Last night Liverpool and Manchester United bored the watching public to their second 0-0 on Premier League history. Manchester United were unambitious, carrying 35% possession, their lowest total in a Premier League match since Opta began recording this data in 2003-04.
Jose Mourinho side have won their lowest points total after his first eight league games with a new club since his time with Uniao de Leiria (10 points).
The BBC say the game was “rubbish”.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says: “No one will show this game in 10 or 20 years.”
Chris Crocker adds: “Reality is if Van Gaal’s team had played like that every ‘expert’ would be slating him for weeks. Jose does it he is a genius.”
Not everyone. But some, yes.
This is what Neil Curtis said in the Sun on the morning of the big match:
JOSE MOURINHO is desperately trying to rid Manchester United of the memories from the Louis van Gaal era. That is why he will never serve up a borefest like the Dutchman with his much vaunted ‘philosophy’…
Mourinho is up for another tactical masterclass just like he delivered two years ago…
The Portuguese said: “Last season Liverpool vs United and Liverpool had 14 shots on target and United had one and the result was 0-1. I don’t think that is going to happen again.”
It didn’t. Last night United had one shot on target and failed to score. Under Van Gaal United player Liverpool four times in the Premier League. They won them all.
It’s all about Mourinho in the media. The BBC holds a debate on the United manager with itself:
“Is this a new United way?” asks the BBC. Yes there is, says the BBC.
How United fans will be thrilled by supporting a pragmatic team.
Says Jose Mourinho:
“I think was a positive performance. If you analyse the game see the reason why did it, playing Young and Fellaini. We had control of the game – there were two amazing saves by David de Gea it’s true but they were out of context. The reaction from their crowd was permanent disappointment. People expected us to come here and be really in trouble, which we were not.”
To recap: United were boring when they won at Liverpool with a philosophy; United are exciting and new when they draw 0-0 with a “masterclass” and a “new way”.
Still, at least Jose has won over the media. Van Gaal never did.
In readiness for Liverpool v Manchester United – now horribly billed ‘El Classico UK’ – the Sun’s Man Neil Custis is here to praise United boss Jose Mourinho.
‘JOSE MOURINHO is desperately trying to rid Manchester United of the memories from the Louis van Gaal era.”
He is? Under Van Gaal. United did pretty well against the Reds.
On the match Liverpool 1 – Manchester United 2, for example, Alan Shearer noted on Match of the Day: “United moved the ball quickly and they passed it well too – their one or two-touch football has clearly improved massively of late. But the most impressive part of their performance in the first 45 minutes at Anfield was their intensity when they did not have possession.”
Van Gaal’s record against Liverpool:
December 14th 2014
Manchester United 3-0 Liverpool
Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie
March 22nd 2015
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
Juan Mata x 2
September 12th 2015
Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool
Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial.
January 17th 2016
Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United
United: W4 D0 L0 GF9 GA2
Liverpool: W0 D0 L4 GF2 GA9
The BBC said of the last encounter:
This was every inch a game between sides sitting sixth and ninth in the Premier League before kick-off.
This time round, Liverpool are fourth and United are seventh. But free football maestro Mourinho is here to enliven and thrill.
“That is why he [Mourinho] will never serve up a borefest like the Dutchman with his much vaunted ‘philosophy’.”
This is what Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has to say in the Times about when Mourinho’s Chelsea came to Anfield on April 27, 2014.
“I will never forget the way they played the game. It was very slow, they sat in. It was difficult to watch. Throw-ins, goal kicks, they were taking forever and that got everyone worked up in the stadium and it worked to their advantage because they got the result they came for — one that had a big impact on us not winning the league.
“It wasn’t a nice game to watch…”
Not boring. Just awful. Still, a win’s a win, right?
Ahead of the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United the temperature is being cranked up. In the Times, we read “Klopp antics are mocked by Mourinho”. The paper says United manager Jose Mourinho has “ridiculed” Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp.
“I’m on the touchline to try to coach,” says Mourinho, who “then waved his arms in the air, mimicking Klopp”. “I’m not on the touchline . . . [doing this].”
This is Mourinho, of course, who makes a big play of not commenting on other teams and only ever talking about his players (Anorak ad passim).
Mourinho added to his pre-mach snark by wondering aloud if the game’s referee, Anthony Taylor, who lives a few miles from Old Trafford, would have a “a very good performance”. “I think Mr Taylor is a very good referee,” judged Mourinho, “but I think somebody with intention is putting such a pressure on him that I feel that it will be difficult for him to have a very good performance.”
In other ‘Look at me’ news, Mourinho manager talked about one of his player, albeit to blame the Press for Wayne Rooney’s poor form. “I think what hurt you could do, you did already,” Mourinho said. “I don’t think you can do more than what you did, so I think in this moment it is time for him to recover from what was done to him and the best place for him to do that is feeling like he feels at home here.”
All typical siege mentality stuff from Jose: insult your rival; question the referee’s abilities; blame everyone else.
And the Press love it.
One paper does lead with Klopp. The Star has the Liverpool manger sticking up for Mourinho.
It’s not hard to see which of Mourinho or Klopp is more worried.
