Mails: Van Dijk brave to choose to play for Klopp

Date published: Friday 29th December 2017 2:40

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Spending cap
What Ross THFC set out in his mail on alternatives to FFP is basically the system that was used in Rugby League for a few years.

Clubs were allowed to spend a maximum 50% of income. Breaches were dealt with by points deductions. The was some difficulty in determining a club’s income, but generally it did work. I think 55% of income is generally regarded as a safe limit in football.

It has since switched to become a fixed cap on total player wages, currently £1.825m a year with some leeway for home grown and marquee players making it more like £2m. Yes, that is for an entire playing squad for a year, which gives some idea of the wage inflation in football.

The result has been a much more competitive league, but with the major clubs still at the top, and fewer clubs in financial difficulty. The fixed cap has (rightly) come in for a lot of criticism for levelling down the playing field, allowing the worst run clubs to bob along while handicapping those with bigger crowds and more ambition. It is also dwarfed by the cap in Australia, meaning leading players routinely now go to play for cash-rich clubs in Sydney and Queensland.

I guess the two main arguments against a cap of any kind are that it still means the richest clubs still have far more spending power, and it would handicap English clubs against the European elite. But as English football becomes more gorged on wealth and less interesting to watch, I personally think it would be a great move.

And a quick one in reply to Dave in Macclesfield – since Busby United has always been near impossible to manage. See Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton, Ron Atkinson…
Michael (Glossop)


Mourinho holding back United
I’ve just about managed to refrain from mailing in about the sh*tshow that Manchester United seem to be in over the last month, but reading some of the mails at work I thought I would add my thoughts. Mourinho is not a bad manager, he’s just not right for Manchester United and this echoes the sentiments of a lot of fans before his appointment. He doesn’t get the ethos of the club and we can see this through the football we have been playing. I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again, Mourinho is holding us back.

With the squad that he has we should be putting teams to the sword. In Rashford and Martial we have two very exciting, pacey wingers who are also good finishers. Mata, Mkhitaryan and Herrera are also very good footballers, good passers, intelligent players who can and will play ‘killer’ balls through the defence if they are allowed to. Pogba can literally do it all in midfield and currently too much is being asked of him to magic up a chance, which he does do, but then someone (not naming names) contrives to waste said chance. Even Lingard is showing why he’s a useful addition to the squad. In terms of attacking talent, we have the talent to take the game to any team in the league, what we lack is the attitude, direction and nous.

Every time I watch us play, it’s the same story. We play in front of whoever’s defence, playing few balls behind defenders for players to run on to. We’re static on and off the ball. Too many players just pass sideways or backwards, adding nothing with their contribution. It’s easy to defend against, and what happens is that we end up lumping the ball forward to Lukaku – and it astounds me how bad Man Utd are aerially when we have a team of giants – who promptly loses the contest and we are back defending again. Watch Arsenal vs Man Utd, or Man Utd vs Man City again; it’s a story of a team having no idea what to do with the ball or how to use it.

We need to use the ball more intelligently, play more adventurously, try making the key pass that will get us behind their defenders and trust in our attack to both make the run and score the chance. We need to trust that our team has the talent to retain the ball and play patiently sometimes, like under LVG, but when we are in control of the game and in the lead. We need to trust our defence to keep the other team out if an attack breaks down, and they will, or trust that De Gea will again pull off something magic.

True, our defence is not good enough, Rojo and Smalling are both massive liabilities. However, I have faith that with a more reliable and experience partner, Lindelof can shine. And it’s overwhelmingly positive that Luke Shaw is playing (though sadly I suspect it’s more a case of showing him off to potential buyers) and he has been the one highlight of our recent performances (except for that pass by Pogba to Rashford against Leicester). With different direction, this is a team that could really play excellent football.
Daniel (release the Kraken!), Cambridge


What Arsenal are missing
Not entirely sure where Steven Chicken’s article was going, I think he wanted more goals from Laca against lower league opposition. Fair enough.

I think Lacazette has started well but unspectacular at Arsenal. There is no doubt the man is a great instinctive finisher and from what I can tell, he makes good runs and positions himself well. Why isn’t he headed for the Golden Boot?

