Another wonderful Mailbox. Keep ’em coming to email@example.com
The Koln fans
I just wonder if 20,000 United fans marching through Cologne would be badged as a ‘party atmosphere’. I think not.
Barney Ronay right on cue seemed to revel in some sort of liberal schadenfreude this morning. He obviously wasn’t in or around Soho yesterday, not very pleasant at all.
Still one rule for some, another for others as per usual.
There are those people that will want to make light of what happened yesterday at the Emirates.
I didn’t go to the game because quite frankly I can’t be doing with the UEFA Cup but I did encounter the Cologne fans on my way home and while they were pretty well behaved and jovial, I can see how that bigger crowd would scare the hell out of people attending their first game. And let’s not forget the way that game was priced – it was designed for parents to be able to take their kids to their first game.
Both Cologne and Arsenal have to take a long, hard look at themselves this morning. My first Arsenal game was a match against the Hammers 30 years ago in which Kenny Sansom scored on his birthday. It was a day I’ll never forget – for some of those little uns at the Emirates last night was one they’ll never forget for all of the wrong reasons.
The entry to Red Level membership is pretty low so maybe fans bought Arsenal memberships and then legitimately bought tickets in the home end on the ticket exchange. Maybe the answer is to force people from overseas to buy three league tickets before they can buy European tickets but one thing is for sure – both clubs need to ensure this type of thing never happens again.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
The first half at the Emirates last night was one of the most fun football atmospheres I have ever experienced. Aided and abetted by the hour extra pub time we arsenal fans were in decent voice. Being a minority amongst very vocal koln fans on the lower tier was a novelty for sure. Jovial chants by fan groups going to and forth, lovely stuff.
2nd half (despite the improving fortunes in the pitch) was not as fun. A lot more young arsenal fans came down to the lower tier, primarily to hurl abuse at our German guests. Ashamed every time I hear ‘two world wars one world cup’, more so when it’s screamed in the face of placid middle aged fans. Slapping their heads when we scored, ‘seeing them here just pissed me off’ one young arsenal fan said. Carnival atmosphere was over.
Double ashamed when I pick up the papers this morning. ‘chaos’, ‘rampage’ – all very misleading, all clearly from the press boxes and without consultation from fans in the stands. An organisational balls up for sure. But most of all I learned that German fans are grown up enough for mixed seating, we are not. Nothing new, but stunning as ever to see how our press love to pick on foreigners
The Klopp defence
So as an avid Liverpool fan and one who is very critical of some of Klopps selections at times I must come out in defence of him too. I’m defending him against stupid people. People that like to think that they know more about football than the really do. Yes the defence sucks at times but to talk about getting rid of him is just so stupid. Really? And who would you get? Maybe hodgson back. Or maybe let’s get Allardyce in to sort that defence out? F**k that! Football is entertainment. I’m entertained watching Liverpool (most of the time) these days. You fickle stupid Pool fans should just do one. What do you want? He’s been there 2 years. You expect us to be winning the league already? Just remember Barca never had a defence when winning everything. The problem lies in midfield not the defence. They don’t help out enough so that’s my real gripe with Klopp but not enough to get rid of him. Yes Lovren and Klavan aren’t the best but can you really blame Klopp for the mistake by the former for Sevilla’s 1st? No! I’m just flabbergasted by this sack talk. People talk about longevity in the manager role. Well that’s what we need. He’s not perfect but who is? Zidane maybe. Actually Zidane is. Real Madrid are the best team in the world by far. Just thought I’d stick that in there.
One point I want to bring up about signings and lack of in our defence. Klopp was criticised for not even attempting to sign Michael Kean. How’s that working out at Everton for ‘England’s great hope’? They are shipping goals too and they are full of English dirge. Atalanta 3-0 Everton? Ha! My middle finger goes up to Merson and Phil Neville and Collymore and the likes. Xenophobic jackasses who think anyone English is world class but the foreigners coming in aren’t up to scratch. I salute you Football365 for seeing football NOT through beer goggles. Btw Phil Neville how did life at Valencia work out for you and your brother? Pathetic. Just proves that some of these former footballer expert pundits know absolutely zero about management.
Anyway fact is we should have won yesterday but didn’t. Does that mean we should panic? No! Just chill!
