Peps folly is Liverpool’s jolly…Guardiola will go for all four trophies

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Peps folly is Liverpools jolly (sorry but it rhymes)
Oh what a surprise, some Liverpool supporters bemoaning another loss. We are 4 points clear of the best team in the land and need all the help we can get. Not being in a competition that hasn’t mattered since Man Utd pulled out of it all those years ago is a good thing. Now we need Bayern to beat us so we can really focus, controversial I know, and it’s the first time I have ever agreed with Paul ‘Bag of Revels’ Merson. You have to admit he has a point……

However I would also like to thank Pep Guardiola. He is going for all 4 isn’t he. All 4 trophies…. that’s a big ask even with that squad. Odds of slipping up in 1 or 2 league games because of fixture congestion….. 79% (75 didn’t feel high enough, 80 seemed over optimistic).

Liverpools sole focus can be the league.

Thank you Pep, keep up the good work.
Ian (you heard it here first…..) LFC

The FA Cup is alive and well
Further to yesterday’s emails supporting the FA Cup, and having attended City’s FA Cup tie against Rotherham on Sunday, one of the huge benefits of the FA Cup is surely that it encourages people who wouldn’t normally attend matches to get off the sofa and come and see actual live football.  On Sunday the ground was (nearly) full with a 52,000 attendance, and it was noticeable there were a lot less “regulars” and season ticket holders, and many more families and particularly lots of young kids.

This is helped by City’s pricing policy (good seats for me and my 12 year old son were £20 in total) and family friendly activities around the ground.  I also personally love the FA Cup policy of increased away support- there must have been 5,000+ Rotherham fans there who sung away all game despite the scoreline which lends the cup games a different atmosphere to league games.

Obviously this might not be the case everywhere, and I am sure Pep’s policy of picking strong teams helps- however total attendances over the weekend must have been high and will have included lots of “first timers” and kids getting to see players they watch on TV every week in the flesh.  Despite being a seasoned football goer, I am always disappointed when we don’t get a home draw in the FA Cup, and am delighted to have another one last night and despite no longer being a season ticket holder, me and my son will be there v Burnley at the end of Jan.

Mr Nicholson I therefore assure you the FA Cup is alive and well.
Ben B, MCFC

I’m glad to see Johnny Nic’s article on the demise of the FA cup got the evisceration it deserved.I’m also hopeful non of the alternatives mentioned (I wouldn’t even wish 7 a side or 30 mins per half on the league cup ) are never considered.

The only tweak I would be in favour of, is oddly enough getting rid of replays altogether which would make the tournament more gladiatorial If a team has decided to put on a second string away from home and it’s not working out or are simply under-performing they shouldn’t get the opportunity to turn things around another day they should pay then and there.

However tweaks are not the issue what Johnny is failing to grasp it that all tournaments are about money and priorities, there is a lot money all around the various league so that teams in the league 2 don’t even used water logged pitches so that nostalgia of a level playing field he’s hoping for isn’t coming back.

Of greater relevance is priorities that is what drives all team selections as I’ve said before teams make multiple changes for premiership games especially during the holiday period and in the champions league (after qualification is secured) no one talks about devaluation then or scream for an overhaul . Managers are going to look at their priorities and chose what tournament they make changes in the further teams go in the tournament the less you see them rotate.That they make changes for matches which they think they can win is just sound management.

The year LVG won the FA cup for Utd , There would have been protests in the streets if he had played a weakened team against Palace or Everton, Because we hadn’t won it for 12 bloody years even the great side that won 3peated and won our last champions league trophy didn’t win one . The next year no one batted an eyelid when Jose gave up 4th place to improve chances of winning the much maligned Europa league.

Liverpool and Chelsea’s recent Champions league victories have involved sacrificing their league position to the final . Liverpool put out a team yesterday that smacks of putting their eggs firmly in the we must win premiership basket it’s perfectly understandable after not winning one this side of the ice age and you could argue they didn’t rotate enough as they have now lost one of their only two fit central defenders. Deep down most arsenal Spurs or Utd fans in similar position in a similar position would do the same.

Bottom line all trophies matter due, to the tasking nature of football it is impossible to feature your strongest side in each game try to enjoy each one and allow the managers to chose the sides.
Timi, MUFC

Hi,As noted many times lately, its “moaning about death of fa cup” time of the year, so i would like to throw my hat into the ring and suggest why it is dying/not taken seriuosly/etc, as I feel many contributions and suggestions miss the point somewhat.