My first thought was that it must be because not enough chances are created. Looking at players with the most key passes per game, Arsenal have 2 (Ozil and Sanchez), in the top 5. Digging deeper though, you have to wait until 44th for the next player, Ramsey. Loftus-Cheek and Tom Caroll, in arguably inferior teams, provide more passing creativity with worse strikers. After Ramsey you have to go as far as 70th for Kolasinac.

This argument slightly falls down when you realise City have only got De Bruyne and Silva in the top 10. However, they have managed to spread this out as further down the list they have plenty of contributors inside the top 50.

So Lacazette has less passing creativity behind him than Crystal Palace which could explain a lot towards his lack of goals.

Looking deeper, you have to go to 29th for an Arsenal player contributing crosses (Ozil), so he isn’t getting the service from wide areas. Shots per game shows Sanchez and Ramsey in the top 10, Lacaette comes 19th so he’s getting a decent amount of shots away (2.2) however this is vaslty inferior to Kane (6.1) Aguerro (3.9) and Coutinho (3.8).

Combining bad control and being dispossessed you get a total of 5.5 per game, which is a lot of attacks breaking down the left with Sanchez . But the Sanchez tax appears to be worth it, even in bad form.

You could watch a few Arsenal games and wonder why crosses and corners never make it to an Arsenal player, but this isn’t a new problem.

What is ultimately missing is the 4th piece of the attacking puzzle, the attack from the right. Iwobi and Ramsey have both played there and both bring their own game but neither bring width, stretch the play, offer pace or dribbling danger from the right hand side.

If we added an attacking right winger who could create another couple of key passes per game, bring some more shots and general attacking threat, this might just give Lacazette the support he needs to give Kane a run for his money and help us secure top 4.

Reiss Nelson or the Jeff could add a new dimension, but I suspect we will have to dip into our wallets to get the calibre of player we need.
Rob A (not the conclusion I was expecting…) AFC


Second best defender in the league
So I wanted to talk about defending after the VVD signing. I was talking to my mate last night (a spurs fan) after playing 7 a side and we were talking about defending. I asked him who was the best in the league, he obviously said Toby Alderweireld, I agreed, but when I asked him who was second best he didn’t have a definitive answer. If you think of all the central defenders in the league, most are ‘not good enough’ (Jones, Smalling, Koscielny, Cahill) or my favourite ‘he has a mistake in him’ (Otamendi, Liverpool’s defense, Luiz). Every single player has a mistake in them, all of them!

I think that forward play has evolved at a quicker rate than defending, or that mistakes are just spoken about much more than brilliance. Every goal on MOTD for example is ‘bad defending’ or ‘could have been stopped’, but if it keeps happening every week, is it that easy? Final question, who is the 2nd best central defender in the league?

Happy new year
Dave (Considering Alderweireld is number 1?) Chile


Van Dijk debate
Anyone fancy another email on VVD? Didn’t think so but here goes anyways.

I really liked John Gibson’s email this morning explaining the nature of the role that a defender is expected to perform under Klopp. On Irish radio last night pundit for the ages and Klopp sceptic Johnny Giles bemoaned the fact that Kloop had signed VVD because he would make him a worse player than if he signed for a more defensive minded coach e.g. Conte or Mourinho. On a surface level this is true, if  VVD did sign for Chelsea or Manu he would be an integral part of a well organised defensive outfit, but would he be a better defender?

The example here (and my point) is John Stones. Last year he signed for a record breaking fee for a progressive attack minded coach and was largely slaughtered along with Guardiola for his performances in his first year. This season he is playing for an unbeatable team and is back to be the future of England’s defence. At one point Pep was forced to come out and speculate on the size of Johnny’s balls in order to defend him.

“Stonesy” took a gamble as a defender signing for an attack minded coach, VVD is as well.

Under Klopp VVD will be exposed and will make more errors than if he played for Conte or Mourinho. He will have his price tag thrown at him with every mistake for the remainder of this season especially. Liverpool will not turn into a rock solid defensive unit overnight just because of VVD’s arrival, that is not what Klopp or VVD expect I believe.

There is a reason why Klopp only wanted VVD and no one else in world football. He is his Stones only more so. He does not need to perfect,only better: drop less clangers, communicate with those around him more, take the ball out better, do better in one on ones, defend corners a bit better. If he does this then liverpool’s defence and team will all benefit 10-20%. It won’t be perfect, just better.

