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Liverpool v Man City is meaningless
So it’s knickers in a twist time once again. A big media build up to an, in isolation, insignificant match. Of course each set of fans want to win, and each is a bit giddy because their teams are the current best but still it’s all bollocks really.

Liverpool will be leading no matter want. Irrespective of the result Liverpool will be leading by 3, 6 or 9 points.

City are good enough to overturn even 9 points. Make no mistake this City team will not be daunted by a 9 point gap. Spurred on by it probably.

Whoever wins it’s takes nothing away from the quality of the other team! Both are class and all the superlatives are valid.

Both managers know. This is just one match and that is what they will be focussing their teams on.

That’s said. We all will be taking sides, we will be giddy at the start and we all hope to see an attacking spectacle and goals.

Even though we know it’s meaningless, we set that aside because we love football it’s a great distraction from life’s general bull…
Chris (Mauritius 9 points Baby!)

 

Pancake City
I wrote in recently questioning how City (and Liverpool) can keep their mojo going after three intense-as-only-Guardiola-can-make-them seasons.  Well, last night’s game was a good example of what I was trying to get at.  Eleven super-talented players on the pitch but not a hungry, dynamic team and epitomised perfectly by the first goal, I think.  Great quality but seemingly almost clockwork in its execution.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but City look, not quite drab, but flat.  Players giving the ball away cheaply and the likes of HRH King Kev making some very poor passes.  Basic errors that were, largely, unforced.  I don’t know, they seem not to be as focussed as we have come to expect and I do wonder if the effort of achieving 198 points (and the consequent silverware that went with it) over the last two seasons isn’t taking its toll?  Pep put out a far stronger team than I expected (I thought for sure that he would have rested Fernandinho and Sterling for example) and yet still they couldn’t quite get the job done.

I’m also worried that Pep, in pre and post-match interviews, has been making repeated references to ‘our problems’ or ‘the problems we have’ by which he means injuries.  I stand to be corrected but I don’t recall him doing that before.  Sunday’s game was always going to be a challenge and, personally, I expect it to be a super-cagey affair but who knows?  Maybe the importance of the occasion will galvanise the players into upping their game.

I do hope so because we a clearly missing some zip or zest.  Either way I expect to be watching that game from behind the back of the sofa.
Mark (Sorry Clownio.  But when Kyle Walker makes more saves in goal than you did, it’s time to say goodbye).  MCFC

 

Enjoying our time in the sun
Chris, Croydon. I’ve lived through the highs of supporting Liverpool as a youngster and also the rollercoaster ups and downs since hitting teenhood into the present day. I take nothing for granted and am regularly bricking it whenever we play – particularly recently. Mentality monsters we might be, but having supported Liverpool for so long, it’s ingrained into me that something could and might easily go wrong at some point.

I am enjoying our moment in the sun for as long as possible, and with the possible exception of Man Utd (sorry!), the only times I want teams to lose is a) when they play us and b) if they are in direct competition with us.

So no chips here pal. I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation between being a tw*t and being a Liverpool fan. But there probably is a correlation between a traditionally big and successful club in the mire providing an easy platform for rival fans to have a poke and a laugh. Suggest you make new friends/acquaintances.

Cheers,
Somerset Dave

 

Pancake CityI felt like I needed to write in to defend Mason Mount (I think/hope you’ll get a few of these off of Chelsea fans?) after Ed asked what he provided to this team.

In your own mail, you listed 3 things he can do to the 2 things you believe he’s weak at.  Doesn’t that tell you something?  He has very intelligent link up with his fellow attackers and his drive and energy are crucial to how we play.  It is more than enough for us right now and, don’t forget, he is only 20 years old, the fact he we are having a debate as to whether he is a starter for this Chelsea team is a huge testament to him!

