Mails: Which Liverpool wins? Benitez v Klopp v Rodgers

Date published: Friday 8th September 2017 3:30

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Closing the window early is a bad idea
Is anyone else excited to see premier league managers lose their shit when foreign clubs start trying to sign their players in the last few weeks of August? I bet by this time next year they’ll have voted (unanimously) not to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of Europe.
Dan (in it for entertainment, love it when stuff goes wrong), London


While we all can see the challenge of a transfer window that closes after the season starts I think that the PL voting to have it close before the new season smacks of arrogance. An arrogance that says the PL is so big, so bright, so beautiful, that everyone else will have to follow. A sort of PL Brexit.

In reality it is in the interest of everyone else not to follow. By the PL closing earlier, it will push their prices up even more when buying abroad, as they know they will absolutely have to conclude earlier. That used to be the domain of the after season start buying.

Players will hold teams to ransom, or at least unsettle them, knowing that they can still throw the toys out of the pram AFTER the transfer window has shut, with European clubs dangling all sorts of bling and where the clubs cannot now bring in re-inforcements. Like this year, it may still be possible to hold on to those players, but wasn’t the whole point of this to stop the possible disruption to your team in the first 3 games of the season. While it will reduce the PL to PL club player issues it won’t do anything to prevent that happening with European clubs.

Just as with the idea of a winter break, a lot of this boils down to the PL clubs, the top PL clubs engaging in 4 competitions to the 3 for the other countries. This pushes the PL season to an earlier start and means the PL team are completely fragged over the holidays and into the January timeframe. If this goes through, the likely result will be more sales taking place during the even more expensive January window.

By not addressing the root cause they are only shifting the problem elsewhere. Seems like very reactive and short term thinking, which is surprising given that PL has made some very good decisions in the past.
Paul McDevitt


The reason for wanting to bring forward the date that the Transfer Window closes is pretty obvious but I am not sure that the damage of a last minute scramble to complete deals is greatly reduced if a manager loses a key player to his plans two days before the league season rather than after three games.

Potentially it puts the Premier League at a competitive disadvantage given its own players can still be sold into other competitions until a later stage and, where that happens, the opportunity to find a replacement is removed. It also seems likely that English teams will fail to complete deals for players currently playing overseas because the team making the sale has not yet secured their own replacement, given they themselves have more time to do so (as will other buyers and sellers who might be part of a chain).

Responding to a letter in yesterday’s mailbox I don’t believe that Ander Herrera’s extended summer break is necessarily an indication that he will be on his way out of United. He played out of position last season and did very well; Mourinho has always responded well to players who he can trust to do a job for him and I expect that’s the same with Herrera. In the latter part of last season Herrera was visibly tired and during the last six weeks of the season sat out a number of league games when attention turned to the Europa League.

Mourinho is going to have to rotate his squad better this time around. The resources were available last season to avoid some of the fatigue that curtailed the top four bid but too much was asked of a select group of players when they could have taken time out earlier in the campaign (cc Pogba). Given Herrera’s work rate and the opportunity for United to take out one of the front four to strengthen the midfield in more difficult games than they have had to date, I think it is quite likely that Mourinho is giving him the rest he won’t be able to later.
Dave, London


More on United’s right Ander
Herrera need not worry, and I highly doubt he is. The season is three games old.

I think I can probably just stop there and save myself the bother of getting into “three competitions”, injuries, form, different tactics  for stronger opposition than the three we’ve faced, and all the other factors that blatantly point to the requirements of a strong squad to be in with a chance at winning everything – which is the aim of the game at Utd’s/Mourinho’s level.


Personally, I really don’t think Herrera’s United career is over. I think this is just a knee-jerk reaction to United’s start to the season. There are seven games to play in September that Herrera will no doubt be involved. I suspect as games become tougher Herrera’s energy and discipline will see him becoming a Jose favourite again. He will miss out on the enjoyable games against the bottom 6 at home but he will be one of the first names on the team sheet at Stamford Bridge or when United play away in Moscow.