Liverpool are keen to prevent the “too much, too young” culture that infects professional football by bringing a wage cap for younger players.
The Telegraph says Liverpool will not allow a footballer age 17 or under to earn more than £40,000 in their first season as a professional.
Too often players go off the rails when they are given the financial power that comes with being a professional footballer, and Liverpool are looking to try and reduce the risk of young and talented players going to waste.
The youngsters will be allowed to boost their salaries with performance-related bonuses and breaking into Under-23 and senior sides.
Is 40k too low? Too high? In 2016 the Daily Mail reported the average wages paid in British football.
Last season, first-team average salaries were around £1.7million a year
Average basic pay in the Championship was £324,250 per player per year
Figure dropped to £69,500 in League One and £40,350 in League Two
Would you prefer to earn £40,000 playing for Liverpool youth sides or the Plymouth Argyle first team in League Two?Should wages be more performance-related?
In 1960, Jimmy Hill was embarked on in his campaign to abolish the Football League’s maximum wage which stood then at just £20 a week. Hill won. A wage bill from August 17, 1960, shows that Liverpool’s Roger Hunt took home £22 after bonuses, tax and insurance. He’d go on to be part of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. What would he earn in these post-Bosman times?
In The Football Man, Arthur Hopcraft says such wages were “derisive in comparison with what could be earned by entertainers performing in front of much smaller audiences in, say, the theatre or cabaret… [and] small beer to what could be earned on the production lines of the country’s post-war, streamlined factories.”
Nowadays players earn a fortune. In 2009, Premier League clubs spent £1.2 billion on players’ wages in 2007-08, so passing he billion mark for the first time.
The game is rich with TV cash and owners’ money. But if the players don’t get the cash, who will? Will club owners use it to reduce ticket prices or pay dividends to shareholders?
Oliver Kay writes:
It is obscene, obviously, but it would be more obscene to see the money generated by the Premier League — whether through television, sponsorship or ticket sales — simply sit on the balance sheet as profits go up and up. Football clubs do not exist to make profit. They exist to give something back to communities. Unless the clubs’ intention is to give more and more back to the grassroots, which sadly seems unlikely, then it would be indecent to suggest that the benefit of this latest television deal would not be felt by the players.
He’s right. Footballers can get paid very well. But so do many other workers, top talents in their fields. Do we know what others earn a week, like TV’s Ant and Dec or a soap opera actor? Why do footballer always have their wages discussed in terms of what they earn a week?
The first thought on hearing a player’s weekly earnings is to measure it against your annual salary: why, that little bastard makes more in a week than I do in a year.
The second reason is snobbery. Wherever there is an anomaly in British life, check out snobbery before anything else. The wages of working men — rough types from the working class, you must have heard of them — have always been calculated in weeks.
He notes that the wages are paid by us, the fans who buy the TV packages, tickets and tat.
What do we get from all this money? Not much. Only beauty. Only incomparable skill. Only great bravura performances of mental and physical strife. Only individual and corporate levels of brilliance and defiance. Only the chance to identify with such people, to revel in the fact that they belong to us, that we are part of them and they are part of us.
Only the opportunity to watch as the myths and legends of our times are forged before us. Only the chance to participate in great dramas of will against will, skill against skill. Only anguish, only elation, only inconceivable joy, only the chance to taste despair without any actual suffering. Only the chance to drink down Life in great big gulps.
Do young footballers get too much too soon? Yes. Some do. But we enable them to get it. We invest in them because unlike most of us, these tyros have a chance to shine at something many of us would pay to do.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is subjected to the Sun’s “Hendo Watch”. The paper kept a constant eye on the likeable and hard-working Henderson as he captained England in Slovenia.
The Liverpool midfielder led from the front..
But it was still a decent audition from Henderson…
Hendo was the player organising the troops and trying to get something on a tricky night…
He dropped really deep to try to dictate play from the back, a role he could adopt in the future instead of raiding forward…
And that’s it. The BBC didn’t operate a Henderson Watch. But it notes:
He [Joe Hart] twice denied Josip Ilicic when he was played in by poor backpasses from Eric Dier and captain Jordan Henderson
The Sun never saw that pass. The BBC mentions it twice:
Hart – who was the clear man of the match in this game – looked back to his best, rescuing Dier and Henderson when dreadful backpasses let in Ilicic.
Make that three times:
Shambolic England… The errors by Dier and Henderson would have been punished by opposition of a higher calibre and England threatened to crumble in the early moments of the second half – only to be saved by Hart.
Is there any reason the Sun – a paper hated by the Reds’ faithful following its hideous Hillsborough coverage – failed to see the error from Liverpool’s captain as it watched his every move?
Becauae Germans are good at taking penalties, when one of them says an Englishman is the ‘best penalty taker ‘ he’s ever seen, we take notice. The penalty king is none other than Liverpool’s James Milner, who hasn’t missed any of the seven spot kicks he’s taken for the Reds.
This season he’s scored four from four.
The BBC has the headline news that Milner is the King. But in the Liverpool Echo, we get more. The German with the praise is Emre Can.”I’m young but I haven’t seen in any of my teams so far such a good penalty taker,” says Can. “In training, every ball is in the net. He’s a very, very good penalty taker.”
