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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


TANGENTS

Player of the Season (update)

Written by on May 16, 2012 | 56 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League, General

A long time ago on a blog far, far away I wrote this post detailing which players I thought would be up for the English Premier League Player of the Season award if the campaign had ended in January.

So now seems a good time to take a look at how each of them fared as the rest of the season unfolded.

David Silva- Back in January I noted that his form had dipped in recent games and that dip didn’t really reverse until the final few weeks of the season.

Manchester City would never have won the title without his contribution and although his goal tally faltered he continued to provide some crucial assists in vital games.

Hard to see him as the best player in the Premier League but he will continue to give City a touch of guile in a team that uses strength and power as their most effective weapons.

Robin van Persie – Van Persie had already scored twenty goals by January and despite him only (only!) adding ten more for the rest of the season there can be little doubt that without him Arsenal would have been looking up at the Champions League places with envy.

Keeping his best player at the Emirates for at least another season is Arsene Wenger’s most important task in the coming weeks and one that he must be becoming uncomfortably familiar with.

Michael Vorm- The fact that Arsenal are rumoured to be interested in signing the Dutch goalkeeper is an indication of how effective he was for a Swansea side never looked in danger of being relegated.

Now we are at the end of the season it’s hard to make the case for Vorm as even the best goalkeeper in the League let alone the best player (Hart and Krul probably  beat him to that spot) but Vorm did win a place in the hearts of many a fantasy soccer fan as the bargain buy of the season.

Juan Mata– Back in January I wrote that the challenge for Andres Villas-Boas was to find a system that best suited the Spaniard.

He never did do that and when Roberto Di Matteo took over he moved Mata to a more central position that allowed him to influence games far more.

Similar to his compatriot Silva though he never quite produced the consistency that was needed and Chelsea fans will be hoping that next season Mata can grow to be the creative force that he is capable of being on a weekly basis.

Vincent Kompany- The Manchester City captain was named Player of the Year by Barclays, the Premier League’s sponsors, so there is little doubt that he continued to perform in the latter half of the season.

He scored the winner in the crucial game against Manchester United and was the most solid of a City back line that, at times, could look less than convincing.

Aged just twenty-six Kompany could be around for a few years yet to give City a defensive foundation that is the envy of most clubs.

Demba Ba- Back in January it seemed that only the Newcastle striker could stop Robin van Persie from walking off with the award but then Ba went to the Africa Cup of Nations and Newcastle signed Papiss Demba Cisse whose arrival forced Ba to play on the left and cut his goal scoring rate dramatically.

Newcastle didn’t suffer because Cisse scored goals at a rate, and of a quality, that were more than the equal of what Ba had done in the first half of the season but it will be interesting to see if Ba opts to stay with the club or moves to one of the number teams who didn’t take a chance on him last season because of his injury record.

The comments from that piece back in January focused on the lack of Spurs players in the top six (would any make that list now I wonder?) as well as shout outs for Yaya Toure and Cheick Tiote and neither of those two would be far away from anybody’s team of the season now that it is all over.

Pretty hard to look passed van Persie for the overall award but is there anybody not listed that you think deserves a mention?   

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56 responses to “Player of the Season (update)”

  1. Bobby says:

    Kenny Dalglish has been fired – sensed yesterday that we were heading to this.
    Thoughts and comments – please

  2. Terry Armstrong says:

    Too bad. My sense is that poorly run organizations fire managers like poorly run baseball teams. It covers up the deficiencies of the organization.

    I am no expert but I believe it is too early to know if most of the signings will be a success. Unless you have pockets as deep as Chelsea or Man City, stability is necessary in order to build a program, keep the players you want, and attract the players you need.

    This feels premature to me. A sign that the organization doesn’t have the respources to compete and required instant success to keep itself afloat.

  3. Roberto Senyera says:

    Good sign if you’re a Liverpool fan. FSG shows the kind of common sense and ruthlessness that the club needs.

    KD was stubbornly blind with his insistence on fielding his shiny new British signings over superior foreign talent in his squad. Kuyt, Maxi, and Bellamy (okay, he’s British) are superior players compared to the likes of Henderson, Downing, Adams, and Carroll that KD favoured.

    Poor transfer market selections that he paid too much for (he and Camoli). The only players that panned out were foreigners (Suarez and Enrique). Poor team selections too often. Poor handling of the Suarez/Evra situation. Poorest Liverpool league record since before the Beatles. That’s a whole lot of poor.

    As an Arsenal fan I wished KD had stayed.

    As a Liverpool fan you shouldn’t.

