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Highlights

Liverpool have bought success like everybody else

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There’s reaction to the Liverpool mailbox of Tuesday morning as everybody else cites Liverpool as an example of a club that has spent well.

Now watch the football and mail us at theeditor@football365.com

 

Liverpool is not some rags to riches tale
It’s been a long time since I’ve written in, but Greg from Taunton deserves a response. Not debating the latter half of his mail, about how competitive the Premier League is or isn’t. And John Nic’s article about letting the big 6 league. I do disagree with his narrative about Liverpool, concluding with

‘Liverpool are a sign that although it is incredibly hard, it is possible to usurp clubs with more resources than you do by good management, canny ownership, and hard work.’

Liverpool play great football. Have appointed a brilliant manager. And had a great back room set up that meant they scouted good players, and sold players at good price to balance their books. Ie sensible. Should clubs claim credit for being sensible? It’s pretty much what they should be doing and something most clubs outside the top flight have to do every season. Exceptional is moving beyond this bracket. To reframe your argument without using any extra information. You basically wrote…

Financially mismanaged, an elite side with a legacy of winning trophies, was underperforming and nearly bankrupt themselves chasing past glories that ensure their inflated world wide fan base, which ensured they attracted interest to be bought even in this underachieving state, and saw them purchased by super wealthy owners for an outrageous amount of three hundred million pounds. With the fifth highest wage bill in the wealthiest league in the world they managed to finally meet fan expectations and win the Champions League.

As said Liverpool are a great team. And the way they have achieved this has been covered many times.“ by good articles on this site and others, and by many mails in the mailbox. But they aren’t a rags to riches story, ‘exceeding unreasonable expectations and breaking through the glass ceiling’ just by being ‘well managed and well run’. You were already above the glass ceiling for most clubs. Your biggest achievement was not spiralling back through it like Leeds or Nottingham Forrest… or erm, Swindon.
JC STFC

 

…Greg says that Liverpool are proof that it’s possible to usurp better resourced clubs through good management. I don’t agree.

I certainly think United are an example of how money isn’t everything and that bad management will see a club slide.

But two points –

– Liverpool spent heavily to win the league. Yes yes, net spend. But, fundamentally, Liverpool bought their success like anyone else who has by dropping (since surpassed) world record sums for a centre-back and keeper. They were very canny and spent very well, but they did spend a fortune. They were able to do the that because of a lottery-win sale of Coutinho to a financial basket-case of a club. It remains to be seen if they can sustain that sort of spending.

– Liverpool haven’t usurped anyone.

Under Klopp they have won one Champions League and one Premier League title. That’s great, an achievement and something to be proud of but they have, demonstrably, not displaced Man City, the reigning PL champions – who have won three of the last four PL titles, are favourites to win again, and will be favourites next year, and probably the year after that. City have probably been favourite to win the league for the last ten years and will be for the next, irrespective of where Guardiola goes. Liverpool are in a great moment, but still probably second best and who knows what will happen when Klopp leaves, or Salah leaves (or Salah stays on £400k a week and goes off the boil at 32). Maybe the well-oiled machine will continue just as well under the next guy, or maybe they’ll slip off of City’s relentless pace and back into the pack.

The point is, Liverpool have, so far, only proven that with quite a lot of money, well spent and someone who’ll be part of the best manager ever conversation, they’ve been able to nick one legal title but otherwise just about keep pace with City, but still come off second best for 3-4 years. All that they’ve achieved is incredibly impressive, and incredibly hard fought, but they haven’t supplanted anyone – yet (the quadruple is still on, after all!)
Andy (MUFC)

 

‘BIG 6 DOMINATION’ + ‘MAN CITY FANS DISRESPECT’ | F365 ‘Mailbox Live’ – 19th Apr 2022 https://t.co/pB6LYBmO7s

— Football365 (@F365) April 19, 2022

 

……wow, really glad I ate a lot of chocolate this weekend as I had to ingest a massive pinch of salt with this morning’s mailbox! Particular highlights were the claims about Liverpool getting where they are through hard work and good management (agreed) alone with no mention of the £540million pounds they’ve spent in transfers over the last five years! That and Mike’s claim that football now is a watered down version of the game 30 years ago – the same game where the teams basically walked around the pitch, passing back to the keeper, giving it to the one flair player each team possessed, kicking strikers into the air, breaking legs then hitting the boozer after the game. I watched the 1991 FA cup final again recently and it was basically like two pub teams having a stroll. This is no disrespect to Gary Mabbutt, what he achieved in the game with his condition is phenomenal, but can you imagine him putting in the requisite 13kms per game these days, or Neil Ruddock not getting sent off every single game? Would any of the famed addicts have managed to hide their addictions in todays high intensity game? The game now is faster, more technical and far more aesthetically pleasing. I reckon Mike just didn’t enjoy his 4 day weekend and needed to vent….
Jerome, Bristol Spur

 

…Will LFC nails the importance of so many things going right for a club to be able to compete at the highest level possible in football and this goes around in cycles. I would argue that you could buy all the best players in every position and still fall short with Big Sam as your manager.