Milner is the powerhouse player any manager would love to have in their squad.
When James Milner announced his retirement from international football, he robbed England of a versatile player who has, as George Caulkin puts in in the Times, “always valued proficiency ahead of individuality”.
What does that make him sound like? Yeah, a German. And you now how good they are at football – and penalties.
We love peculiar job titles in football. Chelsea have “loan player coaches“. QPR have “kit monitorers”. Liverpool used to have “director of football strategy”. What that means is unclear. But at one point the man with the job was Damien Comolli.
When Comolli got the job in 2010, the BBC explained what it was, in the words of Liverpool owner John Henry:
“Today’s announcement is just the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy of scouting, recruitment, player development and all of the other aspects necessary to build and sustain a club able to consistently compete at the highest level in European football. Damien has a proven track-record of identifying exciting young footballing talent and we are delighted that he has agreed to join Liverpool.”
He had us right up to “philosophy”, then we kind of zoned out. Conelli is not the manager, not the coach and not entirely just a scout. ‘Director of football strategy’ seems to be job made in the corporate world, a title based on presentation over presence.
In March 2011, we got more:
Comolli’s role has been extended to oversee all football-related matters outside of first-team training and selection, which are under the remit of the caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish, who replaced Hodgson on 8 January.
“It covers pretty much all of the football side,” added Comolli. “It’s basically a day-to-day relationship with the manager and his coaching staff, it’s also medical and sports science, performance analysis, player liaison, team travel, scouting and negotiating transfer contracts. A big part of it is the academy.”
We’re talking about Conelli because he’s told Talksport:
“The day I got sacked they [Liverpool’s owners] told me I had made a big mistake on Jordan and he was a waste of money.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I think we paid the right price. He was a young English, British player and we know very often that British players are overvalued. But we were more than happy to pay the price because we thought he would become an outstanding player.
“I never said it publicly, but I was convinced he would be the future captain. People will say it is easy to say now, but I was convinced at the time that he would become the Liverpool captain. Now he is and he is also the England captain.”
Manchester United looked at Henderson. And passed. In his autobiography, former United manager Alex Ferguson had issues with Henderson’s gait:
In 2015, the Telegraph reported:
Henderson has a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis, a problem that deteriorated last April. Despite consultations with renowned surgeons, and even taking advice from the Royal Ballet about how to deal with a problem that afflicts dancers as well as sportsmen, Henderson has accepted he will have to manage pain rather than rid himself of it…
Henderson is well aware comments made in Sir Alex Ferguson’s book that his running style would cause injury problems will be seen as prophetic. In fact, it is believed a change in boots was the catalyst for the issue last season allied to a work overload which has prevented the 25-year-old having a summer break for 14 years. “I don’t think it has anything to do with my gait, it might have, but I very much doubt it,” said Henderson.
The trade in footballers is about making an educated guess. Players can be lucky and unlucky, careers ended by injury and elevated by chance. To say you knew for certain Henderson was going to be the Liverpool captain is nonsense. It was a good guess – and one realised by the luck of Henderson, a talented player, being part of a very poor England team and a Liverpool side with few options.
And as for Henderson’s rise being foreseen by Comelli, this is what Kenny Dalglish said after the Frenchman left the club:
“He’s been really helpful in every transfer target we’ve gone for. Everyone who has come into the club since Damien has been here was of my choice. Once I made the choice who I wanted. Damien went away and did a fantastic job of bringing them in. It’s sad to see anyone leave the club and he goes with my best wishes.”
Such are the facts.
Much hoo-ha over the appointment of Manchester-based referee Anthony Taylor for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United. The idea is, presumably, that Taylor will favour Man United over their rivals? Or maybe he’s a diehard United loyalist who hates the club owning Glazers and wants their version of United to fail and will favour Liverpool? Or maybe his loved ones support Manchester City or Everton and to keep them happy Taylor will go studs-up on United’s David De Gea and red card Paul Pogba for having non-regulation hair?
Twitter user @TheLFCPoll investigates another options: “Manchester born referee Anthony Taylor will be in charge of the Manchester United game. His wife is a Manchester United fan. Seems neutral.”
Taylor doesn’t support Manchester United, preferring the allure of non-league Altrincham. The rules state that referees can only be barred from officiating matches featuring a club they support.
So what of the criticism of Taylor? Former referee Keith Hackett says Taylor’s treatment has been “grossly unfair”. Ex-ref Graham Poll says Taylor “should certainly not raise any eyebrows despite him living and working in the Manchester area”.
Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was fined in January 2014 for pointing the finger at Bolton-based referee Lee Mason and his officiating of the Reds’ 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad. “I was surprised that we are playing in Manchester and we had a referee from Greater Manchester,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully we won’t have a Greater Manchester referee with Liverpool-Manchester games in future. We had nothing that went our way at all. I never go on about officials but I thought they were horrendous.”
A referee’s address is not a factor in selecting them for matches.
Keith Hackett explains more:
“At the beginning of every season the referees’ background information is audited. They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they’ve played the game and with the addresses where they are residing. That gives you a picture that comes into use when you’re appointing.”