  4. Roberto Senyera says:

    Not a good sign if you’re a Scottish manager. First it was McLeish and now it’s Dalglish.

    One could argue that KD just had a bad year (although I wouldn’t as he shouldn’t be trusted with another close season transfer kitty). But Big Eck is just a train wreck whose teams play ugly football that are also not successful by any measure.

    Who’s next? It should be Kean but he’s no longer in the EPL.

  5. J Rob says:

    Deeply saddened but probably for the best. Will always be a childhood hero of mine for his appearances for Liverpool and Scotland. Not surprised. NESV have been embarking on wholesale changes for the last month starting with Commoli’s exit.

    (Maybe we should blame it on the need for ratings for the upcoming Liverpool documentary which will now be required viewing 🙂 )

    Ultimately, Dalglish paid the price for not meeting NESV’s expectations after their huge spend last summer. While not to same extent as AVB at Chelsea I feel he changed too much too soon after a great end to the 2010/11 season. While he has been at fault for how he integrated the players into the team the players themselves bear a lot of responsibility. Too many of them played within themselves this season. I am frankly amazed that Stewart Downing was announced in England’s Euro squad today and almost as astonished that Carroll is there also. For me the only players who stepped up this season were Martin Skertel, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson (when he played).

    Which brings me to the most frustrating part of this last season – despite an excellent defense – LFC’s finishing has been awful. This where I think KD’s overwhelming anxiety to succeed spread to all the players. Yes they might have practiced corners and shooting more by how else do you explain an epidemic from which no striker (maybe bar Maxi when he played) or midfielder was exempt?

    What a contrast in the Cups where LFC seemed to score crucial goals just at the right times. Two games at Potteries against Stoke stick in my mind. In the league game in September we battered them, conceded a soft goal and got beat 1 nil after Suarez missed a sitter in E.T.. Six weeks later in the League Cup in a far more tightly contested game Suarez scored a fantastic brace and we win 2 – 1. (The games played against Man Utd at Anfield in the league and FA Cup paint a similar contrast.)

    His first six months were close to perfect, the 2nd acceptable and the last six months terrible. That said he’s been unlucky. Especially thinking of the run in March/April when LFC battered Arsenal and got beat, should have had a penalty and a red card given against the opposition at Newcastle and the 2 games where QPR and Wigan practically scored from their only shots/headers (also games against Villa and WBA which should have been emphatic victories). Not to mention all the woodwork hit all season long.

    Fear there will be a lot of rot written about Dalglish being a dinosaur being out of touch with modern tactics. For the most part he and Steve Clarke got it right more often than they got it wrong. LFC were only desperately poor a few times the last 18 months (Spurs, Bolton and Man Utd away this season and the first 60 minutes of the FA Cup spring readily to mind.)

    But I think the following is undeniable. Dalglish was unable to integrate Andy Carroll into the team successfully (his injuries haven’t helped) and hasn’t been able to compensate for the loss of Lucas since last November. Re: the former Dalglish strongly favoured a pass and move style for his first six months. Then the purchase of Downing, Henderson and Adam in the summer all indicated an approach aimed at more crossing to a target man. The 2 different styles never seemed to gel and LFC have gone backward with wider players (despite everyone claiming they desperately needed them.) Re: Lucas – his tackling, awareness and incredible work-rate have never come close to being replaced by Adam, Spearing or Henderson. As a result LFC’s midfield has been a never-ending experiment for the last six months.

    Where do LFC go from here? Short-term, Martinez seems like a good choice (although I’d love Brendan Rodgers who has done the impossible – taken a group of minor British players and turned them into a passable impression of Barcelona). Longer-term I honestly have no idea how Liverpool compete without a new stadium. Being unsentimental news of a new stadium would be a lot more significant than news of a new manager.

  6. J Rob says:

    Roberto:

    As an Arsenal fan you will no doubt be aware that Kenny Dalglish was the first LFC manager to oversee a victory away to Arsenal since Feb 2000 (something that neither Rafa Benitez was never able to do). Mind you that may have a lot to do with how Wenger’s Arsenal teams have gotten progressively worse over the last few seasons despite the foundation of stability at the Emirates.

    And it would surely have been a brace for KD’s LFC this season without some astonishingly poor finishing from LIverpool and the exquisite finishing of RVP.

  7. J Rob says:

    Bobby:

    In terms of players of the season what are your thoughts on Leon Britton aka the thinking person’s Paul Scholes?

  8. everwonthetreble says:

    “Of course I am disappointed with results in the league, but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the club to be back winning trophies.” – Kenny

    That’s why he’s done. He’s completely out of touch with today’s game. You wanna please the fans, win the League Cup. You wanna keep your job, get into the CL by any means necessary.

