Credit Klopp for Liverpool’s remarkable fourth-place standing…
Posted On May 20, 2021
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What to make of Liverpool’s season
After the weirdest season you could imagine, 4th is now actually in our hands. At one point top, at another we couldn’t stop losing and we’ve somehow almost pulled it out of the bag at the last moment. Credit to Klopp and the team for keeping going to the end.
It’s very hard to know precisely what to feel this year though. Sad that awful injuries and so many wasted chances completely destroyed our title defence? Happy that we’ll still – almost bizarrely – have something to show for it? Leicester probably deserve to finish above us, maybe West Ham do too. And yet we could still even pip Chelsea for 3rd.
And what on Earth will happen next season? City aren’t going to get weaker – God help us if they do get Kane. We won’t be as bad as this season but it’s hard to see us being as good as the two seasons before. The forward line desperately needs freshening up and the need for another top class centre back couldn’t be more obvious. The Thiago signing is no ones idea of a success, though he’s scarcely been aided by the constant personnel changes alongside him.
For every reason to feel a bit glum theres another to feel chirpy. And in the end, with the happy benefit of hindsight, I think I’m actually going to end up feeling very relieved and even slightly optimistic. And you wouldn’t have put any money at all on that two months ago.
James, Liverpool ( next season probably won’t be our season though)
…You’ve got to give Nat Phillips a bollock load of credit. When he came into the side, and even about ten games in, it was clear that he was out of his depth playing for a team with aspirations of winning trophies and competing at the top of the league. He has limitations, particularly his pace, but has managed to turn his season into a success with sheer bloody mindedness. You can tell a lot of effort has gone in and his goal was a nice icing on the cake today for him personally. It’s easy to imagine him having a very good premier league career at a club where they play a bit deeper but I think he will also be a very reliable backup next season if he decides to stick around.
Burnley pressed really well and surprisingly high up the pitch too. We conceded possession a few times in really dangerous areas but were lucky to not concede any huge chances off the back of our silliness. We spent a decent part of the first half trying to cut right through the centre of their defence but they seemed fairly resolute in those areas. Thankfully we did find some joy in the wide areas where Trent and Robbo had more freedom than they’ve had for most of the season. Later in the game I think we were either inviting the pressure with a view to playing a counter or trying to sit deep and just see the game out without running around too much. It wasn’t desperately fun to watch because Liverpool this season don’t keep clean sheets often.
Thiago was good again tonight but they seemed to make sure he was fairly well tracked so he didn’t get to pull the strings in the same way he did against West Brom. He still was able to help bring the ball out of defence a few times and also kept the attacks flowing and tried some nice clever stuff to create openings.
Delighted for AOC tonight. He’s looked really sketchy for a while so it will be good for him to have come on and put the tie to bed with a really good bit of play and an excellent finish.
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Premier League winners and losers
1. It’s quite remarkable that after what has felt like an a utterly abysmal season, Liverpool are now just 5 points behind 2nd place Man United. It reflects the fact that this hasn’t actually been as bad a season as people think. For the first half, Liverpool were actually pretty decent and even on a title charge. Then came something like 8 defeats in 11 which just derailed the whole thing. But right when it mattered a run has come together. If we win on Sunday, there’s no lasting impact. We can begin again fresh next season.
2. The fact that we’re 5 points off 2nd illustrates the remarkable job that Klopp has done. I know clubs have faced injuries before, but I genuinely can’t think of one this impactful. Playing from January with a loan signing and an academy graduate as the central defence. Playing the run in with 2 academy graduates who had never started a top flight match before this season. You could be critical and say Klopp played Fabinho in defence too long, but to guide this group through this period has taken a remarkable level of man management. Those writing Klopp off, calling this Dortmund 2.0, might be forced to eat their words.
3. So pleased for Nat Philips. The goal was great and a lovely moment but it’s his defensive excellent that has been behind Liverpool’s reassurance. The fact that he said he preferred heading a ball off the line to scoring a goal, and clearly genuinely meant it, sums up his attitude.
4. Thiago is getting better every game. His job isn’t providing goals or assists, that’s not what he did for Bayern, it’s to keep things moving in midfield. He’ll be a massive player next season if he stays fit.
5. Lovely goal for the Ox. We say it every year, but if he can get a run of games together without injury, he could add a lot to the team. Liverpool lack goal scoring midfielders and he clearly has that in his locker.
6. One of the overlooked bonuses about last night is that we can’t now finish 7th. The Europa League I can handle. The Europa Conference League is a horror of a competition. It’s not like when we had the UEFA cup and Cup Winners Cup, which were both great. This is a competition of teams not good enough for the Europa league. It’s not an exciting prospect.
7. Sunday will be fascinating and it’s very hard to see how it will go. Chelsea are in the strongest position but arguably have the toughest match, especially with fans back. Neither they, nor Leicester or Liverpool have an easy game. Someone will drop points I’m sure. Fingers crossed it’s not Liverpool.