Anyhow, if you want to know which ref supports which team, here you are:
Mark Clattenburg (County Durham): Newcastle
Mike Dean (Wirral): Tranmere
Roger East (Wiltshire): Unknown
Kevin Friend (Bristol): Bristol City
Simon Hooper (Wiltshire): Swindon
Mike Jones (Chester): Chester
Robert Madley (Wakefield): Huddersfield
Andre Marriner (Birmingham): Aston Villa
Lee Mason (Bolton): Bolton
Jon Moss (Sunderland): Sunderland
Michael Oliver (Ashington): Newcastle
Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire): Sheffield United
Graham Scott (Oxford): Swindon
Keith Stroud (Dorset): Luton
Neil Swarbrick (Preston): Preston
Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe): Altrincham
Paul Tierney (Wigan): Wigan
Conclusion: If you want to be a top-flight referee, the advice is to support a team that is either never there or one prone to relegation.
Howard Gayle was the first black footballer to play for Liverpool. The State wanted to reward Toxteth-born Gayle for footballing whilst black and working with the anti-racism charity Kick It Out with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). But Gayle, 58, was unimpressed.
He explains why he rejected the gong:
If they want to be inclusive and accepting of black people around the UK and the Commonwealth, then they need to change the title of it – as it’s an exclusive club being an MBE or OBE or one of those gongs.
A lot of people around the world contacted me to say they accepted my decision and that the title of MBE did rankle.
In his book 61 Minutes In Munich, Gaytle talks about the racism that was rife in football and society. In the 1970s and 1980s, English football was infected by racism.
Gayle recalls an episode with Liverpool enforcer Tommy ‘Anfield Iron’ Smith.
Tommy tried to distract me by making nasty comments related to the colour of my skin. For a while, I somehow managed to restrain myself…
I received the ball, controlled it, and lashed a shot towards goal. Tommy Smith was on the other team and it hit him on the leg. It clearly stung and some of the other players started laughing. I had a smile on my face as well. I saw it as karma. Tommy responded with a tirade of abuse. It was ‘black this, black that’.
The place went quiet. Everybody could hear it, including the staff. He was a legend. I was a nothing. Nobody said a word.
I’d had enough of him (Smith): this bitter old man. So I went over and squared up: nose to nose. I looked at him dead in the eye.
“You know what, Tommy; one night you’ll be taking a piss at home and I’ll be there waiting for you with a baseball bat,” I said, calmly. “And then we’ll see what you’ve got to say.”
I wanted to start a fight with him. And then he walked away…
Graeme Souness was the only one that came over in the immediate aftermath. “Well done, Howard,” he said. “Tommy deserved that”. Graeme was a true leader.
Other might have just lamped Smith.
After I left, John Barnes became the first black player to be signed by Liverpool from another club. He quickly earned the nickname of ‘Digger’, after Digger Barnes in the Dallas television series. Personally, I wouldn’t have accepted that because of its closeness to the ‘N’ word.
Hyper-sensitive? Seeing racial undertones in a nickname given to player who would be idolised at Anfield?
Things have changed. Now professional football might well be the lest colour conscious occupation in Britain – one in four of professional footballers is black.
The BBC website is the font of all knowledge. It might as well be a newspaper. But instead of opting to compete in the open marketplace, the BBC news site consumes and rules. On today’s BBC football pages, for example, you can read: “Football gossip: Wenger, Ozil, Sanchez, Griezmann, Klopp.”
Arsene Wenger, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are names that appeal to all Arsenal fans worried that all three will leave the club. Jurgen Klopp news seduces Liverpool fans hungry for news of their charismatic manager. Griezmann is the top striker at Atletico Madrid wanted by a host of Premier League clubs.
We clicked. And we get a single ‘news’ item on anyone mentioned in the headline. That story is ab vout Klopp. This is the news: “Outgoing Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre believes Jurgen Klopp is ‘the perfect man’ for the manager’s job.”
That’s not exactly “gossip” is it.
The BBC is funded by the licence fee tax. Why does it need to resort to clickbait to attract readers?
By way of proof that this is the BBC’s ‘news’, here’s more of today’s BBC’s football page:
Hillsborough is back in the news. It never went away. We still await justice for the 96 people killed at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989. It took 26 years for the State to admit the dead were innocent. How long will it take to nail the guilty?
Today the Guardian reports on moves to bring back standing at Premier League football grounds.
We’d argue that standing on the terraces never caused the horror at Hillsborough. When the victims were crying out for help behind those cages the police sent for the attack dogs. The deaths were accidental. But they were the result of a policy that portrayed and treated football fans as scum.
The Liverpool supporters’ union (LSU) Spirit of Shankly wants to bring back standing. Premier League Football is sanitised and stripped of the passion that made the game so magical. Standing is one stop towards breaking the myriad controls forced on fans.
The LSU will ask other Liverpool fans and the families of those killed at Hillsborough for their views on a return to standing at top-flight grounds.
The Guardian says the Hillsborough Family Support Group is strongly opposed to standing. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign says: “There has always been a variety of views amongst HJC members. We do however, support a full and objective debate on the issue with safety being paramount.”
