Mails: Why too early for Winks but not Rashford?

Date published: Wednesday 4th October 2017 8:50

Fill the gaping void of the international break by sending your Mails coming to…


Klopp is doing great – if you forget their two bad patches
To the illustrious F365 mailbox…

If you have an agenda, you can crunch numbers as long as you want to manipulate statistics to tell you what you want, so perhaps what follows might need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

My beloved Liverpool are managed by a charasmatic chap who until recently was the favourite uncle everyone wished they had. Ever since he became Liverpool manager I have recorded his results in a spreadsheet called ‘KloppWatch’ and if, like me, you are something of a stats nerd it makes for interesting reading. Overall, Klopp averages 1.784 points per game. Rogers was 1.771, Benitez 1.900. The target for any manager of a top team has to be two points per game as that output will always put you in with a chance. Benitez got somewhere near that and Klopp is currently falling short. Benitez was not without fault, his man management did not include the word avuncular but in American sports parlance he knew his x’s and o’s and ultimately he achieved respectable numbers. In my humble opinion, for Klopp’s tenure at Liverpool to be deemed a success, he has to put up better stats than Benitez.

But maybe, depending on how you crunch, Klopp might already have exceeded Benitez, in a way…

Lady luck plays a part. Liverpool have been poor since the capitulation to Man City. They were also extremely poor in January. Remove these two blocks of games, which is 16 games (W2 D8 L6) out of the 110 that Klopp has managed and you have a per game points average of 1.937, so hey presto, better than Benitez’s bottom line, which has to be encouraging. For 94 games Klopp is a hero, for the other 16 he is a zero. Is that an acceptable ratio?

Clearly, removing poor runs of form from Benitez’s stats would push his numbers up too, but what I am trying to decide is whether Liverpool’s current form and that last January are just runs of bad luck or if they are exacerbated by Klopp not having the tactical nous to turn the tide when form takes a dip. Could Klopp have done more in January and could he be doing more now to kick-start the team, or is this just the random noise of data? My suspicion is that it is the latter and we will regress to the mean without Klopp doing anything different. Results will improve, probably sooner rather than later, as our bevy of exciting attackers will start putting the ball in the back of the net and our plethora of worrying defenders will stop giving up very silly goals and will just concede a ‘normal’ amount of (still annoying) goals that you’d expect from the below average unit that they are. A change of fortune will make things look a whole lot brighter, without recourse to a plan B (that doesn’t exist any way) or throwing subs on earlier which some commentators seem to see as some sort of panacea at the moment (Ox getting seven minutes is seven minutes too many for me). Before very much longer, Klopp might again receive the plaudits that he has been afforded previously as the current poor form is forgotten by the feast or famine type of mainstream (and, sometimes, not so mainstream) reporting that we have to put up with.

I think Klopp’s true worth is somewhat lower than the high adulation he has received at times and somewhat higher than the flack he is getting at the moment and all things considered his output is probably on a par with the players he has at his disposal (not bring in improvements is a valid criticism). The real test will be to see what Klopp’s points per games is when he has managed the team as long as Benitez, and for that Jurgen needs to stick around for another 240 games, plenty long enough to iron out the noise. I’m still keeping faith.


Sniffy about Winks
It seems as if Harry Winks’ England call-up has led to the turning up of several noses at F365 headquarters. Maybe most people outside of F365 headquarters felt similarly.

When Marcus Rashford burst onto the scene for United and scored a few goals, everyone got very excited and an England call up seemed the natural progression. Nobody questioned whether 10 or so games was too soon for an England call. Goals, above anything else, appear to be the easiest measure of a players talent.

Winks is not a goalscorer. He also isn’t a Christian Eriksen or De Bruyne type player who is going to pick up a bundle of assists. I’m sure his pass completion and pass accuracy are pretty high but also accept that those stats without context are pretty meaningless. In fact, to really see Winks’ talent and influence you have to do something almost unheard of these days……watch him play.

Since Winks came into the team the highest compliment I could pay him is that he just looks like he belongs. Whereas previous academy graduates such as (England international)  Jake Livermore and (England international) Ryan Mason etc always looked like they lacked the necessary quality or were out of their depth, Winks just looked comfortable and a little bit special from day 1.

Calm and composed on the ball, strong for someone his size and able to provide something i think England have been lacking for several years – the ability to set the tempo for a game using a wide ranging of passing. Not just sideways and backwards, but forwards as well.

Maybe this call up is ‘too soon’. Maybe we should have waited for him to score a few more goals (?), but don’t be surprised if Winks is a fixture in this England side before to long.
Josh, London


Alexis debate
A very good critique from Idris, Arsenal on Alexis Sanchez and his presence in Team of the Week. I agree with him on Sanchez’ overall shortcomings—he’s the kind of player that at times tries to do it all, and that obviously has its disadvantages, particularly for a side like Arsenal that emphasizes fluid team play.

