Mails: Wijnaldum gets a whole lotta love…

Date published: Thursday 29th December 2016 12:49 - Sarah Winterburn

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Allen over Wijnaldum? No way…
In response to Ian (And I am typing this just as we have gone from 0-1 to 2-1 during the Liv-Stoke game) LFC, Malaysia questioning Wijnaldum over Allen, here’s why.

Allen started the game like a man on a mission. He was everywhere, lunging into tackles, protecting the ball, feinting, nutmegging. At one point, five Liverpool players tried to tackle him and failed. He was unplayable, and almost scored a second for Stoke in the early stages. At that point, instead of fearing for a drubbing, I was quietly optimistic that Liverpool will get back into the game. I’ve witnessed this several times in the last few seasons when we had Allen in the team. He would be a midfield dynamo snapping away at everything, but would then be knackered in the second half and allow the opponents to get back right in. True enough, after a world-class 30 minutes, he faded away. He began to lose 50-50 balls, his passing sharpness dropped off, his first touch started to look a bit labored. He continues to try (man he is one trier) but it begins to not go his way. By the middle of the second half, he has all but disappeared. There was a moment when he was wresting with Milner in football pinball on the sideline, and I had a feeling it would go out off Allen, and it did. Somehow this is something that’s all too familiar.

Wijnaldum on the other hand is Joe Allen averaged out over 90 minutes. Not eye-catching, but always there or thereabouts. What he has in addition is what Klopp spoke about when he bought him – the Ajax school of football intelligence. I have lost count of the number of times when a slightly wayward or overhit pass goes towards Wijnaldum and you go, “oh no we are about to get turned over”, only for him to somehow be able to bring it under control with minimum fuss, and then make it all safe again with a smart out ball. Like Henderson, he keeps the team ticking over, leaving the front four to sprinkle all the dazzling twinkledust. True, two to three times a game, he’ll get muscled off or sell a pass short, but that’s only because we don’t really notice the small things he does consistently well. In fact, I’m super impressed with Klopp in being able to spot this hidden potential of his when everyone was either raving about his rampaging forward runs or ranting about his disappearing acts for Newcastle.

This took longer than I intended, but I honestly think Klopp got an upgrade on Allen (whom I loved by the way) with Gini. Klopp sees things we plebians can’t even begin to fathom. In Klopp we trust.
weech, Singapore


…What does Wijnaldum bring that Joe Allen doesn’t?

On paper, nothing. Joe Allen is ahead of him in offensive, defensive and passing statistics, but Wijnaldum succeeds in being anonymous. In a team with Lallana making a mockery of Pogba and Henderson passing as often as the whole Sunderland team, there isn’t much for Wijnaldum left to do, so he just does a bit of everything and makes everyone happy doing it. He’s available for passes, disciplined in positioning and willing to put in a shift. We’ve seen Allen isn’t good enough (sadly) in this Liverpool team, and can see Wijnaldum is good enough. He was expensive sure, worth £25m? That’s not a question for now. Wijnaldum reminds me of a great quote: “When you do something right, people aren’t sure you’ve done anything at all.”
KC (what do you want from him?)


…In response to Ian, LFC, Malaysia’s question regarding Liverpool not keeping Allen, the answer is simple: physicality. For everything Joe Allen is good at, during his time with Liverpool he was always to easily bullied out of being effective. Teams used to target this and I remember occasions where Joe losing the physical battle would contribute directly to a goal concession. Gini is simply stronger and tougher to shrug off the ball and thus an Improvement on Allen.
Paul, LFC, Mönchengladbach


Flattering 4-1s and no new Liverpool signings please
Spurs and Liverpool shared one or two things in common in this round of fixtures; both looked like they lacked fluency, nobody seemed to be entirely at the races and yet both ran out 4-1 winners. It was weird watching both games because the score was totally flattering in games where a draw wouldn’t have felt like a totally unfair result.

This whole penalty and red card thing should change, where the red card is only shown if the penalty is missed. Yes it might create a vortex in space time where some player is smart enough to realise that the value of missing a penalty might exceed the short-term gain of scoring it (i.e you’re 3-0 up against a title rival and their key central defender is facing a one-game ban for the tackle he just made) however most players probably have performance/goal bonuses and the situation wouldn’t almost never manifest anyway. It would make the game a bit more fair though I think.

I’m surprised you fine chaps at Football365 think Liverpool need an attacker. Even in Mane’s absence I quite fancy a bit of Sturridge time and Coutinho should be back by mid January. I’d argue that January is not the time to change keeper so maybe we don’t really need anyone right now? Obviously there are better players out there in most positions but unless we could get a significant improvement on our current crop I don’t think Klopp would risk disrupting the balance and mood in the camp. The only thing I’d personally like is to bring Flanagan back; he’s a better left or right-back than Moreno and it’s hard to imagine him not giving 110% whenever he’s called upon. I also love him because on Twitter he seems to only follow dolly birds; living the dream that lad.

Finally; will 16 conclusions on Saturday be written before the ball drops for 2017 or after?!
Minty, LFC

(We won’t be writing 16 Conclusions on NYE, fella. Not a sodding chance – Ed)
Bradley failure is not an argument for Giggs
I’d hope that Bob Bradley is judged on his short tenure as manager of Swansea City on his performance alone and not his nationality. It wasn’t a success and his dismissal is justifiable but the fact he is American was only a hindrance due to the cynicism and subsequent additional scrutiny he endured from the media and footballing circles.

