Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph has taken it upon himself to invent that Newcastle and Liverpool’s rivalry has turned toxic.
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?
There’s only one place to start and that’s with Luke Edwards in the Daily Telegraph taking it upon himself to explain ‘How Newcastle and Liverpool’s rivalry turned toxic’.
More accurately, he has taken it upon himself to invent that Newcastle and Liverpool’s rivalry has turned toxic.
We have checked with various Newcastle and Liverpool fans, all of whom have confirmed that this is absolutely Not A Thing.
‘The bad blood had been building for months and culminated in an ugly, ill-tempered climax to Liverpool’s narrow victory over Newcastle United in August with the fallout further souring relationships and making this weekend’s clash a tantalising one.’
‘The bad blood had been building for months’ and yet the Daily Telegraph’s own match report from that August game makes absolutely no mention of this burgeoning rivalry.
There was an ‘ugly, ill-tempered climax’ but that was not the culmination of a months-long beef but the culmination of 98 minutes of football.
‘The animosity between these two clubs is a relatively new phenomenon, driven by the fact Newcastle are no longer irrelevant in Liverpool’s trophy-challenging, Champions League-competing world.’
It’s not a ‘relatively new phenomenon’, Luke, it’s a ‘relatively imaginary phenomenon’.
But let’s allow him to explain how this supposed rivalry turned ‘toxic’…
‘Frustrating results against one another’ is the first explanation, eliciting an involuntary guffaw from Mediawatch.
‘It would be wrong to call Newcastle United a bogey team for Jurgen Klopp,’ he concedes. You think? Of the English teams Klopp has faced 10 or more times since he became Liverpool manager, only Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Watford and Burnley have proved easier to beat.
‘Even so, Newcastle managed to get under the German’s skin. Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw, at St James’ Park, when Rafa Benitez was Newcastle manager back in October in 2017. It was the third time since he took over that Klopp had failed to beat Newcastle.’
It was indeed the third time since he took over that Klopp had failed to beat Newcastle. But it’s poor form to mention that statistic without also detailing the next 10 games in which Liverpool dropped just four points.
‘In the 2020/21 season, under Steve Bruce, when Newcastle were a divided club led by an unpopular manager, Liverpool dropped four points against them. They were held to a goalless draw at St James’ Park in December and again at Anfield in April when Joe Willock scored an injury time equaliser. Liverpool lost their Premier League crown, finishing third.’
Mediawatch loves the implication that Newcastle were the reason Liverpool ‘lost their Premier League crown’; they finished 17 points behind Manchester City having lost to Aston Villa, Southampton, Burnley, Brighton, Leicester, Everton and Fulham among others. Looking at those set of results, we’re slightly embarrassed for Newcastle that they only drew.
But moving on from all those results that have got under Jurgen Klopp’s skin, we’re told that Newcastle ‘poaching an analyst’ has created bad blood. The German sure did sound mad when he quipped: “I have to say, ‘Mark, if you see this, we’ll play a completely different team!’” ahead of a meeting last April which Liverpool of course won 1-0. He’s fuming!
Edwards then moves on to ‘Newcastle’s feelings of inferiority’, which feels like a reason for resentment rather than rivalry but he takes us through a whistle-stop tour of Liverpool being much better than Newcastle.
‘The Magpies looked on with envy as a club they were once equal, if not superior too, left them behind.’
Even if we ignore the spelling, we cannot help but point out that Newcastle have been left behind by a whole lot of clubs. Eight English clubs have won more. That’s a lot of potentially toxic rivalries.
‘For generations, Liverpool operated in a different stratosphere to Newcastle but the takeover changed that.
‘Liverpool were one of the clubs who fought to stop it going through, exerting pressure on the Premier League to block the Saudi arrival. Having felt patronised for years, Newcastle perceived they were now being actively prevented from progressing out of the self interest of bigger rivals worried about them becoming direct competition. When Klopp started to publicly attack them after the takeover, it fanned the flames.’
There were 18 Premier League clubs fighting the takeover. Again, that’s a lot of potentially toxic rivalries.
‘Klopp has been one of the most outspoken critics of state-sponsored football clubs, frequently bemoaning how unfair it is to expect others to compete financially with those owned by fossil fuel rich states.
‘It played well with some but annoyed others, most notably those employed by these clubs.’
So the people employed by football clubs owned by sportswashers were annoyed that Klopp spoke out against football clubs owned by sportswashers? Whatever next? Well astonishingly, what comes next is this:
‘Many had grown up in a football world where Liverpool were always one of the richest in Europe and whose historical success had been built on buying the best players from domestic and foreign rivals. Liverpool were no paupers and had once flaunted their financial dominance over English football, especially in the 1970s and 80s.’
