Mails: Liverpool will challenge next season

Date published: Monday 11th April 2016 2:29

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Kloppmania shows no signs of letting up
Premier League winners and losers

I’ve not written anything about Liverpool for a while, mainly because others were expressing a lot of my thoughts before me and probably better than me at the time. However, I’m currently riding a bit of a wave of optimism and feel the need to share it with everyone. I’m genuinely excited for the future and it’s a really nice feeling.

A few months back, I was wondering whether Klopp should have had more of an impact on the squad but now I feel like he might be getting to grips with the task in hand. It’s no surprise that the upturn in form came after our heavily congested period ended and Klopp actually had time to coach the players.

Another thing to be happy about is that Liverpool are the top scorers in 2016, which is quite the turnaround from the 1st half of the season’s slim pickings. Origi has improved, Sturridge is getting back to full fitness and you have a player like Lallana who is finally adding numbers to his game.

We are also in a position where I genuinely believe we can progress in the Europa League against Dortmund, the best side in the competition, and that’s the effect Klopp has had. Even if we go out on Thursday, I would struggle to have this confidence in Europe under Rodgers (who I was a fan of and defended, so anyone who wants to come back at me about this can stop right now).

It’s nice to have matches that mean something in April and it’s nice to have some fun again.
Kris, LFC, Manchester


…I guess with the kick off coinciding with the Spurs vs United game, it is unsurprising that the Liverpool vs Stoke game did not receive any mention in this morning’s mailbox. Here in South Africa not only is our weather better but we also get virtually all the games televised on our Sky equivalent, Supersport. With that in my mind I thought I’d chip in with a few points from yesterday’s stroll in the park to divert attention away from all the United self-flagellating.

When the team news was announced I admit to fearing the worse. Klopp had undoubtedly and understandably made changes with Dortmund in mind and against a Stoke side which seem to enjoy doing a job on us (*cough 6-1) I probably would have accepted coming away with a draw. Instead, we cruised to a 4-1 victory along the way giving premier league debuts to Kevin Stewart and Sheyi Ojo. The centre back pairing of Skrtel and Toure defied all odds and avoided any calamities (I’m choosing to ignore leaving 4 foot 2 Bojan unmarked on the penalty spot to score with his head!). The most Scouse looking Spaniard in history, Alberto Moreno, got himself on the scoresheet and actually looked like a complete full back. Firmino got a much needed 60 odd minutes under his
belt coming back from his injury and finally Sturridge and Origi showed it does not have to be a case of either/or.

A quick word on Ojo, the 18 year who that was removed at half-time. Having watched a fair bit of all 3 I’d say at this age he has more raw talent than Ibe and Sterling but still has plenty of work to do on the tactical side of things. Hopefully Klopp manages his game time well and we see more bright cameos in the remainder of the league games.

Stewart is a bit different. Already 22 and with a host of centre mids competing in his position I can’t see him being more than a squad player next season. Our Ryan Mason if you will. Klopp has just rewarded him with a new contract so must like the player and perhaps after the summer cull he may be further up the pecking order come the
start of next season. Seriously though, we could almost make a team of centre mids: Can, Hendo, Milner, Lucas, Allen our senior pro’s with
the recently signed Gruijic joining them for pre-season alongside the youngsters Stewart, Brannagan, Chirivilla and Rossiter who have all
got game time at some point this season.

Finally, with Liverpool’s inconsistency this season, it would surprise no one if Dortmund knocked us out of the Europa league on Thursday and our league performances fizzled out. Even if this were to happen, I believe under Klopp we have shown enough to allow every Liverpool fan to go into next season with confidence of a strong challenge on the top 4.
Osric the Brave (Congratulations, Leicester!), Cape Town


I think the only true way to determine if Origi is better than Martial is to get young Divock down to Old Trafford for a few games under GVL.
He can play left-back right?
David (Nah, I wouldn’t really wish that on anyone) Ireland


Van Gaal has ‘sterilised’ United
Van Gaal: Time to deadhead the Iron Tulip

Some people seem to think United could still make top 4….well they probably won’t now. First and Second is pretty much decided and deservedly so, never would have predicted Leicester Spurs top 2 spots at the start of the season. Not like they parked the bus neither, both play very exciting football while winning games, hats off to them.
So we have third, forth, fifth and sixth in contention (so long as United drop 0 points from now on). So United need Citeh or Arsenal to drop 6 points from now to the end of the season. Citeh have games against Chelsea, Southampton and Arsenal which could trouble them. This a couple of weeks ago would have been lovely to watch. For some reason without KDB, Kompany or Aguero they look hopeless and can’t seem to control games. With KDB back Citeh will be on a storm and will more than likely win all their remaining matches by 3/4 goals.

