Who knew that calling Liverpool ‘bad champions’ would make the fans so salty? We have mails on this and more. Send your own views to email@example.com
Man City are the bad champions
The real “bad champions” are Manchester City, with a worse record than 14 of the last 16 Premier League winners (only Leicester and Manchester United’s 2010-11 side were worse). All this while being the only team in the league having the same atmosphere in their home games this season as every other season. Very bad indeed.
More on those bad champions
Liverpool finishing third has been roundly criticised by many rival fans and the media – with the whole Roy Keane ‘bad champions’ theme running through the season. It got me wondering how the two teams that finished above us would have fared with similar issues at CB.
The legends that are Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams are LFC’s 5th and 7th choice CBs – I’m not including Ben Davies as I’m not sure he even exists. They were our most used pairings out of the 20 different deployed.
So at City with Dias, Laporte, Stones and Ake all crocked they would have had to play Eric Garcia and…Luke Mbete-Tabu – no me neither.
At United it would be a pair I’d give good money to see – Phil Jones and Will Fish – with Maguire, Lindelof, Bailly and Tuanzebe all on the hypothetical injury table.
Anyway we will never know – or maybe we will as I’ve had arguments online with people who don’t even think Liverpool had an injury crisis this year so if this is common maybe I’ll get to see my dream partnership of Jones/Fish next season? Here’s hoping!
Jo (patiently waiting to see Thiago glide through the middle again) Kent
…Liverpool supporters at calm about the bad champions tag because we got out of jail but just to clarify the one trait this team possesses that rules it out of being considered bad champions- they also won the European Cup. Simple as that. Last year you said they weren’t as good as Arsenal’s invincibles- but the truth is they were better. Why? Because they won the European Cup. Currently they are the only squad of players who stand between the so-called toughest league in the world and an embarrassing Man City yearly procession a la Bayern Munich in Germany. And also… they won the European Cup. This squad turned in a terrible fourteen match spell in the midst of four years of excellence against teams who have consistently outspent them. They finished runners up in the league and Champions League and then won the league by a mile…and they won the European Cup. So please stop calling them bad champions- you’ll seem very silly next season.
I doubt F365 need me defending their article of bad champions but I detected some rather salty bias in the mails I read through.
Firstly, don’t blame anyone but Roy Keane for making bad champions such an interesting thought. One that I would expect my premier feed of footy takes to hop up on, and I’m glad they did. Not all opportunism is bad, I’m glad they took the opportunity to try something new in their own peculiar way.
Having said that, I think it’s a good list, and Liverpool deserve to be noted on it. Who cares about points difference? I didn’t feel they made the points difference a big issue, just merely pointed it out because it’s pretty why not hear about how far they dropped below their own particular standards?
I think Blackburn and Leicester’s “title defences” were the worst, so surprised they weren’t rock bottom. Not going back to fact but I think Leicester may have been and Rovers 3rd/4th worst.
I’d maybe argue Arsenal in 04/05 if we’re going to try be extra catty about it. To go from the all conquering Invincibles to about 12 points behind with the title looking gone about December, I’d say they were pretty bad champs, but they’re not included on points they had less of and points they were behind. The wheels fell off while Chelsea’s expensive engine began to be super efficient.
If you’re going to be extra particular about this subject, bring that up maybe? Man City in 12/13 too, the life just emptied from them and it ran into the fa cup final as Wigan beat them. Beaten by a supposed Utd side by a large margin that has been described as the worst possible state Fergie could have left them in by some amazing cutting edge theorists. Fergie could not have left that club in a better way, but people think he’s to blame. Sigh, anyway, I digress. Terrible terrible champions right there.
Liverpool have been bad champs. Which is very harsh, but fair, which is the kind of earnestness that makes Roy Keane such a divisive but intriguing mind. The list is based on his coining of the phrase. Any list of this was going to have Keane’s sardonic grin as its lifeblood. Soooooooo… Understand some context maybe?
Dave (pushing Roy Keane in front of F365, he can take it), Dublin
…You chaps are so naughty. Putting out tongue in cheek provocative articles to get the bites.
So many Liverpool fans, outraged at being called bad champions etc. People. It is not important, just a bit of fun. But if it makes you feel better to put Man United at the bottom of every list, go ahead, I will not be losing sleep, and definitely not writing in to complain at the injustice.
Hope tonight’s game is good. Actually, I don’t care about that, just hope United win.
Not dissing Kane
Thanks to Dip chief grumpypants of Tottenham for the reference in the mailbox…I would not rate Salah higher than Kane as they are very different players. The debate, as I understood it, was about strikers and I still view Salah and Mane as attacking wide men with licence to roam inside…as I do with Messi and Ronaldo, for right or wrong.
Kane is a fantastic player, I would love to see him at Liverpool and see what a modern but conventional number 9 would bring to the team. I merely think Lewandowski, Suarez and Haaland would be my top three, at this moment in time. No offence to Kane or Spurs, just the observations of a middle aged man with nothing better to do than watch a lot of football for the last few months.