Most of Smiddy (looking for the backlash)’s mail is, worryingly, spot on. You would think I’d be used to it by now, but I couldn’t believe how bad the defending was for the goals last night.
But the conclusion he came to is nonsense.
1) Way too soon to think Klopp needs to go. personally I still see more positives (excellent rate of success in transfer market so far, big improvements in some players, and to me exciting attacking football counts for something even if we’re not winning trophies) than negatives (only bought one first-team level defender, seemingly incapable of training defenders, seriously dude, just sort out the defense!)
2) If our defense can be solved with a purchase or two, give him at least another window, and make sure that is his priority. I’m not so sure it’s that simple to solve, I reckon our approach is always going to leave us open.
3) Who the f**k is going to come in and do better?
Or maybe I’m only sticking up for Klopp because he gives hugs, is always gurning on the touchline, and only seems to give a shit about scoring goals. Entirely possible.
Josh LFC in Rio (gurning on the sofa when sevilla scored their second)
Smiddy, we’re in the champions league. We’ve played 4 league games. We’re playing potentially the most exciting football in England, and possibly even Europe.
Quit your bitching or f*** off.
He has got his rotation policy backwards
Klopp himself has stated that with the extra number of fixtures this season that his squad not only needs to be deeper to cope but he will also regularly rotate players to keep them fresh throughout the season.
Though his logic is admirable and arguably correct it is not what he has been doing. Last week for example after the capitulation at City he had the perfect chance to freshen up the side against Sevilla. Yet once again he didn’t change one of the front 3 (surely Sturridge should have started) and kept the same midfield as the weekend. His only ‘rotations’ persist at RB with TAA and Gomez alternating and whichever nightmare out of Klavan and Lovren he has the misfortune to pick.
Now this has two effects , one it is not a surprise that we look good going forward , the three players have a chance to learn and understand each other’s game and arguably they are as good as any front 3 in the league , the midfield is solid whilst not inspiring without Lallana and or Coutinho but adequate. Any football fan will know Liverpools Achilles heel is the defense and perhaps the goalie (SM should always start) , so to ‘help’ this defense with a new RB , a new LB ( yes you Alberto) and certainly one CB who should be nowhere near the first team he changes two or three per week.
This is ludicrous as perhaps nowhere on the pitch is the partnership between two players as important as CB . There is also the point that defenders run less than certainly midfield players and are therefore less likely to tire or receive fatigue injuries on a ongoing basis.
We are blessed with a squad with options upfront , in midfield , hello Milner and Grujic , and weak at the back , now perhaps Juergen is trying to find his best 4 at the back but surely he has got this rotation policy the wrong way round.
DL, (sturridge should start Saturday) LFC , Geneva
Klopp’s right: One signing wouldn’t fix it
The German phrase “Sturm and Drang” (literally translated as “Storm and Stress”) neatly sums up Klopp’s Liverpool.
But it’s astonishing how often the “great attack, terrible defense” line is trotted out without any appreciation that the two things may actually be connected. It’s like expecting to be able to get drunk without the hangover.
The main problem is the defense, not the defenders. Buying Van Dijk would definitely help but under the current system the same pattern will persist – you could put a Franco Baresi in this system and we would still struggle. That which makes our attack look so devastatingly good leaves the defense totally exposed. Breaking at speed with three up front and at least two of the three midfielders (and both full backs) pushing up, means we often end up defending with only a few men behind the ball actually facing the play. Just watch how often Henderson, Can and the fullbacks have to make tackles while chasing back.
Both center backs are left having to watch the opposing center forwards while being drawn wide to cover for missing fullbacks, with very little solid protection in front of them. It leaves the defense very fragile and makes costly individual errors much more likely (and very noticeable). This system also makes it very difficult to control games and change the tempo when the situation dictates. Taking the City game out of the equation, our single biggest problem has been closing out games we are winning and how we manage the last 20 minutes of games.
In short, Klopp needs to find a way to bring a bit more balance and flexibility to the system without blunting our natural attacking instincts too much. But perhaps expecting the Sturm without the Drang is missing the point, as Goethe wrote “you can’t have your fullbacks bombing forward all the time and expect to keep it tight at the back”.