Rowan is also forgetting Jose’s pragmatism. If United have a sniff of the league by February, Mourinho will pull the reigns in and look to grind out victories in every game. His last title winning team were free scoring for first half of the season but then Mourinho sensed a title win and Jose’d the sh*t out of the second half of the season. I don’t see Mhki  or Mata getting the nod as often centrally when the business end of the season comes along. That will be Ander time.
Dave, (I like your starting 11 Rowan but that midfield three doesn’t come anywhere close to Madrid’s) Ireland


I’d already sent one mail into yesterday afternoon’s Mailbox so I deferred this one until today. So Rowan, Red Devil Dub, has stolen much of my thunder.

Still, I’d already worked out much of what I intended saying so I’m sending it anyway. There are enough points of difference to maybe warrant both, even though I agree with just about everything Rowan said.

So, regarding your feature ‘Six Premier League players conspicuous by their absence’, I can only really talk about Ander Herrera because I follow Manchester United and see more of him than I do the others, albeit not this season.

As much as I love the guy, Jose was always going to start off this season with just two in the middle, namely Pogba and Matic, and that pairing has worked extremely well to date. Ander will, as Rowan says, probably get game-time in the F.A.Cup and ,I think, whatever name the League Cup is known by these days.

But I think Ander’s time will really come when  United play the Premiership’s better teams (settle down Arsenal fans) and especially if we get through to the knock-out rounds of the Champions League. Simply because I can’t see Mourinho making the same basic mistake Ferguson did by only playing two defenders against the likes of Barcelona. And he did it in two finals, mind you, despite assuring us he had a plan to beat probably  the best team in the world at that time. Phht! They slaughtered us in both games despite Ferguson’s so-called master-plan for the second final.

I think Mourinho may well play Herrera in a mid-field three against the stronger teams alongside Matic which still allows Pogba the freedom to move forward. I’ve said before that he looks a much better player in that role. Then again, Jose could well prove Rowan and I are talking rubbish by playing Fellaini and Carrick. That would be interesting in a self-destructive, ‘take me now God, please take me now’ kind of way. But we’ll see how that plays out, soon enough.

To finish off, I sat through both England’s internationals this week and have to say that the ghost of Rooney’s latter-day international career lives on through the awful first touch, passing and shooting inability of Oxlade-Chamberlain. There was one moment of complete stupidity where the obvious, no, the only choice was to pass it to Kane who was clear, just in front of O-C  on the left side of the penalty area. But he opted to blast one at goal himself. It would have been a ripper goal…if only the ball had dipped five yards.
Jonesey, Melbourne


Rowan’s email today regarding Ander Herrera missed a fact I’d not realised until recently – Herrera’s contract is up in the summer. A lot has been said of the Arsenal contract situation but Man Utd also have some decisions to make, with 6 first-teamers having under a year left on their deals.

Blind, Shaw, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini and Ibrahimovic (obviously) are all out of contract in the summer; which of those will be offered new deals? With the World Cup and the early close of the transfer window, they might try and renew some of them now just to avoid the hassle of having to replace all of them in the summer.

Separately, I put together a table of notable players with expiring contracts around Europe:

You could make a decent team of that lot:

Arrizabalaga; Juanfran, Gimenez, Chiellini, Shaw; Goretzka, Iniesta; Robben, Isco, Sánchez; Messi
Subs: Consigli, De Vrij, Blind, Can, Ribery, Ozil, Ibrahimovic

Not bad.
Will GSC.


