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Liverpool and the Premier League
Mails today about Klopp’s’/LFC fans view of ‘concentrating on the League’ crystallised something that’s been nagging at me for a while. Namely, why are ‘Pool fans so obsessed with winning the title? Isn’t it actually more realistic to for them to target the FA or League cups rather than the EPL? A quick glance at the figures shows United winning the EPL 13 times (Grrr), Chelsea 5 times, Arsenal and City 3 times and Blackburn and Leicester once. Arsenal have been runners up 6 times and Liverpool just 3 times.
My clumsy point is this. Why is there such a noise made about it by ‘Pool fans given that their actual record of “success” is so poor? Now, perhaps its selective hearing, but I don’t hear quite the same clamour from Arsenal Spurs or Chelsea fans. And yes, I’m all too painfully aware that this is the same club currently 4 points clear at the top of league and who’ve also won the UCL, something my club can only dream about.
I’m not suggesting for a second they shouldn’t try and it’s been my view for quite a while that the only thing that will stop LFC winning this season (and Spurs for that matter) will be injuries and/or contentious decisions by match officials. Guardiola goes for all four competitions because he can. Just two key injuries would see LFC becoming the bridesmaid and not the bride yet again.
I repeat, I’m not saying Liverpool shouldn’t aspire to the title but at what point, if any, do you finally consider winning something other than top spot as your season’s priority? I’d love to own an Aston Martin DB5 but it’s more realistic for me to have a new ford hatchback every 3 years so unless LFC gets bought by The Saudi Royal Family, what’s going to change? It’s been 27 years since the Prem started after all.
Mark (Not defending City’s squad depth btw. It is what it is). MCFC
Sorry, the goal is the league
I can’t believe some of the idiocy I see on here from LFC fans after losing the FA Cup match. First, the fella from London who thinks it’s an insult to the competition to start Dejan Lovren, a center half who has played the previous six games in that position, at center half, is being ridiculous. You might want him dropped from big games, but one, an FA Cup 3rd round fixture is not a big game and two, who exactly was Klopp supposed to pick? Virgil van Dijk and Alisson have played every match this season except the Chelsea League Cup fixture. A rest for them was warranted.
Additionally, I highly doubt that winning the FA Cup, a tournament that a manager can win and then get fired a week later, was going to quench anyone’s thirst for glory at LFC. These days, it’s not much different than the League Cup, which the writer slags off in the same post as being unimportant. He’s right about one thing. Liverpool have grown obsessed with winning the Premier League, maybe because it’s been 29 years since we’ve won a title and it would mean everything to the fanbase to do it! Oh and thank you for being “the first” to say City are going to win the title this year. Such a bold prediction.
Onto Colin, who isn’t ready to say Klopp out, but is outraged by the fact that players who get paid to play football, but are not part of LFC’s first choice XI, are once in a while expected to play football. You’ll have to excuse a man who has managed his side to a four point cushion atop the Premier League table if he doesn’t agree with your expert opinion that the FA Cup was Liverpool’s best shot at a trophy. This being said at a stage when 32 teams are still in it. The players who took the field Monday night have a role to play. It’s to play in games where the first XI need a rest or to come off the bench. The fact they didn’t get the job done is disappointing, but only further illustrates the fine line Klopp is walking with this squad in the title race. Yes, City sent out a better team than Liverpool, but that’s because they have a second XI that could probably finish mid table in the Premier League.
Injuries and the fact that the team just ran a crazy nine match gauntlet in which they went undefeated until narrowly losing away to the champions determined the lineup. Not because Klopp thinks the overhyped FA Cup is worthless, even though it kind of is. Finishing fourth in the league is more lucrative and important for long term goals than winning a shiny tea pot. How you’ve determined that the FA Cup was more possible, when you likely have to face a Chelsea or City eventually to win it, is not exactly science is it?
And by the way, the journey does matter. Let’s say this is a holiday to your dream destination. To get this point, we’ve had a ton of cancelled flights and lengthy layovers in terrible places and now the end destination is actually possible. Sorry, the goal is the league. Winning the FA Cup instead is like trying to get to New York City and be re-routed through Philadelphia. It’s cool and all, but that’s not where we wanted to go.
David, LFC Tampa Bay
Custis and ‘The Day Today’
I loved the transcript of Custis v White refereed by Brazil. Especially:
AB: “Come on. What’s the news?”
NC: “No, he can’t just cut me off like that and walk off like that.”
AB: “Well, he has, because he’s on at ten.”