On the other hand, sometimes you need that kind of player. Mesut Özil wasn’t on the pitch, and in the second half, when it was clear that Arsenal weren’t going to break Brighton down through the usual methods (and how often have we seen that sort of thing from Arsenal?), Sanchez took complete control. For about 15 minutes, everything went through him, and just about everything worked. It’s not DeBruyne’s fault that he didn’t have that opportunity, but it was a special period of play, and Sanchez deserves recognition for it. No argument with anyone who feels DeBruyne’s performance was superior—it’s just a matter of perspective.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


In response to Idris (who I’m going to assume is Idris Elba, a known Gooner… swoon), I too feel that Alexis is overrated. Although I’m a Gooner so that doesn’t quite fit with your statement. Yes he can summon up some extreme moments of magic but I see a player who plays for himself and gives the ball away with stray passes all too often.

Personally, I think we should play with a front 3 minus Alexis as a PLAN A and bring him on for the last 20-25 minutes when the opposition is tiring or if we’re chasing the game. We need to build a team without him anyway so may as well get the best out of him while we have him, to the benefit of the Arsenal.
JazGooner (Idris, are you gutted Daniel Craig signed up for another Bond? I was routing for you)


…Been wanting to write in about Sanchez for some time.

As he is determined to leave, I’m completely against Wenger starting him in any match in the league, he should be substitute at best and limited to starts only in the cup competitions. As much outrage as this may cause, I can’t stand to see players remain on the bench who are committed to the club whilst this guy gets minutes ahead of them. Reach a compromise by all means, increase his wages and give him a daft release clause…but I’d rather see Walcott run down blind alleys than Sanchez or Ozil starting for Arsenal again.

And this is where Arsenal will win over play power, because it’s a world cup year they will ‘put out’ a top performance even if it is as a sub.

As much as I love Sanchez running down the left wing, one on one with a right back, (Crowd willing him to take the guy on) then purposely slowing down to invite two more defenders over before woefully trying to win a corner….FFS…

Yeh he’s good, probably best player we currently have, but he wants out, so treat him with disregard. Apparently he owes us nothing, and that’s precisely what we owe him.

Bench him.
Thom, Newport.


Willian is Chelsea’s Sanchez
In reply to Idris, and I know this will be divisive, for Chelsea it’s Willian. To the outside world he tracks back, runs hard, takes great free kicks, has great hair, is david luiz’s no.1 geezer and was the only player in the fateful year of 2015/16.

However, he often slows down (counter/any) attacks and often his bad decision-making will lose the ball or at least mean possession has to be recycled for a chance to score. There was a reason it was Pedro who starred in the 13 match winning streak. Willian is like a Hazard-lite who tracks back. This is difficult to type as I feel he’s a ‘top guy’ but for me needs to be upgraded. How about we trade our overrated player for yours Idris?

Saaj (his chant is definitely underrated though) CFC


Defending Dele
Dele Alli has been ok this season for Spurs. A couple of goals, a couple of assists, some lacklustre performances. Being just ok is itself a disappointment, I agree.

But the second biggest disappointment of the season is quite clearly ludicrous. He’s had 3/4 average games. And this ridiculous Pogba line that F365 insist on whacking him over the head with. Your gripe is with the misplaced hyperbole of the Redknapps, not Alli. They’re barely comparable.

I have regularly read Mediawatch criticise others for building up young English players such as Sterling just to take them down at the first opportunity. Can we have a little perspective please?


Europe’s answer to the African Nations Championship
This morning’s mails on the African Nations Championship, in which players can only appear for their nation if they play in their own domestic league, got me thinking. Given that basically none of England’s international stars ever play abroad, could inventing a similar European tournament be the key to England actually winning something in the near future?

Spain would obviously have a strong core of Barca/Real players, but losing De Gea, Silva, Mata, Azpilicueta, Morata, Pedro and others would definitely weaken them. Similar story with Germany – they’d still be solid, but the loss of Draxler, Sane, Ozil, Howedes and Ter Stegen would definitely give others hope of beating them. France would almost literally be a Mbappe-centred one-man team. Wales would be utterly shafted. Not a single one of Iceland’s current squad would be eligible, which would probably be enough to remove the obvious psychological edge they’d have over us after Euro 2016

Then I realised that Italy would probably just about get by without Matteo Darmian. Ah well, 51 years of hurt and counting…
Steve, Nottingham


…While reading the emails this morning about the African Nations Championship, my first thought was ‘well English players pretty much never go abroad, so maybe we’d stand a chance of winning a European version of this tournament!’. After thinking/researching further, I realised that Spain, Italy and Germany would all keep the majority of their current squads, so maybe England’s chances aren’t all that great. I did do some cursory research into who might be the worst affected by such rules though:

France would just about be OK. They’d have 12 of their current squad, though they would lose N’Golo Kante, who is worth two players. I’m not sure on the maths, but I think that means they’d be down to 11 players.
Perennial ‘dark horses’ Belgium would become also-rans, as only 2 of their current squad (Leander Dendoncker and goalkeeper Matz Sels) play in Belgium.
Reigning European champions Portugal would have just 6 of their current squad available, and most importantly would obviously be without their talisman, Eder.
Poland would be able to field a full 4-man midfield, which is almost as surprising as the fact they are ranked 6th in the world by FIFA.

