FantasyYIRMA 2017/2018 Season Preview

Well thank Christ THAT’S over…I have a particular kind of hate for a non-tournament summer. It drives a man to do some strange, terrible things. I even found myself cheering on the bloody egg-chasers in New Zealand for crying out loud, and the less said about Wimbledon, the better (at least that’s what my legal advisors told me to say…)

Anyway, we’re now on the verge of being BACK…and BACK WITH A BLOODY GREAT BIG BANG. Thirty eight glorious Gameweeks stretch out ahead of us like a glistening oasis at the edge of the barren football-free desert, offering hope, inspiration and undoubted paranoia, rage and despair, but you wouldn’t swap it for anything, right?

As ever at the beginning of August there are so many questions. Therefore many of us are walking around looking like Donald Trump when he’s asked to take a seat in the corner of the Oval Office. Perplexed isn’t the word. Fear not dear friends, for I am here to predict with 100% accuracy* the next nine glorious months of Fantasy Football action, so that you can emerge next May, blinking in the sunlight you haven’t seen since, well, now, victorious and giving it large to all your ‘friends’ whom you vanquished.

If you’re ready, we shall now begin…

This season, as with every season, a cheap goalkeeper shall rack up a points total that would make a common Peter Cech blush. Those of you that invested in a ‘Premium’ keeper will once more look like a ‘Premium’ Pillock. Let me make this easy for those of you that are hard of thinking…Goalkeepers score points for making saves, so you actually want your goalkeeper to be playing behind a defence that has more holes in it than Augusta, assuming he’s not Artur Boruc and can actually save shots. Mind you  Your expensive options will often face a minimum of shots, but will concede a single goal from a set-piece and will have you shouting ‘TWO, TWO, ONE, TWO’ more often than the sound engineer at a Rolling Stones gig.

This season the Budgie hero (Budget/Cheap/Cheep, geddit?) will be Ben Foster, because Pulis. Always Pulis.

When it comes to defenders, you want all the Chelsea lads along with the ultra-attacking full-backs and James Milner with his penalties, but that will leave you with a midfield and attack made up solely of Huddersfield and Brighton players you’ve never heard of, so this is where you need to start going to your local German budget supermarket for the next few weeks and get used to picking up a bargain. Trust me, when you go in for cheap beans and come out with a 96-piece ratchet set and a trampoline for less than the price of an M&S Souffle, you’ll be ready.

You want to look at Newcastle but not for too long though because they get odd very easily and can punch you (or your horse) on the nose. However in Rafa Benitez they have a God amongst men who knows how to organise a defence better than anybody in history. You can keep your Italian Catenaccio masters, Rafa won the European Cup with Djimi Traore in defence. The case rests m’lud. Anyway, my point is that a Yedlin or Lascelles wouldn’t do you much harm, and if they turned over Spurs on the opening day I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. These magpies could be snaffling up shiny six point hauls all season long. TRUST ME.

My other defensive tip to watch is Leicester City under Craig Shakespeare who will be seeking to write a far better script for the start of this season than dear old Claudio Ranieri managed last time out. Danny Simpson’s your man. TRUST ME.

Now onto the midfield where Fantasy Football leagues are won and lost, and where, thanks to modern football tactics, you could easily play another four strikers behind your, err, strikers. Splendid. Speaking of splendid, you NEED Mane and Salah. Not ‘want’ or ‘prefer’ or ‘could’, you NEED them, like Piers Morgan NEEDS attention. They both play up-front for Liverpool, they’re both fecking dynamite and they’ll both haul in points like an Atlantic Trawler hauls in plastic bottles and lost surfers. TRUST ME.

Last season we all dined out on Alli, Eriksen, Sanchez and Hazard, but the Spurs lads won’t have a home game all season, Sanchez may not be in London for much longer (or will be sulking while he still is) and Hazard is broken. It’s time for new thinking. De Bruyne is an obvious temptation but Pep treats his players like his rotisserie chicken, with frequent rotation and basting (you should see the state of the Man City dressing room…), so that could be a very annoying £10m on the bench with far too much regularity. Someone in with a real shout of making a noise is The Voice judge Will.I.An who looks set to deputise for Hazard during his absence, and at £7m could be a frickin’ steal. Others to consider would be Zaha, Cecil Fibreglass (sorry, Cesc Fabregas) and possibly that Man United lad with the 300 point Scrabble name, who is either going to come good this season or be a flop forever. TRUST ME.

As for cheaper midfield reinforcements (or the lads you’re forced to buy and have no intention of playing until absolutely necessary) I point you towards Burnley. It’s up there. No, not there. Over a bit. Among the rolling dales and hills, with the weird grey hue over it. Aye, that’s the one. Some interesting recruitment by Sean Dyche over the past twelve months as he has subtely recruited, piece by piece, the Republic of Ireland midfield. Now you may laugh and mock and jeer (I wish you wouldn’t though as it hurts my feelings) but Robbie Brady can be a 21st century Ian Harte at set-pieces and Jon Walters is stronger than ever despite being 387 years of age. I once Captained Jon Walters when he scored his one and only senior hat-trick. Take THAT for a differential and smoke it…

Finally we get to where the action is, up front and centre. Now pay attention. This is where you’re going to spend, and spend big, and I’m not here to tell you not to. Instead I’m going to write a poem:

Harry Kane is homeless

Lukaku has nowhere to hide

Morata is untested

Jesus was supposed to have died

Aguero is being doubted

Lacazette is far too French

Costa is surplus to requirements

He’ll surely start on the bench

Defoe has gone down South

Benteke’s learning the Ajax way

Rooney can wear his pyjamas to work

Josh King is actually from Norway

Whoever you splurge on now

Will seal your fate this year

No matter who you pick you’ll be mocked

Everyone thinks it’s their year

So there you have it. No tips on who to pick up front because there are LOADS of players who could propel you to victory and it’s impossible to know which won’t. Plus I just wanted to write a poem.

We all know that this matters more than everything else, but in a couple of months the usual wastrels will have given up and a lot more of us will pretend we don’t care and ‘never check that bloody thing’ (despite racking up 98 points by ‘accident’).

All I can say now is to wish you well (as long as you finish behind me) and inform you that I shall be writing a weekly Gameweek summary for FantasyYIRMA where the heroes shall be raised up on impossibly high pedestals and the villains shall be ridiculed like a common White House Communications Director. Until then…just make your bloody mind up!

*100% accuracy with a +/- swing of 100%

** Niall Hawthorne should NOT be trusted. Ever.

@FantasyYIRMA GW37 Review

When 2017 draws to an end in just 7 months time (I know, where does the time go, eh?. Deary me, it seems like only yesterday I was taking down the Christmas Tree and fecking it over the wall next door…), you will look back on the year and reminisce about the momentous events that have occurred over the previous 12 months.

  • The inauguration of Donald ‘Lenin’ Trump (and his hilarious downfall *taps nose*)
  • General Election 2017 and the rise of Prime Minister Corbyn (stop sniggering)
  • The Gameweek 37 Triple Captain Schenanigans

 

One of those events will resonate more than the others. It will colour your view of 2017 as a year when everything changed forever. Yep, if you Triple-Captained Harry Kane, you couldn’t give a rats arse about Russia taking over the White House or the UK committing societal harikari, you’ll remember 2017 as the year when you f*cking nailed it.

Triple Captain Kane

Over 29% of players had planned, plotted and executed the capture of Alexis Sanchez for this most vital of GW’s, with 70,403 people thrusting the Triple-Captain chip at him and thus trusting their mental health and social status to the volatile Chilean. To those who pursued this course of action, you did well. Make no mistake, it was a shrewd move, and you amassed an impressive 81 points, a fine reward for weeks of painstaking, disciplined team management.

Of course 15,194 of you just gave the Triple-Captain chip to Harry Kane, cracked open a can of your finest Dutch Gold and flicked the V’s at the world while toasting the season-high 93 point haul from the now three-season wonder. It’ll never last you know…

Honourable mentions go to the other attacking players who so many entrusted with the Triple Captain chip this week. So please be upstanding and applaud the following for their efforts this week (no really, I can see you, get up off your arse and start clapping):

  • Gabriel Jesus – 19 points
  • Philippe Coutinho – 19 points
  • Heung-Min Son – 19 points

However, there is one players who we need to discuss above all others. A man who amassed 20 points this week, and who was Triple-Captained by 400 people. Yes, 400 people gave the TC chip to a defender whose name they can’t spell. And you wonder why Trump and the Tories got elected….

Here’s to you Cesar Azplic…Azpicle…Azpclip…

Here’s to you DAVE!

Azpilicueta
Dave, pictured after playing his own name for 943 points in ‘Words With Friends’

Another defender who performed heroics was Kyle Naughton of Swansea. You see, some shrewd managers recognised early doors the improvement the side were making under Clement, and reacted accordingly. They played Naughton week-in and week-out, suffering the bad days, and enjoying the ever increasing good days as Swansea finally extricated themselves from the neck-high excrement they found themselves in…and then ‘somebody’ chose to bench Naughton on the week he did a madness and racked up 15 points. I’m fine. No, really, I’m fine. Steve Cook was clearly the better choice on paper. *sobs*

However as we all know, night follows day, yang follows yin and despair follows success, such is the way of the world, so we now need to discuss those who flopped more than Dick Fosbury in this most crucial of weeks…

I couldn’t find a stat for how many people Triple-Captained Eden Hazard, but I did read that the absentee rate of workers in the UK and Ireland more than quadrupled since Tuesday. It’s understandable really. If you had racked up a whopping 15 points after holding onto your TC chip for 37 weeks, and found that your ‘star man’ got less points than John freaking Terry, you’d struggle to face the world too. Ah well, just 13 or so weeks until next season, eh?