The LSU floated the idea at last month’s AGM. It said:
“There have been ongoing campaigns for the implementation of ‘rail seating’ at football grounds, similar to those often found in Germany. This has been alongside debate about supporters who currently stand in seated areas. It should be recognised and acknowledged that this occurs.
“LSU has never formally adopted a position on ‘rail seating’, ‘safe standing’ or these matters by whichever name it goes by. The debate, in recent months, has moved on, following the implementation of rail seating at Celtic and with football clubs openly discussing the idea. Supporters at other clubs are actively campaigning for the introduction of rail seating. Whilst LSU recognises that opinion amongst our fan base is divided, with supporters and Hillsborough campaigners and groups on both sides of the debate, our stance and opinion on such matters should be one directed by our members.”
It is an emotive issue. All-seat regulations were introduced into English football by Lord Justice Taylor’s report into the Hillsborough disaster. Rather than censure the police and look to themselves, the authorities moved swiftly to enforce further controls on fans. Sat in numbered seats these criminals-in-waiting were more easily monitored.
And don’t you dare move. In 2006, West Ham United sent the following note to 20 season ticket holders: “You have ignored repeated requests to remain seated and are therefore placing the club in jeopardy of losing capacity. As a result you are banned from attending Upton Park for two matches.”
Sit down or else.
And then came the advice to shut up. (Spurs fans must not champion the ‘Yid Army’. Celtic’s ‘Green Brigade’ and should stop singing the wrong kinds of songs, and so too Glasgow Rangers fans. Never mind that the bawdy chants are reminders of what binds fans to their clubs, they are possibly offensive to sensitive ears and must be banned. Songs will be censored or drowned out by blaring PA systems, piped music, anthems and ridiculous countdowns to kick-off.)
You want to know why 60,000 fans at Arsenal’s shiny new Emirates ground make less noise than half that number did at Highbury? They’ve been pacified. Sit down. Don’t drink. Book your seats in advance – no groups of mates rocking up to let off steam have a hope of getting in.
When the Emirates opened, the club heard the silence. They soon advertised for a ‘Singing Section’, a licensed place where the noisiest fans could sing approved songs. It was pathetic. And so too are standing zones. Football fans have been reduced to accepting scraps of legislated freedom.
Don’t stand up in the zone of tolerance. Stand up to the marketeers, control freaks and State that have subdued the fans and taken the fun out of football.
We are indebted to Pies for this gem of an item for Liverpool fans looking to buy a clock. The Bradford Exchange are offering this £197.94 ‘Liverpool FC Stadium clock’, an officially licensed piece of merchandise to enliven any wall.
It is what Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley would have wanted.
Plays You’ll Never Walk Alone on the hour! Every hour!
Can the media makes Liverpool midfielder James Milner sound controversial? Milner, 30, features on the BBC’s ‘gossip’ pages. The State broadcaster reports: “James Milner, 30, says Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is the best manager he has played under.”
That’s a bold statement. Milner has been managed by such top managerial talents as Terry Venables, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Martin O’Neill, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Brendan Rodgers. Milner says Klopp is better than all of them. Well, so the BBC says.
The Telegraph is less certain: “Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp may be best manager I’ve ever had, says James Milner.”
So what did the honest and likeable Milner actually say?
“I’ve probably had too many managers but every manager is different,” said Milner. “They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. He [Klopp] is a top manager and he’s definitely one of the best that I have worked with.”
Did Milner says Klopp is the best manager he has ever played for? No. Did he snub the other managers? No. Did he say something controversial? No.
Did the BBC twist his words? Yes.
Media balls: a look at monocular reporting on Swansea v Liverpool, which the Reds won 1-2.
The Times says Liverpool were “disjointed at the Liberty stadium and flattered by the victory that came gift-wrapped from the opposition courtesy of two bad defensive errors in the second half.” The winning goal came when Swansea went into “meltdown”. The goal followed a series of “egregious errors”.
The Indy says “Swansea’s defence disintegrated”.
The BBC says the results was “cruel on Swansea”.
The Guardian: “Borja, the club’s £15.5m record signing, squandered two excellent chances, the second of which came after Fer had put Swansea ahead.” This was compounded by “Van der Hoorn’s awful late miss”.
The Liverpool Echo says “Liverpool staged a stirring second-half comeback”.
The Daily Mirror says Liverpool were “irresistible“. Adding that “this was the type of victory that runs through any title challenge like writing through rock.” Well, so long as the other side suffer “defensive aberrations“, it might be.
In Klopp’s 37th Premier League games, his team has conceded 50 goals.
Sometimes a win courtesy of late penalty doesn’t bear the analysis.
Media balls: Spurs concede 6 goals all season, Chelsea beat Manchester United and Liverpool are pipped by Arsenal
Filling in the dull bits between transfer windows when the Daily Express’ clickbait bots can link Arsenal to every striker over 10 years of age, the ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ has created a Premier League predictor. Using the technical marvel of guessology and powerful maths, the Express makes some bold statements.
Bournemouth, Sunderland and Stoke are all relegated – Stoke scoring 6 times all season.
In the world of the Express, The Cherries are worse than Hull City – who are better than Southampton – and West Ham. Everton, who Bournemouth just beat 1-10, finish runners up. Chelsea finish above Manchester United.