Arsenal only troubling looking game is against Citeh. Even if Arsenal lose this I can’t see them dropping points else where. This will be the standard part of Arsenal end of season where they go on a storming run and win all their games.

So West Ham in 5th for Europa, yeah go on again well deserved really. I would prefer United to fall out of top 5, drop LVG and just give Giggs the job. The plan is for him to learn off of LVG and take charge anyway…..I can’t see him learning much more from him as he would have don from SAF. Give him a standard season of the PL, league cup and FA cup with SAF as a coach/adviser and if this is the way to go, do it now so giggs can work independently with the team and transfer market.

Another problem is Eddy Blow A Wad on players, he needs to be moved to commercial and away from transfers. Bring in someone who knows what they are doing in this position! or maybe GNev take on the primary scouting role – he knows how to rip apart team plays after a match and identify weak spots, how to fix weak spots, knows what is needed from players to succeed. (or you know maybe not)
Stoky-Boy – MUFC won’t finish top 4 and will probably finish below Moyes season


…I’ve never written to the mailbox before but I’ve had enough of what I’ve seen over the course of the season to change that.
There are so many things wrong with Man Utd this season, but I just can’t get passed why is Lingard playing at no. 10.
No wait, why is he playing at all?
Just about only positive I can think of is his pace and willingness to run around a lot but let’s face it, in 21st century football that’s practically required for all attacking midfielders/wingers.
What qualitites Lingard doesn’t have are:
– ability to beat a defender with a ball
– ability to use his pace to trouble defenders
– off-the ball movement or positioning to make goal scoring chances
– ability to make a pass further than 10-15 yards
– or defence splitting pases
– ability to put in a decent cross
– physical presence: header/defence/whatever
– ability win the ball back (for all that running, he ain’t exactly winning back balls or making interceptions is he?)
– a long range shot
And yet he is playing at no. 10.


…I did not watch the Spurs/United match, but caught the extended  (15 minute) highlights instead.

I was surprised to read of people talking about United’s 20 minute spell of dominance, because there was almost literally nothing in the highlights before 27-30 minutes played.

If that doesn’t illustrate the extent of LVG s side’s sterility, I don’t know what will
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


But he’s actually quite nice
Following the game yesterday and LVG’s post-match comments, I thought it would be worth writing in to the mailbox about an encounter I had with the United manager on holiday last summer in Vilamoura, Portugal. My wife and I were out for dinner when we saw him and his family entering the restaurant we were in (whilst we were sat at the back by the toilets, he and his family were placed front and centre in the middle obviously). I’m a Spurs fan but I thought that I would never get the chance again to meet someone with such history in the game, Ajax, Barca, Holland and United to name but a few. So, once we had finished, and by this time the restaurant had virtually cleared out, with a bit of Dutch courage (i.e a fair few beers and wines), I decided to interrupt the Van Gaal family dinner and ask for a photo. Having heard of his reputation as a tough task master, and seeing his interactions over the years with the press, I was a bit nervous at his reaction, but before I could even finish my question of whether I could have a photo, he stopped me and asked me who I supported, specifically, are you United or City? I said neither, I was a Spurs fan. Straight away he smiled and said that is OK then. His son immediately stood up and said that he would take the picture and commented that they were big fans of Spurs and “Mr. Levy”.

He asked me to sit next to him and once the photo had been taken, asked me my thoughts on Spurs. I said that last season was OK, but felt that this season we would again be pushing for 4th, but would probably finish 5th or 6th (how wrong was I). He immediately stopped me and said that we had a great “selection” (not sure why, but he always used that word instead of team/squad) and said that we would win the league in the next few years if we stayed together. Obviously I thought he was being polite as no one could have foreseen what has since happened, and just replied that I thought he would have more chance with his team as he would be able to spend some serious money in the summer. He was actually then quite dismissive as he said that he couldn’t win the league with this selection, they weren’t good enough. I said that he would be buying a few players soon to add to that squad and he laughed and said possibly… was very shortly after this that Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlein joined. I just said please don’t take Lloris away from us as at the time it looked certain that De Gea would be going to Madrid…again he just laughed.

