Mails: Proving that pressing is no problem

Date published: Friday 8th January 2016 11:23

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What a time to be alive
No matter what else has been said about the uncomfortably long list of hamstring injuries, let’s just for a second consider that Jose Enrique is likely to get a start at centre half tonight.

The topless selfie-posting, Mario Kart-playing, protein shake-selling mascot is gonna be given a go agin for the first time in what feels like years. Hey, if you’re gonna be sh*t, at least have the good grace to be hilarious.

What a time to be alive.
Kris, LFC, Manchester


Proving that Gegenpressing is not the problem
Liverpool’s hamstring injury total in comparison to the other Premier League teams. Total injuries currently, hamstring injuries in parentheses:

Liverpool 10 (6) 60%
Newcastle 10 (4) 40%
Everton 8 (2) 25%
Villa 6 (2) 33%
Arsenal, Man U. 6 (1) 16%
Bournemouth, Southampton 5 (0) )%
Man City, Stoke, Sunderland, West Ham 4 (2) 50%
Palace 4 (1) 25%
Chelsea 4 (0) 0%
Leicester, West Brom 3 (1) 33%
Spurs 3 (0) 0 %
Norwich 2 (1) 50%
Swansea 2 (0) 0%
Watford 1 (0) 0%

Doesn’t exactly look good for Liverpool. So leaving out the zero-hamstring teams and ranking by percentage, we get:

Liverpool 60%
Man City, Stoke, Sunderland, West Ham, Norwich 50%
Newcastle 40%
Villa, Leicester, West Brom 33%
Palace 25%
Arsenal, Man U. 16%

So of the 12 teams reporting hamstring injuries, almost half the teams are at 50% or more. It doesn’t seem such a damning indictment of Klopp’s gegenpress, especially when you consider we’re not comparing like-for-like – Liverpool are playing Europa League, League Cup and Premiership matches, compared to Man U. who don’t play much at all these days.

This is nothing like a statistically-significant sample, but it does help to put things into perspective. I don’t see Newcastle gegenpressing like madmen, but they’ve still got 40% of their players crocked with a hamstring pull.

Allardyce might like to want to defend his own 50% injury/hamstring ratio, or is it just the Liverpool players are soft, and his lot are hard as nails and it takes a Mixed Martial Arts move to bring one of them down injured?

Lies, damn lies and statistics.
Steve (Amazed not to see Diego Costa on the list for Chelsea) Los Angeles


Mr. Ordinaries
Man United don’t have a consistently average performer who ‘exerts maximum effort, understands the tempo and does useful things’. They’re all erratic, prone to errors, bad games and occasionally doing something decent. I guess our Joe Allen would be Sergio Romero. Turns up, sits on the bench, is ready when needed, goes home. Good old Sergio.
Eddie, ‘Heaven knows I’m Miserable Now’ MUFC


Who is my teams Mr Ordinary who doesnt set the world on fire when he plays?

Mr Janmaat
Mr Coloccini
Mr Dummett
Mr Hiadara
Mr Colback
Mr Tiote
Mr Anita
Mr Gouffran
Mr De Jong
Mr Cisse

We have a team of Mr Ordinary’s. Is it January yet…?


Step forward Leon Osman. No one else in blue comes close.


Further to Charlie, THFC, Somerset letter regarding about a team’s Mr Ordinary. I am a Coventry City fan and over the years have seen a whole army of truly awful players (yes, I’m thinking of you Julian Darby, Sean Flynn, Kevin Drinkell) with the odd good/very good players sprinkled in (McAllister, Robbie Keane, Tommy Hutchinson). But not that many you would describe as ordinary. With one very notable exception, step forward Paul Telfer. Even though I saw him play on numerous occasions I can remember very little of what he did during his 5 years at Coventry, I think I saw him score a goal for us once but it’s possible I could have dreamt that, such was his mind numbing mediocrity.

