Mails: Peak Suarez v peak Salah? It’s not even close

Date published: Friday 9th February 2018 9:15

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Suarez v Salah
Suarez.  He made the team better. Nearly won the title with a much worse team. Anything else?
Niall, Denver


In response to Jimmy’s question regarding peak Salah vs peak Suarez, I have no doubts I would take peak Suarez all day.

Salah’s form this season for Liverpool is of the highest caliber. He has turned out to be a regular goal scorer and a regular scorer of wonderful goals(traits he shares with Suarez). He has also shown strong mentality and stepped up in the clutch moments with cool and collected equalizers and winners(again traits shaded with Suarez).

However peak Suarez (13/14) edges it for me due to his rare, almost unique, combination of world class hustling and world class quality on the ball. Suarez is an anomaly in world football for being a player with the mindset of the ilk of Dirk Kuyt/Park Ji Sung (totally selfless, tracking back from forward positions, physically competitive with no compromise), and quality on the ball that is comparable to the very elite footballers of this generation and past. He is arguably the most reliable finisher in the world with ability to score from multiple positions. He is a top drawer passer with excellent vision (see some of his link up play with messi over the last few years as an example of mutual respect and appreciation of ability). He is a killer simply put, and would be my first pick for a pure striker in a world XI of current players.

This turned out to be more of an ode to Suarez than anything else tbh.
Johnny Wicky, Toronto 


Not really sure what Dara and some others are on about. In my 16 years of supporting Liverpool, Salah does probably make the top 5 most talented players I have ever seen. He is up there with the likes of Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, and Phil Coutinho and maybe is slightly ahead of Firmino and Torres. But Luis Suarez is #1 on that list and by some margin. Memories are short but here is one I can relive over and over again. Poor  Norwich.

Salah is a great player who is having an outstanding debut season, but this is really just his second great season after having had one at Roma. Suarez has had about 10 or 11 great seasons consecutively now at three different clubs. Whatever you may feel about him as a man, as a player he is proper genius and the premier league is a poorer place without him.
Rohit Vankipuram


I love Peak Salah, don’t get me wrong. But we must not loose sight of the fact that football is an entertainment industry.

And what is more entertaining than the best player on the pitch is also batshit crazy? He might bite at any time, he might score at any time, he might slur at any time. I just can’t look away.

Suarez all day and twice on Sunday as a result. As truly wonderful as Salah has been he does not quite have the same ability to create the twitchy bum syndrome in defenders that Suarez had. There was a look of abject terror that would appear in their faces when Luis began to bear down on them that isn’t quite there with Salah.

Liverpool Lover (I know what I said).


No competition at all, taking nothing away from salah and his abilities to perform at every given opportunity but suarez is from some other world.

You can ask anyone who the want to play against suarez or salah?

Suarez indirectly involved in goals.dragging defender towards him making space for other and keeping every opposition player on toe.

Suaerz against salah, boy i will take suaerz against Ronaldo happily.
Majid (Karachi, these south American are in some different league)


Ozil v Henderson
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of these but to Jimmy (decent player but not amazing) Spain

Who would you rather have in your team?

And to Tim ‘broken hearted’ Benson, Bedfordshire- yes please p*ss off.
Gary, Gooner 


Diving – get over it
I read Pochettino’s recent comments with a keen interest, and I think he made some excellent points which I largely agreed with.

Football moves on and evolves. Thirty years ago, players would routinely plough through the back of opponents to ‘let them know they’re there’ – now that’s a red card. Goalkeepers would be able to pick up backpasses and waste another 5 minutes – now they can’t. Similarly, to win a penalty used to require being clattered and left in a heap on the floor. Now the game recognises that if a defender impedes your progress without winning the ball it should be a foul. All the attacker is doing by going down easily is highlighting it.

If a defender or keeper makes a poor attempt aat a challenge, in the box, why should they be let off the hook? Let’s say a striker hurdles their desperate lunge, struggles to keep his balance and miscues the chance, or is unable to keep the ball in play. The poor challenge goes unpunished and the chance is gone. Is that fair? Ask every Premier League manager whether they’d rather that, or that their striker takes a clip on the ankles and wins a penalty, you’ll have 20 out of 20 saying the latter. If a defender seeks to deny an opportunity and does so with an awful tackle, I see no problem with letting the inevitable happen. It’s not just penalties either, the best midfielders can earn timely free kicks in the middle of the park to relieve pressure on their teams.

