Free Friday: An Evolutional Protection System and an All-Out Tilt For the Title

Free Friday: An Evolutional Protection System and an All-Out Tilt For the Title
December 14, 2018 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Posts selected by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

The idea of this weekly round-up is to give you all some idea of the range of debate on the site and the articles we publish. If you’d like to be part of our troll-free community, there’s a ‘Subscribe’ tab at the very bottom of the page.

1 – cvt123’s text exchange with a Man Utd supporting mate:

A Man Utd fan who is a friend SMSed me this yesterday:

I think I’m due an eye test. Just saw the league table.

To which I replied:

I know… I couldn’t believe Man Utd has got out of relegation threat into sixth…

24 hours later, no reply…..

2 – Krishaldo on Chelsea fans racially abusing Raheem Sterling:

Some headlines on Sterling via Sky Sports:

“Raheem Sterling drives filthy £50k Mercedes”

“Raheem Sterling buys clothes from Primark while on £180k per week”

“Raheem Sterling spotted in Poundland”

“Raheem Sterling earns £200k per week but takes £80 EasyJet flight”

Then his instagram post highlighted how the headlines we so different from when he bought his mum a house (whilst a regular at LFC), but when Foden bought his mum one (never having made a single PL start) he was lauded.

I also remember in the summer, one headline ran something along the lines of “Raheem Sterling relaxes in Hawaii with model girlfriend after World Cup flop”, but when writing about Harry Maguire, there was no ‘flop’ mentioned.

I don’t know if it’s because he’s the most prominent black England player or because he’s a bit of a tit, but he doesn’t get treated the same as everyone else. And other players have done more twatty things than he has.

I’ve mentioned before, and I see it more and more as I get older, my late uncle told me that white Europeans get treated more favourably to everyone else.

He then reminded me of the time (many moons ago) that in an Arsenal match, whoever Arsenal were playing put the ball out so that their injured player could get seen to. Convention has it that Arsenal would take the throw and pass the ball back to the oppo GK.

Instead (and this is from memory so the names are likely all wrong), someone like Parlour took the quick throw to Petit, who passed to Overmars, who crossed to Kanu who scored.

Have a guess who got the blame……

Reading an article a while back, cited a study that said that 25% of ANY society is inherently racist. And by racist, I mean they have a distrust in people/races/religions/etc that aren’t like them. It’s an evolutional protection system from when different tribes tried to dominate and steal land/resources [because that doesn’t happen now does it….]

But the same study said that after the initial instinct, the brain realises you’re being an idiot and it’s the 21st century, so those people who are different aren’t actually the threat that your brain initially told you.

5% still hold those instinctual beliefs but likely do nothing about them because it’s not politically correct/frowned upon by society in general. However this 5% of the population is where 99% of extremists come from (though they can influence some of the other ‘stragglers’. The far right in America routinely target ‘outsiders’ who have few friends as they are easy targets).

Then someone like Trump comes along and a few more of the 5% come out of the woodwork, but it’s still ONLY 5%. And the biggest idiots make the biggest noise.

Then you take the demographics of that 5%, they are vastly in the 45+ male bracket. And the older you get the larger you see it.

The exact same age bracket that own football clubs or run newspapers or hold prominent positions of power. To be brutal, at least they’re old and they’ll die out soon. Even some of the older lot are changing. How many have mixed race nieces/nephews or grandkids? It changes opinions from within.

Then you have Nike in America backing Colin Kaepernick. Did they do it because it’s the right thing to do? Of course not. They ran the numbers. Old white men buy fewer Nike products than the younger generation, so Nike backed the bigger market. And that suggests that the younger generations stick two fingers up to any sort of -isms.

I was watching old episodes of Fool and Horses on Netflix the other day, and they routinely said ‘Paki shop’ or that ‘Paki’. That’s how recent it was normal. The world is better today than it was 20/30 years ago and this Trump/Brexit part is a blip on the way. It’s a reminder to the rest of us that these twats still do exist and has re-energised the ‘fight’ against it.

We’ve already had two world wars because of these dicks.#

3 – Serpico responding to Mark Cohen’s article The Reds Are Coming Up the Hill, Boys!:

What an excellent piece Mark – I enjoyed it tremendously.

I would only add two points to the mix. The first tempers my expectations. The second tells me that we might possess yet another understated quality that could see us mounting a title challenge of a kind we haven’t seen in nearly 30 years.

1) What tempers my expectations is giving some thought to what City have learned through the experience of winning. While I completely get why you described City as you did in the article, and they are indeed a Behemoth who are used to win, there is more to winning than simply winning.

Or in other words – part of what helped them rake the 100 points, or win previous titles, was finding a way out from moments of seeming disadvantage. Coming from behind. Winning a title with Aguero’s famous shot against QPR. It is true that Liverpool present them with an awkward challenge, but part of what made them so good (beyond the money that brought them together), is finding solutions. And while Pep is often portrayed as an inflexible ideologue, he is clearly a creative thinker.