Was he the US Pochettino? If that means someone who lost more games than he won before arriving in England then obviously not. Different context in terms of experience but Bradley was a winning manager and if nothing else deserved the chance to prove his worth. There was a bit of a fuss when Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins and he had to win over the doubters but it was nothing on the scale we’ve seen since Bradley was even mooted for the Swansea job. You’d think that he was taking a successful British manager’s job at a club on the up rather than trying to make the most of a ragtag and directionless outfit.

Were Claude Puel and Walter Mazarri the best French and Italian managers around when the Southampton and Watford jobs came up? I don’t recall much media fuss over their appointments. Is that because managers of the same nationality have had success over here or because they weren’t up against a well known and successful British ex-player? The Bradley vs Giggs situation seemed to snowball like a poorly written and badly researched meme. Social media has helped to destroy nuanced debate.

I had reservations over Bradley at the Swansea job but only because of my occasional frustrations during his tenure with the USMNT. That being said I’m yet to hear a cogent argument that Ryan Giggs was the stand-out candidate for the role. Plenty of compelling reasons for considering his appointment but nothing to warrant the widespread moral indignation of him missing out.

It’s not really important that Bob Bradley isn’t the best US coach around and I feel that it will be tough for another American to overcome a what might be considered a failed experiment. I want to see British managers at British clubs but based on merit alone. To get them to compete in a highly competitive job market they need prove they are the best each time because favouritism and tokenism starts a whole new conversation.
CP, Cambridge


…I’m not defending Bob Bradley, but I’m curious as to why Ryan Giggs is considered a more suitable alternative. His experience of a relegation fight, or a dressing room during a relegation fight, must be close to zero.
Eddybrek (dressing-room sounds really poncy when you think about it), HTAFC, Japan


English football is anti-American
I’m Swiss-American. I’ve almost always lived in Europe and feel more at home here. My accent, however, is absurdly Californian and if anyone doesn’t know my background they’d be right to assume I was fully American.

Football has always been anti-American. I’ve grown up dealing with that on a daily basis here. Bob Bradley getting the job at Swansea made me optimistic and proud of progress made. The reaction to his appointment legitimately sickened me. Him getting fired just made me sad. (Kind of reminds me of Obama’s election, reception and getting replaced by Trump. But let’s not get into that.)

When I go to Liverpool, the taxi drivers condescendingly explain there is a second club in the city named Everton. (I ask them how Tranmere are doing.) When I go to Anfield I don’t start chants because my accent is so jarringly foreign. When I listen to Gabriel Marcotti on The Times’ Podcast, I get the impression he gets less credit and consideration than the other pundits on said Podcast, even though he’s arguably clearly more knowledgeable. These are just a few tangible example.

I can’t find a single neat conclusion to draw from all of this, but I wanted to share anyway. I’m curious how other mailboxers, Americans and others, feel about all this.
Oliver (Bradley didn’t stand a chance. Voldemort is always defeated this time of year.) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


What about Watford?
I know F365 aren’t biased towards or against any club but it does sometimes feel like you forget that Watford exist. I wasn’t expecting Watford themselves to be included in Winners & Losers following a 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace, but I did think Troy Deeney deserved inclusion after scoring his 100th goal for the club, becoming only the fifth player in Watford’s history to reach that milestone. Especially after you included Sam Allardyce for that same 1-1 draw.

I’m also not sure why you think Palace should have won the game, but that’s a different discussion.
Jimbles, WFC


Mkhitaryan’s goal wasn’t great; it was offside
OK, reading through your excellent Winners and Losers section this morning I was amused to read you had included Mkhitaryan’s “wonder goal” in the Winners section. Now you’ll have to forgive me for pissing on everyone’s chips but the goal was a whole yard OFFSIDE. Why does this matter you might say? Well because he was on an illegal position on the pitch which afforded him the time (and space) to perform such an outrageous piece of skill (and yes it most definitely was). I didn’t notice the linesman wearing dark glasses and running with a white cane but he may as well have been. The fact it was given as a goal was down to deplorable officiating. If the officials had done their job to anywhere near the standard they should have been then I am quite sure you wouldn’t have been giving this ‘goal’ more column inches than Liverpool’s entire 4-1 win against Stoke yesterday for example. If your article had been balanced you would have dedicated an entire paragraph to ‘poor officiating’ in the Losers section.

Bah Humbug.
Derek, LFC, Dublin (still bitter about Sterling’s two yard ONSIDE goal not given against Man City in 2013. Cost us the league that)


Greatest offside goals?
I’ve never really liked Nani, this goal that never was just reaffirms my dislike

Liam, LTFC (Ronaldo > Messi, just thought I’d reignite this argument)


Christmas presents
If you didn’t get David Squires’ Illustrated History of Football for Christmas your family obviously doesn’t love you. It is superb, genuinely superb. If didn’t get it, do yourself a favour.

3pm, Saturday is lovely as well, although makes me feel bad I don’t go to enough live football.

I also got a chocolate football boot with my name on it. That didn’t make it past Boxing Day.
Micki (no Mediawatch since 23 December, and you call yourself Football365?) Attridge

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