Mails: You can’t say Liverpool aren’t fun to watch…

Daniel Storey

A Mailbox banter
Calm down guys, it was only Hoffenheim
Leon, Basel


Still worried
After that result you’d have to say Liverpool are through. Realistically, Hoffenheim will have to score 3 goals at Anfield and you just can’t see that…oh.

It’s going to be a long week.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Liverpool thoughts
Well, that was fun! Some quick thoughts on a select few players:

Moreno has found a bit of confidence, hasn’t he? His defensive work has been markedly improved in the last two games at Watford and Hoffenheim. The season before last, he was (erroneously) relying on his speed to dig himself out of poor defensive positioning. Now, he looks much better placed and his aerial duals and clearances under the high ball were good, especially for someone of his size. I really hope he stays and battles with Robertson for the left back a lot, allowing James Thrillner to support the aching chasm that is the midfield.

Matip is a good ‘follow my example’ leader but I want him to be more vocal. Mignolet can be seen berating the back line but no one seems to take any notice; I don’t think they have any respect for him.

Salah looked ok, I was surprised his pace didn’t take him away from the Hoff centre backs when he broke clear, even with ball at feet. Once his blood is up I expect him to take more shots on and cut inside more readily. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a team player and expect nothing else in a Klopp team but, with Bobbi F at centre forward linking play and dropping deeper, we’ll need someone to bang it spuriously at goal occasionally.

Grujic; only saw a few minutes but every time we do, his technical ability is clear in flashes. He could be really useful given his physicality, but he also looks tactically naive and rash. God he needs a season where we are forced to use him in the centre of the field as we have no alternatives but where nothing is at stake……oh.

In general, that high line at defensive free kicks was a horrible thing to watch. There was a massive space to aim for and with quality deliveries arriving at speed, it was a wonder Hoff didn’t get more clear cut chances.

A fun game and the defensive work wasn’t bad at all; at times it was a bit reliant on the last ditch tackle, but I’m cool with that. Most importantly, Liverpool looked like they had more ideas than Hoffenheim and had more in the tank.

And Trent’s goal was boss. Bring on the 2nd leg!
Tom Picton


…1. Liverpool STILL cannot defend. By my reckoning that’s 5 years (3+ seasons under Brenda, 2 under Herr Klopp) of a problem that somehow has not been, and cannot be, solved. Watching this team reminds one of those halcyon days not too long ago when Arse fans were treated to the comedic stylings of Squillaci, Cygan, Silvestre, Almunia, et al on a weekly basis. Except that it’s not as funny when it’s your own team

2. Hoffenheim, on another night, could have had 4 or 5. I’m sure I saw their manager’s head explode at the final whistle

3. Alberto Moreno is…(Where’s that thesaurus?)

4. Wherever Southampton are hiding the real Dejan Lovren, I’m sure some sort of investigation is in order. And then surely a lawsuit.

5. It probably wouldn’t hurt if Pool’s midfielders could be reminded every now and again that preventing goals is just as important as scoring them. How is a team set up with seemingly 2 attacking midfielders (Can and Wijnaldum) and a ball-playing midfielder (which seems to be Henderson’s role) not concede stupid goal after stupid goal?

6. Alberto Moreno is…(Still nothing)

7. Clearly, Van Dijk and Keita will solve all of Liverpool’s problems and Liverpool will definitely sign both because Jurgen said so. God forbid there should be other professional footballers who might come in and salvage what’s sure to be a joke of a season

8. Speaking of which, MAMADOU SAKHO!

9. Alberto Moreno is…(I give up).
Courtney B


Liverpool’s defence needs a lot more protection
A win and two away goals is nice, but it seems to me that back four really needs to be protected by two holding midfielders.

Moreno and Alexander-Arnold are both very good offensively but an adventure defensively. And both Matip, and particularly Lovren, I’m (almost) convinced could be a relatively safe pair of centre-halves so long as the game is kept simple for them. A switch to 4-4-2 with Milner and Can shielding would provide more stability, I think. It would also allow the two kids to get forward with less anxiety, not to mention Wijnaldum, whose defending today was almost as diabolical as Henderson’s.

Firmino is almost as good playing on the left as through the middle and easily has the energy and defensive awareness for a wide midfield role. And a front two of Mane and Salah would still be dangerous while also having the energy to press.

Given the dearth of options Klopp has to set up his side at the moment, this might be a pragmatic way forward in both the league and Europe. Otherwise, who would bet against Hoffenheim turning this tie around next Wednesday? Or a title challenge all but snuffed out before September?