Mike, LFC, London
I enjoyed Kane’s strategy of being so shit and near to anonymous that we’d obviously not get any positive result, meaning we’ll likely finish 8th or 9th and give him more leverage for a move. Smart.
Reguilon: making me yearn, pine and lust after Danny Rose like never before. I’m not even demanding the 16/17 version. I’m talking, absolute dog shit in a bag on loan at Newcastle version.
In the grand scheme of things, the last decade – roughly speaking – has been a blip. A fortunate one. Welcome back to complete and utter mediocrity, Spurs fans.
Glen, Stratford Spur
F365 Says: Spurs greet fans with a slap in the face and a kick in the teeth
It’s only words and words are all I have
Wow Matt Stead!
Heck of an opening missive in the aftermath of the Spurs game. A 111 word sentence!
Took me 4 reads to figure it out, but that’s probably just me…
Keep em coming..
AD (Commas are good for you) Somewhere
Emma Hayes for Spurs?
Alex tying himself in not there to rationalise his opinion…
Maurizio Sarri’s (presumably unsuccessful) trials at Fiorentina and Torino made him better positioned to manage a men’s football team than a successful 20 year career as a manager in Women’s football, during which she’s won four WSL’s? That experience is inadequate for her to transition in to managing Men’s football unless she does a few years (just ten, he says) as an assistant or scout for the Chelsea men’s side – because she’s guilty of not having played football while in possession of a penis?
Julian Nagelsmann is allowed in because he played u17 football for 1860 Munich before getting injured, but Hayes’ u17 career at Arsenal (also cut short by injury) gives her no insight into how football works because she had the temerity to only play against people who menstruate?
One suspects that that ten years won’t be enough for certain “needs to have played the game” commentators, unless scouting men’s football causes her to grow a set of testicles (at least one ball for each of Sarri’s failed trials).
Now, I’m not saying managing Chelsea Women is the same standard as managing Tottenham men, or that it doesn’t require slightly different expertise. The two games are a bit different, but there’s a pretty big overlap between the two on the Venn Diagramme, and the idea that there is not a substantial body of evidence that she might make a good manager in the men’s game without having to spend a decade proving herself as a scout when she’s managing an honest-to-god professional football team right now – nonsense. I don’t believe you believe that for a second.
Maybe not the Tottenham job just yet, but the next time you hear the name Sam Allardyce or Frank Lampard linked with a vacancy, Emma Hayes’ CV would be well worth a look, if she nails the interview.
Johnny Nic: Tottenham need a radical plan: What about Emma Hayes?
…I’m sorry, but did Alex really compare Emma Hayes to an armchair manager? There are plenty of reasons why hiring Hayes as Spurs manager could end in disaster or success, but to suggest the reason why she shouldn’t be considered is due to the fact she is underqualified is laughable. This is someone who has already spent 20 years in the game, holding positions such as manager. assistant manager, academy director and technical director, and was a former academy player cut short by injury. She has no need to become a scout for the next 10 years to prove she is capable of managing a group of athletes.
I understand that there are differences between the men’s and women’s game, and this letter isn’t here to get into the finer points of gender differences and sexism in sport – but if Phil Neville is qualified to coach the women’s England team on the back of being a former player, then Emma Hayes is qualified to coach a men’s Premier League team based on her storied career. Again, I am not saying whether she would be a success or failure, or whether she would even be interested in being that particular canary in the coal mine. But despite the differences between the two games, as John rightfully pointed out, the fundamental elements of football are the same across the board; same game, same rules, same end-goal.
And again, I know there will be people saying/thinking that the men’s game is better/faster/stronger and all that jazz; so look at it this way. If Emma Hayes can achieve all she has achieved with ‘inferior’ players – imagine what she could do with better players and better resources?
In defence of Gini
Have to say I’m a bit disgusted by some of the Liverpool letters.
Sure Gini isn’t signing a new contract.
And maybe his game has been erratic.
But it shows a distinct lack of class to say things like good riddance. Even if he hadn’t been integral to a champs league win it would still be pretty classless.
He’s always been a committed, hard working player who’s never created any problems and been a professional the entire time. I don’t think he deserves that kind of treatment. To be honest I don’t even want to see our fans treat bad players that way. What does it say to incoming players when fans will say things like that just because you want a different challenge or change of scenery?
Dont resort to that kind of classless behaviour. Leave that to the YouTube fan channels.
Why nobody uses the Webster ruling
Because there seems to be some mailbox confusion over why Harry Kane doesn’t just invoke the Webster ruling and buy himself out of his contract for the price of three years’ salary, I asked my friend Google to explain.
