Henderson belongs in the past, Liverpool have outgrown him

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About last night…
For one reason or another, us Spurs fans get some stick.  We seem to be in a weird “banter” age, where mocking gets taken to a different level, but it’s easy to brush off as it’s just some chap on twitter trying their hardest to get some kind of digital recognition.  To be fair, Tottenham as club don’t help themselves and the most Spursy thing to date was releasing a poster campaign around London with graphics of our new stadium and the slogan “The only place in London to see the Champions League”.  It was a true statement, but then the stadium issues arose, and our 3 group games were shifted to Wembley.  Then, after 3 games we’re bottom of the group sitting on 1 point and this poster started doing the rounds, trolling was at a high and someone even felt the need to contact Trading Standards about this false claim.  What could we as Spurs fans do??  Nothing apart from take it on the chin and do what we’ve done countless times before…join in and have a good old laugh at ourselves, but deep down, this hurt.  And of course, this was just another Bottle Job for Spursy, hey, it’s what everyone expects.  Except…

Game Week 4 vs PSV…We are out of the CL until Harry Kane’s late brace, the 2nd coming in the 89th minute

Game Week 5 vs Inter…We are out of the CL until Eriksen grabbed an 80th minute goal to make it 1-0 and thus gaining the group advantage over Inter in Head2Head

Game Week 6 vs Barca…We are out of the CL until Lucas Moura grabs an 85th minute equaliser to match Inter’s result and see’s us head into the last 16.

In the last 3 games, we were out of the Champions League going into the last 10 mins of each game.  What’s the opposite of “Bottling It”?

I do hope the stadium is ready for the next round of games, and it is looking quite promising that it’ll be done.  This team has had 10 home games in the CL over the last 3 years, all at Wembley.  I hope us fans get to see a CL game at The Lane this season, we damn well deserve it.
Martyn P – Daniel Levy’s a marketing genius


Liverpool outgrow the Hendo show
I can’t help but look at Liverpool last night against Napoli, and regularly this season for that matter, and feel a bit sorry for Jordan Henderson.  I have never seen a game where Hendo has given anything less than 100% and in Liverpool teams of the past few years, this would usually have been enough.  I feel that Liverpool, as a club, have made such steps lately, that Hendo has been left as a player who belongs in these teams of the past and perhaps, doesn’t have the speed of play and the technical profiency to make a difference now.  When Liverpool’s strength (alongside their newly discovered miserly defence it seems), is their plethora of attacking players who need early service in order to be as devastating as we saw last year, Henderson’s high looping balls to the fullbacks or a return pass to one of the centre backs he had just received the ball from, takes the threat away from the LFC attacks.  I understand why Klopp wanted to use him and still does in some tighter games – lots of industry in terms of running, but is that really what Liverpool need in the middle of the park, especially when you already have the evergreen Milner and Gini in there already?

I have nothing but respect for Hendo but feel that LFC have maybe outgrown him.
Danny (A very jovial, yet reflective, LFC fan)


To Dan James, having a lot of angles is in fact, more likely to cause a large number of total internal reflections, not refraction. Probably the reason why Eriksen was able to shine yesterday. Also Henderson’s passing was absolutely excellent yesterday. He might not be the most graceful player, but when he and Milner are up for it they can match any midfield in the world.
Now let’s hope we build on that great performance yesterday. With some better finishing I hope we can destroy United. It’s been a while!
Sid, LFC, India(Cracking terrible physics joke since 2000)


The struggling seven
There was a good piece of the struggling seven PL clubs here on F365. Whilst I nodded (mentally) as usual reading your articles, I felt there was one bit wide off the mark. It’s the same reason Mourinho is failing at ManU:

“Claudio Ranieri can tweak tactics but there is little any manager can do with a squad which lacks the minimum levels of desire and appetite required in the top flight.”

Isn’t it just the opposite? Manager has two jobs he is directly responsible of, tactics and team morale / desire / cohesion / unity or whatever you want to call it. It’s not only in sports, it’s the same in companies in other fields aswell. Management has huge impact on morale and desire of employees. It might not be easy to motivate someone who doesn’t have to concern himself with money anymore with huge ego created by fan culture, but it’s doable. If you look at ManU under Mourinho, its often bunch of talented individuals seemingly playing without common desire to do well as a team. If you compare it with Liverpool under Klopp, ManC under Pep or Spurs under Pochettino, the contrast is stark. Maybe Pogba is more difficult to manage than lets say Milner, Eriksen or David Silva, but who knows, just reading at body language and maybe I am widely off the mark guessing here, Mane at Liverpool and Sane at City aren’t always easy either.

I don’t really know about Ranieri’s man management abilities, but I could bet my house for Fulham survival if they would have hired Klopp as their manager instead. Not because I think Klopp is tactically superior manager (that would be Pep), but because he seems to be sort of manager that can create huge impact mentally in team spirit, desire and unity.
Matti Katara, Helsinki


A few things Liverpool v Napoli
First of all sorry to disagree with a fellow Rob (Gravesend) and place myself firmly in pedant’s corner……we actually went through despite our defensive record, on goals scored. We had the same GD as Napoli but they conceded less and we scored more. But yes, the upgrade defensively from the first half of last season is nothing short of miraculous and more than played it’s part last night.

And that in main is due to Virgil Van Dijk. Now if before the game last night you’d have told me we’d go through but Big Virg would be suspended for the last 16 1st leg, i’d have taken that obviously. But that decision last night, I think it’s open to debate, and to be fair I know many football fans, and even from what i’ve seen on social media fellow LFC fans, would tell me to accept it, we got through, let’s move on.

My problem is i’ve seen pundits, former players refer to it as a tackle, but it wasn’t, it was an interception (of a pass). Now I know most people just want to look at a misleading still shot of the incident to confirm their bias, but if you look at the replays and consider the detail then it’s a different story. As I said it’s not a tackle, Mehrtens isn’t running with the ball at his feet, he isn’t challenging for the ball, he’s running on hoping VVD misses the ball. This isn’t a studs leading lunge intending to get ball and man, if you watch it VVD plays the ball (with only eyes for the ball) perfectly with the outside of his boot and his natural momentum takes him toward the passing Mehrtens, who he catches accidentally with only the bottom part and studs of his boot. Now, I don’t know how your body and ankle works, but if VVD or any other footballer can adjust their ankle to avoid accidental contact in the split second in that situation i’d be amazed. All players have studs on their boots, always have, and football has always been a contact sport, sometimes that contact is not intentional, isn’t a foul, but can still lead to a player experiencing pain. Take the use of arms when jumping for a header for example, no one jumps for a header as if their arms have been gaffer taped to their sides. Unintentional forearms and elbows often make contact with chest & head to the discomfort of an opponent, but referees mostly play on. What’s the solution? Make everyone play with rubber foam on their arms? Find the technology that makes studs retreat inside the boot when it senses an opponent’s ankle proximity? Pretty sure i’m in the minority on this one, but it really was only a yellow at worst for me.

Weirdly the game as a whole reminded me of the semi-final 1st leg v Roma, despite the ridiculous difference in scorelines between the two games. Barring the goalkeeper (obviously!), Matip for Lovren, it was the same XI and formation that played the majority of the Roma game (Gini replacing AOC after 18 mins in that one). Both Italian sides started confidently in the first 20 mins, but Liverpool gradually started to get on top, were ahead at half time through an up for it Salah, then spent most of the 2nd half battering their opponents before a nervy finish. The only difference last night was that both sides spurned all the chances and we had a far better keeper this time round.

The most encouraging thing was that we showed we still have the high tempo, gegenpressing approach in the locker (with Salah still as involved and dangerous playing a bit wider) if needed, when Klopp believes that’s the best method against a particular opponent.



Foden game time
Will Pep actually give Phil “he is always ready” Foden more than 12 seconds of football now?

Or is the alleged saviour of football development not ready until he has just 8 players available?

Sancho sure looks good there in Bundesliga.


Italy Deserve 4 CL Spots (but does Spain?)
I enjoyed Sarah Winterburn’s Early Losers article and agreed with the vast majority of the content, but sandwiching the analysis of Inter Milan and Napoli’s collapses was the reference to Serie A receiving 4 Champions League spots, saying “they weren’t ready” and “UEFA might ask for one back”.

These are clever lines and good writing, but logically-speaking, it doesn’t make sense – Inter and Napoli both had realistic chances of emerging from two Groups Of Death, and could have done so until the very last second of the last match of their CL Group Stage campaigns. How is that “not ready”? This is an example of Recency Bias, criticizing these teams for their poor finishes, rather than focusing on praising their exceptional starts.

Contrast that to La Liga’s 4th team, Valencia, who were drawn with a weak Manchester United side and have no chance of qualifying, even before kick-off. Indeed, how many times in the last 15 years have Spain’s 4th teams qualified for the Round of 16? (And if you go beyond the Atletico Simeone era, there were occasions when Spain’s 3rd teams didn’t make it either, I believe).

So, rather than “they weren’t ready”, the more accurate observation was “wow, they came really close”.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva, Switzerland


John Barnes
Not only is John Barnes probably the best English player of all time (perhaps not a common opinion because he never go to play in the European Cup, but from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s the guy was simply unplayable) but his article in the Guardian shows that he is also thoughtful and highly intelligent, cutting straight to the heart of the recent racism debate.

You may argue about the first part of the above statement (you would be wrong but sure, you can have your opinion) but there is no arguing about the second part. Please, if you haven’t already done so, go and read it.

And if you also haven’t seen it, please watch the Ian Wright documentary “Out of Their Skin” which is also excellent. A great point made on that documentary about Ince and Barnes’ short manegerial careers was that one failure is all it took to end them. Can you imagine Fat Sam or any of his ilk never getting another job after their first failure?

Another thing that surprised me a lot in that documentary (although it probably shouldn’t) was how eloquently Gareth Southgate spoke about the issue. I sincerely hope he stays as England manager for a very long time.
Adonis (Bobby Robson’s biggest mistake as England manager was not starting Barnes against Argentina in 1986) Stevenson, AFC


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