Liverpool Fans, Be Careful What You Wish For! Stan Speaks…
I like Brendan a lot. Having spoken to him several times on and off air, I got to understand his philosophy on the game and his methods…
…I honestly can’t bring myself to suggest that he should be surplus to requirements at Anfield, despite the growing clamour for his head, and a shiny new Klopp or Ancelotti taking his place.
Why? Because he took over at a time when Liverpool were quite frankly a shambles.
Still reeling from Gillett and Hicks, still reeling from Torres moving, still reeling from money spent and wasted on the likes of Andy Carroll. It was some mess to sort out, process and turn around.
Unfortunately fans have short memories. Two seasons ago Liverpool played the best football in the league, nearly won it for the first time in 23 years, brought through Sterling and Ibe with others to come, and got into the Champions League for the first time in several years. Is that really a manager that isn’t capable?
Of course, some point to being lucky in having Suarez, in having a young, hungry Sterling, and a poor transfer record. I understand this.
But Brendan also had to deal politically and professionally with the tricky Gerrard situation. He had to flesh the squad out which was painfully lacking depth in the title challenge season, while managing expectations of one of the world’s great clubs.
So where do I think he is honestly?
If this was a golf analogy, I’d say he was safely under par, ticking along quite nicely, not threatening the clubhouse leader but in the pack.
And Liverpool fans, this may be unpopular, BUT THAT’S ALL YOU SHOULD EXPECT!
Chelsea and City have more money, United too, and Arsenal have more liquid in the bank than some small nations. That’s 4 places which are tough to get in. Then add Spurs’ new stadium which will turn the Lilywhites into a much more financially competitive outfit, and West Ham’s Olympic adventure which is also on the horizon. All of a sudden, the traditional right of Liverpool to compete has and will in the future be challenged, so it needs patience, a real long term plan and a heavy dose of luck which all clubs need.
Ancelotti wouldn’t be around long, so he leaves a group of signings the next guy may not want, and I’m sorry but the notion that Klopp is a Mourinho or Pep is a falsehood. Yes he brought through an exciting crop at Dortmund, yes he’s passionate, yes he’s a great communicator, but the Premier League is a different animal to the two horse race that is the Bundesliga. So, I’m just not getting carried away with the Klopp for Kop hype.
Brendan is in his early forties, and took a job that is enormous at 39. He’s made mistakes, he’s made some poor and average signings. He has a committee to work with, which for any manager isn’t ideal. He has the expectation of millions of Reds heaped on him and the Premier League era failures that have been the tale of Liverpool FC.
But honestly, be careful what you wish for, because if he does get the sack soon, I believe that Liverpool fans, directors and the board will be looking back and wishing they just gave him that added time to get it right.
He’s young, motivated and has the Sterling and Suarez questions finally in the past. So how about getting behind Brendan and implementing a word at Anfield which Shanks himself brought to English football and Liverpool Football Club as the core philosophy which brought the club so much success?
As an Englishman I’m more than happy that our Jack has plumped for the Three Lions. He’s got ability for fun, is something very different from what we have in England across the attacking midfield line, and with the right guidance, could be incredibly influential in years to come.
He drifts almost Waddle like with the ball, has a few years left of physical growth which will see him out power the likes of Sterling, Walcott and Wilshere, has an eye for goal and a beautiful slide rule pass in his locker.
The only worry for me is the insane expectation that comes with every young England prospect which can be overpowering, and make good young players go into their shell. This is something that wouldn’t happen with the Boys in Green as they have a history of collectively putting an arm around players rather than throwing them to the wolves when they don’t perform up to scratch.
Jack is a strong lad though and will get all of the support in the world from the Villa faithful who love him to bits, and we’ll all do our part as fans, players current and ex, and Tim Sherwood I’m sure, will protect him and guide him.
I just hope he doesn’t get used like many young England prospects do, namely get a couple of caps, no chance to prove themselves then get discarded. The Irish certainly wouldn’t do that as they need all hands to the pump when it comes to the pool of talent they have.
In all honesty, Jack couldn’t have made a wrong choice, he has that beautiful mix as many Britons do of Irish blood, English heart, so good luck kid, COME ON ENGLAND!
Whisper it quietly, but I think Spurs are slowly getting it right you know.
The dour, one paced football of the post Bale era in the last two weeks has been replaced by youthful, cohesive, vibrant attacking play which must delight Spurs fans.
I watched so many Spurs games after the Bale money was spent, and like many, expected Soldado, Paulinho, Lamela et al to come good. In hindsight, too many came in too soon and the balance wasn’t right.
I had my reservations speaking to people at Spurs this season when they suggested Poch wanted a smaller, leaner squad in numbers as in the Premier League it’s important to cover those injuries, suspensions and 3 domestic competitions that affect performance over a season.
There’s still time of course for Spurs to get a Kane niggle or a Dier suspension but I saw against Palace, then Man City, a freshness and a unity that I haven’t seen at Spurs since the mercurial Welshman left for the Bernabeu.
Delle Alli looks the real deal in midfield, and offers the perfect balance to the more combative Dier, who has grown into a formidable defensive block in front of the back four.
Kane finally has his league goal which should see him off and running after a tough start. Lloris looks the real deal as a world class keeper. And maybe, just maybe, Eric Lamela may be enjoying playing with some of the younger talent around him.
It’s a gamble; smaller squads tend to have a better spirit, less players upset at being left out on match days, less moping around the dressing room with those left out, less waste.
But Poch will be aware that it’s a high risk strategy and depends on the smaller group all staying fit, all staying motivated and all staying in form at the right time. I hope he gets it right but he’s going to need simple luck for a group so small in depth to be unscathed until May.
My Name Is Theo
Those who’ve followed me on Twitter for a while now will know that every time Theo Walcott scores a goal, I simply tweet “My Name is Theo”, to which, as you can imagine I get replies that include, “no it’s Stan”, to “No, you’re a C+++”.
But beyond the banter has been a serious point that I’ve tried to make which now Arsene Wenger is getting, several years too late possibly.
I interviewed Theo a couple of years ago and he said in no uncertain terms that he’d like a shot at playing up front. Not in his familiar wide role where he can join in now and again, but the man man, straight down the middle, using his pace and experience to unsettle teams, peel off the shoulder of defenders and get goals.
Arsene didn’t believe he could do it, most Arsenal fans didn’t believe he could do it. I did, and I’m starting to look vindicated by the game.
The nay sayers say he can’t hold the ball up, that he doesn’t have a football brain, but watching him play, and acknowledging he’s no Aguero in terms of his movement and understanding of the role yet, I don’t believe modern defenders are too savvy these days either. So, pure pace, as we’ve seen so far this season already, hurts defenders and chance will come.
He’ll miss plenty of chances of course, but at least he’s been given the opportunity to bed in, play games as a front man, knowing only an out of sorts Giroud for now can challenge him, and thus far, 12 goals in his last 13 games isn’t too shabby!
I hope Roy Hodgson gives Theo an opportunity in the remaining qualifiers too. Sturridge and Welbeck have had injury concerns for a while and Rooney, although a record breaker doesn’t get in behind defenders these days enough, so Theo could give a nice option to England in France next year.
My name is Stan, and I was right!