Big Weekend‘s little brother
Swansea City-Newcastle United. The table says Swansea have a win, a draw, and a loss, and sit comfortably in 13th place. But the fans know better. Performances have been mediocre to poor—they’re first in shots allowed and last in shots taken—and the win over Palace was greeted sheepishly by Paul Clement. So this is a big test, a game they should hope to control, even if Renato Sanches isn’t ready to start. Meanwhile Newcastle are coming off a convincing win over West Ham, but also a demoralising non-transfer window. Expect Rafa to force Swansea to make the running, using Mikel Merino to spring the counterattack. Will the returning Jonjo Shelvey get on the pitch? The side are down to their third-choice left back, but the Swans may not have anyone on that wing who can exploit the weakness. Intriguing will be how Wilfried Bony and Tammy Abraham work together, with both expected to start.

Stoke City-Manchester United. The Potters have been classic Mark Hughes middle-of-the-road so far, which means they’re capable of a result at home, particularly if Jack Butland is in form. Both goals allowed have come from crosses against the left side of their defence, so look for Erik Pieters to stay back while Antonio Valencia and Juan Mata try to combine. A deep midfielder, probably Joe Allen, will have to be alert to cover. Max Choupo-Moting has a hamstring problem (and anyway looked a bit lost at central striker last time out), and I’m guessing it’ll be Peter Crouch over Saido Berahino. The home side will play conservatively, so watch for United’s set pieces: Stoke were tops in the league at preventing set-piece goals over Hughes’ first three seasons, then lapsed last year. So far they’ve kept a clean sheet in that regard, but United have reversed last year’s poor form and are now a serious dead ball threat.

Everton-Tottenham. Everton’s brutal run of fixtures continues, and with trips to Atalanta and Old Trafford up next, a result would be welcome. Against Manchester City a passive approach worked, because the opponents were particularly vulnerable to counterattacks. But Spurs are much tighter at the back, so a proactive approach may be necessary. It’s early, but having faced both City and Chelsea, it might be a worry that Idrissa Gana’s tackles/90 have dropped from last year’s 4.6 to 3.7. (Although his tackle percentage is significantly higher so far this year.) Morgan Schneiderlin, coming off suspension, will help out. So far Tottenham’s expected goals per match are almost exactly the same as last season’s, so we can expect actual goal totals to mount soon enough. Assuming Everton play three at the back, watch for Spurs to double up on the wings, with Ben Davies outperforming Kieran Trippier in crosses so far.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


Benitez v Klopp… v Rodgers
In response to the interesting mailbox discussion over Shidaan (South Africa) Benitez vs Klopp question, I would like to throw another contender into the mix: Brendan Rodgers 2013/2014 Liverpool side!

I love both Benitez and Klopps teams but I truly believe B.Rodge would have given them a run for their money. It was one of the most devastating Liverpool teams I have ever seen and, although they ultimately failed to win the title by slipping up in the run in, played the most exhilarating attack minded football. A nuclear Suarez, a fully fit and firing Sturridge, and an upcoming superstar in Sterling (who arguably has never played that well again) formed the incredible SAS that scored a 101 goals that season.

It wasn’t just the sheer volume of goals but the relentless drive to keep on attempting to score even if they were leading, and the sheer creativity and quality of goals.

Despite not winning anything I feel a huge majority of Liverpool fans hold that season up as close to their heart for the sheer fun, madness and child-like joy it gave us.
Vishal Patel


The Liverpool conundrum
Liverpools top 6 form is puzzling me, can anyone shed some light?Sky Sports listed the table of top 6 since Klopp arrived and other than being surprised at City propping up the table it all makes sense…

…except how can Liverpool be so good against the top tier but clearly not as good against the rest of the league as they would be champions? Just over 2 points a game wins the league.

Is Klopp just only able to motivate for the bigger teams? (I doubt it)

Or is it more that the big teams should look at how the rest of the table are managing to take more points from Liverpool?

Personally I believe more of the latter and that top teams play into Liverpools hands by thinking they can expose their so called weak defence and that their defence is good enough to stop the attacks. Basically, I don’t think they park the bus as much as they should against a clearly potent attack. Why not try keeping it at 0-0 for 50-60 mins, frustrating the attack and then later on look to take chances on the break? It’s not negative, it’s tactical.