Spurs finish third, conceding – get this – 3 goals.
Manchester City win the title.
Oh, yeah – Arsenal finish fourth, naturally. Even robots can be right some of the time.
Liverpool fans will be gutted. They could have had Joey Barton and not Xabi Alonso in the side. Alsono is a terrific player. Barton has long been underrated as a result of a querulous attitude and pugnacious demeanour. This week he has been banned by his current club Glasgow Rangers following a training ground altercation with Andy Halliday, his team-mate.
He is also plugging his new autobiography. In it he notes, “My behaviour was occasionally psychotic.” And ridiculous.
Talking about his red card in Newcastle United’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2009, Barton writes in his new book:
“Had things panned out differently, I could have made the obsessive debate about the mutual suitability of the Gerrard-Lampard axis redundant. From what I gathered, Steven Gerrard agitated to get Liverpool to sign me in 2004, because he felt we had the potential to forge a partnership.
“I met with Gerard Houllier at Melwood, and agreed everything verbally. A deal was close to being concluded but then he was sacked that summer. It was never revived.”
Fast forward to the match. Liverpool have Xabi Alonso in midfield:
“Xabi and I had history. He blamed me for knocking him out in what he thought was a deliberate clash of heads in one of our earliest contests, and I blamed him for stealing my move to Liverpool.”
Which he didn’t.
“All that remained to be agreed with [Manchester] City was the fee, when Rafa Benitez took over from Gerard Houllier. I was in Dubai when I was informed that he had instead decided to sign a kid from Real Sociedad who had just broken into the Spanish national team.”
A kid? Alonso was 22.
“…(In 2009) Thirteen minutes remained. Liverpool were two up, cruising and playing keep ball. The Kop conducted an incessant, infuriating chant of ‘Ole, ole, ole!’ Xabi retained the ball near the corner flag fractionally longer than was prudent. That gave me the opportunity to fly in, and disguise my malicious intent as best as I could. Alonso milked the moment with a barrel roll. I expected a yellow and was shown a red.”
You can read more of this sort of thing in Barton’s book, No Nonsense, including how in the aftermath of this foul, Alan Shearer, Newcastle’s interim manager, called Barton a “f***ing coward” and when Iain Dowie, Shearer’s assistant, stepped in to prevent things from getting out of hand, Barton quipped: “You keep it shut, boxing-glove head.”
You might not like Barton, but he is entertaining.
Transfer balls: the BBC says Liverpool are on course to sign 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic. They’re not.
The Bleacher Report says Liverpool tried and failed to bring Pulisic – the “wonderkid” – to Anfield over the summer with an £11m bid. They are looking to bid again next summer.
The Mirror says the 17-year-old is “one of the most highly-rated prospects in world football”. With such a billing, is £11m a cheeky offer? The Mail says Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have “followed his emergence in recent months”. You can add any number of other clubs to the list.
ESPN FC says Dortmund “are not willing to sell him due to his potential”.
Other clubs had their chance to sign him. 442 reports:
He played for the PA Classics, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy program which has produced several MLS players. And although Pulisic enjoyed training stints at Barcelona, Chelsea, Porto, PSV Eindhoven and Villarreal while playing with the PA Classics, he chose to continue to play close to home – for a while, anyway.
Pulisic is under contract at Dortmund until 2018.
Does he want to leave? His father told Bild in August: “Christian has no interest in leaving the club. He had a good half year last season, and wants to continue to break through.”
How good is he? USA Today says:
Pulisic has a ways to go. He isn’t Lionel Messi, not even close. But he’s young, confident, he’s still growing, and he has an attacking spark and creativity that American players aren’t supposed to have, if you believe the accepted soccer wisdom
And finally know that Pulisic supports Manchester United, “loves” Wayne Rooney and says his favourite player at dortmund was Henrik Mkhitaryan.
Pulisic to United it is, then.
Liverpool FC tonked Leicester City 4-1 in the Reds’ first home match of the season. Looking on was Howard Webb, one of the platoon of former referees earning money as a pundit. Webb works for BTSport, where he analyses decisions to deadline. He told viewers that Jamie Vardy’s goal should not have stood.
Webb says Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki broke the rules when his pressing panicked Liverpool’s Lucas into a dreadful pass across an empty area that gave Vardy an easy finish. According to the absurdly picky Webb, Okazaki was illegally inside the penalty area before the ball had left it following Mignolet’s goal-kick.
As Law 16 states:
Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play…
The ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area..
This is the same Howard Webb who told readers of his Times column:
If all decisions can be reviewed by video, referees on the pitch become nothing more than remote-controlled referees.
And how many of them will go on tot have a media career?
Liverpool have a new ‘official timing parter’. It’s a brand called Holler. This is how Holler announced the deal on their website:
Yeah, not a single wrist in sight. Odd that a brand specialising in watches would show three Liverpool players not wearing one between them.
Holler describes itself thus:
The Official Timing Partner of Liverpool FC.
Holler was born out of a long history of soul music originating in the 1960’s. Soul is a genre which combines different elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues.
And what is soul music without watches?
And they’re on Twitter. This was how @HollerFC account tweeted about Liverpool.