If you look at Liverpool, one of the key elements that I find is not really talked about is their ability to sell players. Since Klopp arrived, Liverpool have sold around £440m worth of players, allowing them to make over £650m in acquisitions, following the club and managers strategy to build the exact team he wants. Then you look at the list of the highest sales in each year:

21/22 Harry Wilson
20/21 Lovren
19/20 Ings
18/19 Solanke
17/18 Coutinho
16/17 Benteke
15/16 Sterling

Apart from Sterling, all of those players were sold for more than they were and/or ended up being worth. If you compare to Arsenal over the same period (£257m sold, £704m bought), its a stark difference. You have to wonder how much more Arsenal could have done this season with an extra 200m from player sales…

I think there are sporadic examples where everything aligns perfectly from recruitment to manager to staff (Leicester 15/16, Arsenal 97/98, United many times). Liverpool are today’s prime example, Man City will always come with an asterisk due to money but they are the same. When Klopp or Pep go, maybe Conte’s Spurs or Arteta’s Arsenal will emerge as the new teams where everything clicks and the whole club are working on the same strategy. Maybe it will be Moyes at West Ham.

In fact, I think this is exactly what Arsenal are bargaining on. They know they can’t currently compete with a fully realised Liverpool and City under Klopp and Pep, its not even worth trying. So they are restructuring, clearing the decks and investing in young talent for when they eventually go, setting out their own strategy for the next five years. Its a risky strategy in the long term, it might not work, but it makes perfect sense in the current climate with one eye on Chelsea and United throwing their money around.

One things for sure, when everything clicks, even the quadruple is possible…
Rob A (obviously desperate for this not to happen…) AFC

 

On those Man City fanbase jibes
Another day, another mailbox with a Liverpool fan (Lee) obliquely questioning City’s fanbase on the back of empty seats and booing.

Fairly sure they know the answer – but for the sake of clarification – our fanbase is definitively not as big as United’s or theirs. There, I’ve said it. Quite the revelation, I know. It’s significantly larger than Burnley, Brighton and Norwich – probably somewhere around the Villa, Everton, Newcastle level – not that it matters. And yes, those three would have sold out Saturday, but as Pep’s team selection highlighted, it wasn’t even our biggest game of the week.

Why did we return 7,000 tickets? Transport difficulties. Cost of tickets – the empty blocks being in the £65+ ticket range. Associated match day costs. It was Easter weekend – family commitments. Additional and bigger games on the horizon. Or maybe just paying bills / putting food on the table. Hearty congratulations on having a larger fanbase capable of filling the gaps left by your own regular match-day attending fans who made the same decision – but I’m somewhat surprised by the lack of understanding / empathy towards a club’s working class fanbase – give you’re Shankly’s club.

By stating “the fans that did watch the game were disrespectful’ (during the silence) Lee appears to be inferring all 28-30k Blues in attendance booed. Simply untrue. It was the usual “minority” – the blue version of the Liverpool fans that pelted our bus a couple of years back. I started off applauding – as I thought that’s what we did these days – before observing the silence as did the vast majority. We were “impeccable” during the 50th anniversary at Old Trafford – so who knows what set it off on Saturday. I’ll wager alcohol played a part, it was responsible for my initial confusion, though I also believe applause is the best option if we must observe such memorials.

Take the moral high ground all you want, and I’m not condoning the booing, but you are absolutely kidding yourself if you don’t think Liverpool have a similar unruly element among your support.

So, what sort of club and fanbase are we? Smaller than you – but with a make-up is entirely in keeping with every football fanbase in the world. Millwall excepted. And Forest Green Rovers.
G (embracing trophies over new fans since the takeover) S

 

Were Liverpool lucky last summer?
While the topical top ten on most minutes played since July was slightly worrisome for Liverpool, with four in there, it should be acknowledged that Salah, Mane and VVD didn’t play a tournament last summer. In fact, Liverpool’s squad overall played incredibly few tournament minutes last summer, considering the club’s status (albeit partly down to injuries). Perhaps this is being overlooked in the squad depth debate. Liverpool’s top seven defenders played just 270 minutes last summer (all of them Robertson – six didn’t play at all), City’s top seven defenders played 2800 minutes (and only Cancelo didn’t play – he had Covid). The same is true to a lesser degree in midfield – Liverpool’s midfielders played just 400 minutes between them in the summer (or 550 if you include Curtis Jones in the U21s). By comparison, Fred played 463 on his own in the Copa America.

Perhaps last summer’s exertions are reflected in the ‘luck’ Liverpool are having, not only with their own fully fit squad today, but with opposition players getting injured at this key stage in the season – no Rodri, de Bruyne, Dias or Walker at the weekend. No Cavani, Varane, Shaw, Fred or McTominay tonight (average 400+ minutes between them last summer). Gerard Moreno pulling a hamstring for Villareal this week (280 mins for Spain).

