It’s a surprisingly super Mailbox. Thoughts on Scotland, Raul, SkyNet, Lallana and the Euros
Judging by all of the press coverage of Jürgen Klopp, it looks like he literally will never walk alone.
James Tong, GFC, Brighton
We made this happen
The Transfer Blog was a thing of beauty. Only ever loosely linked to transfers of any kind, it took its readers and contributors through a myriad of random b*llshit that was truly remarkable to behold. Now, sadly, it is no more but the memories will last for generations to come, songs shall be sung and grandsons sat upon granddad’s knee in front of the fire will hear tell of the Great Daniel Snorey.
I was reminded of this once great institution by the article in which Adam Lallana says he is excited to work with Jürgen Klopp. The more procrastination inclined among you may be aware that the Transfer Blog ambitiously embarked on a Gossip Inception style project, trying to start a rumour that made so much sense, once the clubs and players involved heard about it they decided to act on it. The Chosen One was Adam Lallana to Dortmund.
To us mere mortals this attempt seems to have failed, but in some way, far beyond the comprehension of man and from the deepest reaches of the dark net, has the Transfer Blog insured that, by signing Lallana, Brendan Rodgers was fated to lose Suarez, Sterling, his confidence and ultimately his job; at the same time Jürgen grew tired of losing the Champions League Final, Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski all to Bayern; allowing Jürgen Klopp to replace him and be united with young Adam.
Of course this all could be coincidence, but I know if Liverpool bring back their canary yellow away kit in the near future, it will no longer be worth denying that free will is dead and that the Transfer Blog is SkyNet!
Brandon, LFC (Mild paranoia is a prerequisite for the support I’m told) JHB
Worried for Lallana
It’s nice that Lallana is excited to work with his new boss. Best foot forward, meet the new day and all that.
Not sure Klopp will be particularly bothered about working with Lallana, though. Between Coutinho, Firmino, the criminally under-rated (by Rodgers) Teixeira, Ibe, and potentially Milner (because those promises of a central berth mean nothing now Rodgers is gone and we lack disciplined wide-men) there are many players who are either just clearly better footballers (Coutinho) or have attributes that Klopp has prized in the past at much higher levels than lallana does – like stamina, finishing, physicality, ability to pick or try a pass without touching the ball seventeen times then losing possession, or just being young, somewhat talented and relatively un-molded by other hands (all of the others). Klopp doesn’t have his hands tied by needing to prove Lallana a successful acquisition – Lallana’s arrival had nothing to do with Klopp so, unlike Rodgers, giving him chance after chance simply is not on or even anywhere near the big list of important stuff to do.
I suspect that unless he drastically improves very, very quickly Lallana will shortly find himself bottom of quite a long list at Liverpool, because I watched the England game on Friday, and although Lallana was trying his socks off, the only true positives I can recall from him were a couple of dainty little flicks. He was otherwise anonymous – I know your player ratings lauded his movement and those flicks, but this is a 27 year old attacking midfielder, supposedly in his dangerous prime. If he wants to nail down an attacking mid position for club or country, he needs to offer more than a couple of flicks and looking dangerous (whilst producing nothing of actual substance), because Ross Barkley did some ball-moving stuff and moved himself well AND shot on target AND beat defenders, and he’s only 21. So did Sterling, who is again much younger. Both are already more dangerous to an opponent’s goal at the top level than Lallana – and Barkley sometimes mixes up left and right and Sterling can’t shoot straight.
Your article speculated that Klopp would have seen the performance and wondered why all the negativity towards Lallana was about. I reckon after watching 17 of our recent matches he’ll be wondering why the hell he kept getting starts, given his ability to never, ever deliver when it really counts. I know he scored two goals recently (one of which looked great, I’ll admit) but both of those were against lower-level opposition and after scoring he didn’t really do much. You can’t have players who will, if they are at their absolute best, do one good thing a match walking into your team; not if you’ve got any ambition of Europa League qualification – let alone a top four finish.
Hopefully I’m dead wrong, and Klopp the motivator will transform Lallana into what he already thinks he is, a tricky and skilful infiltrator of defences taking the ball from outside to inside the box. I can’t see it though.
Matt (Think about this – would Southampton have him back now?) LFC
Rooney: The new Raul (he’ll take that)
Is Rooney the new Raul? Since England qualified for the Euros at a canter there has not been much to discuss hence we return to the question “should Rooney still play for England”. Note this is this decade’s equivalent of last decade’s “can Gerrard and Lampard play together?”.