It looks like Holler announced the deal and then mocked Liverpool for their lack of league titles in recent years, praising Manchester United for good measure.
Like the time when Americans knew nothing about football…
NOTE: Is the @HollerFC account authentic? The Drum says:
…speculation around the legitimacy of the new Holler FC Twitter account in relation to the Holler brand has since circulated. However the @Holler_Soul twitter account, which has over 19,000 followers, had promoted the launch of the Holler FC division in its Twitter background page which read: “Coming soon at HollerFC.com”. This has since changed but a screenshot of the old background can be seen below.
Liverpool celebrate their last last league title win on April 28 1990.
In Liverpool, Merseytravel wants to ban the Sun newspaper. The city’s councillors all support the company’s efforts to force vendors stop selling the Sun across the Liverpool City Region transport network. It part of a campaign, to “eradicate the paper from the city”.
It’s rooted, of course, in the Sun’s awful reporting on the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football fans died. The paper fanned the flames of bigotry, falsely presenting the dead and injured as agents of their own fate. Liverpool fans had not “picked the pockets of victims” and “urinated” on police officers. The Sun lied to its readers. The police lied to public it serves. They turned victims into criminals.
It was not “THE TRUTH”, as the Sun claimed in its front-page headline.
But banning the paper is weak. The Society of Editors says the move was “stretching towards censorship”. No. It is censorship.
Merseytravel chairman Liam Robinson says: “Lots and lots of people in this city get offended by this newspaper, they are offended to see it on sale. People who have to sell it are offended to touch it. We are here to represent the travelling public and local people. [This motion] was backed unanimously by all political parties.”
Paul Collins, from the Total Eclipse of the S*n campaign, says the newspaper had “slandered the dead, it slandered the city with lies. It upsets decent people.”
Are you indecent if you buy the Sun, which people do, presumably? Are you morally wrong if you read the paper?
This campaign does nothing to honour the dead, the bereaved and the hurt. It seeks only revenge.
In among the headline figure of £1.165bn spent by desperate Premier League clubs in the transfer window is news of Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli. He’s singed for Nice. And Liverpool let him go for free. Well, so go the media headlines. But what Liverpool did was to save themselves £90,000 ever week in the wages Balotelli earned nicking a living (although the Mail says it was £125,000-a-week)
Balotelli, 26, made 28 appearances for Liverpool, scoring four goals, since joining from AC Milan for £16m in 2014.
It might be worth looking at what they said when Balotelli signed for Liverpool:
Balotelli: “I’m happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake. I wanted to go to Italy but I realised it was a mistake. English football is generally better. English football is beautiful.”
Brendan Rodgers: “This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here.”
Robbie Savage: “Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Robbie Savage on why the signing would be a masterstroke by Brendan Rodgers…Life won’t be dull at Anfield when Balotelli is around. And after turning Suarez into a £75 million player, who’s to say Rodgers won’t repeat the trick with another exotic striker?”
When the Sun led with news that Liverpool’s American owners had rebuffed Chinese attempts to buy the club we enjoyed the headline “You’ll Never Wok Alone”.
Readers were told that “Liverpool chiefs will reject moves from the Far East to buy a stake in the club”.
It all looked an exercise in PR. Liverpool’s foreign chiefs are much more in tune with the Reds than other foreigners who want to be chiefs. The club is in safe hands.
The Chinese are a “state-backed group called Everbright”, who “value the club at £700m”. Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, part of the Fenway Sports Group, says the club would work with the right partner and offers are made “just for the publicity”.
Today the Times has more.
Liverpool, or Liwupu as it is rendered in Chinese, has received admiring glances in China. Over the weekend it emerged that China Everbright, a state-backed investment company, was looking into making a bid with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.
You wonder how these things emerge?
The club has also caught the attention of Fosun and Dalian Wanda, Reuters reported yesterday. Both are Chinese conglomerates with a proven taste for western consumer brands with Chinese cachet, counting Club Med and a Hollywood studio among their most recent deals.
How depressing to have your beloved football club bracketed with Club Med and cinema chains.
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, insist that the club is not for sale despite the £800 million approach said to be in the works. However, leading figures have indicated that they would take a proposal for a minority stake seriously from investors who could open doors for the club commercially.
£700million has now become £800m. That figure could go up and up.
Nick Davis, chief executive of Memery Crystal, a law firm that advised on the sale earlier this month of West Bromwich Albion to Yunyi Guokai, said that Chinese interest in Liverpool was part of a trend established at the top of the Chinese hierarchy. Xi Jinping, the president of China who last year posed for a selfie with Sergio Aguero, the Manchester City striker, has said he wants China to become a “world football superpower” that could win the World Cup by 2050.
China buys Liverpool. China picks the Liverpool team?
David Shambaugh, a China expert at George Washington University, said that the explanation was partly domestic. “China has so much pent-up money looking to be invested abroad and the Premier League is a very sound financial investment,” he said. “It also offers excellent opportunities to expand China’s ‘brand’ abroad.”
An £800 million valuation for Liverpool compares with the £300 million paid by Fenway Group in 2010.
