This week’s posts selected by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.
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1 – Jimbomac assessing the part of player turnover in success:
I did some thinking a few weeks ago on how quickly the team and squad need to improve for the effects to be felt on the pitch. How many players need to come into the club and make an impact per year vs those leaving? This could be worth sharing as we are now considering if Coutinho needs to be replaced in relation to the current health of our squad.
Managing a squad is a classic leaking bucket challenge – yes you want to add a top player (first team or on bench most weeks) every season, but when thinking about how short players careers are we also need to think about how quickly current players will age and decline. For example, it was great to add Mo Salah in the summer, but if we only ever added a Mo Salah player once a year it would still not be enough, we would need 11 years to build a team by which time the first Mo’s would be ineffective or would have left.
To drive up the standing of the squad and go higher in the league then, you need to beat the run rate for your position. If you add good players but then sell them or see a few retire, it makes the task harder. For example look at Rodgers and Dalglish, over their reigns Liverpool’s performance was fairly flat (1314 aside), even though we added a lot of good players (Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho, Henderson) because we lost good players at a similar rate (Suarez, Torres, Sterling, Gerrard).
If we think about the last time the squad consistently improved it was under Rafa, and I wondered what his per season rate of adding top players was and how this compares to more fallow years (I’ve based this on doing some research on transfermarkt).
In rafas first season (0405) the net squad improvement is 0 as whilst in came Cisse, Alonso and Garcia, outgoing were Owen, Murphy and Henchoz. Now, we could argue about whether one group of players is better than the other, but im keeping it simple using the criteria that all these players were important members of the match day squad. I suspect much of the improvement we see in 0405 came from greater tactical nouse (using le tallec vs Juve at home stands out) and Rafas ability to get the best out of players (Look at how Biscan improved). In terms of pure recruitment,what really struck me was the next three years, where Rafa was able to build his best teams with net additions to the match day squad of 2-4 a season: 0506 was +2 with Sissoko, Crouch, Reina, Agger in against the loss of Smicer, Baros. 0607 was +4 with kuyt, Pennant, Arbeloa, Mascherano, Aurelio, Bellamy in, whilst only losing Cisse, Hamann. Then 0708 was +2 with
Babel, Torres, Skrtel, Benayoun in and the losses of Sissoko and Garcia. These additions really got the team motoring and by 0809 we have the best team Rafa assembled. Its fair to speculate that another good summer with 2-3 players added could well have been enough to win the league.
However, we then see a dip as the net impact on the matchday squad also proves to be a good measure of when the team was in decline. 0809 was -2 with Riera in (crucially providing the balance the made a title push possible) but out were Crouch, Riise and Finnan. The following seasons went as follows: 0910 -2, 1011 -4, 1112 0, 1213 0, 1314 0, 1415 +1, 1516 0, 1617 +2, so far 1718 is EDIT: +2 with Salah, Oxlade Chamberlain, Robertson and Van Dijk in and Lucas and Coutinho out.
So, +1 is clearly good, and already 1819 is set up nicely with Keita in although that is likely to be balanced with Can out. +1 will improve the team, but based on the precedent of Rafa’s time we need to be adding around 2-3 players net improvement to the matchday squad a season to be able to go from top 4 contenders to title contenders. If Rafa had been able to do that for 4 out of 5 seasons then he may well have won the league.
Its often said that a manager is ‘building something’, which is a good point to make, but clubs are always building, squads always in a state of flux because the players you have aren’t staying the same. Some will improve with age and training, but given enough time they will all become ineffective, so a constant flow of players in is needed. The question is how high do you want to go, which will state how many players you need to add a season. I could really do with someone looking at the same stats on Man City and Chelsea spending billions, just how many were they adding a year?
So losing Coutinho and probably Can aren’t in themselves big problems, but we do need to keep up some momentum, if we could add yet another player this season it would help to keep us on track.
2 – TTT Subscriber Lee Hamm reveals his remarkable help for a dialysis patient:
Anyone else ready to whine that ‘Braving the Wilderness’ costs five times as much on the US Amazon site, as on the UK site?
