It’s a great Mailbox. Read it and then send thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Who should join Arsenal in the summer?
All the best, Philippe
Just a quick one – with some accusing Coutinho of disloyalty, I think it’s important to recognise that really, he’s gone about things in a very professional way. Barcelona came in for him in the summer, he wanted the move and so he put in a transfer request. Surely that’s the right thing? He didn’t agitate behind the scenes whilst not officially putting in a request in an attempt to keep his hands on a loyalty bonus like many have before. Surely if one of your players wants to move and he actually comes out and says that and officially requests the move, you can’t complain as a fan? You can be disappointed, yes, but complain?
He also didn’t down tools. He’s had a great season up to now, possibly his best so far for Liverpool, and has probably helped add a few million on to his price Compare his handling of the move with that of VVD coming up north.
As a Liverpool fan, I wish him all the best
Rich (be nice to beat Barca in the Champions League now, mind)
…Can’t be too mad at Coutinho, the level of his performances never wavered when clearly he had Barca on his mind. Ideally I would have loved for him to stay on till the summer to help us in the CL/league, but any argument for hostility towards him wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, given the opening act that was the VVD transfer.
142 mil in the bank is obviously good business considering we bought him for only 8. My only concern is that since we’ve known that he would be off for almost a year, why didn’t we line up and complete all formalities of getting a replacement BEFORE letting him leave? Would’ve been nice to get someone in early, as opposed to now when we’ll be knocking at Schalke/Monaco’s door with wads of cash sticking out of our waistband 🙁
Anyway, hope it all works out..Good luck to Phil..Say hello to Suarez for us!
Aviral, Mumbai (who needs him when we have Klavan)
Coutinho departure piles pressure on Klopp
“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.”
This is a quote from Klopp on Coutinho’s departure. For all of the Liverpool fans who can’t understand why ‘we’ let him go in January I think this quote helps explain it.
Phil was obviously in a huff about not being allowed to leave. This transfer had consumed him and it is what he desperately wanted. So much so that he was talking to his teammates about it.
Fair play to Phil for putting in the performances he did before he left but you cannot have someone around that no longer wants to be a part of the team. Klopp is all about his man management. Motivating players is his number one strength. He cannot have a player sulking or being disruptive in the dressing room. It is completely counterproductive.
The next questions for Liverpool fans (sorry mailbox but this is going to be discussed for the rest of the month or until it happens) is who will we now buy in January to strengthen our team? Will we buy anyone? We are going to have to pay through the nose for whoever we purchase, if we do at all. I have a feeling we may not buy anyone. Klopp may feel he has enough to get through to the end of the season and can add the money from Phil’s sale to the pot he would have received at the end of the year and create a war chest. However this is a massive gamble. We have Champions League football now. We may not have it in the summer.
And my final two cents on this ‘saga’ is this. When you lose a key player in a team it hurts you in more ways than just not having your best player anymore. The players now don’t have ‘that player’ that they look to to get them out of a jam. To smash one in from 30 yards. To go on a dribble and beat a few men before playing a delicious pass and laying one on a plate for a teammate. That guy is gone. That hurts you. It saps confidence.
This is a huge test for Klopp. Liverpool are on the back of a 17-game unbeaten run. Their new centre-half just scored a winner at the Kop end on his debut against their Merseyside rivals and yet all of a sudden it doesn’t look so rosey at Anfield. If you believe the press then Klopp had the final say on this transfer. He knew it was going to happen at some stage so players we could add to the squad should be identified. If he gets this wrong it will hurt so much. No Champions League football next year would represent a few big steps backwards this season. Gwan Jurgen…show us it’s no big deal.
Gough, LFC, Dublin
Liverpool must make signings
So the little magician has gone. I’m surprised he didn’t see out the season. Could have won the CL with us then join them in the summer. But oh well. I am sad to see him go but wish him all the best. Top player. An Italian friend of mine, a huge Inter fan, laughed when we signed him saying ‘good luck with him. Waste of money’. Who’s laughing now? Also looks like Çan is all but gone in the summer too. I like the guy but at the end of the day he can be too slow on the ball and loses his position on the pitch all too often leaving gaps in the middle. Given the way the Italians play and set up he will be a good addition for them because he’ll learn to be more disciplined. If only it was Milner and Henderson going instead but nobody would want them outside of the UK.
