Keep those thoughts coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Liverpool really could get stuffed against Chelsea
Sorry, just had to reply to this: “I’m certain [Chelsea] will come to Anfield looking to avoid defeat”.
Have you not been watching? Chelsea will sit back, form a wall on the edge of their box and watch us go impotently from side to side, before stealing the ball and scoring on the counter. Swansea, Southampton and Wolves have all made that approach look easy. Even Plymouth got half the job done. Our next two visitors, Chelsea and Spurs, have the country’s best defences and are lightning on the break – and both pose a strong threat at set plays, just in case the counter avenue somehow doesn’t bear fruit. It couldn’t be easier for them.
The only glimmer of hope is that the big boys might find it beneath them to copy middling Championship opposition and so might come out and play a bit. But if I were Conte or Pochettino, I’d be looking at Liverpool’s toothless attack and porous defence and eyeing up another 3 points without even needing second gear.
Unless Klopp can fix this serious psychological malaise in the next 24 hours, we’re going to suffer against Chelsea, and then against Spurs. Not to mention a resurgent Hull who will be all too happy to sit back and watch us f**k ourselves again.
Three games to save our season, but I’m not holding out too much hope.
We’d all do what Moyes is doing
Ha! Old David Moyes has gone all hilarious, hasn’t he? Like Harry Punchline Redknapp he’s just signing a load of players from his old club. The fool! The fooliest fool! Remember when he was good? Ha! That was ages ago, and now he’s all rubbish. Ruined by…what? A job too big? Wayne Rooney giving him a wedgie on his first day? We may never know.
As much as it’s fun to laugh at a manager flailing around desperately looking for something, anything, that might get him out of the deep, dark, dank hole he is currently in (and it is, it definitely is), just for balance, let’s ask ourselves what we would do in his position.
You are manager of Sunderland. Sunderland have been varying degrees of rubbish for several years. It’s January, you are in the mire, wheels spinning, traction impossible. You had a good goalie, but he’s broken. Now you have Defoe, N’Dong and incompetence to get you another 20 or so points. The board have decided this is the year that throwing money at the problem won’t solve it.
I suspect that there are many factors in making a transfer a success or failure, but in the midst of a relegation battle I would suggest character is a big one. You could take a punt on a flighty young wastrel from the Belgian league and hope for the best, or you could go with what you know. Someone who you have worked with before. Someone, who for all their limitations, you trust to stand on a pitch with an Arsenal attack on-rushing, glance to one side and see Billy Jones and not go weak of knee and wet of crotch.
So, fine. Mocking is easy, and we should do it. Leon Osman is still available on a free, and if he signs today then have at it… but bear in mind that most of us would probably do the same thing.
Jeremy (killjoy) Aves
Games to watch this midweek
West Ham United – Manchester City. The Hammers seem to be doing everything right on and off the pitch these days, but this is a different calibre of challenge. Common sense suggests City will pour through West Ham’s midfield, so will Slaven Bilic return to five at the back with José Fonte in the lineup? Aaron Cresswell has been a bit off form, and will be severely tested by whoever Pep puts on that wing. City can struggle against the direct approach, so I’m guessing they’ll go four at the back with Nicolas Otamendi keeping close to Andy Carroll for what might be an epic aerial duel. With Fernandinho finally back from suspension, watch to see where Manuel Lanzini plays and if he can find space to drive the attack. West Ham will have to defend much better than usual to get a result, and if I were Degsy, I’d go with City to win and both sides to score.
Stat: No City outfield player with more than 500 minutes has a pass completion percentage below 80%.
Swansea City – Southampton. A shock result at Anfield, and the Swans are out of the bottom three. Now a very different task: balancing attack and defence in a home match against a decent quality side. The win over Liverpool masked the odd decision to put Gylfi Sigurdsson on the left of a midfield five. He’s played there a couple of times before, but I’d be shocked if he’s not in the middle against the Saints. The question for the visitors is mostly psychological: with Wembley on the horizon, will they be sufficiently motivated in a game that doesn’t get the pulses racing? Even without Virgil van Dijk, Southampton’s defence has been solid (even Maya Yoshida looks comfortable), so Swansea will have to commit men forward. But the Saints are not by and large a strong counterattacking team.
Stat: Gylfi Sigurdsson leads Swansea with 65 shots, almost twice as many as second-place Fernando Llorente’s 33.
Stoke City – Everton. The Potters nearly got three points against Manchester United, but not exactly on level terms: shots 26-5, shots on target 8-1. A win against in-form Everton, however, would be a real statement. Excellent matchups on the wings: Marko Arnautovic will try to keep Seamus Coleman on the back foot, as will Xherdan Shaqiri with Leighton Baines. Everton prefer wing attacks, but Stoke’s biggest weakness is down the middle, so watch Ross Barkley’s placement closely. If Ronald Koeman adjusts to attack more centrally, Joe Allen will need to work hard to stifle the attack at its source. Both Ashley Williams and Ramiro Funes Mori have seen their aerial percentage improve this year, but they’ll have to climb higher than ever to compete with Peter Crouch. (I’m assuming Saido Berahino won’t start, although he will be in the squad.) If both sides are up for it, this could be the game of the round.