Using language like ‘cheating’ just sounds overly emotional and outdated to me. It’s no more cheating than appealing for a corner when you know full well you’ve had the last touch and it should be a goal kick. Sticking your arm up for offside when you were the one playing them on. Attempted coercion of the officials happens in many different forms throughout every match.

For clarity, I’m not talking about straight-up diving here – players who go down under no contact whatsoever should certainly be punished, just as Dele was against Liverpool with a yellow card. But again I’m inclined to agree with Poch when he said that should be an end to it. The player is booked, the game goes on and we all get on with our lives. There’s no need for a full scale moral outrage – he tried to trick the ref and failed. That’s it.

Winning a penalty can be a skill. Lamela v Liverpool was a good example. For him to score a goal from that position was unlikely, but he earned a penalty for his team by simply getting his body between Van Dijk and the ball, and VD played his part by clumsily booting him while trying to clear it. That’s great play from Lamela, as good as an assist. Drogba was a master of it, and who among us wouldn’t have wanted him in our teams when he was at his prime?

As long as there is a referee to coerce, this will be part of the game. The quicker the traditionalists accept it – without the week long crisis talks every time a ‘soft’ penalty is given – the better.
Olly Cole, THFC (would take a 1-0 win from a dodgy pen this Saturday all week long)


I can see a lot of where “the bastard in the black” is coming from when he says that pundits, players and managers don’t know the laws of the game, but what about when the top level referees don’t either?

This was perfectly demonstrated during the Liverpool Spurs game and was only evident because the cameraman (and microphone I assume) were right in the ref and assistant’s faces as they were talking over the first penalty.

Without the camera being there we wouldn’t have know what they said and could assume they missed that Kane was offside, which could have been understandable. However the assistant clearly said that Kane was offside but he was’t sure if Lovern had touched the ball or not on it’s way through. As the ball was played forwards by Spurs, whether it deflected off Lovern or not makes no difference to Kane being offside.

So they saw exactly what happened, had time to analyse it, and got it wrong because they don’t know the laws of the game. As many people have said, refs can’t be expected to spot everything, especially when the game is played at such a high pace and players are trying to deceive them, but they should be expected to know the bloody laws of the game. And that’s when people can rightly get upset at them.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Si, CPFC makes a great shout. In fact, ex-England rugby union hooker and pundit Brian Moore, a man hardly known for his diplomacy and easy-going nature (his nickname was Pitbull), did exactly that a few years ago. Why? In his own words: “I’d got into an argument over the refereeing of the front row. I reckoned I’d been a hooker in over 75,000 scrums during my career so I knew what I was talking about. Then the questioner asked how many front rows I’d ever refereed, and he suggested I take the ELRA (Entry Level Referee Award) course to find out what it was like. So I thought ‘yes, I’ll do it’. I enjoyed it, I intend to carry on refereeing now that I’ve qualified and I’d recommend it to any ex-player who is a good communicator.”

So what did a man with 64 England caps, 5 Lions caps and over 75,000 scrums in his career learn? Over to the RFU Referee Development Manager: “He did very well imparting the knowledge of the scrum he has from his playing days to the other candidates, and in other areas of the game he took a lot in. It increased his understanding of what we talk about when training referees.“ And his increased understanding of both the rules (laws?) of the game and the psyche and demands on a referee, before during and after the game, have greatly enhanced his punditry/ co-commentary/ newspaper columns.

Surely it’s reasonable to hope that having a similarly qualified pundit operating in football circles would raise the bar in stopping many of the lazy generalisations we are all sick and tired of. Though how many current pundits would have the self-awareness to say ‘you know what, maybe I did play the game professionally at the highest level, but perhaps I don’t know everything…’
Jonny (now, over to the Mailbox – who would be the best/ worst football pundits to train as a referee?) Dance


Big Weekend‘s little brother
Stoke City-Brighton & Hove Albion. A really mammoth game for Stoke. Not only are they facing a direct relegation rival, but on paper this is their easiest home match remaining. Badou Ndiaye has given the midfield a lift, but Xherdan Shaqiri isn’t going to score headers every week, and someone has to start at striker. Peter Crouch? But Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk are pretty good in the air. Mame Biram Diouf might be a better choice. The Seagulls have a little breathing space after savaging West Ham with their best performance of the season (21-4 in shots!). New record signing Jürgen Locadia might not yet be ready to start, and in any case Glenn Murray is on a mini hot streak, with goals in his last three matches in all competitions (one lucky, one a penalty, one a cool finish). Stoke will probably come out energized, as they have been under Paul Lambert, and Brighton will counterpunch.