“Drive and energy” are kind of intangibles but if you want some cold, hard facts then he averages nearly 3 shots and 2 key passes (15th in the league by the way) a game.  He is vital to one of our styles and is flourishing under Frank.  Should he be playing every week?  No, arguably nobody should, but anyway our midfield is drenched in quality and he can easily be rotated to maintain sharpness and fitness.
BlueLuke – CFC

 

No mind games, just football
I believe the comment about Mane diving from Guardiola was out of character of him. Especially with regards to liverpool I believe there is a mutual respect and even gentleman’s agreement between the manager and players to keep the talking on the pitch. It seems Guariola’s quick reversal and compliments of Mane and Liverpool since that proves this and is a refreshing change to previous rivalries.  I forone really enjoy this rivalry without the Mourinho, Wenger, Ferguson mind games of yesteryear.  Have we ever had this combined rivalry and respect before?
David (have a feeling a comfortable win for City) Morris

 

Football music
I wholeheartedly agree with Mikey CFC on the music Real Madrid play every time they score a goal. It annoys the shit out of me.
It goes something like this for those of you lucky enough never to have heard it:
‘Ohh laay, oh laaay, oh laaaay, oh laaaaaay, oh oh laaaay, oh laaay, oh oh laay’.
I feel sorry for Cristiano Ronaldo who had to put up with that din 451 times, and hundreds of other times when he’s team mates scored a goal. Just celebrate and get on with it.

There is no competition, it’s hands down the worst.
Kireca

 

In response to Mikey, Cfc’s question about bad goal celebration music I remember when Rangers player Bob Malcolm scored what was a very rare goal for him at Ibrox it was met by the Spongebob Squarepants theme song being blared over the sound system.

As far as I could tell it wasn’t a nickname and was never referenced anywhere before or after. It was just that his name was Bob.
Duncan, Bradford

 

Hi,

Just writing in response to Mikey’s understandable mail re goal music.

I think the vast majority of people would say that goal music is completely unnecessary. I can’t see how it enhances the moment – if you need to hear rhythmic chords when your team bangs one in the onion bag to get excited then football is not really the sport for you (try WWE).

The one caveat to this is the introduction of VAR which makes me think that there would be a level of entertainment from having the ‘Countdown’ theme tune played when a decision is pending (if only their decisions took just 30 seconds !)

Regards,
Sparky LFC

 

What should Messi do?
In the article you linked in Mediawatch today on ESPN, Graham Hunter asks the reader to put themselves in Messi’s shoes and imagine what you’d do with your future and whether you’d stay at Barcelona.

To me, the answer is “I’d donate some or my salary back to the club conditionally, so that they could sign the players I want to be competitive and win the trophies I want to win.”

This isn’t something I’d suggest about almost any other player in the world – despite the fact that they could all afford it. The thing is, most players’ wages and influence don’t hamstring their clubs and limit their ability to afford reinforcements to such an extent, AND most players aren’t making so much money from endorsements that they could literally afford to play for their club for free, with no material impact to them or their family. Adidas pays Messi a fortune, and Messi gets other endorsements too.

I don’t judge Messi for not doing so, and he probably has doubts about how effectively the club would use that money, but the salary he gets from Barcelona is outsized and probably doesn’t leave enough for the club to invest sufficiently to attract the calibre of reinforcements he himself wants.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

Top ten prolific scorers
I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of watching Aguero (and his Argentina colleagues) in every single 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup Canada match they played. He (and they) were absolutely dominant, and now I’ve had the misfortune of seeing him score 173 goals for Manchester City. I really don’t like that he’s still this bloody good 12 years on.
Dickon – LFC – Ottawa

 

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The set made it look like the final scene of the first Bill & Ted film, the one with George Carlin, that Robbi Robb song and the low-budget sci-fi scenery.

The Best’s dynamic wasn’t quite that cheerful. The cold chrome and mood lighting were harbingers of something much more sinister. Maybe the world outside had been destroyed and that all that remained was this preposterous demonstration of FIFA’s self-importance.

Perhaps that’s a touch dramatic, but it’s a more than functional metaphor.

Mainly because this is how things seem to be now. These events have a script. Inside the building, of course, with the wooden banter and those strange Euro-American accents, but outside too, where the watching world always seems to respond in the same way. With mockery first, then bemusement, then outright anger.

That represents a strange contradiction. On every other night of the year, The Best is completely benign. It carries no weight whatsoever. Not just because it is only in its fourth year of existence and has none of the Ballon d’Or’s gravitas but rather, those issues aside, because it’s just plainly weird. It’s like a party thrown by someone who has no friends, who has no understanding for how humans interact.