Firstly, some analysis. Very small clubs still take it seriously, give it their all, care. Championship and premier league clubs dont. Also, I assume clubs care about: money, long term success (in varying proportions). Now – why clubs dont care about fa cup? If you are not about to win it (and even if you try chances are small as top six will smack you in quaters), there is no reward for clubs to play in it. No at all. Money for advancing to the next round is peanuts (but significant for lower leagues, hence they care). So even if you throw in a CL place for the winner it won’t change a thing. Still only the winner will be rewarded. So no clubs out of top 6 will care.

To make playing in it worthwile you have to give clubs significant enough money. Sure, relegation battlers and title chalengers will still bin it as PL is not only money, also long term developement. In my opinion, fa should bind tv rights for PL to fa cup rights, and then give much more significant part for fa cup bounties (progressive). It would be awesome, and woul actually help with other problems  (PL inflation, more egalitarianism between divisions etc). Would love to hear what mailbox thinks about it (other than: PL clubs wont agree, they wont agree for CL spot for winner either).
Marek, Warsaw

Dear Football365,

Following the annual period of soul-searching about the FA Cup and football in general that usually accompanies the third round weekend, it’s become clear that something needs to change.  The FA Cup needs a bit of revitalisation, a word I choose deliberately as a nod to one of my other lives (in this case beer).  I don’t think selling it out to gimmickry or making wholesale changes to the very nature of the competition, more that subtly changing a couple of things will focus on what’s important, and who it’s important to.

The FA Cup is the last bastion of traditionalism in football, but even so, there are certain things about the modern game that can’t be avoided.  That’s why I don’t propose anything about sanctioning teams for supposedly weaker sides, or about doing away with corporate sponsorship, but there are ways around it:

*Tighter controls over televised games.

It’s an obvious statement that the amount it costs to televise games means that the broadcasters have a lot of say in which games are shown.  This weekend saw televised games featuring London teams travelling to the North West for games that did not correlate with public transport, which can only be seen as a cynical move by the broadcasters.  When the next rights packages are put out to tender, there should be a cap on travelling distance for televised games.  Also, in an ideal world, the packages would exclude Premier League clubs from live games for as long as it is physically possible.  That way, other teams get a moment in the spotlight, we don’t get shameless ratings-chasing from networks, and it would minimise the opportunities for “will there be an upset” pre-match build-up.

*No VAR until semi-finals

While we’re downplaying the influence of television, the FA Cup should be played without VAR until the semi-finals.  This way, all games in the previous rounds would be played under similar regulations, unlike this weekend when some games had VAR and others did not; given that VAR is supposed to reduce officiating inconsistencies, this makes little sense.

*Rename the rounds

Currently, by the time the First Round “proper” is played, six qualifying rounds have already been played.  While music on vinyl is enjoying a revival, football does not need an equivalent of having the qualifying rounds on Side A, and the “proper” competition on Side B, not least because in music the A-Side was the main event.  I propose renaming the Extra Preliminary Round, in which 368 teams from Tiers 8-10 get the competition underway, become the First Round, with more tiers added at every round – League Two join at Round Six, and the Premier League start at Round Nine, same as they do now.  The quarter-, semi- and finals retain their previous names.

*Change prize money round

The one advantage of the current A-Side/B-Side format is that it provides an obvious point to change the prize money process.  I would change it to become effectively an entry fee, where teams get the same prize whether they are knocked out in the Ninth Round or win the competition, albeit that the fee is proportional to the number of games played in the competition: in other words, the lower you are in the pyramid, the more money your participation in the business end of the Cup will be worth.  That way, the winner will have done it for the glory of winning rather than financial reward.

*Semi-finals should be played at neutral grounds

Before the new Wembley stadium opened and became a massive cash cow for the FA, it was standard practice for any number of neutral grounds in the North and Midlands to be used – Old Trafford and Villa Park, for example.  This practice should be brought back, especially since the number of suitable stadia has grown as teams have moved up and down the football pyramid.

*Final at 3pm

This should be obvious.  It’s a cliché but the notion of the FA Cup Final being the one day of the year when we’re allowed to watch football on television at 3pm on a Saturday, a game that we watch as an entire nation, is a tradition worth preserving.