    There’s no such thing as a progressive club who is not in the CL. Luckily for Liverpool fans, the owners understand this.

    Unfortunately, no matter who they bring in, I don’t see where Liverpool will be able to generate the cash flow necessary to be able to compete in the transfer market and thus may need subsidizing by FSG. Something like 29m has flowed in on top of acquiring the club but the unknown is whether FSG will invest their own money in Liverpool.

  9. J Rob says:

    Easy to knock winning trophies. But all great managers try and instill a winning mentality in their players where every game is important and there to be won. The mystery is why it came so readily in the Cups for Liverpool this season and not the league. It wasn’t like KD set up his teams differently for the respective challenges. Dalglish got some things wrong but has been an unlucky manager in the league. My gut feeling is that his anxiety to do well transferred into anxious players who played within themselves and who scorned chance after chance. You can never prove something like that but I am curious to know what other think or theories they have.

    Bottom line didn’t change much all season:

    LFC created chances at level of top four team
    Converted chances at level of relegation zone team
    Defended at level of top four team

    As the news sinks in I think the next manager had a great platform on which to build.

  10. Roberto Senyera says:

    Russell,

    As for PoY, after RvP of course, my vote is for YaYa Toure. He’s unique in the EPL and he’s truly the one irreplaceable player in ManC’s line-up (other than Hart). YaYa is Patrick Vieira 2.0. I think there is no other player in world football who can play so many positions on the pitch at the top level and do all of them so well. He is exceptionally versatile and is a true beast on the field. Remember that he played as an emergency CB in the 2009 UCL Final for Barça. Big game player and a leader by example.

  11. “In terms of players of the season what are your thoughts on Leon Britton aka the thinking person’s Paul Scholes?”

    I would say the thinking person needs to look for a new brain. Nice, neat passing player who has benefited by exceeding expectations this season. Not a goal scoring threat from midfield and never will be – know his limitations and plays to them.

  12. J Rob says:

    Bobby. Thanks for clarity on Leon Britton . If only more players could play within their limitations so well 🙂 Maybe the most dangerous player in his own half anywhere?

  13. Roberto Senyera says:

    J Rob,

    If you can use ‘what ifs’ to explain away losing at Anfield to Arsenal then I can use ‘what ifs’ to explain away KD’s success at the Grove this season, such as:

    1) Frimpong’s dubious first yellow which contributed to his sending off and Arsenal playing with ten men. Both your goals came after the sending off.

    2) Your second goal was a very freakish own goal off of young Miquel.

    3) Your first goal was offside, if memory serves.

    4) You played us before Wenger made his last minute transfer buys so you played a weakened side.

    “My gut feeling is that his anxiety to do well transferred into anxious players who played within themselves and who scorned chance after chance.”

    If that were so, then they wouldn’t have done so well in the cups.

    A more plausible explanation is that he took the cup runs more seriously than his opposition. Especially the Mickey Mouse Cup where he fielded full strength sides while his opponents fielded rotated weakened sides.

  14. everwonthetreble says:

    Thanks Bobby for citing that figure. Completely forgot…

  15. Roberto Senyera says:

    So who’s next to steer the good ship at Anfield? Martinez? Rogers? Lambert? Moyes (scratch that). Big Eck is available now. Benitez II?

    Decisions. Decisions.

    Announcing KD receiving his P45 on the same day Woy announces his Euro squad … hmmmmm … coincidence?

  16. J Rob says:

    Backing onto the blog comments about Liverpool’s finances their biggest challenge remains financial. The following catch 22 still exists. How do you build a new stadium without the revenues of Champion’s League football and how do you get a consistent top 4 finish without the revenues of new stadium?

    NESV bought Liverpool motivated by profit and nothing else. There is nothing to indicate that they want to invest a lot of their own money into LFC or that they are the white knights that many might have mistakenly hoped for.

    Given that they have dismissed the following positions at Liverpool in the last month in addition to Kenny Dalglish – Director of Football, Director of Communications, Chief Legal Officer and Head of Sports Science that the current owners are engaged in downsizing the organization? Or is it significant that in addition to KD three of those departed people were involved in the disastrous Evra/Suarez affair?

  17. J Rob – I stand to be corrected but I don’t think Britton had a goal or an assist in the Premier League this season so I am not sure how you define dangerous.

    Arsenal have had a good number of dangerous players in their own half in the last few seasons – they are generally called defenders or goalkeepers.

  18. J Rob says:

    Roberto

    Fair points about the Emirates game. That said a Liverpool team full of players new to each other were playing their 2nd or 3rd full game together.