I thought I would push my luck a bit and mentioned to him that everyone thought that he was going to be signing for us before United came in for him. He said that the deal was all agreed with “Mr. Levy”, and he was very impressed with him and Spurs as a whole, but then United came in and he simply couldn’t turn them down. But he said that he would love to work with Mr Levy one day and his whole family were very fond of Spurs.

At this point I realised I had outstayed my welcome and his wife, daughter in law and grandchild were sick of me sitting there so I thanked him for being so nice and said good luck for the season.

He was genuinely a lovely guy and couldn’t have been further away from the irritable man we see in front of the press now. His comments yesterday about United being a bigger club than Spurs may still be true, but I know which club I’m backing (admittedly, slightly biased) for success over the next few years. How different our seasons could have been if we had had LVG in charge and not Pochettino. Lets just make sure we keep him now!
Mike, Southend (THFC obviously)


Tremendous Tottenham
So great to see Mousa Dembele finally getting the credit he deserves in today’s Winners and Losers section.

For me he has been the unsung hero of Spurs’ season, with the emergence of both Eric Dier and Dele Alli so often stealing the headlines in midfield. Whilst the praise levelled at Tottenham’s young lions has been fully justified, it has often been Dembele who has been the glue to hold the trio in place and it is great to finally see such a wonderful footballer finally fulfilling his potential.

He is such a calming influence in that midfield which allows the more creative players in Tottenham’s team the chance to express themselves. He rarely gives the ball away and waltzes past his opposition as if he’s playing against an under 14s team. His impact this season is reminiscent of the quiet but influential role Modric played, way back when, which allowed Bale, Van Der Vaart and Aaron Lennon to counter attack at such blistering pace (and later earned the little magician a move to Real).

For a player who looked like he could be one of the casualties of Pochettino’s summer clear-out towards the end of last season, it really is a remarkable rise. The only criticism you could level at Dembele is that he doesn’t score enough goals, but he consistently produces 8/10 performances week in week out and we look a much more nervous team without his commanding presence in that midfield (see our 1-0 defeat at Upton Park, where we couldn’t keep the ball for love nor money).

So great to see this Spurs team challenging for a title, with Mousa at the heart of it. I suspect it is Leicester’s crown now but had you offered me top 3 at the start of the season I would have suggested you admit yourself in to the Priory.
Caspar – THFC, it ain’t over til it’s over


…So you tell a Spurs fan last August that on the 10th April we would hammer United 3-0 to go 12 points clear of them.
Ah sure United are sh**e, doesn’t mean anything, what about Chelsea??
Just 21 points ahead of them with only 5 games to play so they’re cooked.
Ok, the top 4 might be looking good you, I mean he, might think. So how far are we behind City, the Goons or Liverpool in the very unlikely event of them having got their s**t together? Or maybe Martinez has Everton gelling, Koeman has the Saints purring so we are still battling for 4th…
Well, we’re 8 ahead of City, 6 ahead of the Goons, albeit with a game more played than both. 17 ahead of Liverpool, 27 ahead of Everton and well clear of Southampton. So technically 99.999% sure of top 4.
At this stage Mr Spurs is delirious… Though still thinks we might f**k it up. Then mad thoughts spring from nowhere…
Could we win the league? Trying to do the sums, Jesus, it might be true you could think.
Wait there’s more, you say, you also have the best defence in the league, scored the most goals and have a goal difference of +35 (+35!!! for f**k sake) a full 9 better than anyone else.
Just before Mr Spurs from last August collapses you say to them: “Let me tell you about Leicester”


Faint praise for BFS
Can I say I agree with John Nic about BFS. In fact I detest BFS, I really do. However, I do also like a bit of fairness in my reporting so when John says

Listening to how great Allardyce’s acolytes seem to think he is, you could be forgiven for thinking he had a bulging trophy cabinet. However, he has won just two trophies. The League of Ireland First Division with Limerick and the third division title with Notts County, 18 years ago. After that, nothing. Even his two promotions from the Championship were achieved through the play-offs and not automatically.