Ultimately hardly anything from this will come to anything, and some of these ideas are full of holes, but I had fun thinking and writing about it.  If that isn’t the true Magic of the FA Cup TM, I don’t know what it.
Ed Quoththeraven

Romance of the cup (replay TV money bonanza)
As a 31 year old foreign fan, I’m obviously not the most likely to harken back to the glory days of the FA Cup. The Champions League has literally always been more important in my time as a (foreign) football supporter.

That said, we younger/foreign fans love English Football for its tradition, and for that reason I’ve always avoided challenging the cliche of The Magic/Romance Of The FA Cup.

…until now. This might seem seem rhetorical, but I ask this earnestly:

1. How can people harp on about the romance of the FA Cup, while simultaneously discussing how the minnows of the competition are hoping for away match draws at Old Trafford, Emirates and Anfield, specifically to win a bunch of TV revenue? What is “Romantic” about lower league clubs chasing TV money?

2. Surely if the FA Cup was magical, the minnows should be hoping for easy home draws all the way to Wembley, to maximize their odds of winning the damn thing?

3. How is this materially different from CL/EL clubs prioritizing finishing top 4 or top 7, over winning actual silverware?

The whole thing is maddening nonsensical hypocrisy. Pundits need to get a grip and pick a side.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland 

Hats off to Moreno
I think Wolves’ excellent performance last night is clouding just how impressive that, in a backline consisting of an 18 year old winger, a 16 year old debutant and a defensive midfielder, Alberto Moreno somehow still managed to be the worst defender. Hats off.
Big D, Luxembourg

Eggs and basket
You’ve had your eye on this English stunning girl for 29 years.  Back in 2014 you were close to getting her back to your place but one minor slip and it all ended in tears.

Last year you were equally close to getting this European worldy unexpectedly back to your place, but again, managed to throw it away at the end.

You’ve now got a new job, more money in your pocket which you’ve invested wisely in a new car and wardrobe.  The only problem is that a close neighbour has a slightly better job and deeper pockets than you.  That’s ok though, you’ve put in the early work and given yourself a slight advantage over said neighbour with a few cheeky whatsapp conversations with the English stunner to put yourself in pole position.

You’re looking forward to May when you are confident of finally getting her into your bed (and boy will you let all your mates know about it).

It’s January, and a 7/10 girl is giving you the eye and letting you know that if you want a memorable night, she’s all yours for the taking.

Do you:

Say, thanks for showing an interest in me but I’m putting all my faith in hooking up with my number one crush and the girl of been dreaming of all my life
Take her up on her offer giving yourself a welcome confidence boost and use the experience to net the girl of your dreams.

If you answered A) well done, you’re a Liverpool fan.  If you answered B) you’re a greedy bastard just like me and you want it all.

Eggs and basket anyone?
Ross (the FA cup is still a prestigious trophy) NorwichSpurs

Bovered, am I am bovered, do I look bovered?
Well I for one am bovered!

I’m bothered that our “back up” squad obviously lacks quality, experience and desire.

I’m bothered that our coaches haven’t improved Moreno in 4 years, he still makes the same mistakes, poor passes, poor positional sense, poor tackling and I actually feel sorry for him as he clearly isn’t good enough, yet is still with us.

I’m bothered that Sturridge can’t be arsed, Origi just can’t (if Solanke is worse than these two then £19m was daylight robbery) and if one of our first choice forwards gets injured then kiss any trophy goodbye.

I’m bothered that we now have only two trophies to play for and they are the hardest two to win.

I’m bothered that ” as good as Gerrard” James Milner, looks completely out of his depth when actually played in Gerrards’ position.

I’m bothered that Naby Keita has made very little impression.

I’m bothered that other teams will now view games against Liverpool in the same light as 18 months ago.

I’m bothered that when we have 70/80% possession, 70/80% of that is in our own half!

But mostly I’m bothered that other LFC “supporters” are accepting of a defeat or at least excusing it, there were far more negatives than positives last night and that is unacceptable (or at least bovvering!)
Howard Jones

You can be both disappointed and ‘meh’ with a cup exit
Hi,

First of all as a Liverpool fan I am disappointed with exiting the FA Cup. We’ve only actually won it 7 times in it’s squillion years existence so I still value it as a major achievement.

