at least eight of this Liverpool team would walk into their current side and make themselves first team regulars and I reckon (in my humble opinion – please be nice) that this statement would still hold credence if you went back over time and looked at some of the strongest teams fielded since the Premiership began

Yes there has been better, stand out players (Hazard, Henry, Aguero, Stam, Suarez, Scholes & Gerrard to name but a few) but none of them would look out of place operating in this Liverpool team as they would be surrounded with players good enough to compliment them

Finally, I can’t see Liverpool going unbeaten for the season – the league will be wrapped up too early and Klopp will give a lot more game time to the subs, reserves and juniors so defeats are inevitable and before I get battered by Liverpool fans, I am one of you – I have a Stevie G signed shirt in my downstairs toilet (the wife won’t let me put it on the wall in our bedroom) and my dog is called Gerrard Xabi Alonso (yes I’m sad – I get told a lot..!!)

Keep up the good work

Cheers
Jim

 

Chelsea the Premier League Goat
Some interesting debates on what constitutes a great, or greatest, team being thrown up in the mailbox and rather than argue I thought I’d just throw in my own (subjective) metric. When it comes to great premier league teams there are a few that spring to mind. The Arsenal invincibles, United’s treble winners, this current Liverpool one and the back to back title winners of the past two years, Guardiola’s Man City. But the best team in my opinion is the one that is the scariest the league has ever seen and that has to be Mourinho’s Chelsea.

That first iteration of a sugar daddy team would wipe the floor with any team from premier league history. It had flair from Robben and Deco, and relentless energy from Duff and Kalou. But what set it apart was the spine. Drogba, Lampard, Makele, Essien, Terry, Cavalho. Teams would just break apart like water against the rocks before making the inevitable mistake that would cost them the game. They also had one of the great leftbacks of all time in Ashley Cole (the only player to be in two g.o.a.t prem teams?)

It might be a little bit leftfield, but I’ve never seen an English team that was such a perfect embodiment of a manager’s philosophy. They just never made mistakes. Impossible to break down and impossible to stop from scoring. The fact that they were twice the size of the opposition made them all the more frightening and of course, the remnants of that team went on to win a deserved champions league regardless of their manager. Liverpool today are good, but they give away opportunities and ride their luck much like Utd’s treble winners, and Arsenal’s invincibles. That Chelsea side was relentless; the stuff of nightmares.
Liam Gabriel Hoskins (Klopp’s Dortmund were scarier than this Liverpool) AFC

 

Stop feeding the GOATS
I’ve been following the whole greatest team debate, but I think we should shelve it because it’s being had too early. As everyone is assuming the league is in the bag, why not wait 3 months to know if Liverpool have won the Champions League, gone unbeaten, racked up a record points score, or even only dropped two points in the season (!) I would argue that just 1 of those achievements in the context of the last year means there is no debate to be had. Also, we are comparing to peak teams in the past…and this team aren’t necessarily at their peak! Remarkable, yes, but there are a number of reasons to consider that they will be better next season:

1) Klopp has made tangible progress with every season so far, and Liverpool have got stronger as a result

2) Key players at great ages, great players with more to give (Ox/Keita/Fabinho) and great coaches to get more output

3) The ability and motivation to make big signings. It’s well known that Pool have a lot of players playing much better than they are entitled to be playing. One or two great players AND great coaching (see VVD or Alisson) and it could be off the charts

4) Bournemouth and Crystal Palace to hoover up the crap and keep the net spend under control obvs

FWIW, I don’t particularly want that to happen as it takes away the fun of watching. Here’s hoping the rest* get their act together**

*Except United

**A little
Adam, LFC

 

 

I like what Arteta is doing…
Arsenal are enduring our worst season since the mid 90s but I have to say I like what Arteta is doing.

Wenger’s team was built on the solid foundations set by George Graham’s defence – so much so that just three seasons after finishing 12th, Wenger landed us the title.

Now of course, I’m not suggesting we’ll even qualify the Champions League in the next three seasons but solidifying that defence is vital to any success moving forward.

Lacazette and Ozil need to be moved on as they’re not adding anything but with some clever recruitment if the club can find the next Dennis Bergkamp – I know easier said than done! teaming him up with Martinelli, then we could be on our way.