Has any other team been so good against the top teams without coming close to winning the league?

I would be interested to hear thoughts from people who’ve watched more of these games than I have? (I have lots of kids so only manage to get time to watch the Utd games)
Jon, Joburg  (for those suggesting Fergie left with Utd in tatters I think he cemented his genius by winning the league with a clearly inferior squad to others)


Poor Palace
Ed Quoththeraven’s mail about Crystal Palace
was well-written, but could have easily been summed up with three words: Palace are fecked!
Rocastle 7 (Sum me up in five paragraphs)  


This has actually been a bugbear of mine for ages. It’s all very well saying we pronounce things in the “English way” or without their home accent, but it’s absolutely not true. When was the last time you called PSG “Paris Saint-Germain” we all say “Paris San German” which is just confusingly neither here nor there. That’s also not to mention David Silva/Ginola (we all say david rather than Daavid) same with David Villa, except also on his surname – have you ever heard someone say Villa (as in Aston) rather  than Viyya?

To take it even further Chabi Alonso or Xabi? Yuan or Juan? Kroos or Cruise? Luis or Louie Suarez? We literally make it up as we go along – there are no hard or fast rules at all in naming conventions when it comes to accents.
Andy K (Villa)


Adam Corbett in the last mailbox seems to take great umbrage at people who want to pronounce football players’ names correctly. Wrong, mate. Santi Cathorla is his name, regardless of the language or accent used. By Adam’s own reasoning he would obviously be happy if French people called him Adam Corbay.


Presumably Adam Corbett gets all shirty when holidaying in France and the locals start to refer to him as Monsieur Corbay pronounced like sorbet? Or is he one of those cretins that pronounce sorbet with a hard T?
Will, Canary Wharf (it’s a hard L for the record, not like the LL in Guillem Balague. (Should I have been pronouncing it Guy-lem Ba-large this whole time?))


To Adam Corbett, last time I checked your “English country” still said Thierry Henry and not Terry Henry. What a ridiculous point.
Barry LUFC


So Adam Corbett is joking right? Or does he actually feel that entitled that as English speaker he can mispronounce peoples names because “tey iz forrin”?

Okudo’s email was obviously not addressed to the man in the street but rather towards some well paid professionals whose job it is to commentate on football games and describe what is happening on screen, which presumably includes saying people’s names correct?

Jeez, this one really wound me up.


Following on with the conversation on the pronunciation of player names, I’ve always chucked at how my fellow Irishmen became so enraged when our friends across the Irish sea butchered the names of some of our players.

1. Kevin Moran: Prounced Kevin Mo-ran by the English bit is actually pronounced Kevin Mor-an.

2. Andy Keogh: One that Giovanni Trapattoni could famously never master. Constantly referred to as Key-oh but is actually pronounced as Keh-yo.

3. Conor Hourihane: Bit controversial this one. Up until recently us Irish have disdainfully mocked the English for not calling him Who-reh-han. This very subject was mentioned by an unimpressed Keith Andrews when speaking on the excellent Football Show on Newstalk’s Off The Ball recently. Trouble was that, to the amazement of both Keith and the Irish public, the presenter on the night informed us that when speaking to the Villa man face to face in the aftermath of his recent hatrick, he reliably informed us that the English were spot on in calling him How-re-han, as is done in his native Cork.

So if we can’t even correctly pronounce the names of our own countrymen, what chance to we have?
Conor, Drogheda


Stuart bloody Pearce
I’ve had a long day. I’m trying to sleep. Instead, a thought crept into my head that has made me so irritated and bemused that I felt the need to vent to you wonderful people.

In 2012 Stuart Pearce had to select a squad of British players to take to the London Olympics. He could take three overage players. He could take David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

Stuart Pearce selected Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy, and Micah flipping Richards.

I have no further point to make, because there is literally no explanation that can be made for this total and utter foolishness. I trust we can all agree that this may be one of the worst decisions of any person in the history of anything ever.
Rob Mason

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