Free Friday, March 5th 2021 – A Local Church, Signing Jesus & Moving a Saint to the Wing

Free Friday, March 5th 2021 – A Local Church, Signing Jesus & Moving a Saint to the Wing
March 5, 2021 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week:

Chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

1 – Allen Baynes on the sad news that club legend Ian St.John has passed away:

He was my hero. I saw him make his debut in 1961, my first first team game. He scored three but they scored four! (Twas the blueshite).

I used to have a St John haircut, everyone else was going for the Beatles but they didn’t play for the Reds. A lad from school picked up an empty milk bottle outside the dairy in Lake Street by the ground and got St John to spit into it. It was a prized possession and we were dead envious. What you had to do before selfies 🙂

He was a great competitive, (dirty bastard – but our dirty bastard), centre forward and he linked brilliantly with Sir Roger. Great days hearing the rhythmic clapping for the St John chant as we won the league in 64 and 66 and the FA Cup in 1965. I was there to see all three plus the Inter Milan game.

Great times, great team and a great player, the Saint will surely go to heaven.

It was noted on a church, (Bank Hall Mission – I think), “What would happen if Jesus came to Liverpool”,

“Put St John on the wing” was scrawled beneath!

2 – Mobykidz reacting to Man Utd’s claims for a penalty at Chelsea last Sunday:

The BBC will exclusively reveal today that Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and unnamed PL clubs have conspired to develop means by which to influence PGMOL referees to stop giving penalties to Manchester United.

This sordid scheme using club websites, accounts of key influencers, ranging from TOWIE and MIC, is accused of building a red wall conspiracy that Man United’s penalty count is as scripted as the reality shows mentioned above.

The PGMOL cohort are avid watchers of these stage managed reality shows taking inspiration from hilarious characters making horrendous decisions in front of millions without fear of ridicule or retribution.

Ole has again highlighted the issue of bias in Premier League football and how referees are influenced by the rants of club managers with one particular diatribe describing the refereeing in a particular 2011 game as follows:

“It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee. You want a strong referee anyway and we didn’t get that. I don’t know why he’s got the game. I must say that when I saw who was refereeing it, I feared the worst.”

I hope the PL, PGMOL and FA take serious action against this malicious campaign derailing Man United’s most potent weapon – Bruno Fernandes burgeoning penalty goal count. Ole cry baby, cry.

To be fair that looked a penalty but for Soljskaer to throw a conspiracy tantrum, which even Klopp has not stooped too, is an exercise in media watching. No one, especially BBC Salford, will want to offend their thought masters in Manchester. Why would their journalists wish to give up their 5-star treatment by 2 uber rich clubs who use their influence to control what’s written at times. But that’s not a conspiracy, is it!

3 – cvt123 produced this remarkable set of statistics about what each Premier League point has cost the top clubs in recent years:

I have been meaning to post this for a while, but I want to share some data about how well we are performing relative to other teams based on our spending. Even now.

I have looked at the trailing gross spending on a squad for the big four spenders – Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and us. Yes – I know about the gross vs. net spend debate, but bear with me. My logic is that the current squad is typically made up of purchases over the last four years, so it is probably a better way of determining the value of the squad at a point in time (yes. I know I should TPI adjust it… but let me make my point first!)

Here is the data by club for the last four years (at the beginning of the season, Man City had spent £655MM in the last four years, etc. etc.)

Man City – £759, £737, £694, £655
Man Utd – £661, £560, £624, £532
Chelsea – £565, £629, £582, £685
Liverpool – £479, £506, £402, £404

Now… when you look at the amount of money spent per point, it shows a VERY interesting picture (this year is a pro-rata based on current PPG)

Man City £7.6, £7.5, £8.6, £7.6
Man Utd £8.2, £8.5, £9.4, £7.2
Chelsea £8.1, £8.7, £8.8, £10.6
Liverpool £6.4, £5.2, £4.1, £6.1

So in spite of our total slump, we have spent 20% less than Man City have per point earned. Last year, we spent 50% less than Man City on a cost per point basis.

This is truly remarkable.

4 – Jeff on the disruption to the Reds’ defensive structure and organisation:

To me if you have watched Liverpool play the past 3 seasons or so you saw one of the best organized teams I have ever seen. To me the loss of center backs and then the defensive midfielders who first moved to center back and then joined the injury list disrupted the organizational structure of Liverpool. For example, in the past if TAA went forward or went forward and cut inside he knew that Henderson or one of the midfielders would keep the balance in the side and protect the right flank. Yesterday was the first match I have seen where the organizational structure resembled the team we have seen in past season. The balance in the midfield I think meant that Curtis Jones could do his work in the attacking third and that Wijnaldum could be the box to box center back and look out for Curtis and the forwards and at the same time help protect the back 4 and finally this is the first match where we can see that Thiago is starting to show the quality we all know he has and he was the lad who knitted the whole organization of the midfield together. He might not yet be fully integrated into the team and given his injury issue and the introduction of any number of new players one really could not expect him to be at his best but he is getting closer and closer to this reality. If he can become fully integrated into the team and show what he can do I am of the opinion that Liverpool are a real threat to actually winning the European Club Championship.