Just reminds me of Peter O’Hanrahanhanrahan from ‘The Day Today’. ‘Peter, you’ve lost the news! Next time you cross the road, don’t bother looking.’
Christ what has happened to journalism?!
A double VAR farce
I must start with two confessions. Firstly I am a Chelsea fan. Secondly, I detest the way VAR slows down the game and only looks at certain things. It makes it inherently unfair in my opinion. I am all for goal line tech because it is done in real time and is incredibly accurate.
What we saw last night was a shambles on so many levels, with officials going against the guidelines and overturning a correct decision.
We’ve previously seen a Mata goal disallowed for Man U because a tiny portion of his kneecap (which you can score with) was offside. We are told than any part of the body that can score a goal cannot be offside.
Last night there were two major errors. At this point, we must credit the assistant, who actually got a very tight decision absolutely spot on. There is no doubt that Kane was offside – his feet might not have been, but his chest, shoulder and head all were. That makes him categorically offside.
However, despite doing the right thing, and subsequently flagging for offside, this is wrong in the VAR era. I know people are going to say “play to the whistle” but you can see the Chelsea defenders raise their hands and stop playing. The assistant raising his flag impacts on play. I didn’t realise things like this could eve be reviewed if the assistant raised his flag?
So while he was right to raise the flag (as Kane was offside) he was wrong to do it because of VAR. That makes sense?!
Then the real shambles begins. The decision is then reviewed on one angle, apparently from what looks like the corner flag. This is totally the wrong perspective. All it showed was that Kane’s foot was just in line with Azpilicueta’s. Where was the view that was needed to make an accurate decision? Basic biology will tell you that if two people are level but moving in opposite directions then there will be different body angles and positions in play. So even on that angle it could be deduced Kane actually was offside. But you simply cannot have VAR and then not have the cameras in position to make a correct decision.
As it transpired from the data tracking camera, Kane was clearly offside. So VAR has delayed the game by two minutes, changed the result, and overturned a brilliant decision by the assistant. This is the future?
If we are only going to have one dreadful camera angle, then VAR simply cannot work.
And I am vehemently against VAR, so would absolutely be saying the same thing had the decision gone the way of CFC.
Tom Birkert, London (PS – Hudson-Odoi >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Pedro >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Willian)
Completely agree with Simon, THFC about the replays being shown instead of the action on the pitch when the ball is in play. *Really* frustrates me, especially when it’s the camera cutting to some old dude in the crowd watching the game that we’re not seeing at that particular moment.
The Man City-Liverpool game had this last week when the camera spent about 2 minutes focused on Pep throwing his scarf in anger at a decision when there were only a couple of minutes to go. I don’t care if the reason is because nothing of note is happening on the pitch, I want to be able to see that ‘nothing’, especially if that nothing turns into something.
When BT Sport first started showing Premier League football, I’m sure I remember they’d have a small window in the corner that would continue to show the game when they showed a replay or cut to the manager – I feel like I may now have imagined this – but I don’t understand why this isn’t possible. Certainly when it’s the camera cutting to the manager/chief exec/injured player in the stands – why can’t that just be displayed in a small window so that the commentator can still make a comment on that person without it interfering directly with the main view?
Don L. Renegade
I just wanted to concur with John Stanley, Tottenham fan from this mornings mailbox.
Almost exactly a year ago [January 11th 2018] I wrote in [unpublished] to say why I thought BT were stoking up the bias against VAR. They would have Howard Webb as their 3rd commentator reviewing controversial decisions, but constantly agree with whatever the match day official said, at most he may have said it should have been given differently, but I can see why he’s given it. Always has a disclaimer.
So people are being told the match day official is always right, [despite knowing this not to be true] so when a decision goes against your team in the ground, and VAR overrules the ref, people are going to be incensed. It’s the best thing since sliced bread if it over rules the ref in your teams favour though.
Sky showing incorrect lines purposefully just to stoke debates, and at a certain point you know it’ll feed into their betting channels… aka 2/1 will there be a VAR decision [upheld] made in the match. The likes of Souness and Savage will never get their heads round the technology so it will be bashed for years to come.
I don’t see it changing that replays will be shown in the stadiums though, football fans are not trusted enough. Even in Ireland football friendlies if there is a free kick the stadium puts an ad on the TV in case it’s a controversial decision and we peasants riot.
I hope VAR is a success, and is made more accessible for match day going fans.