    You are dead wrong on the League Cup re: Liverpool. They rotated players like others until the semi-final over 2 legs against Man City. For example Martin Kelly and Maxi scored the goals against Chelsea in the quarter final. Man City hardly fielded poor teams in either of the semi’s.

    Re: the FA Cup, games against Man Utd, Stoke and Everton were ones the opposition took no less seriously.

    Re: difference between league and cups, LFC consistently created more chances in the corresponding league games against the same teams. The difference was they took more of them in the Cups.

  19. Roberto Senyera says:

    “Arsenal have had a good number of dangerous players in their own half in the last few seasons – they are generally called defenders or goalkeepers.”

    Good one Bobby 🙂

  20. J Rob says:

    Bobby – you beat me to the punchline on Arsenal defenders. Re: Britton just agreeing with you that he does almost all of his work in his own half. Think he is still a tremendous player.

  21. Roberto Senyera says:

    “Nice, neat passing player … Not a goal scoring threat from midfield and never will be – know his limitations and plays to them.”
    &
    “Re: Britton just agreeing with you that he does almost all of his work in his own half. Think he is still a tremendous player.” — sounds like Xabi Alonso to me.

    “Backing onto the blog comments about Liverpool’s finances their biggest challenge remains financial. The following catch 22 still exists. How do you build a new stadium without the revenues of Champion’s League football and how do you get a consistent top 4 finish without the revenues of new stadium?” — Why not share a brand spanking new stadium with your cross town rivals Everton? It seems to work in Milan.

  22. J Rob says:

    Interesting to note that nobody is discussing Pardew as a manager for LFC? Not sure why? If NESV are as hooked to stats and efficiency as most suggest then surely Pardew stands out as a candidate. Taking this a little further I see John Henry inviting Newcastle’s head scout Graham Carr to Fenway Park a la Brad Pitt in ‘Money Ball’. Or am I being delusional?

    Of course many would ask why Pardew would leave a successful Newcastle? Something along the lines of ‘we will write you an enormous check and give you the funds to bring your 2 or 3 best players’.

    My last speculative thought. Wonder how many managers across Europe are surveying the current void at Anfield, licking their lips and thinking ‘ maybe I should get on the phone with the agent for Louis Suarez, Martin Skrtel,Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva etc’.

    So many questions to answer…..

  23. J Rob says:

    Roberto

    In a sane world Everton and Liverpool would share a stadium. Alas, we don’t live in one.

    As Bobby has pointed out before Man City fans should be incredibly grateful to the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002. One bright, new shiny stadium presumably paid for by tax revenues which was the single most important reason why City attracted new owners.

    Will West Ham be similarly fortunate when they start playing in the Olympic Stadium in London.

  24. Roberto Senyera says:

    J Rob,

    “You are dead wrong on the League Cup re: Liverpool. They rotated players like others until the semi-final over 2 legs against Man City. For example Martin Kelly and Maxi scored the goals against Chelsea in the quarter final. Man City hardly fielded poor teams in either of the semi’s.”

    My memory, and it could be wrong, is that in that two legged Mickey Mouse Cup SF Mancini rotated and KD went after it with his best team. I’ll give you that ManC has a deep squad though. Also, I think that it coincided with the ACN so there was no YaYa nor Kolo and that Kompany was suspended for one of those matches if not both for a red card against those dastardly red Mancs which should never have been given in the first place.

  25. Roberto Senyera says:

    “Will West Ham be similarly fortunate when they start playing in the Olympic Stadium in London.” — not if it keeps the running track.

    “My last speculative thought. Wonder how many managers across Europe are surveying the current void at Anfield, licking their lips and thinking ‘ maybe I should get on the phone with the agent for Louis Suarez, Martin Skrtel,Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva etc’.” — For Suarez yes. For the others not so much. You can keep’em.

  26. Xavi Alonso has a passing range well beyond Leon Britton. Britton is a fantastic continuity player who sits deep but he isn’t a danger going forward nor someone who can play someone in on a consistent basis.

  27. J Rob says:

    Roberto

    Man City were missing Toure for both games while he played in the African Cup.

  28. J Rob says:

    Roberto

    Think a little too dismissive of those other LFC players. Agger and Skrtel are arguably the 2nd best central-defensive combo in the EPL, Lucas is a world-class defensive midfielder and Glen Johnson would be well-suited to La Liga where his offensive qualities would fit nicely.

    I would certainly argue that the first three would undoubtedly improve Arsenal,Chelsea and Man Utd especially given their respective ages to whom they might likely replace.