Anyway with Coutinho gone and Çan leaving in the summer it’s time to contemplate who is coming in. I have some suggestions. If only Klopp read this we’d be challenging for the title next season. Firstly we need a partner for VVD. I know people go on about Gomez but the chap is prone to falling asleep and costing us goals. The first Arsenal goal which caused the collapse and another earlier in the season that I’ve gone blank on are standout errors. I like Matip but he is truly awful on the ball and is prone to errors too. So here is my tip and I’m shocked nobody picked him up after their Europa League exploits last season, Matthijs De Ligt. I have to say I have not been as impressed by a centre back for as I was by him for a long long time. Not blessed with pace but he has a footballing brain. Can step out of defence with the ball and is so cool and calm it defies his young age. He’s just 18!! He would cost peanuts. Why wait until he joins another smaller club, becomes a superstar, and then costs £100m?
Next I would throw whatever money Bayern wanted for Thiago. This guy is special. How Barca let him go I’ll never know. The next generation Xavi. We need a player like this who can control the tempo of a game. Players like Xavi, Pirlo, Kroos, Redondo, Busquets, Xabi Alonso etc knew how to slow the play down. Liverpool are never safe even when three up. They have nobody who can dominate the midfield. Nobody good enough to play little triangles. We have bollards playing in our middle.
Those would be my two main targets. We also most definitely need a keeper. Oblak would be great but he’s not a sweeper keeper. I honestly don’t know who we could get there but I’m sure anyone is better than what we have.
Alex (Liverpool, Real Madrid)
Collected Liverpool thoughts
* Crikey I hope Bobby hasn’t done a racism. It seems like he was heated enough to forget himself in the first few seconds, but we could all clearly see what he said in those moments. What was said away from cameras was indeed a worrying trigger for Holgate. As much as I would like it to be so, I also don’t think (many) footballers are quite so stupid/conniving as to claim racism in order to avoid a red. It would be interesting to know what Madley’s reply to Holgate’s claim was at the time.
* I wish Big Phil luck on his new adventure. I don’t get why some fans get so upset about players leaving, it’s the way of the world. A player without ambition is not one I would want at my club in the first place. I also watch every minute of every Liverpool game (sad I know), so I can confirm that whilst he is an excellent player on his day, his day comes too infrequently for him to be worth a) that much money, or b) us keeping him and turning down that much money. He’s a player for Match of The Day watchers to fawn over with the other part time fans on a Monday morning.
* Could be a very bad month for Arsenal. Out of ‘their’ cup to Forest, VvD choosing Liverpool, Mahrez choosing Liverpool?? Lemar choosing Liverpool??? Sanchez going? Could be the Ox made the right call after all.
* Arsenal’s year started badly with those penalties. I love teams I dislike conceding penalties, especially unfair ones, but I would be livid if we conceded either of those, let alone both.
* Talking of penalties, the Merseyside derby pens. Alan Shearer, Danny Murphy, and Gary Lineker all made a case for Calvert-Lewin’s on the basis that Lovren ‘put his hands on him’. Their case against the Lallana pen was that it’s ok for the defender to have his hands on him as it’s “a contact sport”. You can’t have it both ways boys, they either both were, or both weren’t (based on your reasoning).
* Additionally, Murphy laughing off Rooney’s potential leg breaker on the basis that he’s “not as quick as he used to be”. Murphy’s and Shearer’s punditry skills are quickly becoming as embarrassing as Trump’s tweets.
* A bit late to the party on this one, but Puncheon is a pr*ck. Always thought it, but the way he scythed poor Kevin down was not okay. Whilst I never wish an ACL on anyone (I’ve done the lesser known, but more devastating PCL), I couldn’t help but feel instant karma came in the form of his own injury.
* VvD could (should?) have had a debut hat trick. He’s gonna be special.
* Remember when Owen left Liverpool in search of European glory? The very next season, Liverpool won the Champions’ League. What price would I get on Liverpool knocking out Phil’s Barca next season?
All roads lead back to Big Andy
Over the weekend I read a lot about how Neymar’s transfer to PSG over the summer meant that Liverpool were able to command the second highest transfer fee in history for Philippe Coutihno.