Sick of Lovren narrative
Dear Sir or Madam
I am really sick of fellow Liverpool fans having a go at Lovren. It doesn’t matter what he does in a match, the media narrative is that he is a poor defender and everyone, including Football365, believes this.
In the game against City, Lovren showed Aguero on to his weaker foot and down the line. Correct defending. It was an incredible strike that beat Alisson at his near post. However, let’s all blame Lovren. Can you imagine how much blame Lovren would still be getting if if he conceded that penalty at Anfield? People would still be going on about it. Since the Tottenham match from last season, how many mistakes has he actually made? VVD is, of course, a far better defender, but I can recall several he has made, such as the aforementioned penalty, the goal against City in the Champions League quarter final and the poor clearance against PSG in the 2-1 defeat.
From whoscored.com, Lovren rates as Liverpool’s 4th best player, with a far higher rating than Gomez for example. I remember last year against Brighton how he was our only centre back, yet superbly marshalled the defence consisting of Can and Wijnaldum! He also seems like a really good bloke. In the current political climate, it was brave of him to speak in support of refugees. He also loves a coffee with Mo Salah!
Stop criticising our players and get behind them and the manager.
Bench pressing lawyer (PS: first time I have ever emailed in.)
Mini world cup wouldn’t work
Andy (MUFC) had an interesting idea with regards to making the FA Cup an end of season affair but unfortunately I think this would devalue the cup further. So the PL finishes in mid April now that the fixtures are pulled forward to make room – you’ve just won the league/stayed up or been relegated after a long hard season – how many of those clubs are going to enter anywhere near a full strength team?
The first team squad will be sent on holiday immediately as the clubs would see the obvious benefit of their star players resting from the end of April to the end of June when pre-season starts – throw in a WC or Euros year to boot and you’d end up with most of the PL entering their U23 sides with a few squad players they hope to offload in the mix for good measure – you’d need to fit it in with the existing Football League play-offs as well which would be a scheduling nightmare.
The FA Cup is fine as it is but if a tweak were to be needed, I think a shift towards the German DFB Pokal format could work. Everyone enters at Round 1 – the clubs that finished in the top 32 places in the league automatically qualify, the other 32 spots go to qualifiers. Qualifying is through the local FA Cup competitions, i.e. one spot goes to the winner of the Berks and Bucks Cup for example – the Checkatrade could also be used as a qualifying competition as well.
The 1st round is played on the Saturday before the season starts with the top 32 all playing away and acts as a proper curtain-raiser to the season, the rest of the ties spread out across the season either midweek or at weekends depending on how the schedule works. No replays, ties played to an end.
OK, so I actually agree with the majority of Dave’s email from the morning Mailbox, about how choosing to lose would be an odd decision, given how hard it is to win. Now I don’t think Liverpool actually did this, but obviously they looked at their priorities and decided the FA Cup was a distant third. That’s fine, they can do whatever they want as far as I’m concerned (bet that is a relief to them), although I would argue momentum is as important as rest in this sort of situation (I also argued that England should play a full strength team vs. Belgium in the summer though, so what do I know).
My gripe is with the following – “the team that wins the premier league usually also wins another competition”. I know, I really should have just left it, but I can’t be bothered doing any work this morning, so decided to check up on this.
There have been 26 completed seasons of Premier League football; in this time, 11 teams have won the league and another trophy (for the purpose of this, I’ve included FA Cup, League Cup and the Champions League). This accounts to 42% of teams to win the Premier League winning another trophy. However, dig a little deeper, and we see that 4 of these 11 occurrences have included a Premier League and League Cup double. I am absolutely a fan of the League Cup, and have happily celebrated when United have won it, so I don’t like to discount it, but given it is clearly the 4th priority for most clubs, if we discount it from this, we see that only 27% of teams have won the League and FA Cup/Champions League. Finally, this has happened in only 3 of the 19 seasons that have finished this century (’99/00 to ’17/18), meaning it has been done only 16% of the time in this century, with the last of these coming in 2010, close to a full decade ago.
So I’d actually argue that the team that wins the league does not usually win another competition, and it is becoming increasingly hard to do so.
Jack (Like to stress I don’t believe teams would deliberately throw a game just to avoid fixture congestion) Manchester
Looking at the recent struggles of Thibaut Courtois at Real Madrid, I’ve been wondering whether judging a goalkeeper by the amount of clean sheets kept makes any sense.