Stat: Stoke are tops in the league in aerials won per match, and second just behind Manchester City in aerial duel percentage.

Huddersfield Town-Bournemouth. Not a shock that the Terriers are dropping down the table, but it’s a bit surprising how little fight they’ve put up lately. They’ve barely moved the needle since the new year, except in the FA Cup against Championship sides. But after uninspiring losses to Liverpool and Manchester United, they now have Bournemouth and West Brom back to back. This weekend it’s time to rev up the gegenpress against a Cherries midfield that can be a bit light, even with Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling playing some of their best football. Although Jonathan Hogg was rested, Aaron Mooy went 120 minutes in the cup replay midweek—how fresh can he be? Bournemouth are breezing at the moment, and we all have to take our hats off to Eddie Howe, who always seems to deliver the goods. Still, with both Steve Cook and Adam Smith out, the right side of his defence should be under pressure.

Stat: Bournemouth’s last away loss against a non-top-six team was in September (!!) against Everton.

West Ham United-Watford. It’s flown a little under the radar, but the Hammers are by no means safe from relegation. (The bookies have it around 6/1.) You’ve probably heard about the injuries, but there are few words to describe the battering they took from Brighton last week. They also still have to face five of the top six, with only three matches against sides currently below them in the table. Javier Hernández is in pretty good form, considering he wants to leave the club, and João Mario is adapting well, but they’ll need a lot more than Patrice Evra. Watford were rampant against The Side Formerly Known As Chelsea, but we have yet to get a clear reading on the team under Javi Gracia. A pleasant surprise has been the return to form of Etienne Capoue, which gives Abdoulaye Doucouré, always top-class entertainment, more room to rampage. Can Mark Noble and Pablo Zabaleta contain him?

Stat: West Ham are 14th in fouls committed, but first by a clear margin in yellow cards.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


Old man yells at cloud (and is right)
Kevin G’s email this afternoon reminded me I wanted to rant about something in the mailbox that in truth has very little to do with his email, but thank you Kevin for the reminder. It’s about virtual football and how I’m clearly now out of touch with things.

Quite some time back my club, Aston Villa, posted a video through their official Facebook page simulating a game on FIFA against our opponents for that weekend, with the heading “Reckon this will be how it goes tomorrow?”. Now, excuse my language, but what in the actual ****? The emphasis fans put on FIFA in relation to actual football is generally a bit annoying at the best of times, but in this instance no one was even controlling any of the players, they were simply simulating and wondering if it had any indication of how it would go in the actual game. Spoiler alert; it didn’t.

They actually created a highlights package. And guess what? The game ended 0-0. They bothered to go through all this work to create a five min or so video of a FIFA game ending 0-0 with some Championship also rans. I would just about understand it if a footballer from Aston Villa played against a footballer from our opponents (both controlling their respective team) so that there could be some kind of loose bragging rights, but a simulation? They continue to do this each week and post it like it has anything to do with anything and I find it utterly baffling.

Do any other clubs do anything weird that makes you feel out of touch? Am I just getting old? Do the kids love watching a simulated 0-0 draw on FIFA more than interviews with players or other interesting behind the scenes things that they could be viewing?

If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be grateful.

P.S. Obviously Football Manager is different and I’d be completely fine with that.
Mike (AVFC (soon to be 35)), London


Why do we make our children support the same club?
Interesting mail from Tim ‘broken hearted’ Benson, Bedfordshire. I think these sort of feelings of detachment depend on how you picked your club; if you started supporting a team due to a certain player, glory period or style of play it’s only natural to feel detached as time moves on and those players leave, the success dries up or Big Sam mk II takes charge. I started supporting Newcastle due to the exploits of Alan Shearer at euro 96 and got to enjoy the fantastic Newcastle sides of Keegan and Robson through my childhood and adolescence. But 15 years on there’s nothing left of the club that attracted me in the first place (Spurs are probably the closest thing to the Newcastle I grew up with now) and everything just isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, I still look for Newcastle’s results before any others, but much like you local sides have started to take more of my interest.

On a tangent to Tim’s mail though, I’ve got a question for the mailbox; why do some supporters chose to “make” their children support the same club? I understand when it’s truly a generational thing, taken to the ground by a parent etc but I’m thinking more specifically those who chose their own club and aren’t necessarily able to attend games swaying their child’s support. This isn’t intended to cast judgement, merely a chance to get answers that I’ve not really been able to get in person.

Maybe it’s just me but I’d be quite interested to the see the results of a F365 poll asking how you started supporting your team; relative, player, geography, success or other.
Kevin, Bedford


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