Mails: Why can’t Milner be a good left-back?

Date published: Friday 2nd September 2016 9:33

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Klopp is no loser
I am never one to criticise your site but I have to take umbrage with the “Loser” section assigned to Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool for this transfer window.

We sold/released numerous deadwood that would never play again, Benteke, Toure, and Skrtel to name a few

We potentially upgraded on others – Mane >  Lallanna,  Karius > Mignolet, Wijnaldum > Allen and Grujic has the potential to be better than most current midfielders.

We made a profit that I know is unheard of (outside of Arsenal).  We got other players off the wage bill – Markovic and Balotelli.  We also loaned others to gain fitness or experience Flanagan and Ward.

Others refused to leave and you can’t force people out – see Schweinsteiger and Winston Bogarde

But we didn’t splash big on Deadline Day and that I think is the basis of peoples comments.  Klopp as he has said from the start likes to train players but we know that the Left Back is an issue and I for one am slightly concerned about it.

However, this is a man who has won 2 league titles in a country where you need to roll 6 6’s to even stand a chance of competing.   So if Klopp thinks that there was no value in the market, and that Milner (who you in recent months praised and now brand as “average”) can do a job until he either trains Moreno to defend or Gomez comes back to fitness I will trust him.  And to be fair I think that it is mightily arrogant of F365 to state that because he did not buy a left back that will be the end of Liverpool this season.  Klopp is an experience football manager, your are an author.  Klopp trains with these players day in and day out and know there good and bad faults, you read papers and write words.  I trust him more than you!!!

So if you are going to assign a label to Liverpool transfer window and weight it so heavily on one issue it might be wise to label it “Wait and See” as that is what I am doing.
Ian Hewison


There is a hole in the hull
I’m going to write in to defend Matt Stead and his transfer window piece. First, let’s remember that it’s all relative, and if you create winners, there must by definition be losers. Let’s cut to the chase though. Liverpool. I wrote in towards the end of last season to say that ‘the presence of Mignolet and Moreno in the starting eleven fundamentally undermines any realistic hope of a top four finish.’ It’s not often that the majority of football fans agree on things, but I believe it to be true in this case.

There is an argument that if Karius was fit, then the aforementioned duo wouldn’t be in the starting eleven, and I believe that in the medium term we’ll find Klavan at left back. I realise that Klopp’s approach doesn’t really involve ‘stellar’ or ‘statement’ signings, and nor would I want it to be, but I can’t pretend I’m comfortable with the left back situation. What surprises me even more is that Moreno ostensibly has a p***-poor attitude. After his issues last season, to turn in the performance he did against Arsenal is a damning indictment on his ability to improve, because it is a general lack of positional understanding and decision making that is so sorely missing.

Similarly, the goalkeeper situation means that when Karius is eventually fit, while there will be an awful lot of good will for him to come in and do well, this will be heavily tainted with desperation. That’s a lot of pressure to heap on young shoulders. That doesn’t, by extension, mean we should have signed Joe Hart, just that the situation isn’t ideal.

Liverpool have improved in places. I hope Matip will prove to be a success, as I was increasingly coming to the opinion last season that Sakho is a player whose overall performance is masked by impressive statistics. Mane looks good up to now, providing thrust and incisiveness that Lallana doesn’t bring.

I can’t imagine Klopp and Liverpool haven’t tried to buy a left back and wouldn’t it be interesting to know why tey haven’t? It might be that they’ve lined something up for six or twelve months time, or that Klopp is looking for something very specific in a left back that he hasn’t been able to find.

To coin an analogy, probably a bad one… if Liverpool were a boat, they’ve spent money on a shiny new sail, maybe upgraded the oars, but there’s still a hole in the hull. Despite James Milner doing a passable job of bailing, the water is still coming in, and his arms will get tired eventually.
Andy, London


Should they have gone for Arbeloa?
Given Liverpool’s glaring lack of options at leftback, they missed out on signing a solid old favourite: Alvaro Arbeloa. He was on a free, can play on both flanks, brings vast experience and a winning mentality to the squad. Most importantly, he could’ve taught Moreno a thing or two about defending…

Ah well, here’s to a season of Milner giving slightly jaded post match press conferences and interviews on his new position.
Dominic, LFC, Singapore


But will Milner even be that bad?
Having read the Transfer Winners and Losers and it’s inevitable aftermath, I’m curious as to why the scenario of Milner being an effective left back is being dismissed so readily?