However, this match just came at a bad time amongst trying circumstances. The end of an intense Xmas period having just played two of the top five in the league, players simply had to be rested (as an article in F365 pointed out a while back VVD has played more football than anyone this season, with even his international appearances being as intense as club football) and on top of this an injury crisis at centre back meant we played virtually the entire game with a midfielder and a (very talented by the looks of him) child in the centre of defence. Allied to the fact we were playing away to a top half Premier League side who picked a close to full strength XI (it would’ve been nice to play Rotherham or Tranmere, but there you go) this was always going to be a toss of a coin. But for John Ruddy’s fingertips we’ve could’ve got a replay.

Some people will murmur that Klopp is disrespecting domestic cup competitions and he needs a trophy etc but under him Liverpool have played Premier League opposition 11 times to only 6 times those of Championship or lower status in knock out football. The last 5 FA or League cup ties have all been against Premier League sides and in the four of those which were defeats there was an element of ‘on another day’ about them all.

So, just the Premier League and Champions League with all to play for then, a terrible situation.
Cheers, Bobby.
Ole in?
Reports are saying that the United players want Ole to get the job full time.

It might be early to say that yet.

I’m sure he’s a real breath of fresh air after Jose, but there’s more to the job than being popular with the players. Lets see how he does against Spurs. Lets see how he handles his first defeat or a slump in form from a player.

That said, I’d love Ole to do well enough that appointing someone else seems an unnecessary risk. For all the media love for Pochettino he’s still never won anything as a coach and is far from a guaranteed success at United, even if he actually wanted the job (which currently seems unlikely). If its between two managers without a trophy between them, with similar ideas and coaching styles, then I’ll take the one who is a stone cold club legend and played for us over 300 times every time.

Its easy to forget that Solskjaer isn’t some rookie. The typical English ignorance of much of what happens elsewhere mean that many seem to think that 6 months or so at Cardiff is the limit of his management career.

He’s been in management for 8 years, Obviously Molde aren’t United but getting Molde to finish top of a Europe League group containing Ajax, Fernebache and Celtic shows he’s no mug. Things didn’t go well for him at Cardiff, but managers who do well in relegation scraps don’t necessarily do well at bigger clubs and presumably the reverse can be true and an approach to the game that would suit United won’t necessarily work at a club at the bottom of the table.

Ole’s playing career particularly his reputation as a “super sub” were built on his ability to study a game from the bench and to know how to affect it as a substitute. His ability to analyse the opponent’s play and spot weaknesses to exploit were exceptional as a player and what better quality could you want in a manager?

Chuck in the fact that Molde are unlikely to want quite the same amount of compensation for Ole as Levy would try to prise out of us (a set of training bibs and a couple of players on loan would likely do the trick as opposed to the tens of millions Spurs would doubtless look for) and it becomes ever harder to see why you’d go for Poch over Ole, assuming Ole does well over the remainder of the season.

Kind Regards,
Mike Christie

Test of Ole
🔴 Man Utd upcoming fixtures:

⚪️ 13th Jan: Tottenham (A)
🔴 26th Jan: Arsenal (A)
🔵 12th Feb: PSG (H)
🔴 24th Feb: Liverpool (H)
🔵 6th Mar: PSG (A)
🔴 9th Mar: Arsenal (A)
🔵 16th Mar: Man City (H)

Is This the biggest test of SOLSKJAER’S entire coaching career? Less than 5 wins in those games should he still be in the running for the job?

He has done a good job and he really gets what man utd should be about. The football has improved. The difference he has made to the overall mood and general atmosphere since he came in has been superb. Players are giving their all and surely are enjoying their football again. Some of these players have made more progress in 3 weeks under Solksjaer than they made in 3years under that moaner.

Some say he’s only beaten Relegation fodder teams. But united have failed to win many of these games in recent years.

Some say OLE doesn’t have the pedigree of the likes of Pep and so he isn’t the right fit for the old Trafford job.
As long as we are playing an attacking brand of football in those big games, the result will follow. Surely good football produce good performances. Win or lose as long as the football is entertaining we love our OGS..
Good thing he’s here in the interim. Win or lose he will forever be adored by united fans.
Luis

Ole Ole Ole
Ian Watson warns that Utd cannot get too cosy under Solskjaer and it sounds like every day at Carrington is the last day at school (great line btw). Obviously I cannot speak for the players, but I don’t think any of us (United supporters) are under the illusion that there are not stiffer tests to come. However, you can only beat what is in front of you and they have been performing well, perhaps better than could have been expected and Ole deserves credit for that. It is possible we could have picked up the same number of points under Mourinho, although it would not have been done in the same manner and the bad vibes would have festered some more.