RM, (LFC in New York) – more mane, more problems
A third for you, Storey
Reading the winners and losers I couldn’t help but notice the Merseonian scatter-gun approach to the defenders Storey thinks would make Liverpool better. Look Dejan Lovren was piss-poor against Sevilla, Matip is the only first-team-of-a-champions-league-club CB currently at Liverpool. I’m not as ludicrously pessimistic or knee-jerk as many LFC fans (really Smiddy? Sack Jurgen? You’re the kind of short-termism nonce that deserves every Big Sam and Woy appointment that comes his way, god forbid).
Anyway, to the point, let’s look at Storey’s centre halves and if they’re actually improvements on our current options, assuming we are somewhere at the start of the transfer window, July-ish:
Harry Maguire [not bad, not convinced of his quality], Ben Gibson [yes, price seemed ludicrous], Michael Keane [yes], Davinson Sanchez [probably yes, certainly potential-wise], Jamaal Lascelles [not actually a great defender, similar to Lovren re:brain-fades], Kurt Zouma [on loan? Not available], Kevin Wimmer [no], Jonny Evans [doubt he wanted LFC], Holger Badstuber [yes, would Bayern sell?], Stefan de Vrij [yes, just], Jonathan Tah [Yes, please god, yes, maybe a Bayern-shaped roadblock to getting him?] Inigo Martinez [not leaving], Kalidou Koulibaly [not leaving], Antonio Rudiger [out matched by CFC], Nacho [not convinced he’s good enough], Jorge Mere [not good enough yet], Malang Sarr [not good enough yet], Dayot Upamecano [had to give him the Dany Rose-google, he’s 17, nowhere near the required level yet], Matthijs de Ligt [not good enough yet], Matthias Ginter [yes, my preference], Alfie Mawson [not good enough yet, would have cost something stupid].
So I’ll be generous and give you 7/21.
Rowan “pedantry for days” Hansberry
So, the only managerial loser in your CL winners & losers section is, of course, Brendan Rodgers. I’ve written in before about how you cant seem to stop revelling in the negative whilst pretty much ignoring all the positives about him.
You mention our last CL win in 2013 without bothering to follow that up with the fact that before Rodgers came in we had failed to qualify for 2 years in a row, losing out to Maribor and Malmo. Since he arrived we’ve qualified 2 years in a row. Before Rodgers we’d achieved the sum total of 1 away win and 1 away draw in the CL since the change of format, last season we drew 2 out of the 3 away games. All of this is progress in europe for a club in our league and he’s managed to achieve that whilst winning an unbeaten treble with a run of 54 games and counting since he took over.
By all means include Celtic as the losers (we were dismantled by PSG) but at this rate you’ll need to include yourslves in mediawatch.
I have to agree with sentiments made by Oliver Kay in The Times today – and subsequent comments – that it is, to a large extent, pointless to wring our hands and gnash and wail over the way in which the “Champions” League has become a rolling monetary stone for the elite clubs.
Not just because I’m a Forest fan, but I do hark back to the days of the old European Cup, where you had to win your league to gain entry. Sure, there were still mismatches then, but you actually had to bl**dy well _win_ something to gain entry. Nowadays it’s symptomatic of our cultural insistence on rewarding ‘not winning’, that there are “no losers” as such, that even being knocked out either allows you into another competition, or guarantees you sufficient financial compensation that you then totally distort your national league competition by being able to hover up all of the best talent (again, the Eastern Bloc countries did this under Communism for decades, admittedly). The Equality Train has long since pulled out of the Fairness Station, and the piece of FFP elastic that was attempted to be tied to it once it was up to speed is down to its’ last few strands, and will be finally snapped when PSG inevitably get away with their ‘loan’ deal for Mbappe.
Despite the unerring desire on the part of institutions like Sky and UEFA to have a proper European ‘Super’ League, it’s been mooted for so long that it’s almost wearisome to discuss the topic – if it was going to happen it should have done by now, but Sky seem bent on still pouring money into the Premier League coffers (the next TV deal might change that, which will be interesting).. Whilst those at the top give little heed to everyone else, such is the emotive passion around being a fan of a football team means that it won’t be allowed to die. Sure, below the greed of the Premier League this England may go back to semi-professional regional leagues – but because we’re British it will still give us something to complain bitterly about the relative injustice of the situation!
