Free Friday: Deadline Day Defensive Double-Up, How to Win With Brexit and a Tough Gig For Jamie Webster!

Free Friday: Deadline Day Defensive Double-Up, How to Win With Brexit and a Tough Gig For Jamie Webster!
February 5, 2021 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week:

Chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

1 – Jeff, writing on Transfer Deadline Day, on Liverpool’s centre-backs situation:

If you have a business plan, you stick to it, because once you start to deviate from the way you do business, you are on the road to ruin. The reality of Liverpool is simple. The club will only buy players that it wants at a price the club deems reasonable and the lad wants to come to Liverpool and play for wages the club is willing to pay. If someone wants too much money for a player, Liverpool says no. If a lad wants wages that Liverpool deem out of line, the club says no. If a lad really does not want to play for Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool but wants a pay day in Liverpool, the club says no. I do not want Liverpool to pay over the odds to bring in a player and I do not want the club to over pay a player and I do not want the club to bring in a player who really does not want to be in Liverpool but is coming for a payday.

The flaw in JoeP’s world is that he ignores the fact that some lads the club may want simply are not available in the world of FSG and he ignores the fact that a sane transfer policy has underpinned the success of Liverpool in the transfer market. The issue is not whether or not FSG can finance bringing in a player but the question is does bringing in a player fit the way Liverpool does business which JoeP ignores.

Could it be that Preston waited until the last minute hoping to up the price and avoid Davies leaving for 0. The story in regard to Davies is he was about to sign one of those pre-contract contracts with Celtic and this prompted Preston to talk about selling him to Celtic which opened the door for Liverpool. In regard to Kabak you can find an endless number of stores in German going back at least to last summer that Liverpool wanted to bring him to the club and Schalke said NO. Please always remember that the club has to want to sell a player for Liverpool to potentially buy a player.

I posted any number of times that I believed that las day or two of this window would be wild because clubs who need money or needed to sell a player would suddenly become far more amenable to selling a player and this seemingly is what happened with Davies and potentially some other center backs such as Kabak.

2 – Mobykidz reflecting after transfer deadline day passed:

Liverpool’s season has not finished yet. So its too early to put our transfer decisions into some sort of context. What is not difficult to place is the three season ending injuries to three centre backs. Each though was a different sort of injury two of which happened during a game and another that did not.

But without criticism or blame we now have another season where Joel Matip misses a huge part of a season, Klopp reassuringly saying he will be back and other players filling gaps.

Let me be clear this was not Matip’s fault because he’d clearly been playing whilst unfit. Klopp played him and we did not have a choice with Fabinho’s injury. But the words Matip and injured are as synonymous as Naby and injured. I think both are super talented players but the system comes first and even I have to admit the time has come to face replacing both with lads who are no where near as brittle. Its not the season ending injuries but the continuous niggling injuries that mean they miss a couple of games here and there. The Naby situation is very odd in how consistent his injuries are.

Its not a sign of disloyalty but we have had a couple of seasons where injury track records have impacted us and a 25 man squad has felt like a 23 strong squad instead. I am sure there are raised eye brows when some of the usual suspects don’t turn up. I love to support the guys and give them every chance to flourish but the team comes first and every great manager has to make a decision about cutting players from the squad.

Klopp likes stability and knows his guys. He likes Matip. He’s a superb defender and with Davies and Kabak it buys us time to get everybody fit for a busy 2021-22. Not withstanding VvD playing the Euros and an expectation he stays fit. But I think it might be time to make a profit and move Matip on and free up a space for a Kabak or more experienced alternate. We need someone who can give us 30 games a season as a starter or off the bench. Joe and Virgil need that next season to ensure we do not place too much stress on their recovering bodies. I’m not sure Matip, as he gets older, will be any less brittle. I might be wrong. But doubt it.

On Naby the same applies. I love what he could be. But the medical department has spent years trying to get to the bottom of his niggling injuries. Again others have to pick up his absence but thankfully Curtis Jones has grown into his role and more. Naby it feels is coming to a decision point. And Klopp may have to move him on, plus I suspect Minamino, permanently to raise funds and free up two slots in the squad for the kind of emerging talent that can refresh this squad. Citeh will only get stronger.