Still being in the hunt for the quadruple in late April requires some good fortune – maybe the first bit was before the season even began.
Shappo

 

It’s nostalgia for a time that didn’t exist
Dominance of football, it’s not new. I’m not sure where this idea that we live in a unique era of sterile dominance comes from.

For reference, just 24 different teams have won the English football league. Let’s look at some of those teams – from say, the first 30 years:

Aston Villa (6), Sunderland (5), Liverpool (4), Newcastle (3), Manchester United (3), Wednesday (2), Preston North End (2), Blackburn Rovers (1), Sheffield united (1)

30 years of football – 9 different winners. But the prescient point here is 21/30 were won by a ‘big 5’.

Or another way – in 123 seasons of the football league – 75 titles have been won by a ‘big 6’. That’s 61% of all titles shared among 6 clubs.

This longing for a bygone era where anyone could do anything and anyone could win anything is, quite frankly, a nonsense. As with a lot of the nostalgia that seems to surround the UK at the minute – see Brexit, World War Two, and now incredibly the longing for the times when central heating didn’t exist – it’s simply not true.

Now you may say, yes, but it’s all about money now. Erm, news flash. It’s always been about money.

A few choice examples from the list of British transfer records:

1893 – Willie Groves to Aston Villa (yes that Aston Villa, who won 6 titles in the era) for £100.
1911 – John Simpson to Blackburn Rovers (who won the title in 1910 and 1912) for £1,800.
1962 – Denis Law to Manchester United (two league title and a European Cup) for £115,000.
1979 – Trevor Francis to Nottingham Forrest (won the European cup) for £1,180,000.

The clubs that win things spend money. The clubs that spend money have rich owners. It’s nothing new. And don’t forget it will change again – see the rise(s) and fall(s) of Blackburn, Everton, Aston Villa, West Ham, Tottenham to name a few. Eventually Liverpool, City and Chelsea will drop off, it’s inevitable. Just enjoy the football and stop being so bloody miserable all the time, people!
Marc

 

Fanmail for Mike
Can’t wait to see the replies to Mike’s mail and reminding him about when Man Utd were winning everything, and that apparently made things better.
Mike D (no relation)

 

…Amusing to see Mike’s email were he basically claims football that didn’t take place between 1992 to 2013 as effectively not counting, for any number of reasons. But just don’t mention it happens to coincide with Manchester United’s period of dominance collapsing.

His idea to reform the Champions League for instance seems very similar to the old European Cup but of course Liverpool fans have been told for years how much ‘easier’ it was to win them, except for in 1968 naturally.
John

 

…Interesting that Mike thinks football was better 10 (Utd were winning), 20 (United winning even more), 30 years ago (United were on the up) but not today (United not winning) or 40 years ago (United not winning), hell even 50 years ago (United not winning). Can’t figure out what could possibly be the driver here.

I started following football in the late 70’s, supporting Liverpool from afar was great, right up to the early 90’s, became a bit more of a slog as the drift started, been a bit more fun over the last decade, not sure why.

Picked up Hertha Berlin as a club along the way, now there is a perennial slog.
Mel – Dublin, Berlin, Athlone Town

 

Villa annoying? Come off it
Come on now….. you rail in mediawatch about the endless click-bait of the MSM and yet you publish a one-eyed opinion piece from a Hull fan in Warwick.

I’m sure you will get a lot of responses but most Villa fans just want a decent team to get behind especially looking now at the fate of Derby and where Villa were in 2019 . We’re not obsessed with the European cup (just proud) or sacking managers, we just want a decent team for a large fanbase that’s been well financed by the owners and should be achieving more.

We consider ourselves a big club based on history, trophy count, attendance. Understandably this is a while ago but lets face it in the last 20 years bar City, Chelsea, Liverpool and maybe arsenal and Utd most teams fans will be looking at their past histories.

I’m just hoping it was written for free as if he actually got paid for that drivel then I’m in the wrong career.
Andy UTV Kford

How about a list of least annoying fans?
My pick is Fulham. London’s oldest club. Their home is the only listed stadium I think – Highbury was also listed but that’s now housing. Craven Cottage has to be my favourite stadium – right by the river and screams history.

I’ve known a few Fulham fans and every one of them proved to be lovely. They don’t tend to take defeats personally and lose their minds like
other sets of fans and our Stewie wouldn’t last long among the Fulham faithful – not that they’d abuse him or anything – more that their positive mindset would get on his nerves and he’d leave.

Their mascot Billy the Badger is a great chap and they’re a real community club. They also greeted former player Barry Hales with the chant of Barry! – which I think is genius.

Football can suck the life out of you as it messes with your hopes and dreams but some of my best days at Arsenal have been after a set of rubbish results where the fans have just thought, sod it and roared the team on – Fulham is like this all of the time. But Fulham are on the verge of returning to the Premier League so this year they have something to celebrate too and I couldn’t be happier for them.

I’ve no idea why Villa and Liverpool are ranked above Arsenal when it comes to annoying fans – they’ve always struck me as a nice enough bunch whenever I have encountered them.
Graham Simons, Gooner with a soft spot for Fulham, Norf London

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