No really, my glass is always more than half-full. I have read a little of the Stoics’ writing and a little Buddhism. Singing in the Kop is the closest I have ever felt to religion: community with my fellow humans; real tears of joy and shameless sentimentality.
As I became a Liverpool fan in about 1964, my dad used to say I had never known anything but good times; no bad times like the second division. He was right, of course, as dads often are. His examples have helped me to see the positive in much of my life, when others around me were seeing impending disasters [if I was married, she’d have been my mother-in-law, whose life motto was: every silver lining has a grey cloud].
When you are convinced you are at the nadir in your fan frustration because we haven’t signed ___________[fill in the blank], I can introduce you to a guy of 24 whose life I am part of. His life depends on two dialysis sessions per week. His family can’t afford both and I drive him once a week and pay for his session. It is very humbling when you see someone who wants to live. Football is important but…this helps me appreciate how fortunate I am, so I don’t whine much.
3 – Madchenkliop on the progress the club is making under Klopp:
This joyless tweet sums it up for me:
Liverpool not having announced some sort of replacement for Coutinho yet is a real vibe killer. Genuinely can’t fathom we’re willing to gamble with this high stakes.
It’s all about insurance. Some kind of projected future reality that has little basis on what’s actually transpired this season. Why can’t we enjoy the vibe from VVD’s arrival? I just rewatched the match and found it extremely rousing stuff. And TAA and Ox’s recent goals.
Coutinho has been marvellous when he’s played, but we’re over half way through a season which could have been even better if he was entirely committed to the club. Who knows but were that the case maybe we would be within spitting distance of challenging City at the top. I don’t personally think so but the cold hard facts are that this is not a season we can win a PL title or the CL – especially with our main matchwinners all wanting, as PC has manifestly demonstrated by joining FCB when cup tied, to keep their powder dry for the main event of the World Cup.
Talent and pedigree are wonderful things, but they are nothing without motivation and commitment. I’m so glad Paul wrote his article on Honigstein’s book, because it goes such a long way to explain how JK works and what I find most galling about the above tweet is it reveals such a wilful ignorance of what he’s already shown us in his method and priorities when introducing players.
Having seen the progress made by Robertson, Gomez, TAA and Moreno is it not exciting to see what Klopp can do with the other talented players at the club? Coutinho himself was high stakes at one point. Yes we’re not buying in off the shelf superstars like the Manchester clubs and Chelsea but do we really want to be just the same as them? What would be the point in having a unique manager like Klopp if we were to take that path? Surely the joy will be in seeing the next Coutinho emerge and having faith in JK’s judgement that this can’t be manufactured or rushed.
Personally, I can’t imagine anything more thrilling than the ride we’re already on.
4 – Fat Taff’s thoughts on why social media gets the way it does sometimes:
Paul this touched so many chords with me. Here are a few points that I think run alongside, laid out in the form of an intemperate rant. Over the years I’ve noticed that lack of understanding (often – but not always – growing from ignorance in concert with stupidity) breeds both iron certainty and desperate hostility in support of it. Thus the insults you referred to at the beginning of your piece.
People get like this when they lack both understanding and any confidence that they can gain it. Often they lack the knowledge and tools to begin to do so.
How does it happen that people get like this? It’s side issue, but I shall pop down that track for a moment. I’m a year or so off seventy, and when I went to grammar school teachers challenged me. Indeed, nearly all sixth-form teaching in two of my three subjects (English and economics) consisted of debates initiated by the teacher uttering a startling view – sometimes to decoy us into opposing it, when he would beat us over the head with supporting reasoning, and sometimes to decoy us into accepting it (as a result of previous experience) when he would call us out for lack of logical rigour. The point here is that either way, we were all thoroughly taught that understanding is just some careful reasoning and some additional information away.
I believe few modern students – or students in the last 25 years – are ever taught to believe in their own intellectual capability like that.
How does this affect the current issues. Well, let’s take two examples. First FSG. I would say that over 75% of Liverpool supporters who post on social media fail to understand – at all – (A) what problems FSG faced when they took over (B) what they set out to do about it (C) how they are doing and (E) how one might address any of the above anyway.