Mark Jones, LFC, Liverpool
Not believing the Chelsea hype
There have been a lot of amplified expectations pertaining to the current Chelsea team and their prospects under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel. For a team in worse form than Leeds United, I simply don’t see any foundations to build the hype upon. So, to give a deeper analysis beyond reacting to them going on a good run, it is worth looking at the squad in positional compartments. Obviously, a signing of Haaland’s calibre would enhance their prospects dramatically but at this current point in time I see a squad that is in dire need of reinforcements – especially after their incredibly fortuitous Champions League qualification thanks to the new Spurs ironically being thumped by the old Spurs.
It is the work of seconds to highlight issues with the defensive options. Assuming Kepa is not a keeper (reasonable assumption based on a plethora of evidence), Caballero and Mendy make a reasonably strong reserve and first-choice pairing. However, it must now be accepted that Christensen, Emerson and Alonso (defensively) are not at the current level of champions. Zouma, Rudiger, Silva and Azpilicueta are undoubtedly good defenders, but none are in the same class as Dias and Van Dijk and the latter pair will have a combined age of 69 by 22nd September. Thiago Silva is already the 7th oldest centre-back to play Premier League football in the last ten years. That said, James and Chilwell are a good pair on the flanks who will continue to develop.
In the centre of the park, little needs to be said about the dynamo that is N’golo Kante other than noting his seasonally-increasing proclivity to be injured. Jorginho and Kovacic are reasonably gifted midfielders and the former has seven goals from the penalty spot. That said, to put their open-play goal involvement into perspective, their combined two assists this season was equalled by Fernandinho versus Everton’s the Etihad. There is hope and expectation in equal measures that Billy Gilmour will become a future star but, in terms of his development, it is unlikely that he will have a breakthrough season of Phil Foden proportions next season. Consequently, it is another area which requires surgery.
There was justifiable excitement about Chelsea’s attacking talents at the beginning of what is now last season after their splurge on Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to complement an array of already-in-place offensive talent. Both German players have had a ‘bedding in’ season at best, though will surely improve next season. Ziyech, who has had a similar adjustment phase, may or may not follow a similar trajectory given that the majority of Premier League imports from the Eredivisie failing to replicate their previous success. Of the rest, Mason Mount is becoming a very good player, if Christian Pulisic could find some consistency then he would be a penetrative attacking midfielder and the same sentiments can be shared for Callum Hudson-Odoi. Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham can surely be discounted as their presence will not be required at Stamford Bridge beyond the summer.
So, where does this leave the Blues in comparison to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City (who are likely to own Harry Kane in time for the 2021/22 season) and Manchester United? To pick a Premier League XI from those three clubs and Chelsea would suggest that they own only a single player who is the best in his position in the league – Kante – and that’s before considering Ndidi and where he might be playing next season. Going through the same process a second time would potentially only include Chilwell and Mount and those picks are marginal when considering the performance and ability of the likes of Bernardo Silva, Rashford and Shaw. If Tuchel has the capacity to render Chelsea as a far greater sum of their parts and several players simultaneously reach another level then a title challenge could be conceivable, but at this stage a lot of transfer activity would seem necessary. Conveniently, the Abramovich way is to spend to fix problems so it undoubtedly be an interesting summer.
It will certainly be interesting to bear witness to Tuchel’s Chelsea taking on a full-strength Manchester City on Saturday. Can they win? Of course, it is a one-off game of football. But is such over-achievement sustainable over the course of a Premier League season without reinforcements? Perhaps a phone call to Claudio Ranieri or Kenny Dalglish is necessary.
AC in Milan, Milan
Why drop down a level?
I’ve just about had it with people like Tony, New Forest suggesting Pep Guardiola (or anyone else) needs to drop down to a smaller club to prove himself. Do you actually realize how annoyingly senseless that sounds?
First of all, Pep is the best manager of his generation by a country mile and certainly one of the best ever. He has absolutely NOTHING to prove to anyone. Man City are far from my favourite team; I don’t much fancy them but that does not mean I have to be daft about it.
Secondly, how would it even work? I’m sure Napoli or Porto would like to have him (who wouldn’t) but could they afford him? Being the very best at what you do comes with a great compensation package. That’s just basic economics; it has nothing to do with “bravery” as Tony puts it.
I know many don’t see elite sportsmen as actual human beings so look let’s put it this way. If you were a lawyer and the highest earner at the biggest law firm in the country, would you take a massive pay cut and join a middling firm just to prove to some nameless fools that you’re good? How many people actively pursue dropping down the food chain in whatever their line of work is?
When top players and managers drop down a level or two, it rarely has anything to do with some romantic sense of adventure. It is usually because of a diminishing relevance at the highest level. Examples include Mourinho, Ancelotti, Bale, Rooney, Ozil, RVP, Lallana, Hart etc. Those who still belong at the top, quite sensibly, don’t tend to look down. That’s why Aguero is moving to Barca rather than Sevilla. If he flops there, then he starts his descent to lower levels. I doubt that when Klopp finally decides to leave Liverpool it would be so he could give it a go at Newcastle or Benfica (unless his stock falls significantly).