We all know Rooney has been a consistent Premier League and international player and is now top goal scorer for England. However for me this just means 50 goal Rooney is 10 goals better than injury hit Michael Owen and 17 goals shorter than Robbie Keane. This alone does not make him a starter for England.
I believe England need to look at the example of Spain. Approaching the 2008 European Championship all of the media in Spain were speculating if 30 year old record goal scorer (44 goals before you ask) and best player of his generation Raul would play for Spain. In the end Luis Aragones dropped Raul to much surprise and went instead with they younger Torres & Villa. There were only 5 players over 30 in that team. We all know what happened to Spain in the next 3 tournaments.
Now I am not saying that dropping Rooney from the team or squad will mean England win the Euro’s however I do believe we have a better chance with a front three of Sterling, Kane and Walcott with Barkley pulling the strings from midfield. This could also be an attacking quartet for the next 4 or 5 years. I just don’t see a place for Rooney in that team.
I’ve heard pundits say that you need Rooney’s experience to do well in the tournament which I just do not buy. Rooney himself only made an impact on a tournament (in 2004) as a teenager, since then he has been more of a John Barnes, Ian Wright or Andrew Cole, great domestic player but unable to make an impact while playing for England.
Along with a teenage Rooney the other England players to affect a tournament in my life time have been a young Gazza and a teenage Owen. Lineker and Shearer also played well for England and both knew when to call it a day for England.
Rooney you’ve had your chance, thanks but now it’s time to move on…
Leave Barkley alone
I have some serious issues with Matt Stead’s piece denouncing Ross Barkley as not as good as everyone’s making out. Whilst I accept he would do well to replicate Rooney over the next 10 years, most of his argument is pretty flawed. Yes we were playing Estonia, who are ranked lower than the Faroe Islands, but they did stick 10 men across their penalty area. If you’re going to use that argument you should probably question why Raheem Sterling , Theo Walcott and Adam Lallana struggled to get through them so much. Barkley’s not perfect but he certainly provides a bigger spark than anyone else in that squad at the minute.
Secondly, if we’re going to discuss Wayne’s great achievements pre 22 (200 appearances, young player of the year awards), we should probably also look at Rooney now, currently 29 basically can’t run and hasn’t been a threat from open play in pretty much the last 18 months (when was the last time he scored a good goal?).
Barkley is probably not as exciting a young talent as Rooney or Gascoigne but that doesn’t mean he isn’t someone who could be of real use to England over the next 10 years. Who remembers Xavi and Iniesta in their teens? Zidane tearing it up as a 16 year old? The English love the Roy of the Rovers stuff of a world beating teenager. The last 3 of those we’ve had (Rooney, Owen and Gazza) played their best football before reaching 22. Owen was busted by 25. Rooney by 28. Gazza even earlier. I love a good story as much as anyone (Owen vs. Argentina and Rooney vs. Croatia count amongst the most excited I’ve ever been about football) but maybe actually taking a bit of time to work on your game, learn the trade (Barkley’s a very different player to when he was 19) may actually pay off in the long-run.
Qualifying for the Euros: Slow hand clap
I realise the Euro expansion from 16 to 24 has made for a much more wide-open qualifying season. And as a longtime supporter (albeit from a distance) of the UK nations, I’d be the last to begrudge Wales and Northern Ireland their excitement at making the finals. Bravo to Iceland and Albania too.
But a look at the numbers shows that Euro fans are headed toward a big fat quadrennial “meh.” There are 53 UEFA member nations, and 3 of them (San Marino, Andorra, and Gibraltar) are superminnows who will never ever qualify. So if you’re in the top 24 of 50, you’re basically in the top half of the confederation. Not bad, but hardly the stuff of legends.
In four years we’ll begin to see the downside. Teams like Wales and Northern Ireland will expect to qualify, because if you’re not in the top half, you’re not very good at all. Maybe a few teams like Belarus or Montenegro will get in, their fans will go wild for a bit, then slide into expectation and/or dissatisfaction. And the bigger nations will barely have to exert themselves to get in.
Eventually we’ll realize that the competition is no better than it was, and has stuck itself with the unsatisfactory 24-team finals competition as well. So genuine congratulations to all the newbies and their wonderful fans – enjoy it while you can.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Why do buzzes need to be killed?
I very much liked what Johnny Nic had to say this morning on the nauseating media response to Jurgen Klopp’s arrival. However, I love it. It is a much-welcomed change to the nauseating response of the media to Brendan Rodgers for the past 12 months.
