Keep your brilliant mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An irrefutable point system
Dear Ed, and Mailboxers alike,
Remember when it was the ‘Big 4’, and then expanded to become the ‘Big 6’? I recall much shenanigans from fans saying this was to make United still feel relevant. Great bantz.
Additionally there have been many mails on the subject of ‘are we/they a big club?’ And so I have decided to solve this (that is total conjecture and hearsay on my part, but waddya gonna do), by coming up with a points system based upon what each club has achieved over the past decade. Got lots of fans? Not interested. Social Media followers? Couldn’t give a shit. We are only talking on field achievements here.
UEFA spot 1pt
CL spot 2pts
Community Shield 1pt
League Cup 2pts
FA Cup 4pts
PL title 6pts
UEFA Cup 4pts
CL Cup 6pts
I devised that before I started to tally up the scores from the 2009-10 season to the end of the last one. I thought it fair as UEFA’s coefficient only goes back 5 years. So shall we see the results (and then spend days arguing about them?)
Manchester City 66
Manchester United 45
Tottenham Hotspur 16
Leicester City 9
Wigan Athletic 5
Birmingham City 3
Swansea City 3
West Ham 2
Aston Villa 1
Hull City 1
Newcastle United 1
Stoke City 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Any surprises there for anyone or are they as you pretty much expected? Are Arsenal just in a bad patch right now, and my God I was not expecting Spurs to have such a low score! I appreciate there are a couple of odd scores there, such as Wigan on 5, which some may suggest is partly down to City basically downing tools in the final. Over to you lot, guys and gals.
Mike (MB should be fun for the next couple of days) D
Is Rice good enough for Man United?
The rumours surrounding Declan Rice to Manchester United seem to be gathering pace and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. United need a defensive midfielder and currently prefer to sign young English players. Rice is a defensive midfielder who is young and English, so no surprise they’re interested. Add in the Lingard situation and its almost a perfect storm as United could probably secure Rice for a relatively small sum. Though is he that good? I’ve probably only watched a dozen or so West Ham games where Rice has played but I’ve never been bowled over by his performance. However in this regard I’m reminded of Jordan Henderson, who, at the time he was being linked with a move to United, seemed to me to be rather unremarkable. In fact he still seems this way to me now but I can hardly deny the impact he’s had at Liverpool. Perhaps I’ve just not got a good eye for this sort of thing. Regardless, the fact that he might be interested in the move, fits a certain profile, and is relatively cheap probably means it will happen.
Beyond Rice I don’t really see United doing much else transfer wise. The Haaland or Kane thing is ridiculous and simply will not happen, ignoring the issue of if they would want to sign, both are far too expensive for the Glazers especially considering the £200m hole the club is in due to Covid, which is dug further down from the £400m hole the club was still trying to climb out of. In the same vain I can’t see them spending £60m+ on a centre back like Torres or Kounde, or for that matter another £60m+ on Sancho considering the money spent on Amad this season. So that would likely leave a few free transfers, maybe Trippier at right back as another option to AWB, or another ageing striker if Cavani decides to go home.
So basically I expect much the same United squad next season as we have now, which is a bit depressing considering the areas which need strengthening. However, I happily choose no transfers at all if it meant all our players got the full summer of rest. I think that would be a massive advantage going into next year.
Salah’s misses are a problem
Bumper Mailbox this morning – nice one! Interesting to see the viewpoints from Liverpool fans seem to be broadly split into two camps – revolution by tearing it up and starting again (replace at least two of the front three) or do nothing as the green shoots of recovery were visible. Can’t we find a happy medium between the two though?
There was an article on the Guardian yesterday about how Liverpool need to tolerate Salah’s misses because of the hits that he invariably delivers alongside them. This is true to a certain extent, but we saw last night why the difference between genuinely world class players and those in the tier just below is so important. That first chance WAS the game, or at least Liverpool’s best chance of getting something from it – the plan had worked, we had started quickly with intensity that Real were startled by. An absolute bright shimmering golden egg of a chance was served up for Salah to gobble up, and he tamely tapped it straight at Courtois. Utterly deflating for Liverpool and the kick up the arse that Real needed – they were not similarly troubled again – yes we had very presentable chances, but none as clear as that one.
Can you imagine a genuinely world class player missing that chance? I can’t – all the big names would have buried it. Salah is a fantastic player for Liverpool and we are lucky to have him, particularly as we are not the financial behemoth that all of those clubs in the CL last four are, but his misses are a problem when we get to the sharp end of competitions up against mega-rich teams packed with properly world class players (like Spurs in the CL final a couple of years back. Arf). Against lesser teams you get more chances and Salah takes one or more. Against the best you get one chance and have to take it. Particularly when the rest of the front three aren’t at the races – fair point raised that Liverpool’s patched up defence has been outperforming the front three considerably all season, despite the injuries. Equally fair to note that is not the defence’s fault that Liverpool went seven ages of man without scoring at Anfield this season.