The ‘Champions’ League is just an elitist competition – like many things in life there is a choice, and personally I choose the unpredictable nature of the Championship, whilst listening to my fiancée talk about how Manchester United will once again “rule the world”. Ha.
I just wanted to write a bit of a follow up to my mail yesterday on the Champions League. Martin, Madrid also had a mail published in which he complained about the quality of it in a very vague manner. He didn’t say what exactly was causing it or how to fix it; he simply stated it, which is fair enough. However, reading his follow-up comments in the comments section, I have to say, it is remarkable how a lack of detail can hide idiocy.
Basically, he goes on to say the solution is to take it back to Champions only. He complains that the group stages are boring because good teams only do the bare minimum to qualify and proposes that we only need 5 quality teams and we should find space for even more poor teams just because they won the league in Azerbaijan. Apparently, the other ‘positive’ of this is that we can dump all the other elite sides in the Europa League making it worthwhile. And the best part, winners of the Europa League get to play in the Champions League! How exciting.
Chris Postings also said that I’m the type of person who doesn’t think small European nations deserve to have a chance at qualifying for the Euros as I don’t deem them to be of sufficient quality for me to watch. You’re right on one point; yes, they are not worth my a second of my time, but I did say repeatedly that they still deserved a chance.
And a final point on all the discussion about the quality of the mailbox. Yes, if we want better quality we have to mail in better content, but you have to understand that you’re in the position to undertake quality control. The more pointless squabble you let seep through, the more you’re going to attract that sort of audience. And it can’t get better from there. I understand this mail might fall in that category but I was just trying to argue against points that I found ridiculous.
In response to Klaus in Munich and his comments that:
‘The problem is that there are too many teams that don’t deserve to be there. In the last few years, Qarabag and APOEL have been regulars. I don’t see the benefit of this to anyone but Qarabag’s coffers. Their comparatively small fan base doesn’t enjoy getting thrashed every other midweek, no other fan enjoys watching their games and they devalue the worth of the Champions League.’
Well Klaus, in 2012, APOEL reached the Qtr Finals. Here is a list of some of the teams from the 4 top leagues that have not reached the Qtr finals since then:
Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham
Napoli, Inter, Lazio, Roma, Fiorentina
Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke
All of those teams, I’m sure, would get bigger tv audiences than APOEL. But they haven’t achieved as much as APOEL in the Champions League in that time. So, with all due respect, please fuck off and let teams compete and do their best, and stick to football manager/playstation if you just want superclub match ups forevermore.
Just a short note in response to Klaus, Munich’s snarky final comment. Whilst he proposes a sound idea for the most part, I’d like to point out:
1. When Chelsea finished 10th in 2016, they were out.
2. When Bayern lost in the Final to them in 2012 they were there as the 2nd best in England, NOT 10th.
3. I’m guessing it still hurts after all that “Our city, Our stadium, Our Cup” business?
2 out of 3 is not bad, Klaus. Get over it.
All the best
Tony Pintos – CFC
In response to Klaus, Munich
First of all the UEFA (U E F A) champions league is for all UEFA members to participate in. It’s ludicrus to suggest that teams from weaker countries do not belong in the competition. As an APOEL season ticket holder during our run to the last 8 of the champions league, yep that really happened, I can personally tell you that the memory of those events will last forever and is something to tell our grandchildren about. It was an amazing experience made possible by the change of the playoff format to include champions in one bracket and non-champions in another. This change also sattisfied the spirit of the competion. CHAMPIONS League, you see.
So it’s really buffling why you do not want small country teams to have a fairer chance to participate and expierence something magical like that. No further comments on that.
I do agree that the revenue from the competition unfairly strengthens the participating teams as opposed to their competition but this applies to all teams and not just small markets. Good luck telling Real and Barca to split that revenue though.
Now what I deem you are subconsiously suggesting is the formation of the “diamond league” where the european powerhouses will excuse themselves and create a their own league as per the US format and leave the rest to rot.