That in itself isn’t a problem. The problem is that in the vast majority of cases, they not only don’t know these things, they don’t understand how to learn about them and gain understanding. Or even that they can do that at all.
You don’t need a degree to use the internet and you don’t have to have a brain the size of a planet to read people who do know about these subjects and start to gain some understanding from them – and you and I know that. They don’t seem to. They seem to believe that since they do not know they will never know and there is no way to find out.
The result is certainty – they form an opinion based on 90Min, or the Sun, or Bill in the pub and are unwilling to compromise it for fear of seeming “thick”. All of which rises from a lack of confidence.
I’ve over-simplified here, I doubt you want a 10k word essay but what it comes down to is that folk today have been convinced they can’t understand – and that therefore probably nobody else does, and anybody who pretends to probably has an agenda. Again, hence the abuse at you. It’s a crime to convince folk of that and I’d like to know who has committed / is committing it.
When it comes to Klopp it’s the same of course. They can’t understand him and what he does. Nor can I, actually, in football terms he’s many times smarter than I am. But the difference is, I am confident in my own ability to understand, and when I see an expert I can thus admire without pain. Most of these people are not confident, and do not believe they will ever understand. If you don’t believe you can improve your understanding of matters, then you are likely to believe that nobody else can either.
Hence, they see your assumptions as a direct insult to them. You are either another who doesn’t know anything impudently trying to rubbish their view, or else – worse – you do have some understanding and are therefore the ultimate evil – a threat to their view that nobody really knows what’s going on – and hence a threat to their ability to see themselves as the equal of others.
Yes they’re wrong, they could be, but only if they work at improving their understanding, which they not only don’t know how to do, they do not think it can be done. believe me, I’ve tried to help folk understand. A few get it, a myriad are enraged.
So enough rant. What I am really saying is the people would rather hold fiercely to an opinion than learn the truth, and this is often because they do not believe they CAN learn the truth. It’s not hard to see how all that cynicism rises from this as well.
The above is not a complete analysis, or even the beginnings of one. It’s just a rant on one aspect of the subject. But I thought it spoke into some of the ideas you were putting forward.
5. Divilmint on the Man City game on Sunday:
I’m hugely confident about this one for one simple reason. I believe we are the only team in world football that City genuinely fear. We are the Dumbledore to their Voldermort, we are the Holmes to their Moriarty we are the Doc Holliday to their Johnny Ringo and on Sunday evening millions of voices around the world will cry out as one – “Pep Guardiola … I’m your fucking huckleberry!”
I believe we are the only team in the league that if when playing City both teams hit their full potential the result is uncertain. No other team can say that. We are the only team in the land that can beat their team by playing our own game. This is the last chance out of all the remaining fixtures in the league for City to be beaten by a better team. After Sunday they can only be beaten by a luckier team.
They fear us. In terms of attacking we are the only other heavyweight puncher in the league. Sure they are going to come full of confidence, full of self belief, full of swagger. They’re coming with a plan, but in the words of Mike Tyson everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. And that punch is coming. They fear it. They know that come Sunday night that big heavyweight punch is going to hit them flush on the chin. They wont have been hit like that before. They don’t know how much it’s going to hurt. They don’t know if they can save themselves by landing one on us before we do them. We are the team that doesn’t stay down. They don’t yet know how they will react when they get put down. Our heart and guts are there for all to see but they haven’t had to look for theirs yet. Not really. Not until Sunday. But they know it’s coming! This is how doubt creeps in. This is how fear settles in their stomach. This is passion, this is pride, this is war but this isn’t Sparta…… It’s worse that that blues…..This is Anfield!
Articles published on The Tomkins Times this week:
Sunday January 7th:
The Most Important Piece I Will Write This Season: How Klopp Is Even Better Than People Realise, by Paul Tomkins.
Tuesday January 9th:
Liverpool FC, Fume and Propaganda, Via Texas, Ancient Greece and Rome, by Paul Tomkins.
Wednesday January 10th:
The TTT Dungeons: Working For Goebbels, Stalin and Godwin, by Daniel Rhodes.
Thursday January 11th:
Will Klopp Rotation Increase the Points Yield by Andrew Beasley