This is enough. We have conceivably one of our all time greatest attacking lineups, good enough at the back is good enough. We are an attacking team.

Klopp signed VVD because he has the stones to play in his team, like no one else. VVD can be a far greater player for it than sitting cushioned in Jose’s bus or Conte’s catenaccio and Liverpool will be a far better team for having him, even if he does make the odd 75m mistake.

I for one can’t bloody wait.
Dave LFC 


Pillaging Saints
Agree with the mails in response to Seyi however the one part of the email not covered off was Seyi’s dawning sensation in response to Liverpool buying Southampton players so I thought I would cover that off for the sake of completeness.

Get over yourself!

I thought this small table of moves (not necessarily transfers) from Southampton since 2005/06 season and short explanation would suffice.

Liverpool 7 (VD, Mane, Clyne, Lovren, Lallana, Lambert, Crouch)
Spurs 4 (Gazzaniga, Wanyama, Alderweireld, Bale)
Arsenal 3 (Chambers, Oxlade Chamberlain, Walcott)
Man U 2 (Schneiderlin, Shaw)

Other than Crouch (fan hero) and Lambert (squad player and boyhood red) who were both signed as plan B’s, the other 5 players were some of the best in the league at the time of purchase (+/-6 months) and could have ended up at any other top-6 club very easily which would even up the number of southampton players at top-six sides.

The fact they chose Liverpool over other clubs should be celebrated not lamented on. On that note, I would have loved for Liverpool to sign Bale, Alderweireld, Wanyama, Shaw and Walcott when they were sold and wouldn’t care about the club of provenance because they would have all improved Liverpool (we got Oxlade Chamberlain in the end, maybe Bale will join in the summer).

As a side note: Players from Celtic

So’ton 4 – Van Dijk, Forster, Wanyama, Hooiveld

Maybe we should sign Dembele, Tierney and Benyu from Celtic now to save some money and the dreaded So’ton statistics in a couple of years time!
George, LFC


Hypocritical over racism
Minty LFC really must have some brass balls and more likely little sense of irony when he bemoans racism in the game, requesting the powers that be use harsher punishments, stop players supporting anti-racism campaigns and criticising FIFA for their lack of action. While clearly it is an issue and it does indeed require action, let’s not forget which very club was itself embroiled in a high profile racism/player incident. That moral high-horse Minty is on doesn’t look so high when we recall how Liverpool as a club, fans, players and manager went about that one – denial, mud-slinging and outright support (the t-shirts anyone?). I’ll let the hypocrisy and double standards just sink in there. This not to gloss over what it clearly a serious issue but his outrage may well be better placed looking at getting his own house in order first rather than pointing the finger, You make your bed, you lie in it.
Ex-Pat Dave


Off-the-radar transfer suggestions
With Liverpool signing VVD it made me think their greatest need remains getting anyone other than Mignolet between the sticks, before they can be serious contenders.

Then in came to me, there’s a prodigious GK talent out there, he’s Jamaica’s and MLS’ Andre Blake (look him up), this guy seriously has elite GK talent, and just needs the stage to show it, would be great signing for Liverpool.

So with the transfer window opening up, I wonder if others have any other completely off the radar suggestions for teams’ needs…?
A. in FL


Attack v defence
Long story short, me and a friend are greatly embroiled in a debate about what wins a league title, the best attack or the best defence.

I’m literally certain there’s a F365 article about this. As well as it being debated in the mailbox.

A Peter G level breakdown would be excellent
The Proud Shepherd of this Herd of Sharks


In response to Jonny and his Liverpool squad, I’ve gone for a Man United squad. Was slightly more challenging as lots of title winners to choose from….

1. Schmeichel
2. G. Nev
3. Irwin/Evra
4. Bruce
5. Ferdinand
6. Stam (sorry to Pogba/pallister, but gone for the treble winner)
7. Ronaldo
8. Rooney
9. Ibrahimovic
10. Van Nistelrooy
11. Giggs
12. P. Neville
13. Park, Ji-Sung
14. Hernandez
15. Vidic
16. Keane
17. Cole
18. Scholes
19. Van der Saar
21. Rafael
22. O’Shea
23. Evans
24. Beckham
25. Valencia

Not a bad 25 man squad to be honest
Carl (way too much free time at work)

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