Yes, it is somehow hypocritical for Klopp to criticise state-owned football clubs when he is a coach at the club that *checks notes* bought some pretty good players 40-odd years ago when they were the best team in England by some margin.
There is some long-winded bumpf about how Klopp has aimed digs at Newcastle and their spending while ignoring comments such as these: “They’ve done really well, signed good players. The power Newcastle has now, there has been a lot of change. This season, they’ve made smart moves and added stability to the players that were there before. It’s really good to see what little changes can make.”
Yes, he definitely ‘publicly bristled whenever Newcastle’s name was mentioned’. Those comments are absolutely loaded with resentment.
And then to the ‘Battle of Anfield’ in which ‘someone on the Newcastle bench had thrown a plastic bottle at Liverpool’s backroom staff’. Sounds like a c***’s trick but it’s all in the name of the dark arts.
‘It was in the wake of this Liverpool defeat and the criticism of their methods that Howe came out with the line, “we are here to win, not to be liked.” It was a line he repeated after a goalless draw against Arsenal, which also became fractious. There is a sharp edge to Newcastle’s elbows and they are annoying rivals.
‘Newcastle know how to deploy the dark arts, but they lost to Liverpool and it stung. Howe hates losing just as much as Klopp and both are protective of their clubs when it comes to outside criticism.
‘What it really shows is that Newcastle is a rising power. They are a threat to Liverpool in a way they have not been for more than half a century. It is a new era rivalry and an increasingly bitter one.’
So ‘increasingly bitter’ that nobody actually knew it existed. But well done, Luke, for drawing attention away from Newcastle drawing five of their last six games.
We really should have learned by now…
The only thing on the internet concerning Luke Edwards that is ever worth reading. pic.twitter.com/yg9CxmgWom
— Simon Williams (@SimonWilliams81) February 17, 2023
The Amazing World of Tactics
‘How Ten Hag shuffled pack to ruin Barcelona’s anti-Rashford plan with new positions for three Man Utd players’ is the headline on The Sun website, who have dipped their toes in the tactical pond and come out with their feet absolutely covered in sh*t.
‘ERIK TEN HAG ruined Barcelona’s anti-Marcus Rashford plan by shuffling his pack with new positions for THREE Manchester United stars,’ it begins.
Did he? Or did he stick with THREE Manchester United stars in the same THREE positions that eventually beat Leeds United last weekend? Did he see that working and decide to try it again? Like, you know, any sensible football coach might do? Is it really ‘shuffling your pack’ if you did it just a few days before?
‘Dutch tactician Ten Hag found his options limited for tonight’s Europa League battle at the Nou Camp.
‘Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer were suspended for the crunch clash.
‘While Donny van de Beek, Christian Eriksen, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay and Antony were all missing through injury.
‘However, Ten Hag still pushed through an amazing tactical tweak to dull Barcelona’s senses and get the best from his own forward line.’
The ‘Dutch tactician’ literally had 10 of the starting XI from Sunday’s win over Leeds United available, so the ‘amazing tactical tweak’ was to play his footballers in the positions in which they excelled in that game. It would have been far more ‘amazing’ if he had ignored all that and just persevered with the formation that had not worked for an hour at Leeds.
‘Amazingly, 6ft 6in striker Wout Weghorst was deployed a surprise No10, with fans declaring him the “new Marouane Fellaini.”’
We’re only seven paragraphs in and we are already on our second ‘amazing’.
‘The Dutchman is usually known for his work as a targetman in the penalty area.
‘But Ten Hag decided to use Weghorst’s brute strength and aerial prowess so he could win the ball against Barcelona’s midfield pass masters.
‘The switch was first deployed in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Leeds.’
Oh. So you did know that?
‘And it again saw Bruno Fernandes moved to the wing, where he could drift inside to firm up possession while also playing intricate passes to slice through Barca’s backline.
‘Finally, star man Rashford was moved into the central No9 role despite his starring performances from wide areas this term.’
Again? So you are acknowledging that this is not a new ‘amazing tactical tweak’ but actually something Ten Hag has tried several times before. Along with playing Rashford up front for – by our reckoning – the tenth time this season. And that’s not counting all the in-game switches into that position.
‘It meant the speedy maestro was able to pick up positions off the shoulder of Jules Kounde.
‘And it also nullified Barca’s pre-match plan to stick centre-back Ronald Araujo on him.
‘The Uruguayan was deployed as a right-back to specifically deal with Rashford’s runs down the wing.’
He was also deployed as a right-back last week v Real Madrid so we think it was more of an anti-Vinicius plan redeployed but why let that get in the way of a story about some truly amazing tactical tweaks?