Another huge disappointment was Romelu Lukaku who has chosen to depart Everton by quietly slipping out of the door as opposed to the accompaniment of a huge fanfare and the Golden Boot for the 16/17 season. Just the 2 points at home to Watford, his worst points haul at home since…well, the previous game in fact. That’s 8 points in 4 games for the burly Belgian, so those Liverpool fans hoping for favours from Lukaku at The Emirates this weekend can dream on. Romelu has packed his trunks and has said goodbye to the circus that is Everton Football Club. Who he’ll play for next season is still a mystery, but I’m willing to bet that he’ll still be playing in blue….(SPOILER ALERT: It’s Chelsea, he’s going back to Chelsea. To replace Costa)

Lukaku

Our final disappointment of the week is a man who I predict will be synonymous with disappointment as his career gradually meanders and stalls over the next decade, all because he just hasn’t learned how to kick a football hard enough. Come on down Raheem Sterling! While his teammates were filling their boots with two home games v Leicester and West Brom, Raheem was bumbling around the field for 77 minutes against Leicester and doing so badly that he wasn’t allowed play against the Tony Pulis Giants, who really don’t fancy a quick, nippy winger type running at them. THAT’S how bad he was. A 2 point haul was pitiful considering the likes of Sane got 12, De Bruyne got 15, Old Man Silva got 10 and the lumbering sloth that is Yaya Toure also got 10. £50 million quid? You got mugged City. Absolutely mugged.

 

@FantasyYIRMA GW 35 Review

There are moments when destiny sometimes comes knocking on your door. It’s not so much a gentle tap, it’s more of a booming wallop of your knocker (steady on…), so loud that you have no choice but to face your destiny with all the bravery you can muster.

And so, with just 3 GW’s left of this interminable Fantasy Football season (for those of us not in with a chance of silverware at least), that moment came calling at St. Mary’s Stadium, in the dying minutes of an utterly forgettable game between Southampton and Hull City.

Those of you who were seeking fantasy football glory and had selected Jakupovic in an AWAY game (I know one, so these weirdos do exist) must have slithered off your couch in resignation as news filtered through of a penalty being awarded to Southampton. That precocious gamble of yours was now slipping through your fingers like Joe Hart attempting to catch a cross in Italy…that marvellous 6 pointer was about to become just 2 points…and yet…

12 FREAKING POINTS! That’s how much that penalty save by Jakupovic was worth. 2 points became 11 points, which then had 3 bonus points added to it. Lo and behold, a mammoth 14 point haul for the big man from *googles Jakupovic* Bosnia! No, sorry, Switzerland! No, hang on, it’s both!

Jakupovic
YES! I don’t even have enough fingers to count my score this week! 

I’ve heard many moan that the quality of fare on offer on Match Of The Day on Saturday night was abysmal, but those moaners are simply fair-weather fans who don’t get the essence of this beautiful game. Sure, we can all marvel at the beauty of an Emre Can running, overhead, scissor kick, bicycle kick THUNDERB*STARD, but that’s only half the beauty of this wonderful game of ours.

Emre Can Watford
‘FOOTBALL MAN: Indeed’

To real football fans, clean sheets are our nirvana. When I saw that 7 teams from the lower reaches of the Premier League had kept clean sheets, I began to tremble with excitement. All those beautiful clean sheet points at bargain-basement prices…I was stammering more than Theresa May at a food bank full of nurses.

The list of high-scoring bargain defenders is a thing of beauty: Fonte, Francis, Smith, Keane, Stephens. You can keep your overpriced and overrated Kyle Walkers and David Luizeseses, these men are the real heroes of the game. Except…

The exception that proves the rule is Gary Cahill, a man that looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, sensible haircut and a lovely young boy, but he plays for Chelsea, so y’know… Anyway, a 6th (S.I.X.T.H.) league goal of the season for the man who wears Paul Warhurst pyjamas to bed, and the only Chelsea defender churning out points these past few weeks.

Gary Cahill

Sergio Aguero has been on the radar of many a Triple-Captain-Chip-Holding Fantasy Football Manager with a lip-smacking, dribble-inducing double GW 37 on the horizon, featuring home games v West Brom (who have been on the beach so long that David Hasselfhoff is jealous) and Leicester City (who don’t give two Fuchs). He duly warmed up for what will undoubtedly be a record-breaking GW 37 performance with a fine haul of 12 points…before limping off injured. WHAT THE ACTUAL F….but hang on! Jesus Saves All! And at a fraction of the price! At least that’s what I’ll be praying for. To Jesus. For Jesus. It’s enough to give the Pope a headache.

Pope Francis

This brings us nicely onto those who are currently sat on the ‘Naughty Step’ for being very bold boys. Isn’t that right the Crystal Palace back four? Eh? It’s all well and good winning at Stamford Bridge and Anfield while walloping Arsenal in between, but Burnley at home…yes, THAT Burnley at home…the Burnley without an away win all season, at home. FFS lads, you’ll be on the naughty step all summer at this rate.

Many thought that Romelu Lukaku would make a ‘statement’ on Sunday as he lined out against his soon to be new teammates. Romelu has been on fire at Goodison Park in recent months, rattling up double-digits quicker and more frequently than Rachel Riley. Alas, the only ‘statement’ he put out on Sunday was a ‘For Sale. £40,000,000 To A Good Home. I Love You Mr Conté’ sign which he carried around the pitch for the full 90 minutes. Very disappointing indeed.

Finally, we come to Arsenal. Now I need to tread carefully here as my employer (HAH!) is an Arsenal fan, but I’ll be brave enough to state that what they’ve done to Alexis Sanchez is bordering on a human rights violation. He’d almost certainly prefer a 6 month stretch in Gitmo followed by a nice spot of waterboarding than reporting to training with this shower of sh*t every day, and he’s playing that way too. The timing is perfect too. While many teams are down to their last three games of the season, Arsenal still have something like 12 games to play (or thereabouts) with double GW’s every week between now and Christmas (or so it seems). Of course Arsene bloody Wenger has only gone and ruined the best attacking midfielder in Fantasy Football for a generation. He’s made me agree with Piers sodding Morgan, and for that I can never forgive him. Or myself.

@FantasyYIRMA GW 34 Review

Spring
Awwww….

Spring.

A time for renewal and revival throughout our world.

Animals emerge from hibernation or return to our shores after spending the winter down south (although Brexit will make re-entry impossible from Spring 2019).

Trees begin to, err, grow their leaves and stuff. Flowers bloom. Trump turns slightly more orange.

The world of Fantasy Football is not immune to renewal and revival as demonstrated by the list of ‘Heroes’ in this godforsaken strung-out-longer-than-this-really-strung-out-stupidly-long-word double GW 33.

However in nature, not everything that re-emerges in Spring is cute and fluffy and makes you say ‘Awwww’. You have Great White Sharks for example, and the Star Nose Mole, an animal so scary that even Stephen King thought ‘f*ck that’ when contemplating including him in one of his stories. You also have that utter b*stard Diego Costa, who had been dumped by thousands heading into this week, only to suddenly renew his interest in a lucrative move to China and bag himself 16 points.

Star Nose Mole
AAAHHHH…it’s Diego!

Anthony Martial is a simple man who’s simplicity had befuddled the managerial genius of Louis Van Gaal, but not José. José knows. It’s not about ‘psychology’ with Martial. It’s not about ‘building confidence’ or ‘giving him autonomy’. It’s simply a case of telling him exactly what he has to do….or else. His goal away to Burnley was a bolt from the blue as he sprinted clear of Joey Barton (who was 33/1 in-play to make the tackle) to poke home the opener. Ét voila! 14 points and Martin Tyler proclaiming in his shrill sex voice that he has ‘come back to form’, unlike Martin who just ‘cums’ whenever ‘MARTIAAAALLLLL’ does a goal.

David De Gea threw in two clean sheets just as Real Madrid were linked to another move for his services. Funny that, eh? Rumours that sales of brand new fax machines in the Greater Manchester area have grown 470% in the past week can be neither confirmed nor denied.

There was even 11 points for Brad Guzan. Yes, THAT Brad Guzan. A man last seen picking the ball out of his own net so often that he came 7th in the GQ Rear Of The Year poll.

Anyway, I’m currently wearing a tinfoil hat as recent events have led me to believe that ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creationism’ are all a load of horsesh*te, and that we are in fact living in ‘The Matrix’ (although I’m yet to find that lady in the red dress…). Y’see I was having a ‘Mexican Theme Party’ on Wednesday night and had served up my world famous Nachos to my guests. As usual they went down a storm with my mate Brian declaring “those Nachos are unreal!”. Within 15 seconds Nacho Monreal blootered a shot miles wide in desperation only to see it smash off Robert Huth and into the net for the winner for Arsenal. Unreal Nachos indeed. FFS.

Nachos
‘To Donald!’

Finally in our ‘heroes’ section (and it pains me to type that) we have Christian Benteke who returned to Anfield to stick two fingers up at Liverpool Football Club and win an impromptu game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ with Mamadou Sakho. Of course this was in no way intended to be a dig at Jurgen Klopp by two players chucked out on their arses by the hirsuite German. Oh no sirree bob. I mean, who doesn’t like a game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ after scoring a goal at Anfield. As for the symbolism of ‘Scissors’ cutting ‘Paper’, that has nothing to do with ‘Contracts being cut up’. Nope. Not having it.

In fact it was this game which has led me to now bet on every ex-player playing against his old club. Due to the quantity of transfers these days, it involves an outlay of approximately €2,500 per week, but I’m confident that Paddy Power will be weeping into his chardonnay in a few weeks. Watch this space.

As for ‘Villains’ of the week, look no further than Gaston ‘The Ladybird’ Ramirez (only readers with young kids will get that nickname) who managed to get himself sent off at Bournemouth within the first half an hour of what promised to be a lucrative double GW for those of us desperate for a real ‘differential’. The flute.

Gaston The Ladybird

Oumar Niasse did something similar and broke the hearts of quite a few players who were banking on Hull’s impressive home form to continue. Mind you, if you have picked Oumar Niasse for your fantasy football team, you need to reevaluate your life. Trust me on this.