  29. J Rob says:

    I think the current parlance for Britton’s skills is that he is good at recycling the ball whatever that means 🙂

    Bobby – any thoughts on Ramires at Chelsea? Seems to be one of the few midfielders who has the pace and stamina to be very dangerous in the opposition’s half.

  30. Roberto Senyera says:

    “Xavi Alonso has a passing range well beyond Leon Britton.” — agreed.

    “Britton is a fantastic continuity player who sits deep but he isn’t a danger going forward nor someone who can play someone in on a consistent basis.” — Is he good enough for England and should they have selected him?

  31. Wrote this after Liverpool won the Carling Cup http://onforb.es/w88Yf4 I guess they missed the signpost – which is odd because they did hit a lot of posts this season!

  32. Roberto – not good enough for England. Carrick a far better option if they wanted to go that route.
    Ramires – one of the few players who can genuinely offer a manager a change in system without making a substitutions. I know I have said this before but in some cases Dunga actually used him to cover the area normally covered by two players.

  33. Roberto Senyera says:

    J Rob — From Arsenal’s point of view Suarez is the only one of that lot which would be an upgrade. Lucas before the injury … maybe. But he’s post injury now and I’d rather have Song and M’Villa who they’re close to bringing in. Just my opinion.

  34. J Rob says:

    Roberto

    Think Song in under appreciated. And Podolski will be a good replacement for RVP who is probably Barca or City bound. He at an age where he probably wants to maximize his earnings. A Champion’s or Champion’s League medal would be nice too.

    All the hoopla about City winning the league overlooked the fact their big advantage is their ability to play outrageous wages as opposed to the singular focus on transfers by some journalists and commentators. Their financial situation will surely be challenged by Financial Fair Play if the latter has any teeth at all.

  35. J Rob says:

    Bobby. Great call on Ramires. Think Lucas while a different type of midfielder almost does the work of two sometimes too. But isn’t it meant be the plucky British players like Scott Parker (who loves a meaty sliding challenge) that are the real hard workers?

  36. Roberto Senyera says:

    Speaking of Carrick. How can they at least not have him in the standby list? Henderson on the standby list and Carrick is not? I’d take Carrick over Barry. I still don’t know what people (i.e. Mancini, Capello, and now Roy) see in Barry. Barry just passes the ball short and sideways, is pedestrianly slow, and has a fat ass (which might explain his lack of pace).

  37. Roberto Senyera says:

    Agreed about Man City (and Chelsea too) wrt their upcoming difficulties meeting the FFP challenge. FFP is the one saving grace for ManU as they generate more revenue than those two clubs owned by sugar daddies.

    Speaking of Parker. I think he’s vastly over-rated by both the English media and English coaches. He’s 31 (but looks like he’s not a day under 41), hardly has any caps, is a Chelsea reject, played in the second tier just last year, and enjoys picking up cards with what I would call aggression bordering on recklessness. He made the EPL team of the year and was seriously considered as English captain? I’m still scratching my head over both? Doesn’t say much about England’s chances at the Euros if you ask me.

  38. J Rob says:

    Seen some amusing banter elsewhere.

    Stewart Downing has just been credited with his first assist of the season (KD’s sacking).

    Alex McLeish is being discussed as the ideal candidate. You won’t have to worry about missed chances – his teams never create any. Or about getting beat at home – you can rely on 0-0 draws every time.

  39. Russell Berrisford says:

    To paraphrase the movie Airplane- “I guess I picked the wrong day to post a Player of the Year update.”

    For Liverpool though it seems that the next appointment will be crucial-pick the wrong guy and the sense of decline will continue and will take a long time to turn around (similar to Villa in that sense).

    Both sets of American owners need to find somebody who can offer them genuinely sound advice on who to select.

  40. John Bladen says:

    Russell:

    For me the PoY is Van Persie or Kompany. Plenty of other possibilities, but despite the fact RvP’s form may have dipped in the last half of the year he was still the only thing standing between Arsenal and a mid table finish. I really thought this might be the year that Nani joined the ranks of the elite, but not so. If given a ‘real’ vote, I might opt for Vidic… yes, I know he didn’t play. But look how awful United’s central defense was without him…

    Bobby: As for Dalglish, I thought he’d quit before he was sacked. I think it’s the right move for LFC. Not sure KD was ever up to managing in “today’s” game, and the transfer targets he hit are just one reason why.

    In the end, he was given the money he asked for to remake the team and wasted a good deal of it on non-entities (one might suggest Dalglish’ transfer spending was ‘Benitez-like’). That will get any manager fired.

    The question is, who’s next? Any thoughts?