Second, as Paul has reminded us over the years if the reserves were as good as the members of the regular 11 or better than the members of the regular starting 11 they would no longer be reserves but playing regularly for the starting 11. It is unfair and unreasonable to expect a 20 year old lad coming to the club from the Bundesliga and playing with a 6th choice center back to be of the standard of VVD or Gomez or Matip but to my eyes every time we see Kabak play he shows improvement which is just about as good as can be expected. Similarly, to expect Phillips to be a high end center back is just plain wrong. He is a lad who I thought would not be with the club this season and who has shown he is learning on the fly how to play at a decent level in the Premier League. To me Liverpool’s center backs are starting to show they are competent Premier League standard center backs is to me an achievement that needs to be applauded. Will they make mistakes VVD and Gomez and Matip would not have made? Yes but the numbers are getting smaller and please do not expect them to be at the level of the best center backs in the Premier League.

5 – David on the cohesion starting to return after consistency of selection and victory over Sheffield United:

The most startling thing about this game for me was that, enforced changes apart (Phillips for Hendo, Adrian for Ali), it was the third game in a row that we started with the same line up. It was almost like Klopp is running an experiment to prove that you should always believe in the underlying data. As far as he’s concerned, the team is on the right track and the tactics are best tweaked using the same players. Crisis? What crisis?

I thought you could really see in this game, what was supposed to be happening according to what they’ve been working on in training. The shape was much better and there was a lot more solidity and aggression coming from the engine room. I know we shouldn’t be fooled, because a lot of this was down to how crap Sheffield are, but we really need this kind of game to get some experience into the centre-back pairing which in turn gives more confidence to the midfielders and full backs who are then able to provide that platform for the attack. I think it’s that accumulator effect that provides the tipping point at which, all of a sudden, our front three start finding pockets and opportunities. It all comes from just one extra threat from midfield or out wide.

In this match we saw Curtis popping up on the far post and breaking lines repeatedly and of course he was there for the goal. It’s been really impressive how Curtis has curbed his attacking instincts to keep his defensive discipline alongside Gini, but I think what’s killed us these last few weeks has been the transitions from defense to attack being too slow or just too anal. Teams have had success against us when bullying our ponderous midfield when half their concentration has been distracted by worrying about the newbies in defence.

There’s a lot of deserved praise for Jones, but I thought the real star was the whole team. Klopp’s faith in the settled starting line up was rewarded with some really confident passing combinations and it just looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. Chris Wilder was right to reference our full backs in his post match presser and I thought you could see some of that playmaking threat coming back into TAA’s performance. He played more like a captain in this match.

It will be interesting to see if Jones starts the next one or is replaced by the lively looking Naby. I think we might be approaching a mind blowing watershed moment where Klopp could actually make some positive changes without disrupting the overall balance. It feels like he’s pushed the team through this difficult time without losing its identity. We talk about Firmino’s goal scoring form, but the great thing is, Klopp has ensured that every member of the team feels fully backed and I can’t imagine any one of them will go into the Chelsea game with anything other than relish. I think this was a really good game for restoring the individual players and the team’s confidence in themselves. It will have made them greedier.

Articles published since last Friday:

Monday March 1st:

Post-Match Analysis: Sheffield Utd 0-2 Liverpool, by Daniel Rhodes.

The shot count for both sides was virtually bang on the average for Liverpool this season: sixteen shots taken, eight conceded. Thankfully in this game over thirty per cent of the Reds chances were classified as big chances by Opta. It didn’t cost us in the end, but the fact we missed five out of six is now a continuing trend. Firmino missed both of his, as did Salah with Curtis Jones the only one to convert (though he also missed one).

Tuesday March 2nd:

2020/21 Premier League | Matchweek 27 | Chelsea | Anfield, by Gary Fulcher.

Liverpool ended a run of four consecutive league defeats with the 2-0 win at Sheffield Utd and enter this fixture on the back of four consecutive losses at Anfield in the Premier League.

The Reds have won more than two Premier League matches in a row on only one occasion this season, which came in the opening weeks of the campaign with wins against Leeds (4-3), Chelsea (2-0) and Arsenal (3-1).

Wednesday March 3rd:

How Much Does Each Point Cost the Premier League’s Top Sides?, by cvt123 (see post 3 above).