Also, kudos to Mustafi and Xhaka, Mustafi had a great game the other day and I no longer shudder when Xhaka’s in the starting line up so well done to both.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

Graham and his Dad
Great email from Graham Kirk about his Dad and how a passion for a club is a lifetime bond.

My Dad also died a few months ago. He was 89 and supported Liverpool all his life.

He took me to my first Anfield game in 62 when I was five. I was mesmerised. We never had much money but games were cheap then, so we travelled in a battered Ford Anglia to Stoke, Wolves, Birmingham, Sheffield, anywhere the wreck could make it.

I have so many memories spent with him, like the Leeds FA Cup final in 65, the legendary St Etienne game when we stood entranced on the Kop, and players running from Roger Hunt (his all time favourite) through to Dalglish (2nd) and Suarez (3rd).

I’ll always love football for the shared passion it gave us and for the wonderful times, both in victory and defeat, it provided. Sixty years of debate, joy, anguish, frustration and bewilderment, often in the same game.

How I would have loved it for him to witness this season. But I know how he would have reacted. “It’s the finest club in the world”, he would have said, “it was only a matter of time.”

Sadly, his time was a few months short.

Thanks for the memories, Dad. Your grandchildren attend every game and your great grandchild begins his journey next season.
Pip Rawli

 

Thank you Graham. What a wonderful email. Great to read a mail like that, more than the often devisive or withering (guilty myself) emails I often read in mailbag. I’m sure I and many other will think of your old man when the day (touch anything even vaguely wooden) comes.
Rowan Hansberry

 

What a lovely, heartfelt letter.

Just wonderful.
Jon (no, I am most definitely crying), Lincoln

 

Just wanted to say thank you to Graham Kirk for sharing his story about what Liverpool and football generally means to him and his relationship with his father.

This title will be for him and all the other fans who have waited so long.
Max, Melbourne, Australia

 

Graham’s mail from this morning hit the spot for me. My dad also from Liverpool and fanatic Liverpool fan also died just before Christmas. We also did those post-match calls and texts together. Who had played well and who we should buy or drop.  I miss and remember him most at these times.

I could get him to a few games a year. His last was Leicester home. I think he knew it would be his last.

It was my 52nd on Saturday and I took my partner to the match. She’d been with me and dad to Norwich at the start of the season. On Saturday my younger sister also joined us for her first home match. I wanted her to kind of step into her dad’s football shoes. So we got there early and did all the usual rituals. Unforgettable.

It was a great experience. The result and quality of play was superb. It was mainly a time of connection not just to dad but also to each other. Making memories together and with tens of thousands of fellow Reds fans. Other fans will do this at other clubs each match day but it rarely gets talked about.

Graham is right about how football can connect us to each other in a very special way. Thanks mate for reminding us of this.
David lfc

 

I thought Graham’s mail from earlier was both excellent and very moving. It was a great reminder that football can bring people together but it also means very little in the grand scheme of things. I know it’s not the same as losing your father but I had a friend who passed away too young, and one of the last things we did together was to sit in his bed with a laptop watching a United match.

He had been sick in his early 20s, had gone into remission but then unfortunately got sick again. He lived in Newcastle at the time and had received treatment but unfortunately this didn’t have the affect everyone had hoped. He was too ill to travel home which meant he knew he would spend his last days in Newcastle, so I had gone along with another mate to effectively say our goodbyes. Now anyone who knows me knows I loathe missing a match – family dinners get booked around the games, I have snuck off at weddings, missed birthdays etc. United were (ironically) playing Newcastle that day but I couldn’t even think about the match and had no intentions of watching it.

However, when we got to his house my bed-ridden mate was having none of it. He was also a Utd supporter and obviously wanted some semblance of normality and to share one last match with his mates. So we all sat, poured ourselves a glass of the finest whiskey (which my other mate had spent ages picking that morning but my friend couldn’t hold down) and watched United put in one of the most under par performances ever, getting destroyed 3-0. But the result didn’t matter. Football didn’t matter. He passed away just over 8 years ago (on the 1st of Feb) but that day will stay with me for as long as I am lucky enough to be here, living and loving life!