Klopp made a joke in his first interview that he had been tipped off by those in his homeland about the English press and something tells me that he learned his first lesson now that his own club are selling “The Normal One” shirts on the official club website.
I would also like to take time to comment on MickT Liverpool’s mail from this morning. It’s not just Liverpool that feels different now. Yesterday, before my own football, game a stranger stopped me in a gas station, because they noticed the Liverbird on my shorts, to talk to me about his excitement over Jurgen Klopp. I live in Pennsylvania, USA. The appointment of Jurgen Klopp hasn’t just united a city. It has united the entire fan base.
I think it’s important for supporters of other clubs to know that any rational Liverpool fan doesn’t think Klopp will lead us to a title this season or next season. But we feel, collectively as a group, that we are much closer to the dream than under Brendan Rodgers.
Just seen Liverpool has been linked to Lewandowski by the rags. It’s nice to be linked with world class players again.
Brian (Confident we will beat Spurs this weekend) LFC
A fair point on Norn Iron
Thanks for all the praise The literary Ed Quoththeraven and Mike Woolrich, LFC, the expansion of the competition really has helped us small teams reach those dizzy heights of qualification.
But before you get carried away patting us on the head just a quick point- Norn Iron and Iceland were group winners so even if they only let 9 teams in we would both still be there.
Chris, Belfast (expecting us to do an England and bomb out in the group stages)
A brilliant mail on Scotland’s failure
This is an attempt to understand and explain Scotland’s latest failure, so if that doesn’t do it for you, feel free to skip this mail. I’ve had a few days to reflect on Scotland’s performance, and to get over the disappointment of finding out that all your friends are off to a big party next summer and you’re staying at home. Basically, it’s horrible.
Scotland’s performances were so up and down in that group it’s hard to know where to start. We took 4/6 points from the Irish (who are very unlucky not to be qualifying automatically) and in all honesty should have taken 6/6, and we took 2/6 from Poland, and again we really should have taken 6/6 as we led them in both games only to concede late equalisers. We turned in good performances in two defeats to Germany, which at first seems respectable, until you factor in that Ireland took 4/6 points against them and Poland took 3/6. Scotland have been here before against top quality opposition, we start extremely cautiously, give away early goals and then decide that actually it’s worth having a go, but ultimately paying for a slow start (and a lack of quality).
So why do we feel unable to take points from big hitters such as Germany when teams who are in the same quality bracket as ourselves (Ireland and Poland) feel confident in doing exactly that? Why was it that I, like so many other Scots looked at the draw and were filled with dread at the prospect of Georgia away? We are Scotland, this is what we do. The errors against Poland were really of an organisational nature, we weren’t beaten by pure talent, we were beaten by our own sloppiness, as much as I like Gordon Strachan I think that he has to take a share of the blame for this.
There is a cultural phenomenon in Scotland known as the “Scottish Cringe”, it’s a sense of cultural and intellectual inferiority, an idea that other nations (notably England) are simply culturally and intellectually superior, that everything we do is tainted with naffness. I think it runs more deeply than this however, it’s an inherent feeling that nothing we do is ever quite good enough, that we shouldn’t aim to compete against people from other nations because we’re simply not up to it. I have to admit that this is a wholly unresearched theory on my part, but I think there might be something to it. Croatia and Uruguay are similar sized nations to Scotland, and both have been punching above their footballing weight for decades, they suffer no such small nation complex. We fail because we believe we will, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Fraser (despondently navel-gazing), Edinburgh
Lewandowski: Just a really good striker
Just a quick one in response to Sean(COYBIG in the qualifiers).
Jack (Those in glass houses…)Dublin
Why would anyone want to be on a transfer committee? You basically have two scenarios…
- Player is a success, everyone praises him and/or the manager as no committee has ever been credited with a good signing.
- Player is rubbish, manager denies ever having bought him in the first place and, providing the fans like the manager, defend him and swear these stupid new committees are a waste of time.
Just once I’d like to see a manager come out and say “Yes this player has been ace and I’d like to thank ‘Bob’ on the committee for talking us all into buying him as I couldn’t really see him being a success, but that is the beauty of having a committee.”
It’s a keeper
Dear Football365 (Mediawatch specifically),
The new recommended reading section of Mediawatch is thoroughly f**king excellent.
Hats off for further improving your wonderful website with a non insular nod to those writing stuff as good as yours.
(MC – These lot are precisely the Mailbox ‘gems’ that international weeks occasionally bring out, so top work. How much better is this then United vs Liverpool baiting?)