I believed his statement after their loss to Chelsea – I don’t think he was shocked to find City losing or falling (at least temporarily) to 2nd spot. But I also believed his confidence. I know his is famously scared of Liverpool, but in truth, he also knows that time is in some important ways on his squad’s side. De Bruyne still to come, Aguero to return, and we’re just entering a period without one of our stalwart defenders (Gomez). To put simply – I think they are not merely “winners”, but “seasoned winners”. They have learned some difficult lessons and overcame challenges to achieve what they had achieved.

Liverpool presents, I agree, a unique and possibly unprecedented challenge for that team. But I don’t think City are shying away from it. The reason this title race is exciting is that we are not running against pantomime villains. City are a team packed with hard-workers, hard-runners, and even if now they play for the Behemoth, each of them arrived from somewhere where they had to play at times against the odds and find a way. We are by right the underdogs and by definition the challengers, but City will not cower away just because there’s a fight. I’d bet that’s how Klopp sees it.

2) At the same time, a discussion of Liverpool’s reliance on key players through recent history provides me with yet another reason for optimism: As someone who wasn’t paying particular attention to football before the early 1990s, I have never seen Liverpool win a title. But I have seen some excellent Liverpool sides with star players. McManaman running in a green-white Calrsberg jersey is one of my early LFC memories; Gerrard tackling and running and scoring scorchers and taking games on his own; Torres scoring from any corner of the box, no time nor space needed; Suarez twisting in seven directions, throwing United players onto the turf, before scoring in a Maradona fashion. Each of these players, at their peak, were among the four hottest names in world football, and we had them.

It was a privilege to wait for kick-off time knowing they are playing for your team. But with each of these players we were a flawed team. The problem was tied to our reliance on their individual genius, but you always rely on genius if there’s some of it about. A much bigger problem was that as a team, as a system, we lacked options.

The Houllier and Benitez teams (and I’m happy to be corrected regarding Houllier as I didn’t watch many games back then) largely shared an over-reliance on individual brilliance and grit. When Torres started getting injured you knew we would need a miracle. The Rodgers team that almost won the league was likewise reliant on SAS as well as an ageing Stevie. There was something tragically poetic about the way Gerrard’s slip cost us (and him) the title. There’s a case to be made that in a well-managed club even the talismanic Gerrard shouldn’t have been relied on so exclusively for such a long period of time. At some point his legs gave.

Klopp has built something different. To be sure, we still have key players. I dread the day I see VVD or Alisson sit on their grass grabbing their knee. But every title-seeking team would miss its first keeper. You’re looking at our team and you see so much first rate talent – players that would genuinely make it, in in form, to the PL team of the season. Salah, Mane, Firmino, Shaqiri, Wiji, Milner, Keita, Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, and of course VVD and Alisson, are all in that category. But, Alisson and VVD aside, we are not reliant on any of these individuals. We will be weaker in Left back when Andy is out. We will be weaker up front without Mane. We will be weaker in midfield without Milner. But -we will still have too much about ourselves. We will still create more than enough to win. Not by a fluke, not through bravery. But by being better.

So for me the one thing that separates Liverpool’s current title challenge than the two previous challenges I witnessed, is just how well-spread the talent pool is. Milner was last year’s CL most creative player. But tell me he is injured for two months and I’d still insist our title challenge would remain on track. Salah scored forty goals last season and should he miss the season we will definitely feel it. But with Firmino, Mane, Sturridge, Shaqiri and an Origi running behind, it’s still hard to gamble against us scoring a goal or two.

We are a team of excellent elite players but we do not need heroes. We are not the hopeless romantic’s team. Things are stable enough, the core is robust enough, that it looks like the team, for the first time in nearly three decades, should be able to take some personnel absences and still accelerate up the table. We are a team that does not need a saviour. That’s how good we are. And that’s another reason why we might really win the title this year.

4 – Egremontcosmo having a gloat after the Napoli game:

Just logging in again for purposes of delayed gloat. I was at my Mam’s house for a couple of days, which means no internet or TV sports channels, so we sat in her living room with the radio on for the match, just like old times! Thank god it wasn’t Alan ‘Fucking’ Green doing the commentary, as she hates him worse than the very devil. The sense of calm has pervaded even into the Reds’ wireless performances; neither of us felt particularly surprised when we’d won. This absence of stress is A Good Thing, especially for your 76 year-old mother. I love winning this way.

Like Cap’n Tomkins, I am well pleased with Alisson. I cheerfully send my next subscription content in the knowledge that Alisson is not merely an excellent goalkeeper, but an angry bear on a jet-powered motorbike.

An angry bear on a jet-powered motorbike.

5 – Nick quoting Mourinho after he said this:

“Is not just about the money they spend in the summer, is about many things,” Mourinho said. “Is not just about spending money and reinforcing the squad, a football team is more than that, a football team is not just about spending the money.

“A football team is like a house, too, a house is not just about buying the furniture. You have to do work in the house and when the house is ready, then you buy the furniture, you spend money on the best possible furniture and then you are ready to live in an amazing house.”

He went on to say:

I don’t really do DIY. I normally like to just walk straight into the most expensive mansion in the country which just leaves me to teach the incumbents how to park the double decker buses correctly on the drive way.