On the face of it he has plenty of attributes that may well make him a success (great engine being particularly important in the position these days) and he doesn’t as yet have a record of being awful when played there.

From my perspective if Klopp feels he can make it there then who am I or other football fans to ‘poo poo’ the idea. In fact I’d like to go on record to poo poo their poo poo.

There are plenty of examples of players being mounded into great full backs from other positions including a well decorated left back from bygone times at Liverpool.
Adam, London, LFC (and since when is Milner average – plenty of players would love an average career like his)


Klopp is Wenger
Everything Klopp does reminds me of Wenger,

Did not play football at a high level as a player.
Worked their way up the mangerial totem pole.
Loved by the media and has an interesting personality atleast initially.
Titles relatively early in their careers while going against a much bigger opposition.
Lost the best players year after year yet managed to keep the club there or thereabouts.
Brought in a revolutionary style of football into the league (bundelsliga in case of Klopp).
Fails to address obvious gaps in the squad.
Only plays his preferred style of football even if its not conducive for victory against a particular opposition.
Willing to manage clubs with lower budgets even though better offers wewre available at some point.

Would have been a perfect fit to take over at Arsenal after Wenger.
Sasikumar Kannan, AFC Boston


It’s not real money any more
Listening to you lot banter on and on (and on and on) about transfer figures and you still don’t get it. It doesn’t matter anymore what you pay for a player. It’s not real money anymore. It’s brand building and synergistic partnerships and all that nonsense you’re forced to endure because none of us do real jobs anymore. You may get up early and go to work and stay a bit late hoping to impress the boss for a few more quid that will mean the difference between that holiday in Tenerife, but the game you love has now been absolutely and completely divorced from your reality. Whether Pogba cost 10 or 100 million or whether Kante cost the same as Sissoko, it just doesn’t bloody matter. These clubs have so much money that the difference between spending 10 or 100 million is irrelevant now. So if you want to write the same old emails about transfer figures and how teams paid over the odds, at least have the decency and support Serie A or the Bundesliga where it still matters somewhat. Or maybe Liverpool because didn’t you hear we made a profit this season?
Niall, Denver


Spurs did well, but…
I read the defenses of Spurs’ transfer window in yesterday’s mailbox and I sagely nodded my head along with each of the points that were made. There is no doubt that Tottenham’s bench looks better than last season and they’ve plugged the gaps that caused them to fall short. Congratulations, you’re now ready to win the league last season.

The problem is that this season isn’t last season. Spurs aren’t just competing a surprise Leicester team and their own Spursiness, they now have to compete with resurgent goliaths. Answer this question: How many of Tottenham’s signings actually improve the 1st team? Now answer the same question for Manchester Utd, City and Chelsea. Is the same team that got humiliated by Dortmund in the Europa league now going to worry anyone in the Champions League, just because they have a few more expensive players on the bench?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Spurs did decent business and it will be enough to keep them in their usual position of face pushed against the glass while watching the bigger boys play together. The thing is it’s only half the job. You see, although Spurs did need a belt and shoes, they really bloody needed a Rolex as well.
Kirk, MUFC


David is fun. And that matters
Chelsea entered the transfer window with five fit senior defenders for four positions. Baba Rahman was shipped off to the Bundesliga because he is bad at football.

That left Chelsea with four fit defenders, three of whom are over thirty.

With Batshuayi and Kante wrapped up by mid-July, Emenalo and co had six weeks to procure a centre back. We were linked to several: Koulibaly, Abdennour, Manolas, De Vrij, Ramagnoli. David Luiz was nowhere near first choice.

When €50m bids for decent-but-not-amazing defenders like Koulibaly are rejected (as Napoli’s president confirmed) then what is the board to do? Just look at Man City in recent years for proof that quality centre halves aren’t all that readily available.

David Luiz, however error prone he may be, is definitely an upgrade on Cahill and Ivanovic at centre half. He could be a lovely alternative to Matic beside Kante too. But mainly he’s fun. He runs around more than he should, tackles instead of ushering towards the flank, bangs them top bin from forty yards. He’s a delight in interviews, it’s not hard to imagine him lifting the dressing room.