Our final villain is our old friend Phil ‘Jags’ Jagielka who blew his chance to emulate the legendary Paul Warhurst and drew a blank in front of goal at West Ham. Gareth Southgate has now been forced to consider actual strikers for the next round of international matches. Coincidentally Wayne Rooney has been spotted at the Everton training ground this week with a big box of chocolates and a ‘Thank You’ card. I can’t imagine what that’s all about.

 

@FantasyYIRMA GW 33 Review

They say that you can judge a person by the Kompany they keep. Well, if you kept faith with Vincent Kompany in your Fantasy Football team, I’m going to judge you thusly…

  1. You’ve been a mahoosive idiot
  2. You’re a genius today. Played.
Vincent Kompany
Vincent was in shock when he learned of his 14 point haul…

A scarcely believable 3 point haul ALL FECKING SEASON (I know, I had to triple-check), followed by 14 points on one hazy south coast evening. That’s the kind of inflation you won’t see in the UK for, ooh, about another two years….

Just 0.5% of owners had him, and I wonder just how many had him on the bench. If you’re one of them, please send screenshots of your offending bench to @FantasyYIRMA on that Twitter machine thingy. He’ll appreciate it greatly.

Almost TWICE as many people (an enormous 1.1%) had the next star of the show this weekend, namely one Ander ‘Health & Safety Inspector’ Herrera, a man who neutralises Hazard(s), and who put a Belgian in his pocket for 2 hours (no mean feat considering most of you couldn’t keep anything Belgian out of your gob for more than 20 minutes on Sunday…). He also contributed an assist and a goal to send the Manchester United fans into raptures as they soared from 6th to 5th in the league on the back of a stellar 22 game unbeaten run. Incredible consistency, indeed.

22 Games Unbeaten

Stop smirking, you.

Yes, you.

This is the time of year when players realise that contracts may be coming to an end, or have a year to go, or even two years to go, or just have a greedy bastard of an agent who fancies a week in the Maldives if he can ship his slab of Nike-wearing-beef to another Premier League club just for shits and giggles.

Therefore we see some players stepping out of the wintery shadows into the glorious spring sunshine, catching the eye of managers and scouts desperate for that key summer signing. That’s three seasons in one sentence. I’m expecting a Pulitzer for this.

Two such creatures revealed themselves at the Bet365 Stadium as Shaqiri and Arnautovic both reminded the world that they’re quite good at this football lark, and are most likely being held captive in Stoke by a perpetually angry Mark Hughes. It’s a fate worse than death, wouldn’t you agree? Following their combined 25 point haul, perhaps they’ll be transferred to somewhere more fulfilling and hopeful, like Afghanistan or Dundalk.

Shakira

Arnautovic
My assistant editor couldn’t spell Shakiri and Arnautovic, so we got these images instead

Before my final hero of the week, I’m just going to point out that I’m not going to make a big deal of the fact that Phil ‘Jags’ Jagielka scored AGAIN this weekend, and that Gareth Southgate was at Goodison Park running the rule over his new England centre-forward, just as I predicted. That would be self-aggrandisement and crass, and I won’t stoop to that level.

That brings me onto Wahbi Kazri, a man who has a name that sounds like Item 49 in my local Sushi restaurant, and who is owned by 0.1% of Fantasy Football owners (presumably himself and his extended family). If you selected him this week and saw him score directly from a corner, pick up maximum bonus points, and confuse 25,000 Mackems by doing something nobody in red and white had done for about a decade, then take a bow. You jammy weirdo.

Sunderland Goal

Speaking of weirdo’s, time to discuss our Villains Of The Week, and where better to start than Goodison Park. No, Kelvin Mackenzie was not there, the bile-inducing, pseudo-human pit-stain. This time I’m referring to Joel Robles, a goalkeeper so bad that he’s destroying the career of Martin Stekelenburg just by being selected ahead of him each week. To rush out of your goal towards a striker running AWAY from you, and then execute a knee-slide like you’d just scored the winning goal in the cup final, all to concede a penalty…well, that takes a special kind of gobshite. It could have cost Jags a double-digit score for feck sake!!!!!

Speaking of goalkeeping douchebags, a special mention to Thibaut Courtois who managed to get himself injured playing basketball for a marketing promotion. Y’know, he’s just the No. 1 for the league leaders who had just 7 games left to play, no biggie. It’s not like us Fantasy Football enthusiasts care if our uber-expensive Chelsea defenders can’t keep a clean sheet anymore, is it? GAH!

Finally a round of applause to the Southampton bench for their performance on Saturday night. When they unleashed the ex-Cork City legend Shane Long from the bench, I fully expected Manchester City to end up on the end of a Tipperary thwacking, but unfortunately for Shane he made a fatal error of scratching the back of his leg. Oh yes, one wee scratch and the Southampton medical team had 3 ambulances outside the ground as they hauled him ashore for what was clearly a broken leg, or pulled hamstring, whatever. I applaud Shane Long for not ripping his perfectly good hamstring from his leg and wrapping it around the neck of Claude Puel, who by the way is the spitting image of Johnny Giles, in case you missed it.

John GilesClaude Puel

 

Liverpool 2-1 Burnley: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

 

Yes, I know there’s been another gap between ratings, but there’s another good reason for that…the work I had done with the lads before the Spurs game was nowhere near enough. I had foolishly thought that my motivational speeches and psychological guidance would see the lads flourish against the big teams AND the rest…but following the Leicester debacle, I realised my folly, and was back over to Melwood quicker than Jurgen could say ‘I want a refund, you cheeky Irish git’…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

One of my tips to Jurgen was to proclaim to the world that he didn’t need a new goalkeeper this summer, and here’s the logic:

  1. It will make the incumbent keepers feel a bit better about themselves, and should result in a boost of self-esteem, which would lead to a boost in performances
  2. If you publicly state that you’re looking for a new keeper, then every sodding keeper on planet earth will have an extra ‘0’ added onto their price tag and weekly wage demands.

Makes sense, right?

Simon took to the field on Sunday with his self-esteem at record new highs, which led to an unfortunate incident pre-match when Ragnar Klavan accidentally kicked his boot across the dressing room, leading to Migs roaring into his face “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the king of the world! I’m the greatest! I’m the glorious lovechild of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks following a saucy encounter in a laboratory in Brussels in the late 80’s”.

Nothing like a bit of self-confidence, eh?

Thankfully Migs backed up his words on the pitch with a flawless display against a team that thought they had sussed out his (and his teammates) weaknesses. Long ball after long ball was humped towards the edge of Mignolet’s box, but time and again he came strongly (ooo-errr missus!), to fist cleanly (now stop it…) away.

I’m working on deflating his ego just a tad this week, after he tried to chat up nine of the other players wives with the same chat up line. ‘Belgium is famous for it’s waffles, do ya wanna taste my batter?’

Give me strength…

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

You may have noticed that Patsy has quite a bit of ink, pretty much from the neck down is covered in ‘body art’…or that’s what he wants you to think.

The truth is that Patsy is a bit, how shall I put this…’Hard Of Thinking’. In essence, he’s one Spice Girl short of a reunion tour, and all that ‘body art’ is actually notes, hints and tips on every aspect of his game.

Before you judge him, think back to your school days. Yep, we’ve all done it, writing notes/formula on our palms or shirt cuffs, or the name of that Welsh town with the longest name in the world on our penis….or maybe that’s just me who was able to fit it all in…in BLOCK CAPITALS….

So the next time you see Patsy hesitate when a quick cross is on, remember that it’s not his fault. He’s just searching for the instructions on what to do next.

Klavan got the blame for the goal conceded, but for me Patsy forgot to read the instruction on his left butt cheek that says ‘Cover and sweep behind the centre-backs when a striker peels off them’.

Unfortunately yesterday he played like all the notes were written in invisible ink. I’m not sure my words of wisdom were much use at half-time when I told him to ‘just bloody copy what the Burnley right-back did when he set up their goal’.

The single tear that rolled down his cheek will haunt me for a good few days y’know.

6/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While our right-back has a brain function that buffers more than a porn video in 1997, our Estonian centre-half has the memory of a goldfish.

You would think that being absolutely roasted last August by a fella called Andre Gray might stick with you, but in the first half Ragnar played like he’d never seen the man before in his life, and made pretty much the exact same mistakes as he had at Turf Moor.

Incidentally, Turf Moor is Irish for ‘Big Turf’. I just realised that.

Anway, I digress. After half-time, when I pulled Ragnar aside and showed him You Tube clips of the beasting he got from Gray last August, y’know, to prove that it actually fecking happened, he had a moment of clarity and suddenly he knew what he had to do…so he did it.

Hale-fecking-liua.

In the second half he was big, strong and had Gray in his pocket for the remainder of his time on the pitch.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

To say that the heart of the Liverpool defence has been ‘changeable’ would be a bloody understatement. There’s been more changes in the Liverpool rearguard than there’s been Ed Sheeran songs in the Top 20 this week.

Joel was tasked with creating a ‘working relationship’ with Ragnar Klavan yesterday,  and deep down he knew this relationship was one of many he has to nurture. For a start, Dejan Lovren was peering down from the stands, waiting for his chance to show Joel some love, not to mention Shut Up Shop Ltd on the bench bursting to get back into a manly embrace with Joel, but it’s also the fact that Billy Joel had sung about this exact scenario in his 1986 song ‘A Matter Of Trust’….

 

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

Indeed, Joel has to build that trust with three different men this season, and that’s leaving aside the fact that Emre Can keeps butting in every five minutes, and he’s a hard man to ignore when you’re trying to build a relationship. I should know, my wife keeps drooling over him every 5 minutes.

I’ve said too much.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

You know the ‘Bleep Test’?

That training exercise where you run from Point A to Point B before the buzzer goes at each end, which just speeds up as you get more knackered?

I believe that some of the world’s fittest athletes get to Level 14 before keeling over.