While this may be true, I believe its true lineage can be traced back to 31/01/2011 when the highest fee at the time was paid for a British footballer.
Said footballer had made the grand total of 41 times in the Premier League, scoring 14 goals.
At the time this was seen as a sign that transfer fees were spiralling out of control, and that there was no value in the January Transfer market.
Step forward Andy ‘Get Him on the Plane’ Carroll.
Let us never forget that Kenny Dalglish Liverpool paid £35 million for him, on the back of selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50 million.
And while it is good for them they were able to command such a fee for Coutihno, it’s also the reason they had to fork out £75 million for Virgil Van Dijk.
DC (Genuinely think this could derail Liverpools momentum this season), BAC
Reality is, even Messi could not save Arsenal from falling as long as Wenger is around. Stop crying for new signings and don’t give Wenger another penny to spend.
The club is rotten from top to bottom. No hunger or leadership in the boardroom, on the bench or on the field. The board has no pressure at all and that feeling is what you see through out the club which also translates to the performance we saw yesterday. Players sometimes come in with a lot of potential and show a good base to build on, unfortunately the manager has lost his touch improving players. Looking at the team yesterday, not even one player from the academy showed the right temperament, desire and talent. Those kids were pompous in body language, did not battle and played like established professionals who have already made it . They probably earn more than the Forest first-team players anyway so why would they have to work? Players like Walcott content with making cameo appearances in a World Cup season sums up how spoiled these brats are and how lax the arsenal set up is.
The manager is disrespectful and patronising to fans. Why didn’t we have a strong bench to call upon when needed?
Players leave and some don’t want to join Arsenal now and we should not be mad at them. Notice what a difference a decision to leave City could have been for Raheem Sterling. Challenging to be the best English footballer of the season and playing wonderful football and on the brink of his first championship. I wonder how he would have been doing at Arsenal right now.
It’s sad to say but until Wenger is gone and we have a manager that is morden tactically and challenging the board, it’s not going to change. You see managers and board clashing every time because they both care meanwhile it’s all lovey dovey at Arsenal and everyone content.
Before we even bring the board into it, please note that the board has nothing to do with squad selection, formation, substitutions or anything match day related. It’s all down to Wenger.
What’s happening at Arsenal is gross misconduct on the job. People would have been sacked in any other field.
P.S. Well done to Conte for putting the little man in place.
I hated it when, a couple of seasons ago, I finally came around to the view that it was time for Wenger to leave. Even then, I wanted it to be a dignified exit. Perhaps a doff of the hat and a brisk march onto the next chapter after a respectable title challenge and a cup victory. Not the exit we all dreamed of but an honourable one nevertheless.
I hate it even more now that I’ve come to the view the Wenger needs to be pushed out of the club. It’s a painful thought. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have learnt a lot about life from the man who watched on helplessly from the stands as a mid-table Championship side under a caretaker outran, outpassed and outplayed a team that was assembled with as much thought and respect as one assumes goes into writing a Trump speech. For all his flaws, his core philosophy of trying to create something which gives joy and acts as an outlet for positive expression has appealed to me greatly and has influenced how I live my life. It would be painful to see a relationship that has brought so much joy to millions around the world end on such a sour note. It seems bizarre even now that things have to be as they are. The club has come full circle, returning to the mid-table obscurity from which it was rescued by the very man who is holding it back.
Unfortunately, he didn’t take the opportunities he had to walk away. Which is why, I think, the club’s hand has been forced. Come the end of the season, I see very little reason for Arsene Wenger to still be at Arsenal. Even if we were to mount a stellar recovery and manage a top four finish. Earlier, Arsenal seemed afflicted by a lack of killer instinct. The players were never the problem. There was always some quality on the pitch even if it was just raw talent or promise. Now, however, the players seem to be regressing. Hector Bellerin looks nothing like the exciting prospect he was a couple of seasons ago. Alex Iwobi seems to have plateaued. Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka look worse than the players they were when they arrived at the club. Such is the state of things that the only positive most Arsenal fans can cling on to is that Jack Wilshere has been fit for an extended spell of time and seems to be finding some semblance of form.