Chelsea’s board, then, couldn’t find a top level centre half. So they bought for fun personified instead. I’m certainly happy!
Ronan, CFC, Clare


I dont get the David Luiz hate. He is a great defender who turns defence into attack in a heartbeat. sure he has been labeled as some playstation defender but that is just lazy journalism. I cant wait for David Luiz and Zouma to be our first team pairing and being rid of the Cahill , Terry partnership, and their last ditch tackling.
Sohaib A. Junaidi, CFC, Karachi


More thoughts on Jackie
So Jack Wilshere had the option of going to AC Milan. That would be the club renowned for their famous Milan Lab sports science facility and prolonging the careers of injury plagued players. In a league that is renowned for making players tactically smarter. And he said no to join the side that finished 16th in the EPL last season. Doesn’t seem like the smart option.

I’ve written before that I think the real reason English players don’t play abroad very often is that they aren’t good enough for the top European leagues. Not so for Jack who had offers. Maybe there is something to this narrative of English players being a little too happy to stay at home.
(NUFC) Adelaide


Everyone seems to be having a bit of a go at Wilshire. However, maybe Wilshire chose to stay in the Prem because moving abroad isn’t just hopping on the plane and buying a house.

I moved around Europe a lot when I was younger. I can assure you it is no walk in the park. New languages, cultures, people, food. Everything is different and it is emotionally exhausting, even for a short period of time.

It might even have been to go play with his mate Afobe rather than Strootman and Perotti who might not even speak English.

It might be that Roma couldn’t guarantee him a starting position. It could be the opportunity to work under one of the most progressive managers in English football.

It could be any number of things but immediately we jump on the negative bandwagon of “not enough ambition” and “this is the problem with English players”. Its utter b*****cks.

Maybe footballers are just human beings like the rest of us. If I told you you could do the same job in Milan tomorrow, for no extra money at an equally reputable organisation, would you go?
Rob A (I’d want to work under Howe for a bit too…) AFC


Just to chip in with my two penn’orth. Yes, in football terms it is ridiculous Jack Wilshere turned down a firm offer from Roma, and/or an apparent offer from AC Milan, in order to join Bournemouth. But let’s remember, he’s not only a professional footballer. He’s also a father to two young children. As he’s no longer with their mother, they would not have moved to Italy with him. I think Jack made the right choice, the mature, unselfish choice. Which by all accounts is not like him. Long may it continue, and good luck to him.
Stewart, LFC


More winners and losers
First things first, how’s Matt Stead’s typing finger? That Winners and Losers was quite the opus.

Anyway, now that the season’s over ’til January, all that’s left for us fans is to reflect on the last two months. And maybe watch a bit of football.

The Losers are clearly Saido Berahino and Tony Pulis – no one else comes close – so let’s focus on some more Winners

Visions of a Dystopian future

While Jim White, with the bizarre half-club-singer-half-sugar-daddy persona that Sky seems to have consciously devised for him, reported on the £1bn+ spent on players, it wouldn’t have been out of place if, on another channel, Damon Killian was sending another batch of Runners to a gruesome demise at the hands of Captain Freedom and the rest of the Stalkers. (Note to ITV2 – next Deadline Day, definitely put Running Man on).

It doesn’t take much to wake my inner Guardianista, but I’m too much of a football consumer to credibly complain about the innumerate causes more deserving of that money. It’s a fact, I’m not going to stop watching through disgust, but are any of us proud of it? Doesn’t it make us all just a little uneasy, or embarrassed? Sky has done a huge amount for sports coverage in this country, but they’ve never been ones for modesty of propiety, and nothing (apart from billing West Brom v ‘Boro as “Super” Sunday) sums it up quite like Deadline Day. For God’s sake, this is Britain: we don’t talk about money.

Mino Raiola (and Manchester United)

Mr Stead nodded towards the agents’ Golden Summer in his piece, but let’s be honest here, the praise being heaped on Ed Woodward should really be targeted at Raiola, who transformed the country’s biggest club at the same time as he did them up like a kipper. Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovich and, of course, Pogba are all his clients… if you totalled what United paid him and treated it as a transfer fee in its own right, it would be up near the top 10 most expensive deals of the summer.

This probably isn’t a one-off either. If the players above bring the success their talents promise, Woodward will surely not be able to resist, especially if people continue to credit him for the club’s upturn. Romelu Lukaku looks a likely candidate to join next summer, while there may well be a few Sergio Romero-style deal sweeteners along the way. And as long as the commercial and TV revenue keeps streaming in, and the glory days return to Old Trafford, should the fans really be bothered about the (physically) fat cat hoovering up the club’s money? They’d be forgiven if they weren’t.