James Milner is currently at Level 863, and is still going. Up and down that left wing, trying to get a cross in before the buzzer goes, then back down the wing, trying to chase a ball into the oppositions flying forward, which they KEEP. BLOODY. PLAYING. BETWEEN. MILNER. AND. THE. CENTRE. BACK….

The poor man started the season standing 5’10” in his socks, and he’s now 5′ 8″ as his legs have been worn away.

But he just keeps running….

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can: 

 

£35,000 a week might sound like a lot of money to me and you, but to Emre Can it’s a major bone of contention for him as he seeks to hammer out a new contract. He’s looking for around £70,000 a week (you’re hearing £100,000 a week, but you’ve got to highball first in any negotiation, right?).

I’m not saying that my motivational tactics with the lads work 100% of the time, but here’s what I tweeted at half-time:

Tweet 1

Within 15 minutes of that tweet, Jackie had hit a 25 yard daisy-cutting, worm-burning thunderbastard into the back of net at the Kop end, and then launched himself into a knee-slide celebration that made everyone over the age of 37 envious.

You’re welcome.

Leaving aside the ‘real world money’ argument, in modern football Emre Can has got to be worth £70,000 a week on a new contract, if only for the fact that a new contract increases his selling price if it ever comes to that. Sign him up Jurgen.

Oh, and stop playing silly buggers Emre. Good lad.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

 

What you may not know about Adam is that he’s quite insecure in himself.

He knows he’s got all the tools to be a top class footballer, but you might be surprised to know that footballers don’t always just think about football.

Adam is into his ‘looks’ because he’s compensating for his insecurities surrounding his appearance. That’s why he moisturises 19 times a day and why his skin holds more moisture than the Great Barrier Reef.

His performance yesterday, while not bad, was not up to it’s usual high standards, as Adam realised just before kick off that he was now playing in arguably the most handsome midfield in world football….and he soiled himself.

Jurgen tried to help by hugging him for 12 minutes straight, while stroking his hair, but it didn’t work, and now Jurgen can’t hold anything without it slipping right out of his grasp.

Nivea has a challenge on it’s hands. Does it try and make Adam more handsome, or does it take Gini/Emre into a back alley and smash their faces in?

Decision, decisions.

7/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Composure.

It’s a rare commodity.

When the most gorgeous woman in the bar approaches you and tells you she wants you right now, do you jauntily raise an eyebrow, smirk and tell her she’s made a wise decision, or do you shake uncontrollably, dribble like a teething baby and make a squeaky noise associated with pet toys?

Aye, exactly.

Gini showed incredible composure on the stroke of half-time as the ball ricocheted between him and Mee (no, not him and me, him and Mee. No, not me, Mee. Oh forget it…). While Mee stretched out a leg in vain (no, not me, Mee), and Ward charged towards him, and Heaton did his best starfish impression, Gini went all ‘Matrix’ and made the world pause…before slamming the ball into the net.

Gini is like ‘Hawkeye’ in the Avengers movies. The big names like Iron Man or Hulk or Thor with all their fancy moves tend to get all the attention, but when they don’t show up, the Avengers need someone else to come to the rescue. So as Phil/Bobby/Sadio have gone missing at various times this season, Gini has stepped up with goals against City/Chelsea/Arsenal and Burnley.

I know which one I prefer right now.

9/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Some said that this was a ‘huge chance’ for Divock and that he must grab it with both hands.

Some said that he blew his big chance.

Some talk an awful lot of guff.

Make no mistake about it, Bobby Firmino comes back into this team as soon as he’s fit, so nothing Divock did yesterday was ever going to change that. He knows it, and I know it, and you should know it.

That’s not to say that he didn’t do well though. While the Fantasy Football stats may only give him one assist, in the real world, he has two. It was his cross to Gini that set up the equaliser, as well as his pass to Emre that set up the winner.

What more can he do?

Well yes, of course he could score. I take your point. Alright, nobody likes a smartarse.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

Have you ever seen ‘The Three Amigos’ movie?

It’s a cracker, I highly recommend it. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short combine wonderfully to make you howl with laughter for 90 minutes.

However, I’ve found that when the ‘Three Amigos’ are seperated, they’re funny, but not THAT funny. I mean Chevy Chase can be downright annoying, Martin Short is barely noticeable and Steve Martin, while clearly a very funny man, needs someone opposite him to truly thrive.

I know that Bobby F was missing yesterday, but that can’t excuse that performance Phil. You were DIRE. I’ve never done this before, but yesterday I felt I had to. I tweeted about you Phil. I feel dirty, but strangely vindicated.

Tweet 2

I know you’re annoyed at Jurgen for hooking you, but as you can see now, it was all me Phil. I’m not sorry either. This ‘thing’ we have has to be a two-way street. Since your return from injury, it’s been all ‘take, take, take’ from you. What have you given me? Do I not deserve the very best? Is the magic gone between us Phil? Just say the word and I’ll be out of here! Just be honest with me Phil, that’s all I ask.

As always,

Love you,

Xxx

5/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

 

The one player I have to spend the least amount of time with is Sadio. He’s just got all the self-confidence you could want, and shows it out on the pitch. He was Liverpool’s only real threat during that woeful opening half, and he kept the Burnley defence on edge all match long.

On more than one occasion he was inches away from the perfect pass to set up a goal.

The thought of Sadio on top song against THAT City defence next weekend makes me happy.

8/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

11 minutes left when the barriers came down, and they stayed firmly down until the full-time whistle.

Not only did Lucas shore things up, he also found himself rampaging forward with the ball at his feet, 30 yards from goal. Even he realised how daft that situation was…

7/10

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

How would you feel if you woke on Monday morning and remembered that you were brought on by Jurgen Klopp after an hour to replace Philippe Coutinho?

Aye, exactly. That’s why Ben is walking around with an 8 hour erection as I type. Ah, the miracle of youth.

He did pretty well too.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right Jurgen, you’ve had the benefit of my presence before Spurs and now Burnley, so every other game this season will be degrees of each.

10 games to go. You’ll be fine for the next two, that’s a nailed on six points, but it’s the final 8 that will really tell us about this team: Bournemouth (fighting), Stoke (on the beach), West Brom (on the beach), Palace (probably on the beach by then), Watford (on the beach), Southampton (on the beach and we owe them one), West Ham (on the beach and a bit sh*t), Boro (in the Championship by then).

If you need me, you know where I am. You’ve already started using my advice, so keep it up. I like the whole ‘I don’t have a Plan B’ thing, that was beautiful. Just remember to pick Moreno every now and again and you’ll have everyone fooled. LOL.

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 0-1 Wolves: The Ranting Rebel FA Cup 4th Round Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

How’s your 2017 going?

No matter how disheartened you may be about Liverpool’s recent form, you’d have to be having a spectacularly harrowing 2017 to have it worse than Loris Karius right now.

Poor Fandango started the season with a broken wrist, got his place back in the team, lost it again, but was comforted by the news that he would be the ‘Cup Keeper’ for the rest of the season. A Wembley final beckoned, a home 3rd round tie against a fourth tier side was on the horizon, and while not where he wanted to be, Karius could at least console himself with the prospect of plenty of games for the next few months where he could seek to impress Klopp and change his mind about the No. 1 shirt.

Fast forward to January 28th 2017 and Loris Karius now faces the best part of 4 months picking splinters out of his arse, with no cup games scheduled until at least next August.

Of course he’s not just a victim here. He must carry some of the blame for the predicament he finds himself in. While the marking for the Wolves opener was appalling, Stearman headed the ball just 4 yards from goal. There were no bodies impeding Karius from coming to claim the cross, so it is his hesitation, as much as the statuesque defending, that is at fault for the opener.

As for the second goal, well in truth that summed up the whole Liverpool team yesterday. Too often the men in red made it look like they were trying, while in reality they were getting out of the way – all talk with very little walk. When Karius came charging out of his goal when Weimann was clean through he should at the very least be clattering into him, risking a penalty and a red card, but preventing a certain goal. Instead he slid harmlessly out of the way to allow the Wolves man to walk the ball into an empty net.

Still, at least his hair was immaculate, as it shall be for the remainder of the season on the bench.

5/10 

Connor Randall

Conor Randall:

 

I’m not saying that this guy has been out of the picture for a while, but you wouldn’t believe how far back I had to go through my picture database to find his mugshot. I whizzed past Flanagan’s and Norwich City crests and even a shot of Chirivella…aye, it was like taking a stroll through last season.

Of course I’m now deleting his mugshot from the database, as we sure as hell won’t be seeing Conor Randall in a Liverpool first XI ever again.

When you’re two down at home to a team from a lower tier, and you’re hooked at half-time in a change that necessitates a change in formation as well as personnel, well the writing is on the wall.

The fact that the man you were marking (less than a yard away from) managed to walk the ball into the net at the Kop end, while you aren’t even in the picture, is merely the nail on the coffin which bears the inscription:

‘For Sale: One Promising LFC Youngster Not Quite Good Enough To Make It At This Level’

I wish Conor all the best in the future, and for encouragement he should look at young Conor Coady who was very impressive for Wolves yesterday. He too didn’t quite cut it at Melwood, but has gone on to find himself a central part of a Championship side.

4/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While not directly responsible for either of the goals, you have to ask why the senior member of the defence (did I ever tell you he has over 130 caps for Estonia?) allowed both himself AND Joe Gomez to mark players at the near post while the defensive stalwarts that are Gini Wijnaldum and Divock Origi were marking their big centre-half at the far stick.

F*cking nonsense.

Jurgen picked a ‘young’ team, but he was relying heavily on those senior players to step up when it counted, and to a man they disappeared off the face of the planet. The defence was shambolic as soon as the merest hint of pressure was applied with young Joe Gomez the only one seemingly capable of showing any kind of composure.

That’s a damning indictment of Klavan who I suspect will find himself fourth choice CB next season, if he even remains at Anfield. Deary me, some players really mapped out their futures yesterday, eh?