Everything has quite clearly gone to sh*t. Arsene Wenger will be fine. I worry for the club, however. Left in the hands of the incompetents running the show, I don’t expect things to turn around very soon. It’s a heartbreaking end to this partnership and it will only be harder on the other side of it. There is only the hope that a new messiah will emerge much like Wenger himself did two decades ago. That, I think, is the most damning indictment of the club administration.
Europa win would save Wenger
As much as Matt Stead’s piece taps accurately into the current sentiment on Wenger and his continual escape acts, the fact remains that a Europe League win probably would save him – much as it basically saved Mourinho by granting a Champions League place. Mathematically, 2 of the big 6 will miss out on a UCL place next season and likely that one of them (on current assessment) is Arsenal and the other is Spurs/Liverpool/Man Utd/Chelsea. Carabao Cup success potentially could even make an argument for saving him (as a trophy of any kind, something which only 2-3 English teams usually win per year), but Europa League almost definitely would.
If Wenger won the Europa League and Arsenal took a UCL place, and – for argument’s sake – Spurs were to finish fifth and miss out on the Champions League… do you believe Wenger would get pushed?
James, Singapore (a Spurs fan who would hate that scenario)
Who would win a mass Man United-Chelsea ruck?
Reading Conte’s description of Jose as a small man, I for one can’t wait for the next meeting of the two. I think Conte, with his youth and new hair and all, would down Jose in 30 seconds.
What would take longer to ponder would be an 11 v 11 of Man Utd-Chelsea punch-up: who’d be winner, and who’d be the last man standing? It’d have been Diego Costa no doubt, but he’s left. I’d wager on Valencia.
Give it to Giggsy
I really hope Stoke are the brave/misguided team that gives a Premier League manager’s job to Ryan Giggs – partly because I have tickets to Man Utd vs Stoke next week, but mainly so we finally stop hearing about him whenever a job comes up. If he does get it I’d predict a decent new manager bounce this season, but he’ll be gone by this time next year.
Reminding Johnny about rugby
One word, Johnny: Rugby. Video tech has not seen any of the mission creep you describe, and is only used for the kind of game-changing decisions Mike Dean is discussing. It has not led to greater injustices nor has it detracted from the game. It has been overwhelmingly positive for fans and players and there’s every reason to hope it will be beneficial to football. Cheer up.
Nick (any unwanted physical push, punch, kick is worse than the most offensive word, term, slur you can think of. There. I said it.) London
Excited about VAR now…
I’ve just read John Nicholson’s piece on VAR.
Perhaps not his intention but he’s got me really excited about the possibility of it being used throughout the whole match!
Can’t wait to have fewer errors by referees in a match.
All humans make errors. I accept this in the players because that’s what makes it a sport the best team wins.
Perhaps unfairly I don’t accept the human error of a referee as the match is not there in order to judge which is the best official.
Thank you Mr Nicholson for building my excitement further.
Chris (brackets should never have been a thing) (doh! I’m feeding the revival!)
Nobody wants to be a giant-killer
The obvious major fallout from the mighty Sky Blues beating Stoke City on Saturday was Mark Hughes being sacked, but this provided me with something of a dilemma.
Very little was said about the manner in which Coventry achieved victory – okay, we were first on MOTD, which is always nice – but anything else got washed away in the analysis of Stoke’s long-term failings.
Herein lay my problem. Did I want Cov’s win to be played up as a giant-killing? Plucky little League Two side knocks out bigger side? No, I didn’t. Because it still never feels like that. Deluded though I sound and silly though it is, I still sort-of expect to go toe-to-toe with clubs like Stoke or (to pick a couple of examples out of the air) Bournemouth or Watford. Despite all the evidence – the mismanagement, the ridiculous stadium wrangle, the calamitous plummet down the leagues – it still feels (to me, at least) that Cov are a Premier League (or Championship, at least) sized club.
For those misguided reasons, I felt a bit of a pang of pride that we weren’t lauded as having taken a major scalp. It felt like we should have been winning. If McNulty had taken his chance in the first half, it would have been done and dusted by half time anyway.
In any case, I think my point was to say I was pleased we won, naturally, but it was a satisfying, job-well-done kind of happy, rather than a jumping-for-joy kind.
David (hi Sam!) Szmidt, Sky Blues & Zbrojovka, Brno, Czech Rep.