    Well, yes, obviously Harry will be linked with the opening any second, but…

  41. John Bladen says:

    JRob:

    “…the current owners are engaged in downsizing the organization?”

    I don’t think so. NESV/FSG came in at a very difficult time for the organization. They made some quick decisions to try and ‘right the ship’ (no doubt with the aid of some of the positions you mentioned) and a good number of those have been bad moves. I take the last couple of steps (particularly Commoli & Dalglish) as a sign that they are going to get their advice elsewhere in future. We’ll see if that’s an improvement or not, but it is at least a step in the right direction.

    Fans always complain that the owners need to listen to them. What has gone on at LFC is a prime example of what often happens when those in Management do let the fans make the decisions (albeit indirectly). I’m not a Liverpool fan, but I believe that FSG will invest the money necessary to get LFC back to CL football. Ultimately, there does have to be a new stadium to keep them there. We’ll see whether they swallow hard and take that on…

    Those who like to complain about Arsenal’s finances/stadium situation are ignoring the obvious: Even if it takes another 15 years to pay down, it has increased their turnover dramatically. And that advantage will stay even when the stadium debt is a distant memory. LFC, Chelsea, Spurs and anyone else wanting to stay on level financial footing with Man U & Arsenal still have to find a way to build a new stadium. I’d describe Man City as being “part way” there. They have fewer seats than either Arsenal or Man U, but I believe they can expand. City fans will have to hope the Sheik is willing to burn cash like Abramovich in the mean time.

  42. J Rob says:

    John:

    I guess we’ll know a lot more about NESV’s intentions after the summer. So far they have spent about 30 million of their own money on Liverpool after buying the club. I see no clear evidence that they wish to invest heavily in the club. They bought it for a good price, with the expectation that Financial Fair Play would have teeth and gambled that Liverpool could make it back into the top four this season. It would appear that they also hoped a lucrative naming rights for a new stadium would also happen this season. Without either a Champion’s League place or additional revenue from naming rights in place a downsizing scenario is entirely plausible.

    The former M.D. in charge when the transition occurred was Christian Purslow. He has commented that Henry and Co’s purchase was purely an investment decision. He wasn’t indicating that NESV were seeking to invest a lot of money rather they were looking for a return on their investment. And after all why shouldn’t they? They followed Stan Kroenke at Arsenal and the Glazers at Man Utd who saw the viewing figures worldwide for the EPL and Champions’ League and drooled.

    I think the Evra/Suarez debacle meant that heads would roll too. Pure speculation but how close were Liverpool to nailing a naming partner for a new stadium when Dalglish and co. lost the plot with horrible P.R. results? We’ll never know but that might be the most damning legacy of the whole affair.

  43. I got a tweet from Alan Hinton former Derby player and a man long associated with the Seattle Sounders. He threw the name Martin O’Neill into the ring.
    I think that is as good a suggestion as any and better than most. Liverpool fans will not like to hear this but it is a case of first arresting the decline in league position and then rebuilding. O’Neill is ideally suited for the former although I am not so sure about the later.
    The prevailing assumption from most Liverpool fans seems to be that the poor league position this past season is an aberration. I am not so sure about that.

  44. J Rob says:

    I do think Liverpool’s league position this year was an aberration (missed chances, woodwork, lack of luck etc all season).

    But as a Liverpool fan I don’t think a mid-table finish will be an aberration but an aspiration if the long awaited stadium never comes to fruition.

    LFC’s biggest challenge is off the field. You can’t consistently expect Champion’s League football without a new stadium but you can’t build a stadium without making the top four consistently in the first place.

    As much as it depresses me I am not sure that NESV can square this circle. It would take an outlay of money beyond that they are prepared to pay.

  45. Roberto Senyera says:

    Bobby,

    “The prevailing assumption from most Liverpool fans seems to be that the poor league position this past season is an aberration. I am not so sure about that.”

    I would agree with that.

    I heard on a BBC podcast today that during the past three seasons LFC have finished 7th, 6th, and now 8th. That’s pretty consistent and I would say is their new normal unless they can generate more revenue and/or investment into the club. Based on revenue and finances they are no longer a top four club (ManC, ManU, Chelsea, and Arsenal are the new top four on that basis, therefore UCL tier). LFC is in the next tier of clubs (LFC, Sp*rs, NUFC, Everton, the UEL tier).

    I would also agree that Martin O’Neill would be a good and realistic choice to replace KD. Another possibility might be Rijkard. Maybe even AVB.

    Some of the suggestions I’m hearing from some quarters, such Mourinho, Pep, and Capello are totally unrealistic.