In terms of Ole’s future prospects, a loss on Sunday should not be critical as there is no shame losing to Spurs who are currently in a better shape than us and, for all the “lads it’s Tottenham” bravado, we have only won away to Spurs twice in ten years (with the last time being March 2012). For this reason, I dare say a win would/should be more important for Ole to get the job than a loss would be for him not to. If he can compete with the man who is also being touted for the role then he is definitely worth considering.

Pochettino is actually a year older than Ole and, therefore, Ole can be considered a relatively young up-and-coming manager too. It all feels a bit patronising at the minute. It’s as if he is being treated like a kid who has been given the key to his daddy’s Porsche and is fine parading it round the streets of Altrincham but will total it when he has to go on the motorway and do some serious driving. “Does he even know how to drive or where he is going? The tosser!!”

For Ole to get the gig he is going to have to show that he has a long-term vision of how he wants the team to develop and play, and that the players buy into it. The fans will be on board as long as we make a decent fight of top 4 and maybe one of the cups. I heard player-pull being mentioned, with the suggestion that Ole may not be able to attract the bigger players to Utd. Well money should help with that and, if Ole can show he can take the club forward, why would Poch have more of a pull than a club legend?

Time will tell how Ole gets on, but I don’t think anyone is getting too cosy just yet.
Garey Vance, MUFC

If Mignolet, Moreno and Lovren Start…
Semi-serious question for the mailbox; have we ever won a game of any importance when Mignolet, Moreno and Lovren have have had starting berths? I daresay we must have done but they are always good for a goal or two to the opposition. Put another way, Alisson would have kept both those out, Moreno seems to think he is Riise-reincarnate and Lovren is only a tenth as good as he thinks he is. We seem to almost always put in a poor performance when any of them start, never mind all three! When I saw the teamsheet last night I had a good idea what would follow.

Season defining game down at the AMEX coming up, a game I will be at, which is not as a regular an occurrence as it used to be. Three on the spin and surely the doubts creep in!? Wonder if Lovren still thinks we’ll go the season unbeaten now!?
Gregory Whitehead, LFC

Random weekday musings
Greeting F365 and happy new year to you. Feeling a bit satiated with the extra football over the holiday period and would just like to stir up debate in the mailbox.

Some points that have been lingering in my head, and now that I’m at work, I can sit and write them down:

1. There’s often talk of lack of “leaders” on the pitch.  What qualifies as a leader in today’s day and age? Would you like a team of ‘ard men and b*stards or would you like one leader and rally around him? Football has evolved, and I cannot remember the last time I heard the adjective “no-nonsense” used to describe a player. Do we still need “leaders” on the pitch?

2. Why are Chelsea players so sulky and unhappy? I briefly watched the FA cup game on Sunday and Morata’s face upon scoring was akin to a grumpy baby. Is it arrogance, because they’re simply expected to win against much less glamorous opposition, or is it an indication of something far more sinister? The general face and body language of the team has been one of “professionals getting a job done” since, dare I say, Mourinho’s second stint ( save for a brief period – for Antonio Conte’s first season). Man City scored 7, and the elation for 6 of the 7 goals was palpable. Maybe I am generalizing, and maybe it is a lasting post Drogba lull, but the body language is terrible.

3. Mourinho’s unceremonious dismissal got me thinking: how long does a manager last at the very top? Sir Alex Ferguson is the obvious outlier. Arsène Wenger lasted a while but he hadn’t had any lasting success for a significant period of time, and one could argue that with the sale of Van Persie, it was all done. Mourinho lasted about 10 glittering years, after which his methods were considered outdated. Pep is so far more durable with his blend of tiki taka/cynical pressing/tactical fouling, and Klopp – for me at least – seems to be reaching the zenith of his time in management

4. Is Stewie Griffin now enjoying the lush beaches of St Tropez with Arsène?

5. Is Liverpool really going to make it?

Have a lovely day.
Nawaaz. Liverpool fan, Cape Town


Source: football365.com