Articles published on the site this week, with samples from them:

Saturday December 8th:

Jose Mourinho Falsely Slates Liverpool’s Spending – Shouldn’t He Be Worried By Bournemouth?, by Paul Tomkins.

It’s also been the case that so many pundits – mostly dullards – are “unimpressed” by “unremarkable” Liverpool, who are apparently “light years” behind Man City, but are a side who just happen to have the best defence at this stage of a season in the entire history of English football, have posted the 7th best ever start to any English football season (which may be higher still in the rankings after the latest win at Bournemouth*), and are breaking all kinds of ultra-impressive club records dating back to 1892, whilst posting excellent xG figures all season long – to show that it’s merited. Liverpool are also playing without a key player out with an ACL and now another one with his leg broken.

Monday December 10th:

Liverpool’s Best Start to a Season Ever!, by Terry Dolan.

Just how good are this Liverpool team?

This is the best Liverpool team ever after 16 top flight league games. The best in terms of highest adjusted points (adjusted to 3 points for a win to help with comparison) and lowest goals conceded.

18/19 Champions League Preview | Matchday 6 | Napoli (H), by Gary Fulcher.

Tuesday night’s visit of Napoli to Anfield – 8pm kick off UK time – has the potential to be one of thosespecial European nights at Anfield, with Liverpool knowing only a 1-0 win or a victory by two clear goals will be enough to secure our place in the knockout stages.

While Liverpool have been breaking records domestically, the Reds have set an unwanted new European club record by losing all three away game in the group stage so let’s hope the Anfield factor makes a difference and prove Carlo Ancelotti wrong, who believed the trip to Atalanta would be a tougher test than what his side will face against Liverpool.

Tuesday December 11th:

The Reds Are Coming Up the Hill, Boys!, by Mark Cohen.

The problem for City can really be summed up at this stage by two, incredible moments.

The first, a three point swing, with Mahrez missing a last minute penalty to give Liverpool a point against City and the second, of course, the once in a lifetime Origi winner in the Derby producing another two point swing.

Had these two moments of luck not occurred, Liverpool would have been facing a 7 point deficit prior to City’s match at Stamford, this being only one point better than United’s 8 point arrears at the same stage last term.

Instead, we were just two points back, our excellent win at Bournmouth moving us top and finally placing City under the requisite pressure to win, against a quality team away.

Now, Pep can spin this any way he wishes, by saying his team were brilliant etc, but here is the rub of this whole story – his team have been brilliant, and the eye test suggested they were excellent against Chelsea, but they lost, and all their consensus-based genius this season has left them one point behind Liverpool come game 16.

Wednesday December 12th:

Post-Match Analysis: Liverpool 1 – 0 Napoli, by Daniel Rhodes.

Liverpool dominated most aspects of this match, including the shots, attempting nearly three times as many as Napoli (22 to 8) – but once again it was profligate finishing that nearly cost the Reds in the end as we only had four shots on target to their three. We also had four big chances, which is huge against a team with such a good defensive record. However, we conceded two ourselves and one of those was right at the end that could have knocked us out but was thankfully – and fantastically – saved by Alisson. The breakdown of types of shots: four from set plays; 13 from individual play; and three from fast breaks.

The possession was indeed 48% to 52%, with Liverpool attempting 500 passes and the visitors 540. They are all mapped out if anyone wants to go and check them! We did dominate passes in the final third though (159 to 106).

My Night at the Match – Liverpool 1 Napoli 0, Dec. 11th 2018, by David Perkins.

The new Main Stand still takes your breath away and it’s how all grounds should be nowadays, with plenty of toilets, easy access to food and drink and, more importantly, civilised. We get to our seats to soak up the pre-match atmosphere and things are building up nicely. A great rendition of YNWA and team and fans are clearly up for this one. The great thing about the team this season is the level of control that they exert, so that they don’t need to rely on the madcap, all-action performance of the front three to the same extent. Having said that, Salah and Mane caused them problems throughout the game.

Liverpool No Longer Blitz Teams – They Grind Them Into Total Submission,by Paul Tomkins.

On MNF, Jamie Carragher was at pains to say he’s sick of hearing that Liverpool aren’t playing well; what he sees, I imagine, is something he can relate to from his days under Gérard Houllier and Rafa Benítez, in a powerful solidity and machine-like cohesion, allied to an unbreakable team spirit, that is in itself great football – but, I’d add, with three outstanding attackers (something rarely fielded by Klopp’s continental predecessors), and better attacking full-backs.

Under Houllier, one season aside (2000/01) there was only ever one outstanding goalscorer in Michael Owen (certainly after Robbie Fowler faded and Emile Heskey had that one good season), and under Rafa Benítez it was the twin pillars of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, with the supporting cast likely to offer 10 goals (or 10-15, from Dirk Kuyt) rather than the 20 that Sadio Mané (the Reds’ third best goalscorer last season) notched. 

And remember, none of the Reds’ current strikers rely on penalties, which Gerrard and Kuyt got to take back in the days when Liverpool still got league penalties (they rank 1st and 5th in the Reds’ Premier League penalties scored, with 40 in the league between them; Salah, Firmino and Mané have just two).