Even now, at this early stage, its history is littered with anomalies. In 2016, for instance, it awarded Falcao – the Futsal player, not the Colombian forward – with a lifetime achievement award. A worthy nod of appreciation, but one never offered again; nobody has been recognised in the same way since.

Also in 2016, at the event’s inaugural running, FIFA recognised Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund supporters for that joint rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. A fine moment, for sure, but still representative of a central tokenism. Of everything that happened in 2016 – the fan initiatives, the collections for food banks, the stands against fascism, homophobia and racism – that was top of the pile?

In a way, it describes what FIFA are. Or, more accurately, it confirms what those outside the organisation think of FIFA. They run the game, but they’re only interested in certain parts of it. Think of it this way: if there were a football-themed pub quiz contested by hundreds of teams from different countries and all walks of life, FIFA’s Executive Committee would come last. Always and inevitably.

On Monday night, Leeds United, who authored arguably the funniest cheating scandal of the last decade, were awarded a fair play award for allowing Aston Villa to score an uncontested goal. There’s no harm in it, but – again – its indicative of superficiality. You can imagine the meeting in which some of these categories were decided. Sharp suits, sharp haircuts, blank faces.

To say that this event exists only for the sake of sponsorship is hardly original. After all, there are entire sports which are built around the need to iron logos onto shirts, shorts or vehicles. But perhaps The Best’s greatest tell is in its tone.

On Monday night, several award winners used their platform for tremendous good. Jurgen Klopp announced his involvement with the Common Goal charity. Well done to him. Megan Rapinoe took the stage and urged proper action against the societal evils which continue to plague the game. Well done to her. But, then, look at how awkward Gianni Infantino looked at that moment, during the few seconds when the camera framed him.

His expression betrayed discomfort, this sense that – no – this was supposed to be a night of back-slapping. FIFA has always appeared to find football’s real issues deeply inconvenient. While it’s capable of constructing ever more complicated competitions – with more rounds, more teams and more broadcasting revenue – and it sails through the logistical challenges posed by such expansion, it becomes bizarrely impotent in the face of almost anything of real substance.

And we know this. And we talk about it all the time. And we understand how incidental these ceremonies are and how bereft of sincerity and significance they will always, always be.

And yet there’s always this great outrage at who gets patted on the back. The Best’s World XI is still fluttering around social media and people are upset by that. And by Virgil van Dijk not winning his Best Player category. Click further and you’ll find the inevitable retaliation. The statistical testimony which supports Lionel Messi’s case, a mini cultural thesis which proves that, in fact, he should win all awards, always. Go down the internet’s darker hallways and, presumably, the same is being said about Cristiano Ronaldo.

Someone. Even. Made. A. Graph.

So on the one hand the universal position is to mock these nights and to enjoy the ritual of machine-gunning facetiousness into the online ether. On the other, the tendency is to get really, really upset by all the trivialities it throws up. In fact, at the time of writing, there are journalists making serious points derived from voting patterns. Messi voted for this player, Ronaldo didn’t vote for that one; Five Things We Learned.

This is hardly a unique situation. Where there are individual awards, there are always squabbles. What makes this interesting, though, is that The Best is a commonly recognised nadir. For 364 days of each year, it’s ridiculed for the vacuum of self-celebration that it so obviously is. On the 365th day, it holds the power to start furious arguments.

Why is that? Broadly, of course, because supporters are loyal to players who represent their teams. But while that’s undeniably true, it’s also a thickening vein of tribalism. Once upon a time, a team’s defeat used to leave a fan in a days-long sulk. Now, the world’s failure to recognise a particular player can leave a fan fighting back the tears and punching his or her keyboard. Even when the award is meaningless. Even when a footballer’s loyalty is to his contract rather than his club.

Even with something like this, which was concocted and devised by the sport’s Charlatans-on-High and designed just to produce another revenue stream. Even now, it’s not okay just to shrug and move on.

Why?

Seb Stafford-Bloor is on Twitter.

 

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