Therefore, I don’t think Liverpool should be scared of freshening up the front three, but we don’t have to revolutionise it – just evolve it. What does this mean? Probably bring in some more competition and let one go, but not two, and definitely not Bobby. Jota has been a positive introduction, although didn’t really affect the game last night when he came on. Salah can go if he wants – his chance conversion rate hasn’t improved despite all of Klopp’s coaching – give Klopp a new very good player with potential to try to improve. Equally, if Salah stays – great! He remains our most effective forward, but as mentioned cannot be relied upon 100% of the time. Mane again can go – his output has been nowhere near good enough this season, but again fine if he stays, and we do not want to lose both Mane and Salah at the same time – that would be too disruptive and we’ve had quite enough of that this season. As for Bobby, he stays – when he doesn’t play, we look so much worse in every passage of play – a long term replacement for him should be main transfer focus, but we keep him playing for as long as possible. He has never scored loads of goals, but his influence is crucial to Liverpool.
Last season Salah and Mane both had stellar seasons and Firmino was contributing as well – this season Salah is having to do it all on his own. Salah is likely to keep up his levels, but still miss too many. So long as Mane can go back to plugging that gap Liverpool can get back to something like their best. But this might not happen, they are all getting on a bit, so we do need to improve (not change for the sake of change) our options. In a sentence – I have gone from thinking we should leave the front three well alone and trust that this season was a blip, to thinking that we will benefit the team by freshening things up a bit.
As for VAR – I 100% agree that we need to take the technological fetishism out of it and strip it back to what it was invented for – removing the unjust, game-defining howler – like a beach ball scoring a goal – this really happened, in the Prem! It should literally be just video replays, not even slowed down ones – leave everything to the on-pitch ref and lineos, and only call them over to the screen if the replay shows something blatant – everything else leave well enough alone. This will prevent the monstrosities of results, and reduce the interventions in games, both in the number of interventions and how long they take. All the other suggestions just take us further down the tech rabbit hole.
Morgan (perhaps, just perhaps, a positive legacy of VAR could be that we lay off the officials a bit once the lines and super slow-mo are gone?) Goford
A ref story
Just catching up on the PSG v Bayern game highlights now, where I see the ref gave a free to PSG last night after Navas bumped his own player. The ref was looking straight at it, and in no way could have thought Muller fouled him. My only conclusion is that his brain was somewhat on autopilot and saw a keeper being impeded and immediately gave the free. I’ve very little doubt that before he was even finished blowing the whistle he knew that he had made a mistake. It happens to the best of us Mr.Orsato.
Back in the day when I could comfortably get up from a chair without involuntarily making noises, I was both an referee for underage leagues and a goalkeeper. During one match, a relatively high ball came my way and instinctively I just jumped up and caught it. My feet hadn’t even touched the ground before reality kicked in and I thought “Oh fuck, what have I done?”
I’ve never been one to make the good split second decisions under pressure (so I probably could have made it as a PL ref, HIYOOOO!), but I have to say I was impressed with how, on one hand, brain was able to fuck up like this, and at the same time come up with a plan so quickly. No sooner had I landed than I turned to the nearest player and said “Care to repeat that? Because if you say anything like that to a ref again you’ll be in big trouble.” Stunned, he tried to plead innocence but it was difficult due to the sheer bemusement of the situation, but as soon as he opened his mouth I snapped back “You’re lucky you’re not getting booked for that so I suggest you stop talking or the card is coming out”.
After the match, the manager asked what the player had said. I told him it wasn’t anything serious, and I purposefully overreacted because at that age if you let them away with the little things it turns into a bigger problem later, and that because I’m such a brilliant ref I told him that I wouldn’t be putting it in the match report. He thanked me for being so sound about it.
Any other refs out there with stories to tell?
Big D, Luxembourg
A very odd point for me to pick up in the mess of the season admittedly, but one I’ve heard a few times, and again in this morning’s mailbox. To quote James, Eire, “ It’s either arrogance or blindness to keep hitting crosses into a box that sail over the heads of small forwards into the hand of very tall keeper.”
Maybe this is a discussion on the viability of strikers scoring headers full stop, but whatever.
Below is where Firmino finished in the top scoring charts of the league, if only headers counted.
Pretty decent returns all round, I haven’t gone into it any deeper, but over the whole period has anyone scored more? Maybe Kane.