Calm the heck down about TAA
I think some people (this fine site in particular) are so desperate to announce the coming of yet another young generation of stars that they’re getting far too carried away based on any single decent performance. Walker-Peters had one good game and he’s now proof that Spurs don’t need to spend any money. Alexander-Arnold scores a free kick and he’s now the second coming of Jamie Carragher. Sure, he played well and was pretty solid until he wasn’t.

Alexander-Arnold was entirely culpable for Hoffenheim’s goal. He jogged back with his arm in the air while Uth ran in front of him, collected the ball unchallenged and then scored a wonderful strike. Liverpool’s new local hero just looked bemused as he completely ignored his man. If I remember correctly, Walker-Peters would have given away a penalty against Newcastle if not for an offside call.

I’m not saying that these players won’t be good, but let’s not pile on the praise and expectations too much while they are still clearly raw talents. Football365 constantly bemoans the newspapers building kids up just to knock them down later and yet here you are doing it yourselves.

I suppose a story about a new local hero gets more clicks than an honest account of a good, but flawed performance.
Kirk Double-Barrelled, MUFC
(MC – Having this opinion is fine, but the ‘I bet this gets more clicks’ stuff is really tedious. It’s OK to get excited about a young kid without being accused of setting him up for a fall.)


Some excellent thoughts on the changing of the transfer window
Thought I’d drop you a line with some initial thoughts on the implications of closing the transfer window before the PL has started.

Making a change like this on a unilateral basis could severely affect the competitiveness of the PL. Coutinho would still be able to join Barca under the proposals, however, Liverpool wouldn’t be able to make any replacement signings at all until January; and even then it would likely be a stop-gap until the following summer. Although the current setup creates additional uncertainty for 3 weeks, it’s surely better from a football perspective to deal with this and be able to strengthen your squad if needed rather than be weakened and unable to do anything for several months at least.

We could also end up in a position whereby a club gets deliberately destabilised by a European club. This would probably be applicable to only the top end of the PL but say for example, one of Bayern, Madrid, Barca, Juve and so on came in for Alli, Coutinho, Sanchez, Jesus, Kane etc. purely to create instability and affect morale against clubs they may play in Europe. The PL would be giving a massive strategic advantage to clubs on the continent and potentially disadvantaging all their own teams for no actual benefit.

In the majority of cases, the players who move after the start of the season are squad players or brought in after a player has left (how would the PL have survived without Sissoko and N’Koudou) or are when long running transfer sagas end. PL managers who aren’t called Arsene Wenger generally know what the weaknesses are in their squad and move to address these early in the transfer window. I doubt many are too concerned about small signings being made after the start of the season but are very concerned about losing their star players at this time. I think that the issue here isn’t that the transfer window causes problems; rather PL clubs take too long selling players who don’t want to play for them the following season.

Take a few examples:

Bale to Real. Dragged on all summer before he was eventually sold.
Suarez to Barca. Dragged on for ages with the end result he was sold.
Berbatov to Man U. Dragged on all summer before he was sold.
Cole to Chelsea. Dragged on for 18 months. He was sold.
Fabregas to Barca. Dragged on for 12 months. He was sold.
Van Persie to Man U. 12 months and he was sold.

Even if a club successfully fends off an approach, it rarely works out well in the long term. Take for example when Modric wanted to join Chelsea but Spurs stood firm? A year later he was at Real. Liverpool stood firm with Suarez after Arsenal paid his release clause. A year, and another saga later, Suarez joined Barca. When Ronaldo wanted to join Real, Fergie had the good sense to say yes but delay it for a year. They got a good season out of him and he left on good terms with the club. The only occasion where I can remember a player staying and it ending well was when Gerard didn’t join Chelsea despite handing in a transfer request – an activity that normally leads to a Berahino or van Hooijdonk (remember him?) situation.

Compare this to European clubs when they sell their players. Benfica and Borissia Dortmund regularly sell their players to other teams. If the money is right, they’ll sell quickly and move on. It’s true that these are selling clubs, however, this trend also shows at larger European clubs. Although Barca kicked off over the Neymar transfer, the deal was done quickly – before the instability and so on had a chance to detrimentally affect other players and club morale etc. Sanchez was also sold to Arsenal quickly and with minimum fuss. Real sold Ozil, Di Maria and Morata recently without any of the hyperbole that comes when UK clubs may have to sell a good player.

I do wonder whether it would be easier all around if clubs accepted that there will be times when they are going to lose players they want to keep. Whilst they will always want the best price, this shouldn’t be at the expense of the team. I can see far greater problems created than fixed by symbolically closing the transfer window before our European counterparts. There are other potential solutions: perhaps we could play 2 games a week in early September so the season starts after the window closes? Play 3 games a week during current quieter periods to delay the start of the season?