I must admit I zoned out amid all the legalese after a while, but from what I could tell, the Webster ruling isn’t a definitive precedent. When a player called Matuzalem tried to do the same in 2007, FIFA determined that the payoff to his former club would be a hefty 6.8m euros. On appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the amount was increased to 11.8m euros, to account for the damage done to his former club by him unilaterally terminating his contract. So the balance of power swung back heavily in favour of the clubs in these cases.
Essentially, if any player tried the same now, it would be up to CAS to determine the amount payable in damages, and it would certainly not be as trivial as three years’ salary for a player of Kane’s stature. Tottenham could argue that the team’s chances of success (ho ho) would be diminished, commercial opportunities would be lost, reputational damage would be incurred, etc, plus the cost of signing a replacement. On the other hand, Kane’s new club might argue that his value is low because his age and injury record make him unlikely to have much career longevity.
So it seems a very unappealing situation to get involved in, especially since it means that the buying club has no idea how much the transfer will eventually cost. After spending years in court battles and appeals, like the Matuzalem and Webster cases did, and whatever effect that might have on Kane’s morale (although he’d probably be retired by the time it’s all decided), his new club might wish they gone for a cheaper, easier transfer, like Haaland, Neymar or Mbappe. I suppose this is why ambitious players have good agents.
In reply to Ebrahim, let’s remember why the “Big 6” was first coined. It was because United were so bloody awful when Fergie left that the United media fanboys had to try and shoehorn them into the conversation. It’s not a huge surprise that the United squad has better quality than Spurs or Arsenal, they have thrown an extraordinary amount of money at the problem. And yet the fans still moan about the Glazers not spending anything. Law of averages suggests you might get some quality out of that spend. I guess some Spurs fans will chuckle that for all the current problems at least it hasn’t been 10 years since they played in the biggest club game, unlike United.
I see Robert Melia has started the not unexpected d**k waving from United fans trying to talk down City’s season. You can tell when a team isn’t really competing for anything when their fans start talking about things that happened in the past.
In the interests of fairness let’s just present some of the facts that Robert conveniently ignores. We can all agree that on paper the Inter and Juve teams look strong yet Robert fails to mention that Inter finished 8th in Serie A that season (24 points behind 1st place) and Juve finished 6th (16 points behind 1st place). Yes they had a list of great players but these were not great teams in great form. If anything, United should’ve wiped the floor with them given the form Robert rightly highlights United were in.
Also Robert seems to have ignored the inherent advantage that United had in the league at that time. He can say all he wants about City’s rule bending etc but in the 90’s United benefited massively by having a group of young players come through at the right time and milking that all decade long (and beyond). Yes United were the best team but they also spent years as the only CL qualifier and access to its riches which they then used to squash basically everyone else. United literally just had to finish ahead of Arsenal to be champions.
Finally I suggest that Robert goes and watches more football because if he thinks that season contains some of the greatest games in football history he is very much deluded. Don’t confuse “United’s football history” as being all of football history.
Prick of the Week: The Harry Kane Summer Transfer Saga
Pricks and conspiracies
On the 23rd March this year, Football365 published the feature ‘Prick of the Week No. 27: Conspiracies and penalties’. An entire column about supposed conspiracy theories referencing a supposedly stone wall penalty by Matty Cash on Harry Kane for Cash taking Kane’s legs for a ball Kane was never going to catch. In the return fixture between Spurs and Villa, Ollie Watkins has just had his legs taken by him by Hugo Lloris for a ball he was never going to catch and the referee and VAR ref have waived this away without even a second thought.
It is not really a conspiracy theory when the evidence of the inconsistency and bias is there for all to see.
I’m now expecting that this week’s edition of ‘Prick of the Week’ will feature the aforementioned ‘Prick of the Week No. 27: Conspiracies and penalties’ .
Thanks in advance.
Dave S, Birmingham (thanks also to Reguilón for recognising the injustice of it all and taking matters into his own hands)
Rules are rules
I’ve watched football for nearly 40 years. As a United support I have seen us cheat and be cheated. I have seen scandalous decisions benefit us and hurt us.
But always I understood why the ref likely made the mistake usually because a player conned them or occasionally because they are human and a bit shit at their job every so often.
In 2021 though I no longer understand the rules of the game.
I’ve given up trying to understand handball, but offside I thought I knew.
Every with the annual changes, if the player is offside but doesn’t interfere, then their offside is irrelevant.
We have seen many, many examples where a player has been in the centre of the box, often directly in front of the goalkeeper – if he tries to connect with the ball (irrelevant whether he succeeds) then offside, if he stays still then not offside.
So not begrudging Liverpool their VAR makeup for some of the shockers against them this season, but truly without sarcasm or tongue in cheek or anything else.
Could someone please, in a non patronising, not my team good your team bad explain why the West Brom goal was offside cuz I seriously have no clue.
Matt, Utd, NYC
Onslow at the Albion
I watched West Brom v West Ham with the Australian missus last night. She think Sam Allardyce looks like Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances.