Why Liverpool were right not to sign Dybala (or Schmeichel)

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Hold your horses
Hey f365, where’s the opening game knee-jerk reactions? I’ve got a busy week, you’re not going to make me do it are you?
Jaymo, LCFC

 

The B Team
I’m sure that Mourinho’s comment about City’s B team being more likely to win a title than Man U, but after putting together the team, it actually was one of the least outrageous statements he has made recently. Based on Saturday’s lineup, City’s b team could have been:

Bravo; Cancelo, Garcia, Otamendi, Angelino; Gundogan, Fernandinho, Foden; Bernardo, Aguero, Bernabe

And this is with Sane and Mendy injured. Other that being pretty soft at the back, this really is better than anyone other than Spurs and Liverpool, and even Spurs aren’t that far ahead. This is the main reason that any hope that City’s focus on the champions league could cause them to slip up in the league.
Ryan, MCFC

 

Ryan with the brace…
Good article on Pogba being misunderstood. He is certainly not a perfect player, but to see a few of the reader mails attacking him for giving the ball away, as you say, misses the point.

Creative, attacking players will give the ball away, that is just a simple fact. If you look at the top ten of players who were disposed the most per 90 last season, you will find Paul Pogba at number 7. Ahead of him is Wilfred Zaha, Mo Salah and Raheem Sterling. Slightly behind is Eden Hazard. Every week I watch Kevin De Bruyne play bad passes that end up intercepted, but it is worth it because 3 or 4 times a match, he hits a ball that looks impossible, and City end up with someone through on goal.

Does Pogba do things that would drive me crazy if he was on City, absolutely. He should be smarter in his own half, track back better, and stop giving interviews about wanting to leave, but these are things that could be improved with better management. Instead, he is asked to carry average at best players like Matic, Mctominay, Perreria, and Fred.

The fact that Man U hasn’t built their entire team around Pogba’s skill set shows just how poorly they have been managed. Going into last season, once Chelsea hired Sarri and signed Jorginho, they should have offered 100m for Kante. It is an insane amount, but you had just seen at the world cup what Pogba could do when he was next to Kante. You have to make an offer that couldn’t be refused and its not like Man U doesn’t have the money.

The player that Pogba always reminds me of is Yaya Toure. Yaya could sit back and shield the back 4, but he was always at his best with a proper holding midfielder next to him. We he was next to Barry, or De Jong or Fernandinho, he was able to make the all powering runs where he would just shrug off defenders until he either played a key or just finish it himself. City’s best seasons with Yaya were the ones that played to his strengths, not asked him to be something he wasn’t. Pogba can do everything Yaya could do, and probably more.

So as a fan of a rival team, I hope that Pogba is sold. There are so few players in the world who can constantly change a game through a moment of individual brilliance, and I would love to watch Man U let one of them leave twice.
Ryan, MCFC

 

Over the counter
Just a quick thought: if a team is specifically set up to play on the counter-attack, then surely a goal (or penalty a la Rashford) isn’t so much ‘against the run of play’ as it as a successful execution of a
known strategy?
JF

 

Proof that Jurgen was right
There have been numerous articles about the fact that Liverpool have failed to strengthen over the summer and this will derail any potential title challenge. There has been particular concern over an injury to one of the front three that can not be covered by the current squad. So let’s have a look at some comparative players and see wether having this “depth” is worthwhile or even possible

All league games over the last ten years played

Ronaldo 323 games played or 32.3 per season
Messi 343 games played or 34.3 per season
Aubameyang 313 games played or 31.3 per season
Lewandowski 319 games played or 31.9 per season

Overall average

1,298 games played or 32.45 per season

So supposing Salah , Mane and Firmino are average players they will play 32.45 league games a year. Therefore with each of them being rested for 5.55 games a season that implies that there is 5.55×3 = 16.65 games to be covered by the 4th attacker.

Now perhaps Barcelona and or Madrid plus Man City can afford to pay perhaps 60m quid for a player that will only play 16.65 games a season but Liverpool certainly can’t and neither can the majority of clubs.

Also factor in the point that any 60m pound player is going to expect to play and therefore Klopps’ stance becomes clearer . Fill that 16 odd games with a combination of Origi and perhaps Brewster and save the cash for when a real quality player becomes available and the team has an obvious need for them.

Sure it would be nice to have say a Dyabala on the bench but it simply isn’t happening basis overall cost and essentially guaranteed playing time. Most players will not except simply being understudies unless they are young or perhaps veteran with a chance to win something.

Obviously a long term injury to a key player would be very damaging but that can be said of virtually any team. The injury to Allison is a good example of this , probably out for 6 weeks or so but does that mean LFC should have signed say Schmeichel to cover for him , even Mignolet had had enough of splinters in his backside so its basically not possible.

There is also comments saying Liverpool were lucky with injuries last year ? What ? The Ox being out all year , Gomez for the majority of the season , two players who would have played the vast majority of games . All teams have injuries ,when they occur it’s a great chance to see if the young guns in the youth teams have the ability to step up… see Alexander Arnold taking his chance from Clyne 18 months ago.

So let’s all not panic , and derail something before it’s even started. Sure all the front three could be injured at the same time , but no team in the world can cope with that.
DL , LFC ( Abraham looked good yesterday ) Geneva

 

Chambers is no secret
So having watched a mildly dysfunctional but encouraging Arsenal defensive performance against the might of Newcastle, and hearing the ridiculous stat that Arsenal’s previous 3 away clean sheets were each in SEPARATE CALENDAR YEARS, I thought I’d talk about my irrational love for Calum Chambers, a man who 90% of Arsenal’s fan base don’t seem to think is worth anything.

POTY for not 1, but 2 relegated clubs (Fulham and Middlesborough(?)) for whatever reason we looked to have decided to ignore the clearly sensible lesson that Liverpool have been following – that relegated clubs can still have some exceptional firefighting talent – and bin Chambers off for Zaha this season.

Cue Koscielny throwing the toys out the pram.

It’s definitely waaay to early for this, but I reckon that will be a massive stroke of luck for Arsenal. Because it kept Chambers at the club. And let him play his way into contention.

What’s more, it feels obvious that Luiz is an intended upgrade on Sokratis, not Chambers. I think one experienced hold the line guy is enough for a defence and Sokratis isn’t really that mobile anyway. So I can see him playing on alongside whichever ‘senior’ CB is out there.

But Chambers can offer even more. Because his best games last year, from all reports were actually at DMC, rather than CB. And Rob Holding feels appropriately like the Adams heir apparent (and FWIW probably the better talent too). So the moment CC isn’t needed at CB, I’d like to see him put in rotation for DMC, especially against Top 6 opponents where Xhaka’s brain fades and positioning/speed issues frequently embarrass us.

So yeah, weirdly he’s rivalling Pepe for player I’m most excited to see this season.

Anyone else similarly transfixed by a player who could well be fundamentally average? I feel like McTominay is a reasonable parallel? Or maybe Henderson before he really kicked on.
Tom, (still got Pepe on my new bruised banana shirt obviously, despite being a poor to mediocre CB, because I’m also mentally 9 years old) Walthamstow

 

Lamp shade
This was a strange angle from Tom– Poch has met or exceeded expectations every year at Spurs, often when the expected spend or foundation (think stadium) simply hasn’t been provided.

I don’t think you could say the chairman has been patient with him- it’s really been a case of the opposite being true.

Seeing youth players come through has been great though, and Lampard/transfer ban does make this an opportunity for Chelsea to undergo a change of approach and personality. Could be interesting.
Darragh, Spurs, Ireland

 

VAR…what is it good for?
Watching the football / VAR controversy over the weekend I got a bit annoyed. What annoyed me, was that the commentators and pundits (namely the West Ham vs City match on BT Sport and then the MOTD pundits, and the MOTD2 pundits last night following the Leicester vs Wolves) are igniting this VAR controversy – but we’re all for it though. Let it be then! Don’t fan the flames for God’s sake.

Also, regarding the offside calls and the difficulty in VAR due to knowing:

a) Which frame exactly is the ball kicked

b) Hard to tell if someone’s shoulder is ahead of a defender’s toe.

Why can’t they change the offside rule to make it easier to manage? Why not just go with a player’s feet rather than any ball-playing part of their body? Decisions would be a lot quicker at the very least! My initial thought was that attackers may gain an advantage with diving headers in this case but actually, their feet would still need to be on-side and so the timing of the dive would be nearly the same as it is now… and would more diving headers be a bad thing anyway?

Taking this one step further…. surely then you could also have some kind of tech in players boots that know when the ball is kicked and their position on the pitch thus nearly instant (and correct) answer (it’s a bit out-there I know, and there is probably a massive issue that I’ve overlooked).

The video ref works in rugby union. Does it get 100% of decisions correct? No. Nor should we expect it to, but it’s better than what we have.
Gar Cad, N Wales

 

Johnny, be good
Some comments on JN’s article.

– To say that the 20 teams get a “free gift” is pushing it. At the end of the day, fans pay up to watch them. We can argue that the product is overpriced (and yes like it or not it is a product) but at the end of the day people are paying them. They have a captive audience sure but its not like they are selling life staples like rice or oil.

Teams spend a lot to in order to be competitive. The higher teams need to get to the Champions League and earn that extra money. On the other end, teams on the lower end usually spend to hopefully stay in the Premier League.

Nobody bats an eye at huge contracts of AAA music industry or movie industry, why football? They fall under the same category of entertainment and people who know what their worth use their leverage. Association football is the most popular sport the world and fans collective pay to see the teams in top leagues duke it out.

Even attendences (as far as Ive checked a few teams before), tends to drop of a team gets relegated. The EPL is clearly a draw to people even if your team get hammered more there.

If people really want big money to stop, they need to boycott, plain and simple. They mostly don’t because even though they say they don’t like it, they still pay for the product. In economics this is called revealed preferences, where people say one thing but do another. When money flows in less, so will big money.

– The EPL is capitalistic, if JN wanna look as an example of a more socialistic league, look at the NFL (whose revenue is more than twice the EPL, at 11.394 billion euros). All teams get the same share from league revenue and they put a salary cap to limit. Teams cannot exist and enter without league approval. In EPL most money go the players at least, that is not the case with most American sports where it goes back to the owners, and the average player earns little (top free agents earn a lot however). Drafts does make the sport more fair but at the cost of earning potential of young players. There are no consequences for sporting failures.

In English football, any team can rise to the top tier from the lowest and vice versa. Yes the odds are stacked against them but the opportunity is there. Look at what Bournemouth has achieved with Eddier Howe, or when Leicester won the league two seasons after promotion and even now is a solid mid table side. Rare as they are, the fact that it happened at all goes against conventional theory. Also Man United who spent gazillions of money still can’t buy back their glory days, while Spurs who didn’t sign anyone last year went to the European finals.

Sunderland, Leeds, Conventry City and Portsmouth to name a few got taken down because of poor management but their failures gave the opportunity for others to rise – anybody can make a club that could rise all the way even if unlikely. This doesnt happen in socialistic closed leagues like the NFL where almost everyone is there year in year out.

– In basic economics, the price is something is based on supply and demand of buyer and seller. JN even mentions this in his article, so he is ignoring his own paragraph. Anybody who spends two minutes on eBay knows this.

Even his cost material analysis is wrong because he doesn’t take into account the demand side. You can spend a gazillion dollars making something, you will not see a cent back if nobody wants to buy it. It takes two to make a market.

Rather the players ARE the material cost that clubs pay and their EPL and UCL are the products that fans pay to get. They don’t sign good players, they get kicked out of the division for not being good enough teams and be part of the lucrative EPL product sold to fans.

– The increased television revenue has helped lower clubs getter better negotiating positions. No longer are they in a desperate position to sell cheaply just to pay the bills. A few years ago, Crystal Palace and Leicester would not have commanded what they got for their players from Man Utd last summer.

– JN is right at least that research has shown that there is no relationship between transfer spending and performance, but there is a correlation between salary and performance and this dataset goes back decades in English football. (On an unrelated note, just so happens I made this my undergraduate thesis topic some years back.)

Yaru, Malaysia

 

This is getting a little old now, John. We get it; you don’t like the proliferation of money in the game. However, it starts to grate when you take the position of ‘everyman’s voice of anger at perceived madness within football finances’ when the reality is a small percentage might gripe about obscene wages and sky-high transfer fees, but mainly it’s the media, beating a well-worn drum of ‘how dare football be worth billions of pounds and footballers be paid a fortune for playing a game, let’s all berate them for earning as much as they can’

There are so many poorly thought out arguments its actually difficult to fit them in an email that doesn’t take a whole day to write. I suppose I should start with the first line ‘The transfer window makes me question what money really is.’ Does it, John. Why? Why would the English Premiership football window make you wonder what money is? Money has been around an awfully long time and I don’t quite understand how the football transfer window provided this sudden epiphany. You say in football we can’t agree on what value means, as though football exists in the event horizon of a black hole where Keynes’ economic theory break down, but that’s nonsense. Football is just a very opaque game to attribute value. As you say, even after the fact, many people will disagree on whether a transfer was ultimately value for money, so bidding for a player whose ability might not be proven is challenging to say the least.

This though is not exclusive to football. Companies bid millions or even billions to acquire smaller enterprises because of short-term success, or even more outrageously, on the future performance of one or more products. This can, and does, backfire horribly costing millions with recent notable examples being Nokia and Blackberry, these and those like them happens every day all over the world. Often it is shrewd and the company picks up a YouTube or Whatsapp and earns many more millions or billions. It’s difficult to predict the future, John, saying ‘the normal concepts of financial assessment are absent’ is a pithy line, but ultimately, is a load of codswallop.

You only have to look at the modern transfer analysis of clubs like Liverpool and Spurs to see the considerable amount of mathematical modelling constructed around attributing value to players. Those physicist and mathematicians who develop these tools still explain that even with the huge amounts of performance data collected from the modern game, and the complex models used to extrapolate meaning from it, it is still extremely difficult to provide robust value to football players. Strangely, what I don’t hear them saying is ‘logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead’.

‘In football none of the usual price determinants exist, especially in the Premier League, where the 20 shareholders who ‘own it’ are basically handed a massive free gift for taking part.’ Actually, as well you know, the money is a mix of prize money dependent upon where they finish at the end of the season, and an equal share of the multiple broadcasting rights the Premier League has brokered. Who else should receive this massive amount of money? Do you have an issue with financial reward dictated by the position teams finish, or with the Premiership’s equal share of the rest of the finance generated?

And what do we get for all that money, John? The most recent survey conducted in 16/17 season, said 3.4billion in tax. That’s money going to hospitals and schools and lots of other well deserving places. “But its like a person being paid £150m to open a shop on the high street, isn’t it?!” No, not really. That was a little silly, wasn’t it. Not really equitable to compare a shop on the high street with a multi-billion pound internationally renowned sports league. And you’re not in the Mail section of this website, you are supposed to write with responsibility, not the kind of illogical sensationalism F365 routinely, and rightly, mocks the tabloid media for.

Incomprehension and disgust! Good Ol’ Alf Common, (Someone who you no doubt gleefully identified as both northern and sounding like he played in his mining boots) probably paid it as much mind as the average person does now. Indifferent and apathetic would be as applicable for the everyday reaction to another multi-million pound transfer, as outrage.

To be honest, it’s not that I completely disagree with the idea that football might have become so bloated with riches that it has lost sight of the intrinsic value in money, it’s that you base your more generic argument around large amounts of money somehow inherently equalling a lack of soul, and more incorrectly, that money has somehow become different within football compared to the rest of the world. This is just not true. As the amounts of money have increased, it has moved away from the kind of historical norms associated with British football, whether this is ultimately a tragedy or result of commercial and sporting success is an interesting topic for debate, not for ridicule in an alarmingly illogical and blatantly bias hatchet job.
Ed Ern

 

Daniel James appreciation thread
Theo, LFC

Good to see people, even rival fans appreciate the moment of joy that was Dan James goal. I don’t think you have to be a Manchester United or even a football fan to appreciate just what it meant for him. Even other United players appreciated just what it meant for him to score on his debut, McTominay especially was Dan James’ personal hype squad and his instagram post after saying his dad would’ve been proud was a classy touch.

Hope he feels so passionately about every goal he scores. Great lad, much deserved.
Yash, MUFC

 

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