Mails: Right, would you take Lukaku or Kane?

Date published: Wednesday 6th January 2016 11:43 - Sarah Winterburn

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Stoke v Liverpool thoughts
– Really happy with a successful battling performance. Klopp needed, and got, a response from his players.

– I was so happy when we signed Benteke. He looked to be the missing element to our attack. He should have been everything Ballotelli wasn’t. Really hasn’t panned out that way. However maybe playing a system involving two strikers and pairing Benteke with Ings, Sturridge or Origi will see him shine. If not the he’s a very expensive plan B.

– Hamstrings. Oh dear.

– Lovren was finally looking like a good defender. Calm and assured. It’s a shame he’ll be on the sidelines for a while but at least he’s shown a glimpse of what he can do.

– Toure was fantastic. He organised the back four and marshalled a very good attacking Stoke side well.

– Emre Can is fast becoming one of Liverpool’s most important players. His energy and range of passing is crucial to Klopp’s style of play. Seems so obvious, a point barely worth mentioning until you remember that he was a makeshift centre-back and occasional left-back under Rodgers.

– Souness really seems to hate Joe Allen. His pre-match build-up was full of Allen bashing. I’m not Joe Allen’s biggest fan but he’s a decent squad player and performed well last night.

– While Im on the subject, pre game Souness bemoaned LFC’s lack of big tough “fighters”. After the game Stoke were criticised for not “having enough of a go” and not being physical and “up for the fight”. Damn soft little tricksters, pass me a turpentine manhatten.

All in all it was a good game and a very good win. Exeter in the FA Cup next and we have literally no defenders fit for the game. What a great time to be Tiago Illori.
Martin Jackson


Consistently inconsistent
Say what you want about Klopp but his team has shown that they can do it on a wet, January night in Stoke.

Seriously though, how can a team be so impotent in one game yet show that much desire, commitment and actual football ability in the very next? Baffling.
Carl (did we sign Arsenal’s physio in the summer?) the Welsh


Oh Stokalona…
The question was could Messi hack it, but it appears Stokalona can’t hack it at Stoke on a wet Tuesday night.
Paul Carroll


…Subbing on Crouch for Shaqiri is kind of like when you’re playing Tetris and you get a square but you what you need is a line.

And then you lose anyway.
ThePhilhouse, LFC


Lukaku v Kane
‎Romelu Lukaku is an excellent striker, with the odd miss aside he is quite immense and can be hardly dominated in games. Same goes for Harry Kane, due credit to him this season as he slowly but surely shakes off that “one season wonder tag”. Here goes my question, who would you rather plays for your team?

I am a United supporter and I think the big Belgian narrowly steals it just because he is faster and looks a better threat in the air compared to Kane’s excellent shot technique, work rate and conversion rate.

Who does it for you?
Pasy, Nigeria


Transfers we would love to see…
It’s the season of the mad transfer story (why would Vardy want to leave Leicester when they are joint top of the league, or Bale leave Real?)

But there are plenty more realistic targets who would want to switch clubs.

To get the ball rolling, how about:

Peter Crouch to Sunderland – he’s not getting much game time in the new-look Stoke and it would be like old Spurs, Portsmouth and England. I wonder whether they would stay up with that combo up front.

Carles Gil to Liverpool – admittedly they need a defender (Gary Cahill?) but another creative forward wouldn’t go amiss especially with Ings, Sturridge and Coutinho out.

Lukaku to Man U – Martinez would be dead against it but it would be interesting to see what Man U can do with a striker who actually scores goals, playing up front with Martial.

Go on, readers, tell us which player you’d like to see move within the Premier League.
Paul in Brussels


The trick to long-term success…
With the Premier League being the moneybags league (comfortably number 1), it becomes natural that the best coaches will want to work here. That explains why some of the best talent will be happy to coach a team in 10th in the league over somebody who is fighting for fifth place in Spain/Germany.

The next natural move is going to move the best players here. Given UK’s restrictive entry laws, a lot of talent gets lost or doesn’t come to the Premier League at younger ages. Recent history shows us that the key to succeed is to track the crazy clubs in Europe and try to get their leftovers in to the Premier League.