Elsewhere in the top 15 of FIFA world rankings (yes, really, look it up!), Switzerland would have just two players left from their current squad and, well, I doubt anyone needs me to tell them how Wales would fare in such a tournament.
Tom, Manchester


…Being someone, who until today didn’t know my ACN from my CHAN, can I just say how excited I am by the prospect of watching this new format already! The ACN has always been brilliant viewing for those who are little bored of the sterility of a lot of the elite levels of European football. But by removing the European trained players, and their influences – I think this will be a seriously exciting, entertaining, and compelling competition for any football lovers.
For a start, it will be much human. Everything will be magnified. The spectrum of what we see will be much broader than what those of us fed a diet of the Premier league will be used to. More emotion, more trickery, more red cards, more drama, more celebration, and mostly, more difference. I genuinely can’t wait for it, and I hope that F365 get properly on board with it, and all our mailbox friends in Africa share their views and educate us a little on what we’re seeing!


The football cabinet
With the discussion of whether or not politics has a role in sport, I have been playing Fantasy Shad Cab (Shadow Cabinet for those not initiated in ‘The Thick Of It) made up with football personalities. So here is what I have got. Can you do better?
Leader: Jose Mourinho. Charming, charismatic, pragmatic, broad shouldered. History of winning.
Shadow Chancellor – Gary Neville. Red Nev, in every sense of the word, will build a compassionate society but will expect everyone to put in a shift.
Shadow Foreign Secretary – Pep Guardiola. Very respected by the ‘foreigns. ‘
Shadow Home Secretary – Tony Pulis. Quite simply no one is ever getting in the country again. He will park the bus on the borders.
Minister for Brexit (Leaving the European Union) – Jeremy Peace. The ultimate negotiator. Europe will be paying us with Jeremy in charge. Wins the position over Daniel Levy, after beating him in negotiations for Berahino. I have resisted the temptation to appoint Arsene Wenger/any other manager famous for going out of Europe. It is not a funny enough pun.
Minister of Defence – Sam Allardyce. If you need your defence organising he is a go to guy, right?
Minister for Education – Frank Lampard. He has A Levels don’t ya know?
Minister for Health – Darren Anderton. Old ‘Sicknote’ himself. However, Jack Wilshere could be his junior minister.
Minister for Work & Pensions – Gary Lineker. I think Gary could do his best work here. Supporting and protecting those who need help the most.
Minister for Transport – Memphis Depay. The press always seemed very interested in which cars he was driving. I guess this could also be Dennis Bergkamp and his strong views on the aviation industry.
Minister of Culture & Sport – Graeme Le Saux. Obviously. Very limited field here. The sport issue is fine but finding a personality with any understanding of culture is more challenging.
Environmental Secretary – Josh Widdicombe. As a Plymouth Argyle fan he is part of the ‘Green’ Army.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland- Chris Brunt. The answer for N. Ireland is always Chris Brunt.
Secretary of State for Wales. Another job where Ryan Giggs is overlooked. Gareth Bale is just more popular.
Secretary of State for Scotland – Sir Alex Ferguson. He is Scottish.
Press Relations – Harry Redknapp and Wayne Rooney of the agency RooNapp. I dislike both but they seem to have some real friends in the media. This could be very useful.

So there you have it. It is admitedly lacking on diversity thought.
Ben The Baggie.


Snubbed by the PFA XI
After having a discussion about whether Sergio Aguero is the best player never to have won a PFA award, I got to thinking about what other great players haven’t won this and what sort of team I could put together (yes I had a slack period at work)
So I went to the internet’s most reliable source, Wikipedia of course, and started from there. The awards started in the 1973-74 season so that gave me my timeframe.

So here is my best effort:-

Goalkeeper – Peter Scmeichel
Right Back – Gary Neville
Centre Half – Alan Hansen
Centre Half – Mark Lawrenson
Left Back – Frank Lampard senior
Midfield – Claude Makelele
Midfield – Charlie George
Midfield – Trevor Brooking
Midfield – Paul Scholes
Forward – Sergio Aguero
Forward – Ian Wright

I think that’s a half decent team, and would give anyone a run for their money
Chris Alton, (Cresswell-Masuaku down the left is the way forward),Essex


Ridiculous Fellaini
I would like to know when we can expect the Marouane Fellaini edition of the ridiculous statistics…
Clarence Paul (Johannesburg, South Africa)

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