In fact he was the Lionel Messi of ordinary, the very pinnacle or blandness. I’m sure he was the player James Milner aspired to be. In all, for Coventry and Southampton he spent an entire decade playing in the premier league, followed by 2 seasons with Celtic (wherever Gordon Strachan went Telfer would turn up) and even a very short spell at Leeds, yet I’m guessing not a single supporter of any of those clubs will recall anything he did other than the ability to run in a straight line. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the guy, unsurprisingly he was never the kind of player who would inspire anyone to hate him, rather when his name was announced over the tannoy in the starting line up (and being Gordie’s chosen one’s he did always play) it was met with a collective sigh of despair.

I gather off the pitch he was a very private person and had been deeply affected by the death of his best friend in a car crash, which perhaps gave him a sense of perspective that most footballers lack, so fair play to him for that. But by crikey he was ordinary.


In terms of Mr. Ordinaries, David Jones for Burnley. Passes sideways every time. Lovely guy though – he waved at me once!
Nick P. Burnley FC.


‎The top teams might have just one Mr Ordinary. Most teams are mid table or close to relegation because they have too many Mr Ordinaries. The question shouldn’t be who is your team’s Mr Ordinary, it should be “how many Mr Ordinaries can a team afford to have on its books if they are to be a top team/midtable team/ relegation candidate?”
bdotm (Now try picking out the Mr Ordinaries in the Aston Villa team)


My own two penneth if I may on our Welsh Xavi. There’s almost nothing objectionable about Carmarthen’s favourite footballing son. He does however suffer somewhat from his association with Mr Veneers. Bought for £15M from Swansea he was always seen as his man. You can see how much Brendan is flashing the porcelain on that awful Being: Liverpool when Joe comes to Melwood. You’d have been forgiven for thinking it was the YTS boy and not a rather expensive acquisition from yer Norn’ Irishman’s old club.

He appears to be often [long term] injured and whilst his defenders point toward a game whereby he impressively subdued Toure it was more likely Yaya dialling another one in than Joe finally showing the Anfield faithful his tekkers. Not a particularly poor footballer nor one likely to secure many points through moments of brilliance. And hideously overpriced upon transfer. Every inch another ‘outstanding’ Brendan Rogers bit of business…

He’s also not good enough to sport that beard. End of.

…I often refer to him as Average Joe. As in Average Joe’s gym… As in DodgeBall… Y’know!?

Aaaah fuck it. It’ll be lost on anyone I have to explain it to.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC


How many points?
How many points will it take to win the league this year?

I have made an attempt to answer this by calculating the multiplier between the points of the 2nd placed team after 20 games (the current stage) and that of the 2nd placed team after the full 38 games. Turns out the lowest multiplier over the last ten premier league seasons is 1.8 which occurred twice- 06-07: Chelsea (20 games): 46 points, Chelsea (38 games): 83 points and 14-15: Man City (20 games): 44 points, Man City (38 games): 79 points. While the highest multiplier is 1.98 from 11-12: Man Utd (20 games): 45 points, Man Utd (38 games): 89 points.

The average of the lowest and highest multipliers yields a multiplier of 1.89, which means that a tally of 40 (current 2nd place) x 1.89 = 76 + 1 = 77 points, could be enough to win the league this year.

Furthermore, calculating the average points won by Arsenal and Manchester City in their last 18 games over the past 5 years fetches the following – Arsenal = 35 points, Man City = 37 points. The numbers do seem to stipulate another down to the wire finish where Man City wins it on the final day.
Ashish (will keep on hoping that Arsenal nick it somehow), New Delhi


Why Pochettino would stay
All valid points from Dan, Thom, and Dara. The football world is cutthroat, we all know that, but I can still see Poch staying at Spurs. Here’s why.

While Spurs can be a selling club, they’re nowhere near Southampton in that regard. Nobody in our team is a world beater like Bale (except Lloris) so I don’t see us being forced to sell anyone. We even held Bale a season or two longer than most thought possible, so I think we can fight the sharks off Kane, Eriksen, and Alderweireld for a couple more. Levy is a tough nut.