5/10

joe-gomez

Joe Gomez: 

 

HURRAH! A BRIGHT SPOT!

Well, it’s not exactly dazzlingly bright. In fact you wouldn’t need sunglasses, and a mere squint would probably do it, but still, at least it’s not another black hole of despair…

This kid is class and, at the risk of coming across all Louis Walsh (no, not in that way, although I have some tales that would raise your eyebrows above your hairline), he’s going to be HUGE…

Now steadily making his way back from a horror 15-month injury nightmare, he’s comfortably third choice CB right now for Liverpool Football Club, has got himself a brand spanking new shiny five year contract, and has just watched Ragnar Klavan shoot himself in the foot.

What odds a Gomez / Matip CB partnership next season?

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno: 

 

He can’t even foul his man who’s about to play his teammate in for a certain goal.

HOW F*CKING HOPELESS CAN A ‘DEFENDER’ BE? 

He’s predominantly left-footed but when he gets himself forward on the left wing he repeatedly cuts inside onto his weaker foot, narrows the pitch, and contributes NOTHING going forward.

HOW F*CKING HOPELESS CAN A ‘FULL-BACK’ BE? 

Enough is enough.

4/10

lucas

Lucas Leiva: 

 

I’m reliably informed that a representative of Inter Milan watched the match yesterday and breathed a sigh of relief so hard that it registered as a Force 6 Gale on the Beaufort Scale in Milan at 3.3opm local time.

Awful. Truly awful.

Mind you, we all knew that Lucas as a defensive midfielder was a busted flush, so quite what Jurgen was thinking with that selection, I’ll never know.

Unfortunately we’ve reached the point where Lucas contributes nothing to the cause. He can’t play in midfield anymore and he makes the defence weaker when he’s slotted in there. The sight of anIcelandic big lump of a forward racing past him, getting to the byline, cutting back and almost making it three will live long in the memory…and make me sit bolt upright at 3am in a cold sweat.

Marvellous.

4/10

wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

I don’t like this new flavour of wine gum.

While you chew, it makes you foam at the mouth and yell expletives at the TV, while after it’s all over it leaves a horrible, bitter aftertaste and deep sense of resentment .

Another ‘senior’ player who was truly awful when we needed him to turn up and lead the kids. Outshone easily by Ejaria (more of which next), we have a supposedly attacking midfielder who doesn’t score away from home, but can’t bring himself to score at home much either.

He needed to DEMAND the ball. He didn’t.

He needed to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. He didn’t.

He needed to ROAR FORWARD. He didn’t.

He needed to PLAY ATTACKING FORWARD PASSES. He didn’t.

The hero of the day on the last day of 2016…how the mighty have fallen. It’s clear that Jurgen prefers Can whenever possible (I’ll leave you to shout at the screen now), so when we finally have everyone back (this Tuesday by all accounts), Gini is going to be sat on the bench…isn’t he?

5/10.

ovie-ejaria

Ovie Ejaria:

 

Ovie looked to be the stand-out midfielder for Liverpool yesterday, and this is one of those glass half full / glass half empty moments.

If you’re an optimist, you feel that he showed his quality and that he’s a real prospect, very raw, with a huge improvement and future ahead of him.

If you’re a pessimist, you feel that it wasn’t bloody hard to stand out among the utter dross on display yesterday.

On a day as depressing as yesterday, I’m looking for rays of hope, so I’m going to be an optimist. Having said that, it was positive like being told you’ve got a 51% chance of survival. It’s not exactly a reason to break out the bunting.

6/10

 firmino

Roberto Firmino: 

 

This guy is hot and cold like an Eskimo drying his balls with a hairdryer.

Terrible yesterday. Just terrible. Poor touches, poor passing, poor vision. The only thing dazzling about him was his teeth, and even they’ve faded in recent weeks.

Maybe a quick trip to the dentist and a full teeth bleaching will bring back the dazzling smile we saw earlier in the season…so I’ve made an appointment for Bobby for Monday afternoon.

5/10.

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

He looked more of a first-team regular than the first-team regulars did, despite the fact that he was asked to play Right Wing Back for the second half, and still isn’t old enough to have a beer to calm the nerves.

I have high hopes for Ben Woodburn, particularly as I watched the likes of Fowler and Owen breakthrough, and remember the kind of impact they had on LFC. However I’m growing weary and wary of ‘modern’ football, and I know the odds on young Ben Woodburn ‘making it’ are growing slimmer by the month.

Go on Ben, prove everyone wrong.

6/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Well, he scored.

In a period of the season when we had two ‘back up’ centre forwards who we needed to bring it when it mattered, they’ve both failed, although some have failed more than others….

That’s all I gotta say about that.

6/10

Substitutes:

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

It’s all booked.

You, Bobby and Sadio, Tuesday morning, at that Spa Resort I told you about.

I’ve got you all booked in for a pampering session, facials, indian head massages, the lot. Then there’s a DVD in the room for you all to watch, called ‘The Three Amigos’. Finally I’m going to meet you all for a quick heart to heart at 3pm before you head to Anfield for the game.

What I’m going to tell you there will change you all forever and ensure victory against Chelsea. You have my word.

Love you xxx

6/10

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

I wish someone would let Daniel know that when he does a really clever turn to beat his man, he’s unlikely to be able to repeat the trick…3 SECONDS LATER….

Time after time, a turn became another turn, and possession was squandered once more.

Credit where it’s due though, nice assist for the goal. However in the game itself, and this season as a whole, it was too little, too late.

6/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

Meh.

Yeah, that sums it up.

6/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Note: This may take a while, so if you’re in a rush maybe come back to it later….

premier-league-table

Do me a favour. Take a look at that table. Now, forget about everything that has happened since August. Take yourself back to July…the sun is shining, you’re on your holiday in Spain/Portugal/Turkey/wherever, and you’re looking forward to the new season. A mysterious stranger walks over to you as you bake on your sunlounger and claims that he’s from the future, and he can tell you where Liverpool will be in late January 2017. He tells you who will be President Of The United States and who will be playing the Mens/Womens Australian Open Tennis Finals.

Trump as POTUS? Venus v Serena? Fed v Rafa? LFC in 4th, 2 points off second?

He’s clearly mugging you off, right?

Yet here we are.

Trump is POTUS and a serving British MP can’t travel to America anymore. Serena beat her sister to overtake Steffi Graf. As I type Roger is 5-3 up in the fifth and serving for the title at 35 years of age.

And Liverpool ARE in 4th, two points off second, 10 points off the top with a home game against the leaders on Tuesday night.

Now stop and think about the reaction that you’ve seen over the past month to the problems that Liverpool have had. Yes, it’s a slump, a dip in form, a deeply concerning run of results…BUT…

I’m not saying that the domestic cup competitions are trivial. I love watching Liverpool win trophies at any time, but in ‘modern’ football (and I hate myself for making this point), the Premier League and associated places at the Champions League table trump everything else (if you’ll pardon the pun). LFC have played 8 games in January, but only 3 have been in the league. The draw at Sunderland was disappointing but hardly a disaster. The point at United was disappointing, but only due to the fact that the team was minutes from victory. The defeat at home to Swansea WAS an unmitigated disaster, there’s no point in denying that. HOWEVER…

If Liverpool had played 8 LEAGUE games in January with a record of W1 D2 L4, then it’s likely that the chances of a Top 4 finish would be all but extinguished. Top 6 would be a challenge. So while the slump in form is extremely disappointing, the silver lining is that it hasn’t affected the top priority as much as it could have. Obviously if it continues over the next 8 games, then the season as a whole will be a bust, and the loss of the domestic cups will sting even more than they do now (and believe me, I’m hurting, which is why I left it 24 hours before putting my thoughts on record).

There is still LOADS to play for. Should Liverpool secure a Top 4 spot this season, the Champions League is on the agenda for next season, and that changes everything, including and perhaps most importantly, in the transfer market. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of FSG/Klopp over their transfer dealings, but so many people seem to forget that it is incredibly difficult for a team to attract the kind of quality/talent to the club without being in the Champions League. They also seem to forget that Jurgen Klopp is NOT a chequebook manager, and FSG have made it clear that they are NOT chequebook owners. It’s not like they’ve come in and lied to everyone about this stance. They’ve found the manager who has similar beliefs to their own, and up to a month ago the vast majority of LFC fans were full of praise for both.

The calls for Klopp to buy this January have been bizarre and quite frankly ridiculous. I’ve rarely seen anybody identify players who were guaranteed to bring an improvement to the team. In fact, the only actual detail that I’ve seen from those demanding additions to the squad has been ‘We need a fast winger’. Well jeez, thanks for that! That’s that sorted then! All Jurgen has to do is have a quick peek at Football Manager, pick one out of the list, and bobs your uncle, we’d win the Premier League at a stroll. FFS.

Nobody has stopped and wondered a few things:

  1. Do you know who Jurgen Klopp wants? Nope, you haven’t a clue.
  2. Do you know if the players Jurgen Klopp wants are available this January? Nope, you haven’t a clue.
  3. Do you think that Jurgen Klopp should bring in someone he isn’t sure of? If you say yes, you’re an idiot.

I’ve seen it said that the purchase of a player would have instilled ‘momentum’ into the squad. What a crock of sh*t. Andy Carroll sure instilled ‘momentum’ into the squad, eh? That Luis Suarez came in and we surged up the table immediately, right? Err, no. In fact it took over 18 months before the ‘Suarez-effect’ kicked in.

Well guess what? Sadio Mané is on a private jet on his way back to Liverpool right now. Wow! He’s like a new signing! It’s marvellous! But hang on, what if we’d  bought some random speedy winger last week like everyone demanded? What of him then? What? We’ve spunked £30,000,000 on a band-aid? No wonder the NHS is f*cked.