I’m a bit triggered for a more thorough response
Kikis, Nicosia Cyprus
Time for a football Brexit
After reading Daniel Storeys analysis of the Champions League and your mailbox this morning, I had to reply from the perspective of a ‘lesser league’. You are not going to like this in England, but the problem with the Champions League is the Premier League (and La Liga, but primarily the Premier League).
Everybody outside England and Spain already agree that Big Money has ruined football and there is no other place where that is more abundantly clear than in the Champions League. The answer to solving the problem, as put forward by Klaus from Munich, is not adding more teams from England, Spain, Germany and Italy, but removing them.
The Champions League was expanded to this ridiculous amount of participants to accommodate more teams from these big leagues. Not because UEFA wanted to add quality, UEFA just wanted to make more money. More teams from big leagues = more revenue for UEFA (and the big leagues).
Back in the late 90’s most of the national football leagues of smaller countries opposed the plans to expand the Champions League to 32 participants by adding more teams from big leagues, fearing it would widen the (financial) gap between teams from the top leagues and the smaller leagues, eventually resulting in the ousting of teams from smaller leagues and adding even more teams from big leagues. And lo and behold: this is exactly what happened. We went from 2 British teams to 3 and now 4. Klaus is actually advocating for 8 Premier League squads and completely closing the door for smaller countries.
This is not what European Cup Football used to be about. I am Dutch, I grew up watching a ‘small’ league that regularly had teams challenging for major European prices by running some of the best youth development programs in the world. But that’s becoming (ancient) history. The Premier League (and to a lesser extent La Liga) have completely killed this system, with the modern day Champions League as the clearest example of the influence of money on the small leagues which are completely pillaged of any talent. Teens as young as 12 years old get signed by Premier League clubs and never get the chance to develop within their domestics leagues, eventually leading to the fact that a single player on an average Premier League squad has a higher ‘value’ than a complete organization in lesser leagues like the Dutch Eredivisie. Alex from Bermuda wrote in your mailbox that Kevin de Bruyne costs more than Feyenoord’s starting 11. That is untrue. City paid more for De Bruyne than Feyenoord for its entire 27 player selection plus the yearly salaries of the entire coaching and support staff working at the club… I doubt you will print this because I doubt Englishmen want to hear this, but the Premier League is killing (international) football.
The solution to fixing the Champions League? Go back to 16 participants, equally divide the TV money over all participants (don’t give a bigger chunk to the already richest clubs in the world….) and actually restrict it to CHAMPIONS (and while we’re at it: ban child labor; forbid transfers of any kind for players under the age of 18). But the money hungry wolfs at UEFA and FA would never allow that to happen. So let’s just get it over with; ban all teams that are not from England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy and pretend that Europe is limited to these 5 countries. Man, I wish that we could include football in the Brexit negotiations, and get the Premier League out of Europe. Bring back the ‘80s!!
Tim, The Netherlands (against modern football)
In response to Alex from Bermuda’s ‘KdB cost as much as Feyenoord starting 11’.
We wished, KdB cost roughly four times as much as the Feyenoord starting 11. Or: The cost of three Man City substitutes (Sterling, Delph, Sane) is more then the whole Eredivisie spend on transfers in the last two years. (source: @sportzeloot )
It was truly sad to see first hand how the gap between the PL and Eredivisie topteams has widened in the 15 years since Feyenoord last Champions League game in 2002 (a 2-3 loss to Newcastle).
It is a great to see the power, pace and ability of the Superelite teams, but concentration off money is a big loss for the broader European club football.
Big Weekend‘s little brother
Watford-Manchester City. I don’t really think Watford can stay with City in the Citizens’ current mood, but it’ll be fun to watch them try. The Hornets have been superb in the middle of the park, with breakout star Abdoulaye Doucouré and Nathaniel Chalobah humiliating holding midfielders coast to coast. André Gray hasn’t netted yet, but his pace, movement, and link-up play will cause some problems as well. Against Feyenoord, Pep went with two regular central defenders and Fernandinho often dropping back to make a three, but here it’ll more likely be three central defenders as well as Fernandinho. Whoever plays on the right will have to deal with Richarlison, not only as a dribbler but also as a secondary target man. We should get another look at the marauding Benjamin Mendy, probably up against Daryl Janmaat. Marco Silva is nobody’s fool, so despite their attacking potential, Watford should play it tight.