    J Rob,

    Also, in terms of KD’s questionable player personnel decisions and team selections remember that he sold a quality foreign MF in Meireles that is superior to the British MFs he selected so often this year. Meireles started both legs of the UCL SFs against FCB and should be a starter at the Euros with Portugal. It’s true that Meireles was a Hodgson signing and maybe that was a major reason KD wasn’t too keen on him and maybe let his ego get in the way. But Meireles is far superior to what was left over after Lucas’s injury (Spearing and Shelvey, even though the latter didn’t play much he was still on the team for a time). And Meireles is better than those other aforementioned British MFs (Adam, Henderson, Downing). To me, that’s a definite pattern that smacks of KD preferring British players over foreigners (when there is a choice) that is both irrational and bizarre. This was also a big factor in their ultimate positioning in the league table, in my opinion.

    LFC, much like ManU, used to have a much stronger midfield not long ago. Both Mascherano and Xabi Alonso are unquestioned starters for their national sides and both are near captain material for those sides.

  46. J Rob says:

    Roberto

    Glad I finally completely agree with you on a couple of points. Thought sale of Meireles was bizarre at the time.

    Re: LFC’s financial status – you are spot on. Most significant news about Spurs in the last year or so? Forget top 4 finishes. West Ham and not Spurs getting Olympic Stadium as new home. Biggest news for Chelsea this year beyond their Champion’s League progress. News of a potential new home at Battersea Park presumably funded by Roman’s billions. Such funding acceptable under Financial Fair Play.

    Here’s the irony. If nothing changes re: LFC’s stadium/financing then winning domestic cups will be the best they can reasonably expect to do in the new reality.

    So depressing. This isn’t a new issue as the need for a redeveloped Anfield or new stadium has been an acknowledged fact for a decade.

  47. Roberto Senyera says:

    Rumours are going around the internet that Liverpool will appoint legendary Scouse hero Ken Dodd as their new manager so they don’t have to change the initials on the tracksuit … 😉

    Hey J Rob. Become an Arsenal fan. We have a relatively new stadium. Problem solved.

    *This message brought to you by Proselytizers Inc.*

  48. everwonthetreble says:

    “I do think Liverpool’s league position this year was an aberration (missed chances, woodwork, lack of luck etc all season).”

    These excuses aren’t recognized in the table format nor should they be. Unlike the cups, you’ve got 38 matches to work on your problems or aberrations. Liverpool are where they should be based on their inability to win consistently for the past three seasons.

    “LFC’s biggest challenge is off the field. You can’t consistently expect Champion’s League football without a new stadium but you can’t build a stadium without making the top four consistently in the first place.”

    Given how poorly Liverpool played at times this season I find it difficult to believe that they’re biggest problems lie off the field. No, their issues are very much on and off the field, I can assure you.

    “But as a Liverpool fan I don’t think a mid-table finish will be an aberration but an aspiration if the long awaited stadium never comes to fruition.”

    Spurs never had a new stadium and ended up taking Liverpool’s position in the CL a few years back. That Spurs team wasn’t as good as the one currently which in my mind made the Liverpool players at the time look quite bad. They can make the CL again without a new stadium but the personnel decisions must be far better than they’ve been.

  49. rdm says:

    With regards to Carrick and Britton in the England Euro squad, I believe Carrick was selected but opted out as he wasn’t particularly enthused about going just to sit on the bench. That’s my understanding at least. A bit of a shame too, England could use someone in the middle who can trap a ball then pass it to a teammate.

  50. Ed Gomes says:

    RvP has to be the player of the year. Who knows where Arsenal would have been without him.
    He basically has earned a blank check from Arsenal, no?

    Wonder if City fans will voted for Barton as player of the year.
    Barton;
    – stubbed a lit cigar in the eye of a team-mate (let that statement sink in) Tandy while at City in ’04
    – left Dano needing hospital treatment after a training ground fight in ’07
    – jailed for assault in ’08
    – multiple, too many to state, transgressions on the field
    How is Barton still part of futebol in any way. All Presidents and Managers hat allowed this guy anywhere near their clubs at any point, should be fired and not allowed another job as well.

    King Kenny;
    – 8th place finish after spending 189 mil
    – worst finish in 18 years
    – 52 point tally is lowest since ’53/’54
    – 14 losses is as many as the wins

    People that keep pointing to the all the woodworks that were hit and near misses, as the problem, also seem to think that they could become goals. Well those same near misses and woodworks hit could become bad misses, in the future. It goes both ways.

    Fans will kill FSG because that’s what they do.

  51. John Bladen says:

    Roberto/JRob:

    The Meireles sale was shocking at the time. He had finally come into form after a relatively woeful start (that and Gerrard’s absence didn’t help Roy Hodgson at all…).