YES – we need more depth in the squad, but don’t forget this is the FIRST full season for Klopp. He spent all of last season working out who he needed to get rid of, and NOBODY gets EVERYONE they want in a transfer window, no matter how much money you throw at it (and if you think that’s horesh*t, you should probably have a word with a certain S. Gerrard). Jurgen has taken a long term view on this project, and will add to the squad WHEN HE CAN GET THE PLAYERS HE WANTS. Squad depth can’t be ensured in one transfer window, and January is barely a transfer window (just look at what our rivals have done for proof).

Another thing people don’t seem to realise is that Jurgen Klopp has NEVER been an instant success. We all want the success he had at Dortmund, but we want it to happen years quicker. What makes you think that’s possible? The key to Klopp’s success is that he coaches players in a system. A tough system that only works with certain types of players. Many players fall by the wayside, and that’s why Jurgen is prudent and wary of adding to the squad until he finds the right person. He could go out and buy another Daniel Sturridge or Andy Carroll or any other type of player that won’t fit the system, but that’s just wasting money, and don’t forget that without CL football to dangle as a carrot, the best won’t even think of coming here…

Jurgen called for the fans to become ‘believers’ when he first arrived, and that still holds true. I’m not saying it’s easy, and my cat certainly didn’t think the message had gotten through to even me yesterday afternoon (that’s a joke by the way, before you call the ISPCA). But he’s right, we do need to become believers. BUT…so do the players, and right now, that’s the biggest challenge for Jurgen Klopp. Every team will go through a slump during a season, and this is ours. Who knows, maybe Chelsea will have one? Spurs are due one too! Neither may happen, but maybe our slump ends on Tuesday night and we finish the season with the same form as we showed until the end of December…if that happens we’ll stroll into the Champions League places, guaranteed.

So hopefully we have a CL place to bargain with in the summer transfer window, and next season we’ll play the ‘reserves’ in the League Cup and FA Cup, but those reserves will be a huge upgrade on this season’s reserves, the same way this season’s reserves are an upgrade on last season’s reserves (and they are, just think about the cup games last year…). It’s a process, sometimes a long, slow, frustrating process, but a process none the less.

So believe in Klopp, and trust him. The season is not over. Tuesday night is huge, but we’ve shown we can beat ANYONE this season. Sadio is back. The front three of Firmino/Coutinho/Mane is available. Matip is back.

Believe.

6/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

 

Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: The Ranting Rebel Ratings…

 

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

Mignolet.

Marvellous. Majestic. Magnificent.

My Christ that clearance against Zlatan melted my mind.

In all seriousness though, today felt like a day when Migs finally filled that Liverpool ‘keeper shirt for the first time. A string of tremendous saves, confidence coming for crosses, and he could do nothing for the goal conceded.

If you’ve had a bad time in the Liverpool XI and you get a second chance, then making a mark at Old Trafford is probably the best way of getting fans back on your side.

On a side note, credit to Jurgen Klopp for introducing Loris Karius into the equation. Both have now impressed in successive matches…who knew that competition for places would be so effective?

Why buy a ‘world class’ keeper (with the associated exorbitant price tag) when you can pit two decent keeper against each other to force one/both to reach that standard?

9/10 

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

A first league start…at Old Trafford

A first league opponent…Anthony Martial

A first of many appearances for TAA and he did exceptionally well, all things considered.

Once again I remind you of what you were doing at 18 years of age, and if your answer doesn’t contain the words ‘pints’, ‘sex’, ‘joints’ or ‘Call Of Duty’, I applaud you.

A slightly rocky start (understandably) followed by 80 minutes of solid, dependable defending which contributed massively to the positive result achieved today.

Mind you, on the rare occasion that Patsy Clyne is missing from a big game, you suddenly realise what he contributes in an attacking sense. That wasn’t there from TAA, but I’m not in any way critical of him.

Well in Trent.

 8/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Yes, one back-pass was a bit short (but we’re in an entertainment business, right???)

However Dejan Lovren today produced his best performance in a Liverpool shirt.

Here we have a man booked for a brilliantly strong tackle where he won the ball cleanly, yet saw Rooney go without a booking for trying to break James Milner’s ankle, and saw Pogba perform an exquisite neck roll / choke tackle on Hendo without any sanction. That’s enough to drive any man to the edge of distraction…yet Dejan remained calm, composed and focused.

Many fans lost their sh*t at the reason for Matip’s absence, but I think we can all agree that when he does return (after Cameroon and FIFA take their collective heads out of their collective asses) he’ll partner Lovren once more.

An added bonus is how he utterly dominated THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL at corners. Pogba lost Lovren with the same regularity as Kevin McAllister lost his parents in Home Alone. Thankfully Dejan didn’t require a paint can on a rope to get his own back, he just convinced Pogba to ‘Dab’ while the ball was about to hit his head.

‘Take that, ya filthy animal’.

9/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

Have you ever waited for a crucial phone call?

You constantly check the volume on your phone to ensure that it’s not on silent, even though you know that you set it at ’10’ only 15 minutes before. You bring it with you to the toilet to ensure you don’t miss that vital call. You’re constantly paranoid that you might have missed a call in that 0.0005 seconds it took you to blink…

Poor Ragnar has been waiting for an answer from FIFA / Cameroon about the eligibility of Joel Matip, and up until this afternoon he still didn’t know if he was going to be able to play in this game.

It must be hard knowing that the manager / owner of the football club are bashing down the door of FIFA to find out if your direct opponent can play instead of you. It’s like finding out that the woman of your dreams has decided that she might play with your joystick after discovering that her preferred PS4 controller had broken…

In any case Ragnar performed as well as any ‘sloppy seconds’ would be expected to.

7/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

Despite the fact that his calf muscle was being held in place with blu-tack and gravy, James Milner was able to defend like a hero and step up to take an incredibly crucial penalty when the situation presented itself.

You might have noticed that a lot of penalty takers give the opposition goalkeeper ‘the eyes’…glancing constantly at the corner of the goal that they’re NOT going to shoot for. It’s football level ‘psychology’, up there with telling his opposite number that his sister was a fabulous ride last night….

However James Milner comes from ‘simple folk’. There’s none of that psychological bullshit, just a clear indication of intent.

James looked at the right hand side of the goal as he lined up the kick. He than kept looking at that side as he ran up to the ball…and then he battered the ball into that exact corner….

It doesn’t matter that De Gea had read his mind, James Milner is from Yorkshire. You might know what these people are going to do, but you’re powerless to stop it.

Kudos to James for accepting an ‘apology’ from Rooney after he tried to break his ankle, the dirty sh*tbag. However that’s gone right in the memory bank for next time…when Rooney is playing for Indianapolis Idiots at the age of 52 and James Milner will crunch him playing for Milwaukee Morons.

9/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Jurgen Klopp has alluded to the fact that most players with Hendo’s injury wouldn’t have appeared today, but here we saw Jordan Henderson rampaging through the midfield, thundering into tackles, spraying passes left right and centre and making Paul Pogba’s hashtag the most counter-intuitive public symbol since Donald Trump was elected President Of The United States.

Personally I’m demanding a Twitter hashtag for Jordan Henderson. It should reflect his personality, his appearance in the heat of battle and how much Liverpool fans adore him…

jordan-henderson-emoji

8/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

After a few ropey performances, and facing into a match when it was all on the line, Emre Can produced when it mattered.

He created more chances than any other player on the pitch, and despite the fact that he took one or two (or twelve) more touches than necessary every now and again, his constant energy was invaluable as Liverpool tried to switch between constant defence and sporadic attack during a difficult second half.

From next season I promise that the ‘he’s still very young, we must not forget that’ excuse won’t be used, but since we’re not there yet, I’m going to use it. Juventus have shown interest, and I can’t blame them….once upon a time they purchased a young player from an English club that wasn’t rated…and sold him back for £89,000,000 a few years later.

I suspect that Jurgen Klopp won’t make the same mistake…and will save LFC a fortune (and pride).

8/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Two weeks ago I asked Gini to open his ‘away goal in the Premier League’ column and by christ, he tried.

As part of a midfield trio designed to stifle the flow of the United midfield, he was effective but when the chance came to break, he was leading the charge.

One day Gini will score away from home, and I’m going to say it right here and right now…it will be away to West Ham United, on the second last day of the season, and it will secure us the title.

You heard it here first.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

How apt that the ‘diamond’ of this season was played at the tip of the diamond as Jurgen Klopp changed formation to suit the challenge presented.

Adam was as effective off the ball as he was on it…chasing the ball down, harrying the opposition and forcing errors when normally there wouldn’t be any.

With the return to fitness of Coutinho, we should see Adam drop back into the midfield three where he has been most effective this season, and I can’t wait. His late runs from deep have been missed since Philippe has been crocked, but with 10 of our last 17 league games at home, he’s going to play a crucial part in our run-in….

8/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

A famous term in football is ‘a game of two halves’, but today we saw ‘a game of a two thirds, a third’.

While Bobby huffed and puffed, harried and hassled throughout the first hour of the game (to great effect it must be said), his performance in the last half hour showed what we’ve been missing since Philippe was crocked.

I’ve made many gags on this blog about the symbiotic relationship between Coutinho and Firmino but the fact that Bobby was set up for a chance within 30 seconds of Philippe’s introduction just proves my point.

Now they’re back in tandem, I expect them to steamroller the rest of the Premier League.

ACE!

8/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Millions were on tenterhooks as young Trent Alexander-Arnold took the field away to Manchester United, tasked with a crucial role in the defence…

Not as many were worried about a young player like Divock Origi doing the same in the Liverpool attack, but that’s not really fair on Divock.

He’s young. He’s very young. Yes he has some experience, but he’s learning all the time, and he gave Valencia a rough time on the left wing. The fact that he was chosen ahead of Daniel Sturridge should throw some cats among some pigeons for the rest of the season.

God bless the pigeons.

7/10

Substitutes:

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

17 games left. 10 at home. 7 points behind Chelsea.

While we lost our best player for the last few weeks, rumour has it that Chelsea are about to do the same, possibly for a lot longer than a few weeks….