For example, look at the non-galacticos in Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Bayern, etc. Kroos, Rakitic, Modric, James Rodriguez are phenomenal players. The key for United or City or Chelsea for that matter is to build warmth now with these players. It is a matter of one or two years before they leave their clubs either disillusioned or just get kicked out. While the gossip columns will all talk about the Bales, Neymars, Suarez, Messi and Ronaldo, the clubs will be best served in being smart about attracting the second tier (great players but quiet achievers).

Arsenal are where they are because of Sanchez and Ozil. The sooner United establish themselves as the next destination, the better the chances of domination in the years to come. The money is in the Premier League but it might be sane management and a good club atmosphere that may end up being the differentiation to attract these guys.
Sudarsan Ravi (Arm chair Strategist since 2010)


Why you should always join Real…
Long-time reader, first-time writer.

The statement from Daniel (LVG out too, please!) Cambridge: ‘What baffles me more is that players still want to go to ‘the best club in the world” in addition to the ‘10 big football fishes in smaller ponds’ article, has me really wound up. I have done some analysis and although limited in scope, it shows that you would have to be an absolute idiot not to go to Real Madrid if they came knocking. The analysis is based on a fairly rigid decision making process: What is the upside if things go well at Madrid, vs. what is the downside if things do not go well.

The upside is really clear: Trophies, higher pay, long career of success. Although the instances of the upside case are fairly limited due to club politics, the managerial merry-go-round and fan fickleness, even in the downside case when things don´t go the way you had intended, more times that not, you are left better off than you were before joining. To illustrate my point, I picked a random year where Real Madrid achieved minimally acceptable success (2008-2009 Season): They won the Spanish Super Cup. I also only consider players in their ‘prime’ – older than 20 but younger than 30, who have since left the club. Data shows each player went to have considerable success playing at least as good a club as they were playing for prior, usually actually better (bar attitude/injury issues), earned more money, and won a trophy or two along the way. Let’s look at the data:

Robben – Bayern Munich – Has won basically everything possible

Metzelder – Shalke – DFB Pokal

Lass – Russian PL – Well documented attitude problems (fell out with all three managers) – going through a resurgence with Marseille

Gago – Roma, Valencia & Boca – Not won much

Diarra – Left Real 2011 at the age of 31 with significant injury problems – Stayed five years won three domestic major trophies

Javi Garcia – Benfica, Man City & Zenit – Won domestic trophies in every league

Schneider – Inter & Galatasaray – Won treble with Inter (One of the highest paid players in Europe)

Van de Vaart – Spurs, Hamburg & Betis – Mixed success across Europe

Drenthe – Well-documented attitude problems

Higuain – Napoli – Copa Italia – Scoring a goal a game in the league this season

Huntelaar – Shalke – DFB Pokal

In conclusion, the data shows that if you do in fact play for Real, especially if your transfer fee is around the average or more for that window, you will leave to play for at least as good a side as you were playing for before and taste success in the form of a trophy. If you are very good, probably even more. Clubs like Real Madrid, although not the most stable, give you a badge of quality, a winning mentality, and indicates to other clubs that you are one of the best in the world. A stint at Real, buys you at least another life in the upper echelons of football post Real. Yes, your ego might be bruised, yes, you might have to sit on the bench but across all metrics: wages earned, opportunity to win trophies, international caps, you will better off going to Madrid. Don’t be an idiot sign for Madrid.
Pey, Mexico City


Mystic Robert says…
Working from home has led me to think of something interesting to do. So I thought I would look at the upcoming fixtures for the title contenders, guess scores and make a prediction on who will win the title based off that. Told you I was bored.

Arsenal (11 points)
Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal
Stoke 2-2 Arsenal
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
Arsenal 1-1 Southampton
Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal

Manchester City (13 points)
City 2-1 Everton
City 3-1 Palace
West Ham 1-1 City
Sunderland 1-3 City
City 3-1 Leicester

Leicester (8 points)
Tottenham 2-2 Leicester
Villa 1-2 Leicester
Leicester 1-1 Stoke
Leicester 0-2 Liverpool
City 3-1 Leicester

Tottenham (8 points)
Tottenham 2-2 Leicester
Tottenham 3-1 Sunderland
Palace 2-1 Tottenham
Norwich 1-3 Tottenham
West Ham 1-1 Tottenham

Man Utd (9 points)
Newcastle 1-1 Utd
Liverpool 1-2 Utd
Utd 2-0 Southampton
Utd 1-1 Stoke
Chelsea 0-0 Utd

S***, all that to find out Arsenal are still top after five games and I don’t like 0-0 draws. Productive. Prediction – City to narrowly win the title from Arsenal.
Rob A (Top five will remain the same at the end of the season) AFC


Stop picking on Roberto
I don’t mail in very often, it tends to only be when I feel particularly strongly on something. That something this time is the treatment of Everton and Roberto ‘Bobby’ Martinez on this site.