And what is China’s brand? Well, Amnesty International says:
A series of new laws with a national security focus were drafted or enacted that presented grave dangers to human rights. The government launched a massive nationwide crackdown against human rights lawyers. Other activists and human rights defenders continued to be systematically subjected to harassment and intimidation. Five women’s rights activists were detained for planning to mark International Women’s Day with a campaign against sexual harassment. Authorities stepped up their controls over the internet, mass media and academia. Televised “confessions” of critics detained for investigation multiplied. Freedom of religion continued to be systematically stifled. The government continued its campaign to demolish churches and take down Christian crosses in Zhejiang province. In the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the regional government enacted new regulations to more tightly control religious affairs and ban all unauthorized religious practice. The government maintained extensive controls over Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. The UN Committee against Torture regretted that previous recommendations had not been implemented.
All very fit and proper.
Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Liverpool’s away defeat to Burnley. The game ended 2-0.
Ragnar Klavan’s cross-field pass didn’t do Nathaniel Clyne any favours and as Burnley pressed, the full-back coughed up possession cheaply.
Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool’s England full-back, was badly at fault, with a poor pass deep in his own half finding only Gray who, in turn, fed Vokes.
Gray picked up the pieces from Nathaniel Clyne’s poor pass, fed the ball in to his strike partner and, with Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan not even in close proximity, Vokes swept the ball beyond Simon Mignolet from the edge of the box.
Nathaniel Clyne’s pass infield from the right flank was stolen by Gray…
Clyne was not at fault. Clyne was robbed!
Liverpool FC striker Danny Ings writes exclusively for the Liverpool website. In case you missed it, “For the duration of the Reds’ tour of the USA, Danny Ings will be writing an exclusive blog for Liverpoolfc.com.”
Good oh. We like a footballer’s diary. We recall when Finland’s Aki Riihilahti wrote a diary of life with Crystal Palace, which The Times sensibly picked up. It was witty, concise, pithy and engaging
August 26, 2002:
HAVE YOU EVER HEARD A secretary starting to yell and run around the office just because she succeeded to answer the phone? In football this is considered normal. If you score you often just bellow like a horny animal and do these ridiculous madman celebrations that would in the normal life get you hospitalised. And when the ball goes a bit wide from the target everybody raises their hands, throws their neck and sighs ooooh! Can’t really see a barber doing that just because he cut the customer’s mullet a bit too short.
September 9 2002:
So the truth is, Roy Keane is a much better player but also a very different type of person than I am. Well, I prefer it to stay this way. And maybe after this article I have to be careful if I ever play against him. But whatever happens, I am not going to sue him, because I enjoy watching him playing.
October 7 2002:
A FOOTBALLER ATE GREASY fries, coke and a burger and actually played like Ronald McDonald next day.
Highlight October 21, 2002:
“RIIHILAHTI WON THE game for Finland”. “Finnish football is flying high thanks to Riihilahti”. “Riihilahti is leading Finland to his nation’s first European Championship tournament”. These are the headlines I could have made. Instead I just got 5 in the players’ ratings in the local papers and a little mention in the side paragraph: “Riihilahti could have won the game for Finland but finished poorly
Brilliant. So to Danny Ings.
Usually at this level, a lot of players do actually know each other from previous experiences, but of course some don’t. Things like we did today, going to Alcatraz and having a walk around together, means people can get to know each other’s personalities a bit better, find out who can speak which languages and find out who has got banter and who hasn’t.
To be fair, the majority of the new boys have got banter…
Aki wrote in English as his second language. Danny Ings is English.
Balotelli joined Liverpool for £16million on a three-year, £125,000-a-week deal from AC Milan in August 2014. In his time at Liverpool, the Italian striker has scored four goals.
Balotelli’s contract offers him the option of a fourth year when this deal runs out.
Understandably, current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants shot of the overpaid Italian signed by his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, now the Celtic boss, who opined in 2014: “I think to get someone of that quality in this market is a very good deal for us.”
Balotelli cost Manchester City £22.5m when he signed from Internazionale in 2010. He was sold to Milan for £19m and to Liverpool for £16m. It was a risky singing, which Rodgers acknowledged.
But Rodgers and the Liverpool transfer committee should have paid more heed to José Mourinho, his old boss who coached Balotelli at Inter.
“We went to play Rubin Kazan in the Champions League. All my other strikers were injured. No Diego Milito, no Samuel Eto’o,” recalled Mourinho. “I was really in trouble. Mario got a yellow card in the 42nd minute and when I got into the dressing room at half-time I spent 14 minutes of the 15 available speaking to Mario. I said to him: ‘Mario, I can’t change you, I have no strikers on the bench, don’t touch anybody and play only the ball. Mario, if someone provokes you, don’t react. If we lose the ball, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, no reaction…. The 46th minute: red card.”
Klopp has seen and heard enough.
“He’s not at the stage of his career where he should be battling with four or five players for one or two positions,” says Klopp. “So it’s clear we need a solution. There will be a club who would be happy to have the new Mario Balotelli.”
But will there be a club willing to cough up a big whack of cash and pay the likeable lunk half a million pounds a month?
As Mario Sconcerti put it in Corriere della Sera, Balotelli possesses “the strange talent of making everyone happy when he arrives and even happier when he leaves”.