I mean clean sheets could be due to a great defence, could be due to the opposition hitting the post three times in a single game, could be due the opposition playing so poorly that they don’t even muster a single shot on target the entire game and so on and so on. On the opposite end, most times it’s unreasonable to expect a goalkeeper to make a save when a shot on target is so well hit that it’s physically impossible for any mortal human being to keep it out of the net.
Against a top 6 side, many of the “weaker teams” sit back and try to play counter attacking football which results in the goalkeeper having pretty much nothing to do and at the end of the game, have a clean sheet reflecting against their name that we then judge them by come end of the season forgetting that many times they contributed little to possibly zero in actually achieving it.
Surely a more accurate way to measure their performances would be shots faced versus saved, number of unforced errors poor clearance, posession given away, number of corners claimed, number of times the goalkeeper came off his line and flapped at the air instead of claiming the ball, number of 1v1 situations he has come out on top, number of penalties saved, number of saves from shots taken inside the 6 yard area, 18 yard area, outside the 18 yard area etc.
Given the amount of data available in modern football, I’m sure that more accurate and relevant statistics could be generated for Goalkeepers? This should also apply to all positions on the football pitch and one day when pigs fly perhaps it could be used as a basis to award a Ballon d’or instead of relying purely on perception and popularity.
Shahzaad, South Africa
Scrap the League Cup
Fixing the FA Cup is simple; scrap the League Cup. With only one cup competition, teams would take it more serious, and therefore, the significance would increase, as well as limiting the amount of fixtures in a season too.
Furthermore, the prize for winning should change based on the league the winning team is in, so the last Champions League spot for PL teams, the last play-off spot for the lower divisions. Gives a bit of incentive, no?
Does Rami, London not see the irony that he sounds a bit obsessed with the Liverpool fans/title challenge now that United aren’t (or were never) in it?
Klopp is the ultimate bridesmaid
Klopp got it wrong against City, inhibiting the team with the midfield he selected, ceding the initiative and handing City the win their superior squad was more than capable of achieving without his help. The fact that we had City pressed back and penned in, in the closing stages of the game, showed the fear we could have exploited with a more aggressive approach earlier on.
Klopp got it wrong against Wolves, and admitted as much. Wolves are no mugs and Klopp effectively sent his lambs to the slaughter with that back line, further compounded by Lovren getting injured (although his replacement looked miles more composed, despite being about half his age). Wolves are one of the much better mid table Prem teams and they and the FA Cup demand and deserve much more respect.
Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the Premiership had massive doses of luck along the way, the Everton goal and the missed Mahrez penalty immediately spring to mind but there were plenty more, and Liverpool’s performances weren’t quite befitting a team bossing the league, so to have suffered a loss is no great surprise. It’s reasonable to expect we will drop more points (Brighton away is the worst possible next fixture) and a re-energised City are favourites to capitalise and win the Title again given their better, deeper squad and previous experience of doing so.
The City result is the latest in a long line of ultra-critical high pressure games that Klopp has lost, adding to his oft-reported litany of failures in finals – it has been going on for so long now that there must be something wrong in his preparation for these pinnacle of pressure games – either he is too passionate and emotional, or not pragmatic nor tactically astute enough. Something is clearly awry, his record speaks for itself.
Even if we do smash Bayern and get through to the Champs League final again, sweeping all before us in regular goal fests like we enjoyed last season, I would not have any confidence in us winning the final for the aforementioned reason. I mailed in earlier that the FA Cup was Liverpool and Klopp’s best chance of silverware, so was dismayed when Klopp deprioritised it with his selection. Given the regular final failings, Klopp absolutely should be targeting getting some silverware – without it the pressure of his losing record will only increase.
By throwing the FA Cup, Klopp has ramped up the pressure on his players in the Prem exponentially – we haven’t really played with any pressure up to now, but the Brighton game, following Klopp’s cock-ups, has become a second cup final in a week after the pressure-stoked City game, and we all know how Klopp and his players perform in cup finals.
But despite all the above I love Klopp, love his approach, love his rapport with his players and the fans, and love how I feel about Liverpool at the moment. Winning really isn’t everything. Shanks would likely disagree, but there is much to be said for just enjoying watching your team have a go, doing their best and playing attacking football, scoring goals along the way. Salah giving his penalty to Bobby for example – just positivity.
If that makes me a loser, so be it. 99.999% of football fans are at the end of the season anyway, might as well have some fun along the way.
Gofezo (so much hate for Liverpool in the Mailbox and comments recently – how have we failed to achieve plucky loser second team status by now?) Jesus