    As I understand it he handed in a transfer request to Dalglish after it became obvious that KD was going after Henderson/Downing. We were told at the time that he “didn’t see room @ LFC”. Others suggested he couldn’t wait to reunite with his former Manager AVB.

    This might be Dalglish/Commolli PR, but IIRC he did ask for a transfer. While we cannot know if his long term form would resemble his play for Hodgson or Dalglish (better), it’s hard to see how Liverpool would have been worse off with Meireles and without Downing or Henderson (or both), isn’t it?

    Bobby: Yes, Hinton is presently a pregame show talking head on the Sounders broadcasts in the NW. I assume this means he is still associated with the club in other ways as well.

  52. J Rob says:

    In terms of top four and over and under performance Spurs have done exceptionally well especially in terms of what they pay in wages.

    That said, longer term, just like Liverpool how do they compete without a new stadium?.

    The real aberration this season was Chelsea’s league position. A new manager failed pretty spectacularly. If Spurs loses key players and Chelsea continue as they ended this season it will be very tough for Spurs to make top four again. Why? Money plain and simple. Their lower turnover which is in large part down to their smaller stadium means they can’t pay the wages to attract and retain top talent.

    For clubs like Spurs,Liverpool and Newcastle to make the top four occasionally or even challenge they have to get everything right and in particular buying the right player, at the right time and for the right price at the right wages. Injuries will also have a greater impact on less well-funded clubs.

    Spurs achieved that this year and Newcastle got close. Liverpool didn’t.

    I feel that most of the critics of LFC under Dalglish do little kore than recite the lines constantly emphasized in the press or amongst pundits. Overpaid, too much focus on British players, Dalglish not equipped for modern games.

    The stats tell a different story. Their season was defined by finishing or the lack of. Nobody who watched all the Liverpool games could state otherwise. One more stat to bank that up today. In addition to more misplaced shots than any other team OPTA also announced today they let opposition teams have the fewest shots of any team in the EPL.

    So I’d love a counter-argument to this. LFC in 2011-2012

    Created chances at level of top four team
    Defended at level of top four team
    Converted chances at level of relegation zone team

  53. everwonthetreble says:

    “That said, longer term, just like Liverpool how do they compete without a new stadium?.”

    They’re already doing it. How much longer do they need to prove their ability to compete for a CL place?

    “The real aberration this season was Chelsea’s league position. A new manager failed pretty spectacularly. If Spurs loses key players and Chelsea continue as they ended this season it will be very tough for Spurs to make top four again.”

    Again, 38 matches played in order to fix any issues that may develop. That’s not an aberration. That’s a consistent pattern and given the age of the squad without any younger replacements, Chelsea are in trouble. If any team loses key players they will struggle. Spurs are no different. But they’ve shown a consistent ability to attract enough talent to remain close to the CL places.

    “For clubs like Spurs,Liverpool and Newcastle to make the top four occasionally or even challenge they have to get everything right…”

    I agree 100%. Very little margin for error for those teams.

  54. J Rob says:

    My not-so-bold prediction is that Chelsea will do a lot better next season. I also used to think they were in a lot of trouble but am not as convinced as I once was of that notion. Chiefly because of the potency of Mata and Ramires in midfield. Sturridge looks an excellent prospect, Torres may yet have a couple of 20 + plus goal seasons in him and Luiz and Cahill add plenty of options at centre-back. I know there’s some youngsters I have missed too.

    What’s more their plans for a new stadium at Battersea Park appear solid at first glance. Stadium developments are not affected by Financial Fair Play rules allowing their owner to inject as much money as he cares to into the project.

    Re: Spurs – I wouldn’t call making the Champion’s League twice in three seasons consistent quite yet. The wages they offer players are between a half and two-thirds of someone like Man Utd or Arsenal. Champion’s League revenue is great but doesn’t compensate for an outdated stadium or relatively low commercial operations which are hampered by a small global fan base.

    Bottom line is it is hard to look past a hegemony of Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea currently.

    As we both agree the teams below them have to get everything perfectly right.

  55. Alberta Gooner says:

    @J Rob

    “Bottom line is it is hard to look past a hegemony of Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea currently.”

    Events have a way of frequently shaking up the established order. I remember Manchester City playing down in the Second Division and Leeds United battling in the Champions League semifinals not so very long ago.

    BTW, Chelsea have some significant obstacles to overcome to develop the Battersea site and some observers — Gabriele Marcotti being one — have openly questioned whether they could fill a 60,000-seat stadium regularly.

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