I know it feels awkward, but trust me when I say that you should have a few ‘sleepovers’ with Bobby this week. Cuddle. Spoon. Brush each others hair. You two are the perfect double-act, and he’s missed you Philippe, more than you will ever know. (I know because he called me to tell me, but I’m sworn to secrecy).

When you two spark once more, the league title is ours…

Love you

xxx

8/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

17 games left.

10 at home (3 v Top 6 teams / 7 against ‘the rest’)

7 away (1 v Top 6 team / 6 against ‘the rest’)

Philippe is back. Sturridge is fit. Mané will be back (hopefully)…

While we’re 7 behind Chelsea, we have them at home to come soon, so if that becomes 4 points, it’s game on. We’re top of the ‘Top 6 Table’….

You trust your young players, and your judgement has been proven sound so far (TAA today a prime example).

When you call me next Tuesday as you usually do, I want you to answer me this…

If Costa fecks off to China, who many points will we win the league by?

Talk soon JK xxx

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 0-0 Plymouth Argyle: The Ranting Rebel FA Cup 3rd Round Ratings

 

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

Rumour has it that Loris ‘Fandango’ Karius played in nets for Liverpool today.

I have no idea. The cameras were pointed at the opposite end of the pitch for 90 minutes.

I have heard from some reliable sources in the Main Stand that he held a racy photo-shoot during the game wearing nothing more than a leopard-print thong and a cheeky smile.

Still, it’s a clean sheet and a trip to the South Coast to look forward to in a couple of weeks. I’ve asked him to bring me back a stick of rock.

7/10 

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

There are more letters in his name than successful Plymouth passes in this game.

In all seriousness, of all the kids on display today I’d have to say that T.A.A. looks ready to step in if/when required should something happen to Patsy Clyne.

He keeps it simple, yet authoritative and has a better delivery than he displayed today. I’ve nothing more to say because he played in the Liverpool defence and I’ve more confidence in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster than I do about the existence of the Liverpool defence today.

If a Liverpool defender shouts ‘MINE!’ and there’s nobody around to hear it, does he really make a sound?

Aye, get your noggin around THAT.

7/10. 

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

When your kids are the match-day mascots, and you’re linked with a move to Italy for weeks on end, what are the chances that you’ll start the replay?

Answers on a postcard please.

If this was to be the swansong for Lucas in a Liverpool shirt, it was Alanis Morissette levels of ‘Ironic’. A player now synonymous with ensuring Liverpool don’t concede played a full 90 minutes when they had no chance of doing so.

Take your 10,000 spoons and play the ‘Fields of Anfield Road’ with them Alanis.

7/10

joe-gomez

Joe Gomez: 

 

15 months. It doesn’t sound much, does it? Just over a year, and hands up if you didn’t at some stage over the last three weeks utter the words ‘Where did the year go, eh?’ Admit it, we all did…

In the last 15 months the UK have decided to leave the EU (apart from Scotland and Norn Iron who don’t want to. Awkward). The host of Celebrity Apprentice has been elected as the President of the United States. Everybody famous in the history of music has died.

Well it’s been a very long 15 months for Joe Gomez who has battled back from an ACL injury and then an achilles injury to make his long-awaited return to the first team today. Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he has kept a Mamadou Sakho shaped slot open in his squad for him as he believes in his quality and potential.

Today he did…well, f*ck all, to be honest, but then again he had f*ck all to do. Not a bad game to play your first full 90 minutes since the world was normal.

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno: 

 

Fair to middling performance.

Fair to middling set-piece delivery.

Fair to middling hair.

Still, no clusterf*cks so that’s good!

7/10

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart: 

 

The senior young player (if you get what I mean) did the basics pretty well, indicating that in the event of a Jordan Henderson / Emre Can double-injury emergency, he can come in and do a job.

What I would say is that while he gets on the ball as frequently as required, and plays the simple passes well, he didn’t display the ‘X-Factor’ that Henderson has in his locker – the array of passing, the ability to trouble the goalkeeper with shots from distance…

It got so bad that where you normally expect the crowd to shout ‘SHOOOOOOOOT’ when a midfielder picks it up 30 yards out with space, the Anfield faithful were shouting ‘NOOOOOOO’ as Kevin ‘Bobby’ Stewart thought about hammering a 65th shot straight at a defender.

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

A harrowing experience for Emre, and one which he may never recover from…

No, he didn’t pick up a bad injury, or get humiliated in midfield…it was worse than that…

Yes, they ruffled his hair.

I’m not saying that the marking at Liverpool corners was tight, but I’m pretty sure that Emre got manhandled more than a 65 year old lap-dancer at Wayne Rooney’s birthday party.

Emre’s hair was inexplicable when he was hauled ashore, with his personal stylist standing by to right the wrongs as soon as possible.

Once more I’ll point out that the ‘senior’ player Emre Can was younger than his midfield partner today….#justsaying

7/10.

ovie-ejaria

Ovie Ejaria:

 

Neat and tidy.

Just like your living room after the Christmas decorations have been put away and you realise that your house is twice as big as you thought it was.

I’d like to point out to the moaning ninnies on Twitter that it’s harsh to expect the kids to all gel together with a smattering of senior players and expect them to convince us that Liverpool have a potential Premier League winning youth team ready to step up next season. The kids will shine when placed in one’s or two’s into the senior team, when they’re surrounded by that quality, which will allow their quality to shine through.

What is interesting / worthy of debate / pointless conjecture (delete as applicable) is that this game showed that a Premier League reserve team would easily hold their own in League Two (and quite likely do well). Do we want that (as they have in Spain / Germany) or should we cherish the clubs like Plymouth Argyle and keep Premier League ‘B’ teams out of these leagues?

Personally I’d prefer the likes of Plymouth Argyle to have the chance to be the next ‘Bournemouth’ and rise through the ranks.

All we need now is for Jurgen Klopp to convince the rest of the Premier League that the U-23 league should be taken seriously.

D’ya hear that Antonio Conté? Yes, you should recall all 1,873 loan players on your books and put them in your U-23 team. You too, Pep.

7/10

 ojo

Sheyi Ojo: 

 

Here we have a young player that shone brighter than most last season when Klopp (through lack of choice) gave many young players a chance.

Unfortunately his progress has been hampered through a series of unfortunate back injuries starting last pre-season all the way through to November.

To therefore expect the same Sheyi Ojo to appear on the scene and tear sh*t up like he did last January is unrealistic. Doesn’t stop some though….

It’s fair to say that Jurgen Klopp may well view Ojo as a potential viable back-up for Sadio Mané, but his performance today, allied to the impending Premier League title-race, could convince Jurgen that he should shell out for Quincy Promes this month.

I for one would like Quincy Promes to join Liverpool, purely because it gives me huge scope for humorous name-play gags. I’d also like Sheyi Ojo to be afforded some more patience though, as he does strike me as being remarkably ‘John Barnes-esque’, and I miss John Barnes.

7/10.

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

Do you remember when Michael Owen scored on his debut, off the bench, away to Wimbledon? Of course you do.

Do you remember his next game for the first team? Like f*ck you do….

5 days after scoring for Liverpool at Selhurst Park, Michael Owen started for Liverpool at Hillsborough, away to Sheffield Wednesday, and caused a huge stir… by not scoring in a 1-1 draw.

So now we look at Ben Woodburn, the new ‘big thing’ from the Liverpool Academy, and his first start for Liverpool which also drew a blank. That’s no issue though as right now he’s still better than Michael Owen as he scored his first goal while younger than him.

So there.

7/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

You know the team is young when Divock Origi is the senior striker…

He had an ‘arguable’ goal chalked off for a foul in the first half, but apart from that he failed to impose himself on the game as much as he would have liked.

I’ll point you to the review of Ovie Ejaria though and ask you to keep the points made there in mind. Divock has looked dynamite when surrouned by the likes of FIrmino / Mané and co, but to expect the same when surrounded by Woodburn and Ojo is unrealistic.

He’ll get another chance in Plymouth.

7/10

Substitutes:

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

Seemed to come on with the express intention of ‘Right, I’ll sort this sh*t out, all on my own’ and to be fair to him, he tried.

It didn’t work though.

7/10

lallana

Adam Lallana:

 

In a superb interview in the Sunday Times this week, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Ljinders detailed how they bring the most promising kids to Melwood every Tuesday to train with the first team, to learn from the likes of Adam Lallana and to see how senior professionals like him do things.

Well today they saw how Adam Lallana struggled to break down Plymouth Argyle.

Inspiring.

7/10

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Right. That’s it. Enough is enough.

Bobby Firmino has a symbiotic relationship with Philippe Coutinho. When one is injured, the other is injured. When one is sick, the other is sick. When one is out of form, the other is out of form.

Oh crap…

7/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

If he played the first XI, he’d have been pilloried for stretching them too far, and risking injury.

When he plays the Reserve XI, he’s lampooned for not taking the FA Cup seriously enough.

You really can’t win as a manager sometimes.

The interesting thing is that when you look at the impending fixtures, he’s got very little choice but to play the kids again in Plymouth. They’ll all have a chance to make amends / improve on today, and that’s how it should be. Plymouth will almost certainly come and attack more than today, which should leave space for the kids to do what they do best.

Time will tell, but I can’t disagree with his approach today. Avoiding a replay (by winning, not losing) would have been ideal, but you can’t always get what you want. Just ask The Rolling Stones.

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel) If you would like to pay me to write like this, please do get in touch. Christmas cost me a fecking fortune.

Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool: The Ranting Rebel New Year Ratings

Thank Christ 2016 is behind us, eh? 2017 can only get better!

What? A draw at Sunderland? Ah f*ck this, 2017 is going to be worse!

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

The best Liverpool player on the park and won us a point.

It feels like a new start for Migs in the team, and combined with a new year, he’s feeling pretty chipper about things. I sent him a beautiful piece of Waterford Crystal glass for Christmas, and he was chuffed with me for thinking of him.