I’d say that if managers lose a player for any reason, they’re expected to be able to fill the hole with their available squad. This wouldn’t have to be a transfer – could be a long term injury or illness, going off to play in the ANC after Christmas or similar. Ultimately, managing the team to get the best results is the manager’s job and they are paid handsomely for doing it. If they can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Ian (all this stuff gets in the way of the actual football) Shannon


Taking the Dr back to school
Dr Oyvind’s plan is an interesting one. Well, it’s not but that seemed a polite way to start. There seem to be a few issues. Dr O seems to be under the misguided belief that football is a money-pit capable of solving societal issues on a wider scale. As an example, the turnover of Spurs is around a fifth of that of my former employer. That company is not one that most people would know of or recognise, and was also an utter s**t-show. Football clubs are businesses, but they aren’t particularly notable when it comes to the financials.

Also, why are footballers “barely-deserving” of their earnings? The product they produce is in high demand, therefore they are entitled to a fair share of the takings. Is Dr O coming up with a similar plan for actors and musicians? This all rather feels like someone is a wee bit jealous.

I’ve grown quite tired of the debate around footballer’s earnings. Some are overpaid in terms of their end product, but the mindset that footballers are overpaid as a whole is incredibly unfair. They earn a stupid sum of money, but an unfair amount? Can’t agree with that. And the media insistence that we should view these sums as offensive is utter bulls**t. Do the red tops rail at their owners’ obscene wealth and power? Murdoch’s Skeletor hands can probably be laid on more money today than all of the players combined.

I also like the idea that handing a large chunk of footballer’s wages to the government is somehow a positive thing. I’m sure they’d love it, seeing as they struggle to adequately tax the truly super-rich. Let us just forget about that, and pretend that a handful of footballers are the high earners in this country.

Dr O, there are a lot of people earning more than the average footballer. There are a lot of people who are sat on mountains of wealth acquired through truly immoral and heinous means. Some even managed to pass the fit & proper persons test. But yeah, f**k those footballers. Although your plan doesn’t actually change the amount of money going into football, it just takes it away from the people who make the product and into the hands of people who don’t need it. Rather reminiscent of the position the average worker finds themself in.

The transfer fee plan is good though. Nah, just kidding. It’s shite. The top academies will just hoard ever-increasing numbers of players, and kids at clubs further down the pyramid will find themselves ignored as prospects because of the limited resale impact. It would also be an administrative nightmare, with clubs constantly looking to circumvent the rules. It’s weird how trusting Dr O is of those who actually control football’s wealth, yet how damning he is of the shop floor. It’s almost as though he’s bought into a mindset peddled by people who don’t want us paying attention to their terrifying wealth and almost absolute power.


You know what: Good on Wayne Rooney
Just thought I’d throw this into the mix – as a United fan for 50 years I had a strange feeling on Saturday. I was genuinely pleased for Wayne Rooney scoring for Everton, in fact, I almost felt that the cockles were warmer than when he scored for United. Even though he spent 13 years at Old Trafford, he really is a Liverpool Blue.

But there was a comment by a commentator that made me think. United will always face opposition that will want to stop them winning first, then beat them secondly. Everton will face opposition that will see it more of an even playing field. Rooney will enjoy more space, less attention, and have more
opportunities to shine.

Good luck to him, he has been far too often the subject of uncalled for abuse, and I hope he enjoys his last few years at Everton.


Digging out Football365
I know you hate to Mediawatch yourselves, but a repeated offence surely warrants inclusion. From the following anonymous piece:

“Sigurdsson’s importance to Swansea was underlined by the fact he scored nine league goals and had 13 assists as the club just avoided relegation from the Premier League last season.

Only two other players, Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, brought more goals and assists to their teams”

It’s the second time I’ve seen this stat quoted (once earlier in the summer). It’s still just as false now as it was then.

Here’s the other offending piece:

Again – no author.

He got 22 combined, by that measure Harry Kane had 36 and Sanchez 34 – he was joint 8th in this particular list along with Zlatan. But you’d never sensationalise something and ignore the facts just to make it sound better – that’s the realm of those awful other journos. Right? Right?

You mean assists. Just assists.

It’s a story without a byline – and no wonder no one wanted to put their name to it. If only they bothered with a quick internet search… these are all things you’d rip apart a newspaper reporter for, so it’ll be interesting to see if you hold yourselves to the same standards by including this story on your hallowed page.
(MC – And yet here it is, on these ‘hallowed’ pages. For the record, these were stories with PA copy that unfortunately contained inaccuracies; it happens. But yes, we ignored the facts to ‘sensationalise’ Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is truly the biggest driver of traffic in 2017.)