Whilst I have no idea at all about journalism I get the impression from your latest article that I’ve bitten on an article that is designed to wind people up. Firstly, it’s a pretty crap article and I call it that because it’s basically the same as the ‘We haven’t lost the fans’ article but with some classic F365 bantz in there too. Shantz perhaps. I dislike using both those words and fully expect to be called a cock for it.

Everton are better off points wise this season, in a league that is far more competitive than last season (and are 11 points behind where they were two years ago – Ed), yet are ‘flattering to deceive’. Whilst I understand they have a superb squad (allegedly about to be even more superb with the interest in my team’s Super Sam Byram) which is all youthful and full of ambition, they are by far not the only team that is flattering to deceive. I think the thing I don’t understand is why Martinez seems to be in line for stick from you guys when there are other managers out there that should probably be copping for it more regularly. Mark Hughes surely isn’t pulling up any trees with his improved squad and Ronald Koeman could be described as having a sh*tter. I’d probably suggest that Liverpool are flattering to deceive, new manager or not and that same argument applies to Chelsea.

I understand people would get bored of constant stories on LVG and Sunderland/Villa/Swansea/ helsea have all changed their managers so there’s probably not a lot for you to go after. Bearing this in mind though, is there really any need to just seemingly pick a manager and hammer them with articles that don’t even credit a writer? Mediawatch usually hammers ‘clickbait merchants’ that do that…

I don’t know why it wound me up so, I’m a Leeds fan with enough to worry about above defending Everton’s manager but come on, have a word.


Not Keane
Selling players you deem incapable is one thing, bringing in adequate replacements or alternatives is what will make you not look clueless. Mr LVG. Are you going to tell me that Will Keane is going to offer the back-up Chicharito, Van Persie or James Wilson would offer?
Posova (missing that ‘little pea’) Andrew


Who’s had the most managers?
The recent shenanigans at Real got me pondering Life, The Universe and Football Madness. ZZ will be Perez’s 11th manager in his tenure as Real’s President – that’s quite a turnover – but are they at the top of the ‘managers league’?

Which clubs have had the most managers since (for a line in the sand’s sake) the start of the EPL? In England, Chelsea/Leeds/Forest spring to mind as clubs who have had multiple managers in short periods. My team used to be known for promoting within and having one manager a decade – yet even we are regularly changing these days (for the record our EPL record would be Evans/Souness/Houllier/Benitez/Hodgson/Dalglish/Rogers/Klopp (8 if I’m not mistaken)

That’s eight in 24 years – I’m guessing Real have had at least 20 in that time. Wonder who the top ten are (assuming they are lower-league sides).
Jingels SA (LFC – and for the record Raul you absolutemMuppet – Rafa brought back organization, passion and success to Liverpool. I firmly believe that had Fenway come in while he was still there, he’d have won the league).


Why doesn’t Perez get flak?
With all the talk surrounding Rafa’s recent firing, and Zidane da Man coming in to not save the day (Shearer anyone?), why has there been so little focus on Perez.

In much the same way we become desensitized to violence and tragedy on our television screens, we have come to expect this sort of insane club management from Real Madrid, and kind of think nothing of it, “Oh Perez is at it again, who’s he bringing in now?”.

With two La Liga titles in 12 years, with two world record fees paid for players and competing against two other clubs who have a) no money and b) operated under a recent transfer embargo, how the hell is it the managers that are being held responsible, and not the madman of a president who presides over all of this? Perez is like Henry VIII, chopping heads when he doesn’t get the result he wants. A baby boy being the equivalent of La Liga or the Champions League.