Professional Arsenal-baiters

On the face of it, we had a good summer. Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi address holes in our first team, Rob Holding looks incredibly promising (though the same could be said for Gabriel and Callum Chambers at the start of their Arsenal careers), and Lucas Perez brings the competition and depth across our forward line that was always the necessary fallback if the world-class option wasn’t possible. And yet, because of when we did the deals, and the lack of household names among the signings, TalkSport, the Sun’s football editor, and proven phone hacker Piers Morgan could still put the boot in for those oh-so valuable clicks and retweets. Everyone’s a winner.

Optimistic Stoke fans

IF Ryan Shawcross finds his best form he and Bruno Martins Indi could be a pretty good centre back partnership. That’s IF the Dutchman settles of course. And IF Wilfried Bony recovers from his early retirement at City, and IF Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Bojan Krkic can find any sort of consistency, then that’s a fearsome attacking threat. IF that all happens, and IF Joe Allen keeps his Euro 2016 form, then Stoke could be pretty bloody good this season.

Robert Huth and Wes Morgan

Is it me, or did Leicester make their signings as if they’d actually lost Jamie Vardy and Ryadh Mahrez? Ahmed Musa, Islam Slimani and Bartosz Kapustka could all be great successes, but are they really going to make the difference over the course of, say, 50 games at home and abroad, if Morgan and Huth can’t replicate their seriously unexpected form? Maybe I’m guilty of lazily dismissing Luis Hernandez, but surely some of the approx. £50m they spent on attackers would have been better spent on a centre back.

That’s it from me. Except to say Newcastle United 6 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur.
Will O’Doherty


Defending Brendan
I enjoyed the transfer window Winners & Losers but feel I have to write in to defend Brendan Rodgers from what appears to be an entirely one sided argument.  Any manager can be made to look bad by concentrating on their flops (and every manager has them) in isolation.  I expect Football365 to give me some kind of data – maybe Rodgers hit rate is worse than Pellegrini’s, Van Gaal’s, etc. but it just seems like Mr Stead is selecting evidence here to support his pre-existing view.

Secondly it is clear that some of that business isn’t entirely terrible.  Allen had a year left so that’s a great fee, Balotelli/Markovic weren’t really his buys and Football365 was recently lambasting Rodgers during Liverpool’s European run for largely ignoring a resurgent Sakho (and now he’s criticised for signing him!).

Finally Rodgers looks to have had a great window with Celtic.  Champions League Qualification, a seemingly motivated Scott Sinclair and the highly sought after Moussa Dembele (no, the other one!) for very modest sums!
Dan (will revise opinion on Rodgers if he loses in an old Firm game), LTFC


The view from Japan
Japan’s World Cup qualifying tournament got off to an inauspicious start last night with a 2-1 home loss to UAE.

Japan took the lead with their first chance, a back post header from Keisuke “E.” Honda.  A few minutes later a UAE free kick 25 yards out was sent high and wide by Khalil, but this was soon followed by a foul by Maya Yoshida that resulted in another free kick on the edge of the area.  This time the same player got it on target, the goalie got two hands on it but palmed it onto the underside of the bar and in.

Japan’s ponderous defending was their downfall.  Early in the second half UAE won a penalty after the captain Makoto Hasebe gave the ball away on the edge of his own area and when three Japanese defenders converged on one UAE player it was inevitable that one of them would concede a penalty.  Ryota Oshima duly obliged, and Khalil converted to make it 2-1.  Japan had the better chances thereafter, with Okazaki and Oshima hitting the bar and Kiyotake missing his kick when it was easier to score.

Japan tried plenty of neat link up play between Honda, Kagawa, Hasebe and Okazaki but throughout the game their best chances came from crosses by the wingers.

Other highlights included a yellow for Hiroki Sakai for a weak push in the back of a UAE player who was jogging away and took a few more steps before gently falling down; Kagawa somehow managing to shin a rebound wide from six yards; Japan having a penalty appeal turned down, causing the coach, Vahid (Control-C, Control V) Halilhodzic to walk about ten metres onto the pitch, arms outstretched in protest; and the referee not giving a goal when Takuma Asano scuffed a shot that very clearly completely crossed the line before the UAE goalie clawed it away.

Japan have been one of the strongest Asian teams in recent years and this seems to have affected them in recent years, hence their dire performances at the 2014 World Cup, their surprise loss to UAE on penalties in the Asian Cup last year, and the 0-0 draw with Singapore in the first game of the previous round of World Cup qualifying.  They play Thailand away next week; hopefully last night’s result serves as a wake up call.

James T, Kanazawa, Japan

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