I think we need to refresh our squad in areas where having better and fitter players will remove the strain of the rest. Easier said than done. We also have Gini possibly moving on. So it seems there might be some big changes coming but actually the core of the squad will remain as VvD, Joe, etc return. But with Matip, Minamino and Naby I think FSG and Michael Edwards will need to think long and hard about each to strengthen the squad. Each is a great player but for whatever reason it just does not seem to work out for them in terms of breaking into the first team either due to injury or form.

I’m torn but think the squad could be stronger if we found good alternatives. But its sods law that the injury curse could just extend to any replacements. I’d hate to do Michael Edwards job. But I think the summer will be huge in shaping this team.

3 – Stevenson1988’s very funny response to some transfer gossip!:

“Aston Villa’s 17-year-old English midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka is being monitored by Manchester United and Liverpool.”

Good luck with that one Jamie Webster! 😉

4 – JonnyBGood on the need for centre-backs to have experience:

Agree with your assessment Paul, there’s lots of evidence to support your theory regarding maturity of centre-backs in their mid-twenties. Three other players who played at a decent level – two for their countries and all former Liverpool reserves, are Conor Coady (holding midfield to centre-backs, although he did play the odd game for our u23’s in that position); Daniel Ayala developed into a decent defender in his mid twenties and so did Mikel San Jose who left for Bilbao. He went on to play for Spain in his mid to late twenties. He’s a prime example of a slow ‘big fella’ but his ability to read the game and use his body made up for his lack of pace.

I haven’t seen more than a few youtube highlights of Ben Davies but I watched and listened with interest to Steven Warwick’s assessment of him. I have a good feeling about him. He’s the perfect age and although no Premier League experience I think he will prove to have the skill set to make the step up. On the other hand I thought Merson talked utter drivel on Sky Sports when he inferred that Kabak was a poor player because his team sat at the bottom of the Bundesliga. I seem to recall we signed Mark Wright from Derby when they sat at the foot of the table and got relegated and then there are all the other ‘hopeless’ players that got relegated with their clubs that we signed…. Robbo and Gini spring to mind!

Kabak whilst seemingly having the required physicality and speed to cope with the pace and power of some Premier League strikers may need a little more time settle in due to his inexperience but then again Joe Gomez was pretty impressive as soon as he was given game time and but for his succession of injuries might have been the complete centre-back now…I recall him having Neymar in his pocket in his England debut too. I think I’m right on that one?

Time will tell but I think it was great business done at a very difficult time.

5 – Tash is excited about the Reds’ signing of Kabak:

Massively excited for the Kabak signing as he seems to have so much potential. I too think he looks taller than his ‘official’ 6ft 1 and would also say that his solid build goes a good way toward negating any loss in height. I’ve watched him a bit since we were first linked (pretty much just because he’s Turkish and was heavily linked with us) and can see that, ignoring any momentary loss of temper, he’s not easily pushed off the ball and not easily rattled. The acid test will be how that translates to the Premier League. I think he’ll be fine though. He perhaps needed that episode to learn the lesson that the opposition will look for every way to get the better of him. He’s come out and said himself that on that occasion lost the battle inside his head.

He had a very good breakthrough season at Galatasaray where standards may be lower, but tempers can and do often fray.

The fact he left for Germany immediately, when so many Turkish players stay far too long, choosing to lap up the local acclaim and the more than decent wages instead of testing themselves abroad, tells you that he has ambition to make it to the top.

He followed that with an excellent season at Stuttgart and then, moving on again, he’s looked as good as can be expected in a Schalke side who are nailed to the bottom of the Bundesliga. That experience will have gotten him used to adversity and pressure and will have taught him that, no matter how good you are personally, football is not always a bed of roses. And while the Bundesliga is maybe not as tough as the Premiership he’ll be more than accustomed to coming up against big, tough players.
I think we may well have got ourselves a bargain. If not, we’ve taken a very small and therefore measured gamble.

As Klopp said, we have 2 potential fairytale stories in Kabak and Davies. I’m looking forward to seeing how both unfold.