A) The play offs count as winning a trophy? I mean it is a tournament with a semi final and a final; the final is played at Wembley and you are quite literally given a trophy for it. So that would actually be 4 trophies.
B) It could be argued there are far higher stakes on a Play Off final than even an FA cup final. Certainly more money
C) Why are we trying to down play winning the play offs? I would argue that if players were given a guaranteed promotion they would choose the play offs as they way to do it, clubs who get promoted this way haven’t actually failed as John tries to suggest.

So in summary, lets keep berating BFS, lets make sure he cant get away with the rubbish he spouts, but lets not become worse than him at distorting truths to suit our own narrative
James (just keeping you honest) W


Leicester not relying on luck
Regarding this Leicester penalty kick nonsense:

1 – They get a lot of penalties because of how they play. With Vardy consistently running behind (slower, bigger) defenders and getting one on ones with the goalie, penalties are inevitable. Mahrez trying to beat 2-3 defenders in the box multiple times a game also draws penalties. If you look at all their penalties all year, maybe one was debatable. Besides, they actually missed 2 of their penalties.

2- Most of the penalties other teams have not been given against Leicester are not 50-50 as someone said this morning in the mailbox. The Huth handball yesterday was, maybe, but the rest (like the Simpson handball) are probably closer to 20-80. If you look around the league, almost no penalties are being given when the defender gets hit in the hand with the ball from close range, unless the defender clearly does something stupid, like moving their hand towards the ball or clearly sticking their arm/hand out. These close range hand hitting shots were penalties in years past, but they aren’t now.

Stop beating Leicester with imaginary sticks. Why can’t people just just enjoy the run? It’s as if people need to something to moan about.
Nathan, Newark


Ben, I think you are confused. Even if Sunderland had got the penalty shout you referred to and dispatched it (given the quality of Sunderland’s finishing yesterday I’d say that is hardly nailed on), they would have still lost 2-1. In the interest of balance maybe I should point out that although Sunderland did have one debatable penalty shout, Leicester had two – both Okazaki going down in the box and Kaboul raising his arm to block Mahrez shot. All questionable – but let’s not ignore one side of the debate completely to try and push an already tired narrative, shall we?

I did enjoy the Dean Gaffney mail though! As an outside observer I look at the well known actor and am sympathetic. He has been a great actor over the past 10-15 years but has been in very few big films. Nobody could deny that he has shone in certain roles – mostly a few underground cult classics. In fact he has produced some dazzling scenes, some moments of the best acting around. But littered in amongst all that are the big flops and continual disappointments – think Batman vs Superman.

Unfortunately the big actor fails spectacularly to act at his best with any kind of consistency. His manager is stubborn and holding out for the ‘right’ film to break Hollywood. The actor has bought into this too, he is often quoted talking down other actors for being sellouts, moaning about them having better backing, bigger networks, complaining about their roles as being ‘trashy Hollywood garbage’.

The sad thing is the well known actor is envious of the success of Dean Gaffney, but just too stubborn (or maybe too limited as an actor) to take the kind of roles that Gaffney has taken to get to where he needs to be, mostly because he sees such roles as beneath him, a view he is often outspoken about. Dean Gaffney would be the first to admit he is a much more limited actor than the well known one, but he is going to enjoy his success all the same – fully in the knowledge it will most likely be short-lived.

Really, the well known actor should be more worried about the recent roles his best pal (/fiercest rival) has been getting lately. He is better looking, younger, has a better manager with newer ideas and is delivering consistently good acting.
Ben (Another week, another win, another mailbox calling us boring and lucky), LCFC


…I know we obviously haven’t won anything yet, but I’m very intrigued as to what will happen next season in the premier league if we do win. We were bottom last April, as i’m sure you are all aware. Does this mean that every club next season, bar perhaps the three promoted teams, will have fans dreaming of winning the title? Managers aren’t going to be able to use the excuse that they are a smaller team than Arsenal, United, etc.

Isn’t this what we’ve wanted for years? No more teams trying to just consolidate a position in the premier league and thinking their fans should be happy with just that. We’ve given these fans the chance to dream bigger. Success is not just for the privileged few living in Manchester and west London.
I’m very aware that we still need 3 wins for the title, and we have a far tougher run in now. Spurs next four games are against teams already on their holidays, and the final game is against likely relegated by then Newcastle. This is still a very open title race
Toby (CL guaranteed!) Mitchell


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