The reason why Klopp has lower profile clubs on his CV is because – like most managers – he had to start from the bottom and climb his way up. I didn’t hear Liverpool moving heaven and earth to sign him 20 years ago when he started at Mainz or even in 2008 when he moved to Dortmund. Others (Pep, Lampard, Zidane, Pirlo etc.) have the luxury of starting right at the top for obvious reasons. And if they succeed and prove themselves worthy of a place at the top table (Pep, Zidane), they get to stay there for as long as they are good enough to be there.
There are (very) few exceptions where an elite player or manager chooses to remain at or return to a non-elite club while still belonging to the highest level for personal reasons. But that’s not a choice anyone should be expected to make.
So no, Pep doesn’t need to go to Napoli or clubs of similar stature to prove anything to anyone. Much like with Sir Alex Ferguson, who many also claimed was only great because of resources at his disposal, it is when he leaves City that people will realize money doesn’t make a manager, not for long.
AY (Just ask Moyes, Lampard or Villas-Boas)
Klopp > Pep
I dare not speak for all United fans but in retrospect most United fans would have preferred Klopp succeeding Sir Alex instead of Pep.
With Jose’s fall from grace, Pep is probably the greatest manager of the past 10-15 years but if I could turn back time and somehow own Manchester United in 2013, I’d pick Klopp as the manager.
With Pep his identity will always be Barcelona, whether it be at Bayern or City, he never feels like he will stay for the long haul. You can’t say Pep is Manchester City.
Klopp will similarily be always known for his Dortmund team but you can say Klopp is Liverpool. He has bought into the entire ethos of the club and it feels like it runs through the entire club.
Pep is one of the most passionate people in the world about football but much like Jose, he seems less concerned about what happens outside the pitch. Klopp is a part of the Liverpool community.
You can see Klopp singing at the bar with fans but Pep always seems aloof; too cultured for the English fans.
Both Manchester United and Liverpool have a working class legacy. Sir Alex sat down with Gary and talked about how he reminded his teams constantly of the working class roots of the club.
Klopp speaks to that culture a lot more with his heavy metal “English” style of football whereas Pep is more continental. Sir Alex and Klopp would think its an embarrassment if their opponent outworking them, ran more or just showed more passion whereas Pep would happy if his team won with minimum fuss and just passed the ball around for 90 minutes running the other team ragged.
For everything that Ole lacks, I’ve had the most fun supporting United the last two and a half years out of the last 8.
I didn’t even want to watch United matches under Van Gaal. Van Gaal is one of the best managers of the past two decades but he was simply not Manchester United. Even watching United win the Europa league under Jose was not fun. I felt embarrassed watching United play like that against Ajax. We were the better team/the bigger club yet we played like a non-league team that somehow made it to the FA Cup final against the Premier League winners. Heck I enjoyed Ole knocking PSG out a lot more than winning the Europa league! Right Ferdinands reaction to that alone was better than beating Ajax.
I’ve never been convinced of Ole’s ability to build a multiple title winning team but he’s definitely reinvigorated the entire club. We really needed that after the reigns of Moyes, Van Gaal, and Jose.
For now I am happy with Ole behind the wheel. Now I just need to figure out how to build a time machine.
Also question for United fans: if given the option would you choose Kane or Ronaldo to come in?
My mind and my heart are really torn on this one.
Shehzad Ghias, mufc, Karachi (Is Cavani going to wear number 7 next year)
England will be playing 4-4-f***ing-2
Why on earth do people (i.e Southgate) need to complicate things? Football is a simple game and it seems we have to be in awe of tactical magicians and wizards who understand things we mere mortals don’t. Why the need for players who can play numerous positions in a 7 game (at most) tournament?
Decide upon your preferred formation and style of play and then pick your best possible team. You have a 26 man squad, so that’s 2 players for every position plus another goalkeeper and 4 “utility” players if that’s what you want, personally I’d rather have someone who is a specialist than a jack of all trades.
Put your team down on paper and then say to yourself, “I have X in the holding midfield role, who do I want if he gets injured?” and then pick that player, repeat this for all 11 and I guarantee you will have some players who can adapt to different formations or tactics, if you need them to, and if you don’t think they can, then they shouldn’t be playing professional football! You could argue that we don’t need 4 centre backs (in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3) but try telling Jurgen Klopp that.
You would think from previous teams that Southgate prefers 3-5-2 with 2 holding midfielders, so obviously he picks 3 players (unless you include Bellingham) for those positions, one currently injured and one who hasn’t played for months, WTF!
You can then add (someone other than) Henderson, TAA, Chilwell or Shaw and (it hurts to say) Sterling. Whilst midfield heavy (it’s where the games are won!) most of the creative midfield players can play further forward if a change is required.
Do Spain, Portugal, Germany or any other of the countries that actually win tournaments do this, absolutely, they are far more likely to change players mid tournament than England ever do but not their way of playing.
We should try to win the tournament not try not to lose it.
Howard (would rather lose 5-4 than on penalties) Jones
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