Mind you, when he called me to thank me, he also told me he’d dropped it and smashed it.

Never change Migs. Never change.

9/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

Solid at the back as ever, and even threw in a few naughty, teasing crosses that really should have led to goals.

Patsy has confided in me that his New Years Resolution is to kill Kyle Walker make the England right-back slot his own, and if he continues his current form, I don’t see any reason why that won’t happen.

In fact I can’t see any reason for Kyle Walker, truth be told. Has there ever been a more over-hyped, under-criticised player in the history of the game? The wazzock makes more mistakes than Boris Johnson, but you never hear anybody point them out.

The bloody cockney mafia have their favourites, eh?

8/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Imperious at the back and inventive up front….

Don’t be foolish and think that the opening goal was in any way fortunate. Dejan read the flight of the corner, gauged how many men stood between his foot and the goal, anticipated the movement of Daniel Sturridge, adjudged the exact moisture content of the turf and then executed a sublime bounce pass onto the bonce of Sturridge.

Honestly, he did.

Dejan has given an emotional interview recently where he poured his heart out over his recent troubles on the field and how he believes that he is bouncing back. The issue with certain players who have hit bad form is how long it can take to convince people that you’re back…

If you’re a striker, a couple of quick goals can change you from a common Victor Anichebe into Gerd Muller in the eyes of the fans. However if you’re at the back (or in goals…) then a few mistakes and a run of bad form can take up to 20 good performances to erase from the minds of those who doubt you. That’s a tough ask…Just keep that in mind. Especially you. Yes, you – the Twitter Keyboard Warrior covering your screen in spittle at the merest hint of a mistake. You know who you are…

8/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

Now if you are one of those Twitter Keyboard Warriors you no doubt were salivating at the prospect of criticising Klavan The Barbarian after he conceded the first penalty.

STOP! I CAN EXPLAIN EVERYTHING!

Y’see, Ragnar grew up in the wilds of Estonia, and has only been tamed since the age of 18 when his football prowess was discovered (think of it like The Jungle Book meets Billy’s Boots). Yet underneath it all is the wild-man of Estonia, the young man who roamed the Estonian plains dining on squirrels and living in caves….

Most of the time his wild side is tame and hidden from view. However sometimes, when the conditions are just right, the wild side emerges…

Ragnar spent most of the past three weeks Christmas shopping. He hates Christmas shopping. All that hustle and bustle, trying to manoeuvre his way through the hoardes of shoppers, all the while resisting the urge to rip someones scalp off and use it as a duster. The man who grew up in the wilderness just can’t cope…but he managed it this year…until yesterday…

When Ndong made his run between Gini and Ragnar, the Christmas hustle and bustle came flooding back. People trying to squeeze through gaps that just aren’t there, in order to get that last selection box…and Ragnar finally snapped. He’d had enough. He finally succumbed to the temptation to just kick out…just a little bit…and it felt good, until he realised what he had done.

Show Ragnar some compassion this January. It’s not easy being him.

7/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

‘He has a little kick on the calf, we think, and we didn’t want to take any risks which is why we took him off’

The words of Jurgen Klopp there, covering up the real truth about James Milner once more.

James Milner does not go off with a kick on the calf. James Milner went off because his calf muscle fell out of his leg. No, really, it did. It just fell out. The man has run so many miles up the left wing this season that the I.S.S. is behind him in terms of miles covered.

I’m glad to report that James just picked up his calf muscle and stapled it back onto the bone, and would be fit to play tomorrow if required.

Also, rumours that he had overdosed on gravy over the Christmas period are scurrilous and libelous.

7/10

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Not at his eye-catching best in terms of creativity and goal-scoring, but unlucky not to end up with at least one assist, and as usual he covered more ground than anybody else, just 44 hours after doing the exact same thing.

If somebody could put a compilation video together of Adam’s best flicks, tricks, Cruyff turns and goals from this season alone, I guarantee it would be the most viewed video in the history of PornHub within 20 minutes.

He’s so damn sexy.

8/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

Alright, alright…

The big audition didn’t go so well, I admit it.

A rare chance for Jackie to play in his preferred position, and he kind of made a balls of it. He was a bit unsure of touch and decision-making, but I ask you this…

Why didn’t Klopp opt for Kevin Stewart instead?

Y’see ‘The Kid’ Kevin Stewart is older than Emre Can and been around the game longer. Don’t forget how young Emre Can actually is.

He’ll come good, I have no doubt in my mind. He may get a run of games in this central role, depending on Hendo’s Heel (which sounds like a headland off the coast of Scotland).

Keep at it Emre, lad.

6/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Just two days after the unsung hero (in the mind of Jurgen Klopp) became the sung hero (yes I know that’s daft, but I’m sticking with it), he went back to being a bit unsung again, and less of a hero. (That’s a Pulitzer prize winning sentence if ever I’ve read one).

His usual hard work was mixed with a couple of decent efforts and ‘nearly’ moments, but alas a goal away from home in the Premier League has not yet come.

Old Trafford in a couple of weeks Gini…I’ll just leave that thought with you.

7/10

 Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge: 

 

A rare start matched with a not very rare goal. The man is class.

He’ll be annoyed not to have notched at least two, but as is bloody typical, our opponent lost their first choice keeper to injury and then their reserve stopper turns into Lev Yashin (if you don’t know who Lev Yashin is, you should get off Spotify and read a bloody book, kid).

His movement and anticipation for his goal is worth watching. Forget the corner and the volley from Lovren, watch as Daniel moves from the left of the goal to the right, losing his man and landing in the exactly right spot to take advantage of the bounce of the ball. You can’t teach that, it’s instinct. You either have it or you don’t, and Daniel Sturridge just has it.

Now if we could only toughen him up a tad, that would be perfect. If the UK had ‘National Service’ then we’d be laughing. Or Daniel would be dead. Hmmm….

9/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

His dip in form is starting to become a tad alarming, considering that Jurgen Klopp won’t countenance not playing him as long as he’s breathing…

He’s so crucial in all that we do, and to be fair to him, even when not playing well, he still does a job, and was a major part of a front-line that scored another two goals.

However when you know what someone can do, and you see what they are doing when it’s not going well, it hurts. Just ask those in Times Square when Mariah Carey made a late run for ‘cringe-moment of 2016’ (and that’s a VERY tough category, isn’t that right Donald?).

7/10.

Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:

 

And so he departs…

So Long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehn! Adieu!

F*ck you! F*ck you! F*ck you and you and you! (That’s aimed at the AFCON organisers and their ‘timing’).

eddie-murphy-barbershop
‘Who’s next?’

He thought he’d secured another vital three points as his parting gift…and then he literally grabbed the chance to chuck two points away…how Sene-GALLING….(I’m sorry).

So we enter the era of LASBSCB (Life After Sadio Before Sadio Comes Back). Will Jurgen shock the world and buy Messi to cover? Will Daniel Sturridge stay fit for a month and bang in the goals while he’s away? Will Coutinho come back and make us forget who Sadio Mané is?

Stay tuned kids….

7/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

A disastrous night for this company, introduced to the fray with a lead to protect only to concede the free-kick that brought about the equaliser.

I know it wasn’t a free-kick, but that’s not much consolation to the Directors and Staff of Shut Up Shop Ltd. The rumour is that they are now in frantic negotiations to keep the Italian Enterprise from dying before it even gets off the ground.

As far as publicity goes, it’s like Janet Jackson at Superbowl XXXVIII – He made a right tit of himself.

6/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Confusion.

The poor kid didn’t know what to do for a full 7 minutes.

How can he be on the field at the same time as Daniel Sturridge? Utterly baffling for all concerned. That’s why Daniel hobbled off, just to bring some normality to proceedings.

You suspect that Divock is going to have another prominent role to play in the next month or so.

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno:

I’ll admit that when the second penalty was awarded to Sunderland, my first reaction was to scream ‘Bertie ya boll*x’, but credit to him, he played a full half of football without doing anything daft. Yes, I know I’m exhibiting the same behaviour I criticised in my review of Dejan Lovren, but I never said I was perfect, did I?

There’s a 3rd Round FA Cup tie with Bertie’s name written all over it. A solid defensive showing laced with attacking menace would be nice.

7/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right, here we go…*deep breath*

The FACTS are that right now we’ve closed the gap on Chelsea to 5 points. Yes, they have a game in hand, and yes it could be 8 points on Wednesday night, but it could also be 5 points on Wednesday night.

To most of you this won’t apply, but to some I still have to say…GET A F*CKING GRIP.

The amount of people I saw on my timeline saying things like ‘This is what we always do, we always drop points against the smaller teams’….and they were basing their argument on historical games going back to 1993….f*ck me.

Let’s judge THIS team on THIS season shall we? Because THIS team didn’t exist LAST season. THIS team is in its first full season under THIS manager. So some FACTS:

  • 2nd in the league after 20 games
  • Averaging 2.2 points per game. TWO POINT TWO!
  • Chelsea are on a run that would win the league 100% of the time in any other season
  • Two league defeats in twenty games
  • Thirteen wins in twenty games
  • Just five draws in twenty games

Yes, the draws / defeats to ‘smaller teams’ (you’re a patronising pr*ck if you really believe that too by the way) are annoying, but would you rather we had draws / defeats against Arsenal / Chelsea / City / Everton? You know which would be more harmful, don’t you?

If you think we shouldn’t have draws / defeats against either the big clubs or the small clubs, then you should go and watch WWE Wrestling instead. Brain-dead idiots like you should be able to work out who’s going to win pretty easily and you can adjust your support and hopes accordingly.

The next league game is away to United at Old Trafford. We also face Chelsea at the end of this month. It’s a big month, just like August was..and September…and October now I think about it…and November..and…you get my point.

Each game as it comes, and we have NO reason to believe that what we’ve done in the opening 20 games won’t be repeated in the next 18, and who knows where that will take us?

Relax….

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel) If you would like to pay me to write like this, please do get in touch. Christmas cost me a fecking fortune.