Stat: André Gray, playing central striker, has taken only 1.0 shots per 90 minutes. Richarlison, on the wing, is at 3.9.
West Bromwich Albion-West Ham United. Over 38 games, Tony Pulis is the steadiest of managers, but his sides deliver more true stinkers than any other club at that level. Such was the performance at Brighton, where they barely competed. So this fixture sets up perfectly: just defend and wait for the holes to open up. Last year it was 4-0 before the hour, 4-2 at full time. Matt Phillips hasn’t been at his best so far, so although he’ll be in the lineup, this would be a good spot for Oliver Burke to get his first start on the other wing. You usually don’t need three at the back vs. West Brom, although Slaven Bilic may be reluctant to change a winning lineup. But José Fonte isn’t much of a defender anymore. Assuming Michail Antonio starts on the right, will it be Kieran Gibbs or Allan Nyom up against him? Talking matchups, keep your Richter scale handy for Andy Carroll vs. Ahmed Hegazi.
Stat: Jay Rodriguez has lost 20 out of 22 aerial duels.
Bournemouth-Brighton & Hove Albion. No need to drum up a South Coast narrative here: this is survival plain and simple. The Cherries have scored only one goal in a four-game stretch, something that never happened last year and only once the year before. They’re next to last in shots taken, staggeringly low for them. In fairness, they’ve had to play Arsenal, Manchester City, red-hot Watford, and defence-minded West Brom. But if this is a true Bournemouth side, they should run wild here, high-tempo from the start, maybe targeting Markus Suttner at left-back. Ryan Fraser looks like he’ll be fit, and I’m guessing he’ll pair with Simon Francis on that wing, with Adam Smith on the bench. Brighton have the pace to counter, with Solly March and Anthony Knockaert. Pascal Gross will be a key man, because the Cherries are weak in central midfield defence. Will Lewis Cook get his chance there?
Stat: Bournemouth have been caught offside only once so far this season.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
On your Ed, son
I saw the story in the gossip about a £40m war chest (war trinket box more like) for Roy Hodgson, and the possibility of acquiring Jack Wilshere and a couple of things sprang to mind:
*The Wilshere story is incredibly spurious.
*Yeah, if I were Frank de Boer I’d be a bit annoyed about seeing that about the transfer fund too. However, I would remember it’s being reported by the Daily Star, and move on with my life.
Ed Malyon in the Independent, a Palace fan and proper journalist with sources, contacts and everything, wrote the other day about de Boer’s exit. He seemed to suggest that it wasn’t that de Boer wasn’t given money to spend, it was more that he and the chairman (and eventually Dougie Freedman) could not agree on players to sign, that de Boer’s preferred targets were not deemed viable by the club. This is similar to the circumstances before Tony Pulis left the club. Leaving aside the subsequent court case, he let it known he was frustrated the club was not willing to break either its wage structure or its transfer records for players he wanted, namely Steven N’Zonzi and Connor Wickham. The irony is that N’Zonzi is now a Champions League player, and Wickham a relatively expensive signing the following summer for Alan Pardew, is presumably not lost on anyone.
*There is also the thought that having cheapskated their way into trouble, the club are reluctantly preparing to spend their way out of trouble, much like last year. I don’t think Hodgson got a transfer window when he rescued WBA, but when he took over at Fulham, two of his January signings were Brede Hangeland and Jari Litmanen; can’t remember how Litmanen did but he must have brought heaps of class to proceedings, while Hangeland proved himself a very fine defender.
*Ultimately, I don’t like how the de Boer dismissal has been handled, or that it’s happened at all. I find it very difficult to swallow that two of the players believed most responsible for the mutiny are Damien Delaney and Martin Kelly – if they’d put as much effort into working on their game as they did into undermining the manager they’d be the second coming of Baresi and Maldini. However, it’s done now. We’ve moved on, whether we want to or not.
The whole thing is deeply unpalatable. However, our chairman is far from the only one facing criticisms on how he’s running his club, and he’s far less of a sh!thouse than plenty of others.
We’re playing Southampton at the weekend. Don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to having some actual football to talk/read/write about.
Arise, Sir Chicken
“Neither fish nor fowl, but most certainly foul”
Poultry humour from a man named Chicken. Pure Poetry.