No, it wasn’t a penalty. Jose Callejon clearly initiated contact with Andy Robertson and, unfortunately, neither the referee nor the VAR were able – or willing – to correct their decision.

But the incident still characterised the tone of Liverpool’s performance. They were slack and ever so slightly complacent. They had good moments and promised goals at different points of the game, but Roberson’s wifty challenge was indicative of an attitude which wasn’t quite what it should have been. Not that he deserves a flogging, because he remains overwhelmingly in credit, but any modern defender knows that if you dangle a leg out like that then, most likely, someone will take an opportunist tumble.

So two conclusions, both of which are true: Liverpool were done by the referee, but they also paid the price for a lack of a mental sharpness.

That showed in different facets of the game. For the penalty, of course, and that strange Virgil van Dijk mistake which Fernando Llorente turned into a second goal, but also in their uncommon inaccuracy at the other end of the pitch.

If the game had an emblem, then it would be that, in particular the mess Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah made of that second-half counter. The pass Mane tried to play was far harder than it looked, but it was still the kind of opportunity that this team – and those players – habitually exploit week after week.

In fact, as that move was developing, who didn’t think it was destined to end with the ball in the net and one of those players wheeling away in celebration?

In a way, that’s a measure of the respect that Jurgen Klopp’s side now command. They are usually so precise and so ruthless that when that killer quality is missing, it provokes incredibly harsh criticism.

And it is harsh, because there was plenty of good in that performance. Collectively, because it was far superior to what Liverpool offered in Naples a year ago. But also individually: Sarah Winterburn has already written about a very fine Fabinho display, and there were notable showings from, among others, Jordan Henderson and Adrian.

Still, let’s not lose sight of what Napoli are. Serie A is just three games old, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side began their season by conceding three goals in both of their first two games – to Juventus and Fiorentina – and, while they kept a clean sheet at the weekend, that fragility was definitely in evidence last night. Kalidou Koulibaly is a brilliant defender, but he is not part of a brilliant defence; if Napoli survive the group, they’ll be eliminated by the first efficient side they face.

So this was a game Liverpool should have won. That they lost isn’t cause for any alarm, but it has created a degree of uncertainty within a group which should have been straightforward. On the evidence of what they did to Genk, nobody should be looking forward to playing RB Salzburg, either.

It’s important because Klopp’s players could do with making the first part of their Champions League defence as processional as possible. They’ve already established a handy lead back home, but Manchester City will inevitably improve and, when that happens, Liverpool will need to match their power. The ideal scenario, then, would have been to have this group won within three or four games, not for it to remain in the balance.

Not incidentally, that visit to Salzburg is scheduled for December 10 which, television permitting, will come six days after the first Merseyside derby of the season and three days on from an awkward looking trip to Bournemouth. The likely legacy of defeat in Naples will probably be that Liverpool have to enter that stadium, with its feverish atmosphere, needing a result to secure top spot or, worse, qualification itself.

In isolation, nothing which happened on Tuesday night was too significant. However, with the knowledge that Liverpool’s ability to achieve their season’s objectives will partly depend on how easy they make life for themselves and how much leeway they can create throughout their season, it was an inconvenient, avoidable and irritating mishap. A game that they could afford to lose – this morning’s Mailbox is absolutely right about that, but one which would have been very useful to win.

Seb Stafford-Bloor is on Twitter

 

The post F365’s early loser: Liverpool, making life that bit tougher appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

It’s two weeks since Liverpool last played, a comfortable 3-0 win over Burnley, but there shouldn’t be any doubts of any lingering animosity after Sadio Mane got the hump with Mohamed Salah.

Both players finished level on goals to win the Premier League golden boot last season, but Mane appeared really angry after Salah didn’t play him in to score at Turf Moor, which led to a hilariously awkward reaction from Roberto Firmino.

You might have seen that viral video of two toddlers bumping into one another in New York, and Salah has since posted a photoshop of the clip with his and Mane’s faces superimposed, laughing off the incident.

Watch it at Planet Football.

The post Watch: Mo Salah officially ends Sadio Mane beef with brilliant video appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Headline you never thought you’d read
‘Girl in a coffin holds up Lukaku cut-out as Man Utd striker parties at bizarre LA club including air hostess swinging on mini private jet’ – The Sun.

 

F***ing hell
‘HARRY MAGUIRE could be left in Leicester limbo as the Manchester giants battle to sign him,’ writes Neil Custis on the back page of The Sun.

Mediawatch did think that sounded a little too dramatic (after all, he seems quite happy in Leicester) but then we checked on Wikipedia, which tells us that ‘limbo’ is ‘a doctrine concerning the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned’.

A pretty fair description of Manchester United.

As you were.

 

Rubbish bag

It’s at this juncture that Ian McGarry needed to back off. After all, the horse has just told you that nothing came out of his mouth. But no, he came back:

He probably would. But he didn’t. And that is surely the bloody point.

 

Mo Salah, Salah…
Well played, Transfer Window Podcast, mind. Just by discussing the possibility of Mo Salah joining Real Madrid for £200m next summer, they prompted this tsunami of Liverpool transfer gossip in an otherwise quiet summer…

‘Liverpool would consider selling Mo Salah to land Nicolas Pepe’ – Daily Star.