Then of course there’s the pressure. United, Chelsea, and Liverpool have pulled no punches with managers in recent times, and while I’m sure Poch would do great at United, will they afford him the 6-12 months to adapt his style? Believe me, Spurs have played some pretty ugly football since he came in. We looked like lost sheep and struggled to grind out 0-0 draws with hardly a shot on target. His mode is press, possess, and counter, not wide open attacking play, and it takes games to learn. Even when done well it doesn’t always lead to the most exciting football. Considering United already want LVG out, that’d worry me as a manager of Poch’s style.

Lastly, while I think he’s actually just what United need with their fountain of youth talent pool, I can see “money and prestige” getting in the way of that development, like it always has. If you haven’t noticed, youth is key to Poch’s style: he molds players before they get set in their ways or grow enormous one-man-team egos. He did it at Southampton and he’s doing it at Spurs. People who don’t fit get sold. Money and size isn’t always the answer, as this season continues to show, and I’m not sure he’d fare as well with having and being forced to throw money at big names.

So, if Spurs challenge and end top 4 I think the club will respect that, hopefully with a bumper contract and some transfer funds, and we’ll fight off the sharks for another year. If not, we’ll see. I’m never going to pretend we’re on par with United, but if we’re achieving the same or better plaudits, what difference does it make?


Can’t help thinking United fans have their heads up their bums.

Pochettino would leave Spurs for United because they are a bigger club with a bigger stadium and more money – really?

Firstly, who gives a stuff about the size of a club? United are a big club with loads of fans and a big stadium – so what? Do you really think the likes of Cech turned down Arsenal the first time for Chelsea due to the size of the club? We were much bigger club than Chelsea at the time but he still took the Russian rouble.

Then there’s the assertion United have more money – again that doesn’t really matter as much when you get to a point where every club is minted.

As much as United fans hate to admit this, they are a club on the way down while Spurs are on the way up – they’re going to have a fancy new stadium and Pochettino is clearly intent on building something there with a bunch of great youth prospects.

In short, why would he ditch all that to move to a has been club and have to live in Manchester?
Graham Simons, Gooner, yes a gooner!, Norf London


Anyone but Fernando
Apologies for being a little late with this email, however I was stunned (unless I missed it) to not see a single letter regarding City’s defeat to Everton on Wednesday.

it was the straw the broke the camels back for me, namely the most uninspiring substitution of all time, Pellegrini, he who you could almost bet on his substitutions on a weekly basis surpassed himself, on 90 Minutes and Everton down to 10 men with Seamus Coleman injured, City sub de Bruyne for…… Fernando.

I believe there is a general malaise at City at the moment as we are chugging along in a fairly equal premier league, but our performances this season have been generally poor, I would regard City’s as the strongest squad in the league and the truth is it’s seriously underachieving. Pellegrini is escaping scrutiny, the only times I remember us playing well recently is during the Arsenal and Sevilla away games, I would always consider game performance rather than results as a more significant indicator of longer term aspirations, we have been extremely fortunate recently in games against Watford, Leicester, Swansea, Norwich and Gladbach, any City fan who pretends otherwise is deluding themselves. Without our five wins from the opening five games we would be in United’s position.

One of the primary reasons for our poor performances I believe is the continued Mourinho-like insistence on playing the same 12-13 players twice a week, all season. The main issue is the continued persistence with Yaya Toure, a wonderful player for city, but the guy looks utterly spent every game. Toure just doesn’t have the legs anymore and should be game-managed far more effectively, this was exemplified against Everton where during a number of challenges where he collapsed in a heap and took around 10 seconds to get back to his feet. It’s a good job Fernandinho is running for him, but it is only a matter of time before he is broken by the burden.

In addition there is a group of players that will likely need replacing before too long, whether it is Pep or not, city need a centre half, left back (for around 3 years!), 2 central midfielders and a striker to be considered anywhere near complete. Squad age is lobsided, there is a constantly the same players getting injured, and the younger players barely get a sniff.

