Free Friday, March 26th 2021: Fighting Against the Phantasm and Where *Harry* Learned to Dive (*Kane, not Prince!)

Free Friday, March 26th 2021: Fighting Against the Phantasm and Where *Harry* Learned to Dive (*Kane, not Prince!)
March 26, 2021 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week:

Chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

1 – Tony Mc on an Irish holiday and Harry Kane (given the latter’s somewhat debatably-won penalty at Aston Villa yesterday):

True story.

I was on holiday in Ireland a couple of years ago with my wife, driving the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way all along the west coast from Cork to Donegal. We stayed in small hotels all along the coast. One such stay was at a lovely little hotel in Connemara, Co Galway. The guy checking us in at reception, who turned out to be the owner, recognised the Liverpool accent and asked if I was a football supporter. “Yes” I replied, “I am a Liverpool supporter”. “We are all Spurs fans here” he said and went on to explain that Harry Kane’s grandfather was from the area and that Kane, his father and his brothers had all stayed in the hotel when visiting family. He then invited me into the hotel bar, a mere 10 steps from reception, to show me a framed Spurs shirt, signed by Kane, of which he was clearly very proud. Returning to reception to complete the formalities, I noticed one of those ubiquitous stands containing leaflets advertising local tourist attractions, facilities, services, etc. One in particular caught my eye. The Lower Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand angel on my left shoulder told me to let it go. The Spion Kop devil on my right shoulder prevailed. Holding the leaflet up for the hotelier to see, I said “ScubaDive West Diving School. Is that where Harry Kane learned to dive?”. “Ah, there was no need for that” he said, shook his head sadly and addressed all further conversation throughout our 3 day stay to my wife.

2 – … and whilst on the subject, here’s Mobykidz:

Cute Kane
Intelligent Rashford
Streetwise Vardy
Cheat Salah*

*non-British passport holder.

Harry Kane must have some Italian blood in him. Maybe Filipo Inzaghi’s off spring mixed with that Irish lass in Connemara.

The British media have a black out to Kane’s dives. It is so hypocritical and corrupt to the treatment dished out to Mohammed Salah.

Harry Kane not only dived yesterday he feigned injury and the referee fell for it harry, crook & stinker. It was embarrassing to watch.

The Aston Villa defender looked dumbfounded. But no real protest. When will a PL player go up to Harry Kane and call him a cheat to his face?

There is a real aura that surrounds Kane that goes to the centre of a lot of things wrong in the game. Cash is King. So is being British it seems if you’re a striker.

3 – An amusing anecdote from Stevenson1988 after the announcement of the death of Frank Worthington:

Frank Worthington was a great after dinner speaker with a wealth of stories – quelle surprise! He told the story of skinning Tommy Smith at Anfield and crossing the ball for a teammate to score. As he was jogging back for the kick off Smith ran alongside him and said “ do that again and I’ll break your fucking leg!” “Ref, did you hear that” shouted Frank. The ref replied: “I did Frank, but I’m pretty certain he was talking to you!”

4 – Jeff responding to reports that UEFA is set to axe FFP:

Sometimes people close the barn door after the horses have fled. The number 1 problem in all of the so called lesser leagues in Europe such as Belgium and in all of the so called major leagues in Europe such as Germany is not whether or not UEFA looks the other way in regard to FFP but how the game will survive the financial disaster that is the covid-19 lock down that impacted football not only last season but also this season and more likely than not next season. How many clubs in the minor leagues will survive is a real question and one UEFA is ignoring. How many clubs in the so called big countries such as Italy survive is a question that UEFA is ignoring. There are a number of German clubs that have survived by getting loans from government but to the best of my knowledge no one wants to talk about how they will pay the loans back?

The question that UEFA needs to address is how to see to the survival of football all over Europe and it one that they seemingly want to ignore. No one in England wants to talk about how any number of clubs who have been in the Premier League in recent times or are in the Premier League are in a perilous place and could easily be forced to go bankrupt and have little or no hope of surviving this state.

Football has never been run by competent people and this is just the latest example of how incompetent football leaders are.

5 – David reminiscing about Burnley away with fans:

So, to cheer myself up and fight back against the phantasm that is football during the international break and even, to be fair, the entire, soulless procession during lockdown, I decided to watch an old match. I chose Burnley away from the 18/19 season. (The one where Gomez, assisted by Mee, slid off into the boards and got injured – god he’s had a rough time of it!.)

I went for this match, partly because I couldn’t remember what happened, partly because I wanted to see how we approached the low block teams back then and partly because I wanted to see some proper fans – and it doesn’t get much more hardcore than Turf Moor in mid-Winter. I wasn’t disappointed.

It was such a glorious sight to see Virgil and Matip purring round at the back and towering over Burnley’s large lads. Their calm, but speedy recovery pace was a delight to behold – Gomez too, before he departed. I think I’d forgotten how exceptional our defence was when you get the complete package. Height + speed + understanding. All this with Moreno in the defensive line, (tbf, he was mostly secure alongside VVD.) It was kind of surreal to see Keita playing alongside Moreno and Sturridge.

Burnley actually went ahead after some really spirited, persistent pin ball play and some Burnley, burly, buffetting of the ball into the net. To be honest, I really enjoyed the spectacle with the hard arsed, snarling of the crowd as they landed a blow on the Liverpool ponses.