In addition, in 18/19, Mané (5’9”) was the top scorer of headers, joint with Chris Wood and Mitrovic.
Last season, another Liverpool player, Van Dijk this time, scored the most headers (obviously a bit different with a CB).
We also have Jota this season in 6th place.
Maybe Liverpool would score more with a taller forward, but if you just had to be 6’3” to score a header we never would have got rid of Carroll.
There’s obviously many way of playing football, and Liverpool haven’t been good enough this season. But they have been exceptional over the last 3, and I’ve loved watching the crosses in the meantime.
KC (would rather Trent be crossing to Jota than Carroll)
Let me start off by saying I have no club allegiance axe to grind therefore it’s not a case of jealous rival etc. But watching Man City v Dortmund yesterday reinforced the sad truth of where this is all heading. To be able to completely dominate a supposed European top team to such a degree, whilst barely getting out of second gear show just how far out of kilter things have become. Yes, there was actually only 2 goals between the teams, yes City occasionally lose (e.g. against Leeds or Man Utd) but the simple facts are they are a relentless machine, so far ahead of anything else in any other league, with the financial muscle to cherry pick the very best for their own means from whomever they want. If Pep wants Erling Haaland, then he will be at City next year, if he isn’t there, it is because Pep doesn’t want him.
We can all sit in denial and talk about Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid spending this amount or that amount, but the simple unrelenting truth is that Man City are miles above all of them and there is simply no means of changing that, unless another club owner is prepared to spend the astronomical amounts of cash repetitively year in and year out as they do for City.
There will no doubt be the usual TV hyperbole before their semi-final with PSG, building up Mbappe and Neymar. But the fact is, they wont get close. Pep’s mob might give the illusion of a competitive game, but will simply swat them aside. City are becoming the football equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, which ‘supposed’ opponents/cannon fodder being lined up to be toyed with before being dispatched.
They are heading for a quadruple this season and barring some catastrophic failure they will achieve it, but this will only be history making in the sense of it being the first time. City will dominate these competitions for years to come, slipping up occasionally on the odd off day, but never succumbing to real competitive opposition. They are so far ahead that they can give the Premier League half a season head start before they actually start to make an effort. Its like Usain Bolt in his prime giving his opponents a 50m start and still trouncing them to the finish line. Soon the only real contest will be for the pleasure of coming second to Man City.
The covid year has only exacerbated this gap as all other normal clubs need the revenues from the stands, the shirt sales etc and will be paying for this for years to come but City dont and wont.
RIP Football as a meaningful competitive sport.
There has been and continues to be a narrative that clubs can’t financially compete. This was repeated in this mornings mailbox that Liverpool are financially smaller than United, City and Chelsea.
It seems to be an excuse for clubs failing and boards reaping profit at the expense of clubs and fans.
It’s not just Liverpool, Spurs often repeat the same excuse and the fans buy into the narrative.
Liverpool are richer than City and Chelsea, both in club value and revenue. Spurs have higher revenue than Arsenal.
The difference is between how board and owners treat the clubs. Most owners are billionaires or part of multi-billionaire companies, City and Chelsea benefit from the owners treating the clubs as a hobby rather than a business.
Fans need to recognise the lies when owners and directors are lining their pockets but saying they can’t compete. You can compete but their payslip is more important to them than the club you follow.
Blue Chelsea Blue
Only one question, why is it when it comes to Qatar everyone suddenly remember their rulers and their pathetic Human Rights record (which as a matter of fact is true and extremely important to point out no doubt about that). What irks me is why nobody talks about not playing against Israel National Team, a country lording over the biggest open air prison of the world and surely have conducted more severe Human Rights violations than Qatar ever dared to dream. How is it that Johnny Nic doesn’t write about not participating in the same world cup because FIFA is allowing Israel to contest the WC qualifiers?? How??
Abdul (VAR mails are actually quite boring now, move on)
So now that Liverpool are out, according to KC the CL is “a sad situation it is now that the the 4 teams competing for the biggest prize are budget-less financial behemoths”
Totally anti football
“and teams like Dortmund and Atletico probably can’t rely on superb scouting and coaching alone”
Same Atletico that kicked out Liverpool last season and was dubbed anti football?
Dortmund are okay as they’re harmless for now?
I’m sure the only time CL wasn’t a sad situation when Liverpool won it, right?
It truly means more. More bullshit that is.
The Vocal Minority
32 years today
I always hate today, despite the fact that we were lucky enough to have my uncle come home from Sheffield 32 years ago.
Amidst all the nonsense going on in the world at the moment, football should remember that day, especially as fans start to come back to grounds.
May all those 96 fans rest in peace.
Aidan, EFC, London