6 – Beez discussing the vagaries of finishing in football:

Whether this will cheer you up, but it helps keep me believing…

In Liverpool’s last eight league games (from WBA onward) they’ve had 18 clear-cut chances while allowing nine. However, they have scored five of theirs, while conceding from four of the opponents’. The United game was the only one of the eight where the opposition had more than we did.

We’re not playing well on the whole, but finishing is absolutely killing us. We missed three CCCs against Newcastle, plus big chances to go a goal up against United, Burnley and Brighton… I suppose we just have to hope that injury and team fatigue don’t prevent the small margins from swinging back in our favour.

Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Mon. Feb. 1st:

Post-Match Analysis: West Ham 1-3 Liverpool, by Daniel Rhodes.

Team Stats:

After attempting 17 shots, 17 shots and then 27 shots in three goalless matches for Liverpool, they then proceed to take exactly 14 against Spurs and West Ham  – producing six goals. Random variation right before your eyes, and thankfully it’s moved back in our favour. Especially when you consider the quality of finishes.

All About Winning: What Liverpool Can and Should Do to Win Within New Brexit Rules, by Paul Grech.

It is now imperative to get to talent before others.

To be in a better position to do so, the club should set up a network of youth football clubs all across Britain – including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland becomes all the more important – similar to the one that had been in place with St. Joseph’s.

A club like Liverpool will have dozens of scouts following football all across the country but this network would take matters to a higher level. It would extend Liverpool’s area of influence and visibility well beyond what is currently possible with a scouting network.

Tues. Feb. 2nd:

2020/21 Premier League | Matchweek 22 | Brighton Preview | Anfield, by Gary Fulcher.

February is filled with some high profile matches for the Reds, with Manchester City heading to Anfield on Sunday, followed by a trip to Leicester on the 13th before the Champions League resumes with the last 16 first leg tie against RB Leipzig on the 16th, although where that match will be played is unknown given the current travel restrictions in place.

After Leipzig, there’s the small matter of the Merseyside derby at Anfield on the 20th with some scores to settle following the reverse fixture at Goodison earlier in the season. The Reds then see out February with a trip to Sheffield Utd on the 28th.

Liverpool’s Dramatic Long Night Of The Centre-Backs, by Paul Tomkins.

Aside from goalkeeper, centre-back is the hardest position to come through in, because it takes the longest to perfect. Fikayo Tomori at Chelsea was getting game-time last season (17 matches) after two prior loan spells, but at 23 he’s out on loan again. Otherwise I can’t think of any other examples. Rob Holding, bought from Bolton by Arsenal, is only now a regular starter, aged … 25. Kurt Zouma, bought as a hot prospect in 2014, finally started to be a mainstay of the Chelsea defence, now aged 26, before Frank Lampard was sacked.

Wed. Feb 3rd:

Why Has Liverpool’s Crossing Not Been Very Effective Recently?, by Andrew Beasley.

The nature of the lengthy data collection process for this little project means that this article is a contest between two competing confirmation biases. We’re going to be looking at the league goals which were assisted by open play crosses since the beginning of last season – which can only illustrate the strengths of deliveries from wide areas – and be comparing them with 151 (ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY ONE) crosses from Liverpool’s recent five game winless run, which will show the futility of flinging the ball into the box.

Thursday Feb 4th:

Scouting Report: Edwards’ Double Signing of Kabak & Davies on Deadline Day by Daniel Rhodes

January 2021: a nadir of multi-faceted problems, including The Arctic Goalless Streak™, a continuing injury crisis of epic proportions, and the return of the FSG-out mob, who are always loudest during transfer windows and are seemingly not that bothered about the football matches, the Champions League victory, ending a thirty year wait for a league title, the greatest performance over a 38 match period in the history of football or indeed the fact that FSG employed the people who made all of this happen. Nevermind all that: “where’s the money John?”

February 2021: Liverpool – and in particular Michael Edwards – pull off a double centre-back signing without (it seems) spending that much money. In fact, using the Messi Basic Salary Scale™, we spent the equivalent of one week’s wage on Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies. Hopefully in this scouting report you will get to see why John Henry handed over the money, and of course, what each player brings to the team.