Even as a United supporter I am quite happy to see Liverpool win the league for people like Graham; having previously had some sensible debates in the comments section, he comes across as someone who loves his team but isn’t totally blinkered (we’re all a bit blinkered). As regards the other mails earlier, it’s good to see that scouse sense of humour is alive and well given they took my mail in good jest without foaming at the mouth to prove my “scientific” methodology incorrect. I think some just read what they wanted to see and ignored the first sentence and the brackets between my name (I did say tongue in cheek). You’d think being champions-elect would lead some to lighten up but I believe the phrase the kids use today is “triggered”.
Garey (RIP Soupy) Vance, MUFC

 

Something to break up the strength of league tedium
I assume this is going to fail but I was desperately trying to break up the apparently endless strength of league discussion and thought it was worth flagging up what happened in the Bretagne Derby in Ligue. While not as well known as PSG- Marseilles or Lyon- St Etienne the match between Nantes and Rennes is a tasty local battle for bragging rights. Nantes were winning 2-1 until the 90th minute this Friday when Rennes equalized. Rennes then managed to score a winner. This reason I wanted to flag this match up is because the winning goal was initially ruled out for offside before being reviewed by VAR. If I remember correctly, a Nantes fan sent in an email a few weeks ago (about Cardiff and Sala) and was curious if they had been at this match to get a sense of the atmosphere?

The use of VAR in a late winner to end a local derby seems like an obvious opportunity to get a sense of how far it breaks up the emotion of a game…
NorthernSoul (NUFC)

 

United and their strikers, wait Glenn Murray?
Well the Mailbox is currently alive with a lot of Liverpool discussion so I thought I would mix it up with a piece of news that you at F365 posted earlier on today, Glenn Murray was considered as a target for Manchester United, Glenn Murray, 36 year old Glenn Murray, okay you get the idea, but twin this with JFH’s comments about United signing Ighalo shows they are behind Chelsea, Arsenal etc, it does make an interesting discussion, if the answer to your problems is a 36 year old striker who has 2 goals in 17 games this season for Brighton then I really worry what the question United are asking.

One extra point in regards to SJ from Minnesota made this morning about Referees having a headset on so we can hear them explain their decisions etc, great idea, has been mentioned many times, as in the UK we have such a system for Rugby I often wonder why we still don’t implement it within football, it cannot be the risk of offensive language being overheard, mainly due to what we hear from crowd chants etc, and they have a similar setup in Australia with their referees in the A-League all mic’d up and their isnt an issue.
Mikey, CFC (Talking of NFL, maybe a Halftime show during the Cup Final to save the FA Cup?)

 

Wasnt it the worst in 2013 or 2016
Funny here was me thinking we had this argument about best / worst league when Fergie retired (that team was awful and he still won the league with it)

Then when Leicester won  – Well it was only because the rest of the league was terrible

Weirdly when City won it with 100pts it was because they were Peps unstoppable, almost perfect force,… what were were supposed to do for the next 10yrs of their domination

and now because Liverpool have a huge lead and have left the unbeatable Peps dominators far behind its back to being rubbish..

Can’t the Liverpool fans just enjoy it thoroughly for what it is (a fantastic season of wonderful football) and if you want to enjoy it more, then enjoy everyone elses need to make out that what Klopp and these players have done has little or less meaning than when someone else won it.. My dads bigger than yours classic!

This is the most exciting Liverpool team I have seen in a very very long time (im 48) Just let that be enough!

The bottom teams are much stronger for me which is why the top teams have lost more / dropped more points not sure thats a stronger over all league or not  but who cares?!
Al – LFC – Has purchased the ‘Inevitable’ Shirt – Just waiting for the points tally to get a number on it !

 

LFC women
An open letter to FSG.

I don’t speak for anyone but myself.

I couldn’t be more admiring of FSG’s ownership of LFC. It’s what every fan would love for the club they support.

But.

The state of the LFC women’s set up is so poor as to be a stain on the club. From what I understand, the women are on the verge of being effectively relegated from the pro ranks…the male equivalent would be dropping out of the 91 (sorry Bury).

I simply can’t believe that it would take an inordinate amount of investment (relatively speaking) to right this.

At a time when we are flying and there is so much to feel good about, how about righting this one wrong? Let’s have a holistic club with a women’s set up we can be proud of. Right now it seems to me they walk alone.
Aussie Red

 

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