Stat: Charlie Adam is only fourth in the league in yellow cards per 90 minutes! He trails Gastón Ramírez, José Holebas, and Danny Rose.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
A tribute to Ivanovic
Ivanovic’s first six months in England were spent trying to get into the Chelsea reserve side, far from the first team. He persisted and went on to amass 377 appearances across nine years, all for Chelsea. How did he achieve what so few Chelsea reserves do?
Paulo Ferreira’s shares what Ivanovic told him on the first day of the following pre-season: “Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!”
After finding out he couldn’t play in the CL final due to suspension he made sure Jose Bosingwa would “Hang them where the world can see.” He was presumably speaking of the winner medals, although the referees who issued that yellow card have yet to be found. Destined to be feared.
“Ivanovic is the scariest man I’ve played against” – Raheem Sterling
Could it be magic?
Tried to go down the pub last night but the whole place was packed with Sutton United fans moaning about how the FA Cup means nothing anymore.
West Ham: Naughty
So West Ham have made a cool £14 million profit on Payet, are playing in a pretty much free stadium, are getting a shed loads of money from the new TV deal and they still are charging their fans £25 to change Payet shirts. If I was a West Ham fan I’d be livid.
The game really is gone this time
This is the first and last time I have ever written in/telephoned in to anything but today has seen a Championship club, placed 18th and 7 points above the relegation places to boot, sign a player for £13m. Upon hearing this news, I have to announce that the final nail in the “football is dead as I know it” coffin has been driven in without so much as a cuddle afterwards.
I don’t go much on stats as I can’t be bothered to do the research and I have found that stats, largely, can be flexed to suit the argument accordingly in any case. However, is this not batsh*t mental? Is everything batsh*t mental? Am I batsh*t mental for thinking that this sum is nauseating to anyone who remembers football before the Premier League?
This isn’t a pop at Wolves. Or Villa (£15m for that chap from Bristol), or Man U for £89m worth of Pogba. This is a pop at myself for allowing myself to become annoyed and despondent.
No doubt there will be a host of “get with the times” or “speculate to accumulate” or “as a percentage of turnover” merchants willing to offer some well researched answer but, frankly, it matters not. Is there no safe hiding place from the “£100k+ car with me stood next to it with headphones on and a vacant expression that asks am I popular now?”
Resting players ahead of trophy bearing fixtures, Instagram, selfies in the dressing room, £13m transfers by Championship relegation candidates, headphones, Theo Walcott, never having a fuckin home game at 3pm on a Saturday, the Champions League but not for Champions etc etc.
I just don’t get it anymore and, more pertinently, don’t want too. Perhaps, as Noel Gallagher once said about his brother, it’s more a case of having a fork in a world of soup.
Ali (no fixed sporting abode)
It’s been a while since the woolly liberal accusation came in
Firstly can I just commend the writers of this fine site. You are all clearly intelligent and articulate and most of the opinion pieces about football are second to none, hence me coming back to read every day.
However I do have one issue that was sort of touched on in Thayden’s brilliant mail yesterday. Look the world is a sh*tty place at the moment and a lot of people are seriously divided in their politics. I come to football sights such as yours to distract myself from the real world as such, but lately I have noticed a really left wing political agenda in a lot of the ‘football’ writing, as well as this hypersensitive holier than thou attitude whereby everything is considered racist/sexist etc.
Let me get this straight there is absolutely nothing wrong with having certain political views and I would personally agree with quite a lot of them, as well as there being nothing wrong with calling out REAL racism/sexism when it occurs. But come on, we all come here to read your excellent thoughts on our teams and football matches, not to be preached to or made feel like a racist for suggesting Guardiola is a poor manager etc.
I know this mail might feel like a dig but I honestly love the site.
ER (sorry about the serious mail)
(MC – We’re only teasing with the mail title, but this is who we are. We’re writers writing what we think and believe, not for effect or controversy)
Is Johnny a PFM?
Firstly I don’t necessarily agree with John Nicholson article, but I do understand where it’s coming from (even though this does sound like the kind of article that John would usually take umbridge with).
Liverpool do not have the depth of squad that a Manchester United, a Manchester City or a Chelsea have. We have not been in the Champions League consistently over the last 7 years (I think just the once in fact). Liverpool do not have the draw of a club consistently playing in the CL, therefore the quality of our bench and fringe players pale in comparison to the bigger teams.
When Klopp arrived the squad was okay, it wasn’t great. Since then he has decided to focus his quality signings on the first team (like every other manager would). However as time progresses we will see whether he will spend on additions to the bench or will he do, what I expect him to do, and start brining in youngsters from that multi million pound academy that Rafa put a lot of work into.