‘Real Madrid splashing £200m on Liverpool star Mo Salah could prompt this response’ – Daily Star.

‘Transfer news LIVE: £200m Salah claim, Man Utd eye £58m star, Newcastle ‘close to deal” – Daily Star.

‘Liverpool transfer news LIVE – Nicolas Pepe to ‘replace Mohamed Salah’, Sepp van den Berg linked, Simon Mignolet latest’ – Liverpool Echo.

And most ridiculously of all, an 889-word opinion piece in the Liverpool Echo, headlined ‘Nicolas Pepe in, Mohamed Salah out? The transfer that wouldn’t make sense for Liverpool’. These are clearly desperate times.

To be fair, that is the sweetest of pieces from Chris Beesley, who tries to earnestly argue that there are no clubs in world football that could possibly tempt Salah away from Liverpool.

‘While the sale of Coutinho is cited as an example of Liverpool selling to buy, the reality is that some 18 months on from the Brazilian’s defection to Barcelona, the transfer landscape has shifted considerably at Anfield.

‘The Reds are of course now not only European champions for the first time in 14 years but a team who have displayed the incredible consistency to accumulate 97 points over a Premier League season and defeat the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona en route to their victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

‘In short, the desire of manager Jurgen Klopp and owners FSG to turn Anfield into a final destination appears to be taking root.’

In short though, Liverpool are still almost 30 years away from winning the Premier League title. The idea that all Liverpool’s players would turn down approaches from all other clubs is incredibly naive. If Manchester United could not keep hold of Ronaldo after winning three consecutive Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy, then what are the chances of Liverpool keeping all their players after 30 title-less seasons? Is this all because ‘it means more’ at Liverpool?

‘While the likes of Salah and team-mate Sadio Mane, who joined Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a three-way tie for the Premier League’s Golden Boot last season will inevitably attract admiring glances and the inevitable transfer speculation from the game’s traditional powerhouses, the lustre of the Bernabeu or Camp Nou is no longer as bright as it once was.’

Is it not? We are pretty sure that 13-times European champions Real Madrid – the richest club in the world, according to Deloitte – have just signed Eden Hazard and are chasing Paul Pogba despite spending over £270m already this summer, while La Liga champions Barcelona – the second richest club in the world – have just bought the most exciting young midfielder in world football. Still, carry on…

‘Figures this month from respected football analysts, transfermarkt, value Liverpool’s squad at a billion pounds (second only in world football to Manchester City at £1.05billion) and eclipsing the likes of Barcelona (third, £958.95million) and Real Madrid (eighth, £784.28m) so it remains curious at to where Salah might go.’

Sorry, but, erm what? In attempting to explain why Liverpool can keep hold of their stars, the Liverpool Echo have seemingly stumbled on exactly the opposite.

According to Deloitte, Liverpool are the seventh richest club in world football; if their squad is ‘worth’ more than financially more powerful clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG, that makes them vulnerable rather than strong. It’s a reason why Salah might leave, not a reason why not.

Chelsea are above Real Madrid in that list from ‘respected football analysts, transfermarkt’, but that did not prevent Eden Hazard from leaving the former for the latter. And the same applies to Lucas Hernandez, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich.

‘As well as being the poster boy for Liverpool’s considerable global fanbase, he is also an iconic figure beyond the boundaries of Egypt across the whole Arab world.

‘Not only do the Reds not need to sell Salah but it now remains highly questionable why a player of his talents would even want to go anywhere else to further his career.’

‘Highly questionable’ to Liverpool fans, yes. But to pretty much everybody else in the western world? Watch this space.

 

Call me
Mediawatch is not sure which part of this Daily Express digital story…

‘None of us have forgotten’ – Jurgen Klopp told to make Philippe Coutinho Liverpool call’

…aggravates us the most.

Is it…

a) That Jurgen Klopp has been ‘told’ by one John Aldridge.

or

b) That the ‘Philippe Coutinho Liverpool call’ he is being ‘told’ to make is not a ‘call’ at all but merely a decision not to sign him.

Still, we clicked, so we guess that makes us the idiots here.

 

Phil yer boots
Mediawatch agrees with The Sun’s Chief Sports Writer Dave Kidd that Aidy Boothroyd should pay for the ‘smart-alec decision’ he made to rest Phil Foden at the European Under-21 Championship, but quite how he gets here is another matter…

‘Foden is 19 now and has started just three Premier League matches (while winning two title medals) – so the brilliant midfielder needs more football, not less.

‘It is unlikely, but would be beneficial, if Pep Guardiola could find a club he’d trust to take Foden on loan for a season.’

Well that’s a little misleading because those three Premier League starts came in the final seven games of last season when City were chasing the title, so there is little doubt that Guardiola trusts Foden. Indeed, he trusted him to the tune of over 1000 minutes in all competitions last season, and only three other English teenagers could match that at top-flight clubs last season: Ryan Sessegnon, Jadon Sancho and Dwight McNeil.

It’s worth remembering – because people like Kidd forget – that Paul Scholes did not play any first-team football until he was two months off his 20th birthday and it really did not seem to do him any harm.

 

Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on women’s football and VAR

Richard Williams on Mino Raiola

Jack Lang on Alexis Sanchez at Copa America

 

 

The post Why would Mo Salah leave Liverpool for Real Madrid? Well… appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League