I don’t wish to sound too negative, there are many, many positives at City and I don’t hold any anger towards Pellegrini, he was exactly what City needed after the abrasive nature of Mancini, however the situation now appears stale, and sadly a change look necessary.
Grumpy Steve


Some love for Joke hole
I just wanted to drop a note into the mailbox congratulating Joe Cole (yes the real Joe Cole) on signing for Coventry City on a permanent basis. I am a Coventry fan so am obviously slightly biased, but Joe Cole has always been one of my favourite players and possibly one of the most talented English players of his generation despite arguably never quite fulfilling his potential.

Now, biases aside, hats off to Joe for tearing up his Villa contract which I can only assume to have been £30k per week or more and signing for a League 1 side on what I imagine is £4k a week or less. His reason? He just wants to play as much football before retirement, at any level.

There are plenty of mid-thirties mercenaries happy to pick up £40k per week or more in the Premier League not even making a conscious effort to play first team football. Im looking at you Winston Bogarde. Joe’s made his money I’m sure, but how many other players would put their love of the game before their bank balance in their final few years of professional football.

Joe Cole, I love you! I hope you treasure you League One winners medal.
Tom (Mighty Mowbrays Army) Coventry


A couple of things…
Firstly, loved the latest instalment of football people on TV. Kelly Cates is indeed a good, professional pundit and has most likely been put next to Wrighty to offer a complete balance. Crazed, rambling ex-pro vs a woman who actually understands the game. The image of the PFM’s not quite knowing how to act for fear of upsetting Kenny is glorious. I look forward to that piece weekly.

Anyway enough sycophantic rambling. On to tonight’s game. Exeter vs Liverpools reserve squad. Even Ibe is now injured. Bit of a joke now. Liverpool really should look at the cups as the best way to generate momentum and morale. A good run and maybe (just maybe) a trophy, sounds too good to be true (as does the possible Mersyside final of the Capitol Milk Cola League Cup).

Sadly a team that can’t defend set pieces and struggles against physically dominant sides is unlikely to fair well against lower league opposition. Not meaning to imply al non-prem clubs play like battering rams but against LFC tonight it seems like a sure fire way to victory…unless Illori is as good as he looked against England U21’s.
Martin Jackson


Weird league systems
All this talk about ‘pyramids’ etc. has made me want to describe the quite bonkers way the Peruvian leagues are set up. The Primera (or Torneo Descentralizado de Fútbol Profesional or Copa Movistar) is organised in the normal way they do things in South America, in opening (Apertura) and closing (Clausura) phases. So, split the league fixtures in half and play two championships for the price of one, right?

No. Before this even begins they have the Torneo del Inca, which is a group stage / knockout phase tournament. Once that is over, they begin the Apertura phase, each playing each other once, then the Clausura phase, again with one fixture between each team.

Now, once the Clausura has finished they then have a Playoff system where the Apertura winners, Clausura winners, Torneo del Inca winners and the highest team on aggregate of those who didn’t win any of the previous three (…..) play each other for the title of champion. There are additional rules about winning multiple ‘titles’, but yeah, that’s that.

The second division seems a bit more sensible, but the ‘Copa Peru’ below that is, to my knowledge, where things get a bit crazy. According to World Soccer, the winners of the cup get promoted out of the lower leagues and straight into the Primera, completely bypassing the second tier. The team that loses gets promoted to the Segunda.

I’d be surprised if this was the… quirkiest league system around (and it has changed many, many times over the years), so I challenge people to name more esoteric, obtuse ones!
David (Los Cerveceros) Brown


What’s in a number?
In response to Ginge, London, who asked why you use the number 427. I wanted to point out that in this Gossip column, you have mentioned “the 1498th time”, which makes it 3 times as exaggerated ! (427 x 3 = 1498). I love it when you come up with seemingly random numbers, but they are actually not so random.

My love for f365 only increases.

Thanks, Kaushik. Austin TX
[Sorry, I thought I noticed something funny, but couldn’t put it in words that are funny enough to make your website. Please edit if you decide to publish :D]


Having read Ginge’s moan about your use of the number 427 I have to ask, is he/she the 1,057th person to have done so?
Lukas (only 427 people will get this)


Oh, Daniel
Wishing I could undo imagining Gary Cahill with a pair of fake breasts.
Soumalya (Life will never be the same again) MUFC

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