Clearly, their approach of 13 managers in 16 years is not working, and they have tried them all. From World Cup Winners (okay, Del Bosque did this afterwards, but shows he is that pedigree), multi Champions League winners, multi foreign league winners, South Americans, Europeans all with glittering C.Vs. At what point do they stop and realise, it is the very man doing all this hiring and firing that needs to go? Is there a Sepp Blatter thing going on here? Does Perez treat enough voters the right way that he secures his position?

I hate Real Madrid with a passion, everything I hate about football is actualised by that club. Greed, entitlement, frivolous spending only to be bailed out by royalty, discarding awesome managers, ruining/stagnating amazing players and in the face of being second or even third best, they behave appallingly. Any club with half their starting players would make a better fist of it.

The sad thing is, they want to be Barcelona so badly, now they are doing their very best Guardiola appointment impersonation. We all love Zidane, whomever you support, and a club legend is going to be thrown out like the rest of em while that Perez lunatic is in charge.

During one of his season ticket holder polls, does he ever get the response? – “Actually Florentino, you ass-clown, I would love if YOU left and brought some stability to the club!”. God I hope at least one person did! Still though, the summer sales from Madrid are going to be delicious, hope UTD save their Christmas Vouchers!
Rowan, Red Devil Dub


Pep for Chelsea?
So no disrespect to the city of Manchester, where I lived for a year as an undergrad, and hold near and dear to my heart, but surely most people would admit it is not quite London in terms of nightlife, food and bar scene, and overall cultural offerings. Guardiola’s comments about wanting to come to the Premier League not only in search of a new coaching challenge but also apparently because he’s curious what there is to eat made me wonder whether he wasn’t angling for a pretty well-known vacancy in west London instead of two already taken positions up north.

Also, City fans, just out of curiosity, if Arsenal were to Arsenal it up in the second half of the season, Vardy and Mahrez were hit by a truck, Aguero got his shooting boots back, Kompany came back from injury to shore up defense and you were to take the title would you want to extend the contract of the manager who delivered two titles in three seasons or jump back on the manager-go-round?
Guy Adam, CFC, Kansas City, USA (Manager-go-round a bit tongue-in-cheek and a little rich coming from a Chelsea fan I realize)


If only Pep had met Harry…
So Pep is definitely coming to England next season. Great, grand, fabulous, brilliant. But it’s just a little too late. Can you imagine what the post-match summit with Harry Redknapp would have been like?

Harry: Here, Pep, I’ve bought some sangría specially for you, what with you being Spanish and all…
Pep: (speechless)
Harry: That bloke Messi, we had kids just like him in the East End, a triffic player, just triffic…
Pep: (speechless)
Harry: You know me and Sandra, we love Spain, vacation in Ibiza every other year, sunny and hot and
fresh oranges, even Rosie likes them…
Pep: (speechless)
Harry: Yeah, 5-0, your lot really schooled us, but I’ve got some top lads, smashing lads, give their all for the shirt…
Pep: (speechless)
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


Individual skills v results
The piece on Gheorghe Hagi this morning evoked fond memories of USA 94, and the wider socio-economic-cultural significance of such a player – and fellow Profile of an Icon alumnus Hristo Stoichkov – emerging from the former Soviet Union on the biggest stage of all, is 1500 words for another time. For now, Hagi’s quote in the World Soccer interview interests me: “What about individual skills? It’s now only about results.”

There is a parallel to be made with ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky – he and his father have long been advocates of simply encouraging youngsters to rely on their instincts, to grab the puck and try to score That is, after all, how the Great One started. However, the downsides to this approach in any sport is that kids will migrate towards the glamour positions and ignore the ones that involve more prosaic skills.

As far as I know, Gretzky has been immortalised in two songs: the first, by punk/ska band Goldfinger, could easily be reworked as ‘Romelu Lukaku’ by Daniel Storey; the other, ‘I make the dough, you get the glory’, by Kathleen Edwards makes a metaphor of the relationship between #99 and his controversial teammate Marty McSorley. That is, McSorley and his ilk did the dirty work and, in effect, protected their star man, so he had the time and space to do what he was good at.

In football, the same symbiosis exists between creative players and the grunt labour, for want of a better term. Without the safety net of the battlers and tacklers, the individual talents are less capable of thriving; and yet, at the same time, on most teams, supplying these players with the opportunities to weave their magic is their main raison d’être. All part of sport’s rich tapestry.

The literary Ed Quoththeraven (change the sheets and then change me)

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