Then, there we were in that familiar territory of the bus park. I wasn’t surprised to see Keita squirming through holes in the fabric, but what was surprising was how sprightly was James Milner, especially when he slipped the ball through a defenders legs for the equaliser. I think there’s no doubt that he has faded a little since then and when you see it in action, its that industry and ingenuity from midfield that is the key to picking the low block lock. It was the key when Coutinho used to pop up with bolts from the blue and it’s still the key when Curtis or Shaq do something unpredictable on the edge of the area. I think with Keita, Thiago and Curtis we have the type of players to engineer opportunities against low block teams, but we need that security behind them to release that flair.

Still, the best thing about that match was the singing – both home and away. We produced a wonderful move from a free kick by TAA, where VVD sprints from the line and elongates his massive left peg to provide a tap in for Bobby F. But my highlight was the singing battle that ensued between the disgruntled home fans and unmistakable, cheeky LFC away fans who completely defeated the former with a 6 plus minute rendition of ‘Si Senor’. It was a classic example of how to rub salt into the wound. The very essence of that raw, elemental force of humanity that makes you flare your nostrils and drink in the football spectacle. The real proof of that being Bobby himself upping his capoeira inspired gymnastics by 20% to impress the crowd. And then they broke the tide with a fizzing version of Merry Christmas Everton! 😀

I think that’s the thing I notice most – the amplifying effect the crowd has on the players and managers. In those last 15 minutes – this game went right to the wire with a Burnley equaliser a distinct possibility up to the 90th minute – Klopp and Dyche are like Thor and Loki throwing thunderbolts at their players. Klopp almost combusts at the sight of a half hearted effort. Then there’s a beautiful breakaway goal, (the one with Salah’s lovely side footed assist to Shaq) and utter elation from all of LFC persuasion.

This was a game from the good old days. No VAR, a full ground and a full repertoire of songs and drama. The funny thing when I look back at my experience at the time, is it was heavily tinged by the injury to Gomez, that interrupted my viewing pleasure and of course I took all the optional extras of ‘crowd noise’ for granted. I had a background fuzz of the Xmas fixture schedule worry and I remember finding it a deeply enjoyable match, but in retrospect, I think I could have enjoyed it more now that I notice the good things.

And I’m thinking about the Burnley fans and their contribution to that match. I think that’s why I chose to watch a match at Turf Moor. Because of their maverick, pirate ship role in the league the whole Burnley schtick is like one big away match. So, it was like watching two away teams fan wise. Myself, I’ve been to very few matches in the flesh, and some of them were defeats, but win or lose, one thing that really stands out in my memory is the power of the sound the away fans make. It’s like that sense of wonder you experience when seeing crashing waves in a storm. The cohesion when thousands of people all have the same mind is awesome.

Who knows what football will be like in the future? I think, with vaccines, we will get back to crowds in stadiums eventually, but things have still changed a lot with the erosion of atmosphere done by VAR. The threat of European super leagues and so on is another potential blow for that people oriented local flavour and passion. I am hopeful that football without fans has woken people up to the vital ingredients that fans provide, but the administrators and rich owners still have far too much power. Oh to have our voices heard! I know that I’m not one of the actual, in the flesh fans at games, but I’m very much a supporter of the supporters. This does feel like a bit of a potential watershed moment for not just football, but society in general to redefine what matters.

6- Jeff on how the transfer window might play out this summer:

When you talk about Liverpool bringing in a lad, the first question is the lad someone Liverpool in fact rate, does the club who has the player want to sell the player, and third what will the player cost and does he want to come to Liverpool and play for wages the club deems sensible? Now, I have no idea who the club rates nor do I have a clue as to who in fact might be available but the question of cost is one of the more interesting realities of this upcoming window and it is linked to who might in fact be available. We have some idea of the loan fee Liverpool is paying for Kabak and some idea of the cost if the deal is made permanent this summer – 18 million. It is important to remember this is roughly half of what it was reported he would have cost if he had been on the market last summer. In recent years there have been any number of reports that Liverpool wanted to bring in Zakaria from Monchengladbach and the fee was reported to be in the mid 40s and now one can find reports he will cost only 20 million this summer. I could note that it appears that if Liverpool in fact have an interest in Asensio from Real Madrid that instead of paying 100 million as it was reported he would have cost a couple of years ago he could be had for 25 million.

I have no idea what this summer’s transfer market either going or coming but I do know that John Henry made his money by being a canny trader in the commodities market. If the price of players Liverpool wanted is massively depressed as it may well be, this would be a time a canny trader such as John Henry would spend money knowing that going down the road he would be getting a massive bargain. If you doubt my line of reasoning look at how FSG bought Liverpool when its value has been badly depressed. I know there will be any number of arguments saying that FSG will not sanction a massive spending this summer but instead of thinking in terms of massive spending I think we should think in terms of buying vastly under valued players at bargain basement prices that would put Liverpool in good stead going down the road.

Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Tuesday March 23rd:

Liverpool FC’s Top Individual Performances in 2020/21, by Andrew Beasley.

Press the opposition

This feels like the right place to start. It is key to Klopp’s football, and the efforts of Jota in this field prompted the idea for the whole piece. Indeed, the former Wolves man was famously described as a ‘pressing monster’ by Pep Lijnders, and he averages the most pressures per 90 among Liverpool players with at least 540 minutes in the league this term.

Yet he is absent from a table of the eight occurrences where a Red has closed down an opponent at least 30 times in a match, despite said list featuring six different players. And atop the tree is a man the club were happy to let go, at least in the short term.