Whatever path he chooses to go down it will take time. It him time at Dortmund and things worked out pretty well when he won two titles there. The spending on building the squad theory would be quicker and easier in most people’s eyes and would suit the EPL’s competitive nature for the race for the top four.
But I think Klopp wants to build a generation of players that can hold their own in the league and cup competitions. I also think FSG will give him the time to do that, as it would suit their moneyball method better than buying quality players just to act as rotation players. To do that Liverpool would need to qualify for the CL for a good few years in a row.
What we are seeing now is part of a process of seeing who can do it and who can’t. Case in point Conor Randall and Trent Alexander Arnold. I think we know who Klopp will keep as TAA has impressed him much more.
I know the whole ‘process’ thing sounds like something Rodgers would say. But I think it’s how Klopp is going to do things whether myself, Shearer, Lineker or whoever likes it. Klopp will continue to use cup competitions as an attempt at judging who is a worthy player to him and whether or not he gives him what he needs.
Klopp will continue to use cup competitions to judge younger talent as these competitions do not have the imperative importance that the league would have on his managerial career and the continued crusade on challenging for the Champions League. If you do see that as disrespecting the FA Cup then that’s your opinion that I fully understand, but I don’t agree with it.
Aaron, (This has been an ‘alternative view’ and not a ‘alternative fact’) Drogheda
Rotation really is necessary
Briefly before the subject of rotation is rotated (eh . . .eh?) out of the mailbox’s attention, let me just offer the smallest of defences to the managers responsible of this crime; that rotation is necessary in this day and age, and all the blame must not be put on their shoulders. Before I continue, this is not a debate about the ‘old school vs modern’ game, but more that this debate only really becomes an issue when (a) the ‘gamble’ doesn’t pay off (naturally), and (b) in January.
Before the hectic festive schedule of games, in the earlier stages (pre-semis) of the EFL Cup, Man United knocked out Man City, West Ham triumphed over Chelsea (who had previously beaten Leicester), Southampton eliminated Arsenal and Liverpool emerged victorious over Spurs. These are, arguably, the best teams in the PL (apart from Everton, who should rightfully be mocked for losing to Norwich). The best were beaten by the best. The reason for the above is that, despite the EFL Cup being a known (or soon to be known) as Second String City, the above are all the teams expected to be in the final, and two are, after they all beat one another. The same applies to the FA Cup.
However, the difference is that the earlier rounds of the FA Cup (for the above teams) are thrown in at this hectic time, adding more games, and potentially more games should you draw. Take Liverpool, the main culprits. Including tomorrow’s game (or tonight’s if I am published) against Chelsea, this will be their ninth this month. Nine games! Even superhuman Mark Lawrenson would struggle with that amount. While we may wish the best team could play in every game, the reality is that they can’t. Nowadays, it is too physically demanding, too competitive, and with the PL, too much at stake (financially) for there not to be rotation in games, even wholesale rotations. So when the opportunity comes up for the chance to rest the big boys against ‘weaker’ opposition, it is a gift grasped with both hands. This is not what the fans should be complaining about, but rather that the managers have not put together a team strong enough to compete for three or four trophies, or that fixture congestion has brought this modern day problem to the modern day game, or even beat Wolves!
Allow me to finish by quoting Micki Attridge; “Klopp picked a team he thought could beat Wolves, they couldn’t”. And therein lies the the big secret, Klopp wanted to win, as did Lambert (Wolves). Only one could, and as Leicester showed us last season, it’s not always the favourite who does!
A reminder: It’s OK to say ‘well done’
Wolves didn’t give Liverpool the chance to play on Saturday – tactics, team selection – whatever you want to choose to throw at Klopp it’s also very much allowed to say well done to Wolves – not one mail, phone in rant or social media status from a Scouser I’ve seen has had a flake of praise for us. As is standard, it’s all about Liverpool and an achingly embarrassing sense of entitlement that the majority of their fans seem to have.
Yes – the strongest Liverpool side probably would’ve beaten us but let’s give Paul Lambert credit for getting his tactics spot on and exploiting the weaknesses and shortcomings of Liverpool at the moment.
Get your heads out your a*ses and accept you were well beaten by a side with a 20yr old goalkeeper making his first start and arguably 3-4 normal first teamers not starting. Klopp picked a side he thought could win, so did Lambert. Lambert won. It’s ok to say well done Wolves…
Andy WWFC, Birmingham
Kudos to Daniel Storey for bringing up Peter Devine in ‘Top Worst Buys of the Season’ and thusly the rest of ‘Nick Hancock’s Football Nightmares’, which, (for the younger readers) was a VHS (check Wikipedia) that apparently all football fans born before 1986 were legally obliged to have bought for them at Christmas.
‘He’s clear… he’s clear… he’s clearly a tw*t’