@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 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

 

@FantasyYIRMA GW 32 Review

 

The star of the show in GW32 was a player that was destined to do great things for Spurs since Daddy Son eyed up Mammy Son across a dance-floor in 1991, many thousands of miles from North London (in Chuncheon, South Korea to be precise).

Chuncheon
I recommend a luncheon in Chuncheon

It’s fate, it’s destiny, it’s just meant to be. How else can you explain a footballer from the other side of the world playing in North London with the quintessential surname to suit the cries from the Spurs fans?

‘Go on my Son!’

‘Get in there my Son!’

‘I laaave you my Son!’

Many of us eyed up Spurs v Watford as a potential boot-filler for our Spurs attacking midfielders, with Harry Kane still on the mend. Indeed, I plumped for a Captain Eriksen differential myself, so I was only too thrilled to see Son amass 19 fecking points…GAH.

Indeed it was a week for ‘differentials’, which is just fantasy football nerd-speak for ‘who the hell saw THAT coming?’, which brings me nicely onto Andros Townsend. Yes, Andros. Townsend. THAT Andros Townsend. 14 points to plunge the dagger into the quivering heart of Arsene Wenger and light the fuse on Arsenal TV for the world to enjoy. Magnificent.

Arsenal Fan TV
I predict BAFTA’s…lots of them….

Mind you, if you thought that was unlikely, you would need to have been from the future to have drafted in Phil ‘I played in the Premier League for Sheffield United you know’ Jagielka a couple of games ago when Funes Mori was crocked. For the second week in a row ‘Jags’ racked up a double digit score without keeping a clean sheet. At this rate he’ll be picked as a striker by Gareth Southgate for the next England squad. It’s not that unlikely you know. Remember the Sheffield Wednesday defender Paul Warhurst? He got chucked up front as an ’emergency striker’ in 1992, scored 12 in 12 and got a call up for the next England squad. So I’m starting the ‘Jags To Lead The Lions Line’ campaign here.

Paul Warhurst
No, I didn’t make it up…

In a far more predictable development, Romelu Lukaku clocked up yet another double digit score at home for Everton, the 5th time in 7 home games he’s managed to do so. He always delivers the Good(i)s(on) at home…(sorry, not sorry). On more than one occasion I have seriously considered using the Triple Captain chip on the big Belgian at Goodison, but here I am, with 6 Gameweeks left, clinging onto the chip, pretty sure that I’ll take it with me into next season. You can do that, right? RIGHT?

Honourable mentions for Wilf Zaha and Josh King who have continued their fine form, and also for Jose Mourinho, who threw new batteries into his PS4 controller and expertly guided Luke Shaw around for 90 minutes at The Stadium of Light for a 10 point haul. You didn’t think it had anything to do with Luke himself, did you?

That match also saw Zlatan grab 12 points against the Moyes’ Mighty Mackems, but you’d be loathe to draft him in now with THAT run-in ahead of them (says the jittery Liverpool fan).

Now that we’ve covered those who delivered, let’s move onto the poxbottles who left us down…

I’m not saying that Alexis Sanchez is an expensive liability, but £11.6m for a midfielder with a face like a smacked arse, an attitude to match and who’s wearing Chelsea underwear in every game is too much for any self-respecting Fantasy Football manager to carry.

Begone Alexis! I smithe thee to the realms of next season where thou may be playing for a good team and I shall consider thee selectable once more!

Alexis Sanchez
My neck hurts looking up the table all the time…

Dear Kyle Walker, would it trouble you so much to send me a quick text to let me know that you’re going to spend a couple of weeks picking splinters out of your arse?

As for Sergio Aguero, there used to be a glorious time in Fantasy Football land when you just knew that a home game v Hull meant you didn’t need to worry about your Captaincy choice that week. He’d be guaranteed at least 15 points…but alas those days are long behind us. With a meagre 9 points (it’s all relative, right?), many were indeed extending his ‘nickname’ on Saturday night…KUN…

Finally, as if proof was ever needed, the worlds of ‘Real Football’ and ‘Fantasy Football’ are light years apart. In the ‘Real’ world, Jurgen Klopp is sitting pretty having squeaked out of Stoke with 3 points. In ‘Fantasy Football’ world though there are many who are cursing under their breath at his decision to start the game without his Brazilian Brothers. Yes I know they came on and did the business, but Stoke are woejious (that’s an Irish term for utter sh*te), so who knows how many points they could have scored with a full 90 minutes? Mind you, kudos to some of the Liverpool fans on Twitter who are working out how to ‘repay’ Coutinho for hauling himself off his sick bed to help the cause on Saturday. I don’t know lads, but surely £100,000 a week is thanks enough?

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 2-0 Spurs: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

Before I begin, a quick update. I haven’t posted a blog for a few games now because, as I told those of you who were kind enough to ask for/demand a blog, I was weighed down with many, many mundane issues that have taken up my time. I can now reveal that was a lie…

Things had to come to a head, enough was enough, so I made a decision…

I went to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago to sort things out once and for all.

I gave Jurgen a call, arranged to have dinner with Philippe and I’ll now begin…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

From my seat in the Anfield Road end, it appeared that Simon Mignolet is very small. Of course it’s simply that he was very far away at the Kop end.

In person he’s a very imposing man, a big strong strapping lad who towers over you, almost intimidatingly so…especially when you’re outlining the most witty descriptions of him that I’d heard, like ‘deranged gibbon’, ‘Dracula on prozac’, ‘Belgian beer bottle-squatting twat’ and ‘as useful as a langer in a lesbian orgy’.

Thankfully we saw eye to eye in the end and there were no hard feelings, and I like to think the chat worked. Migs was commanding, dominant, made a few good saves and never really looked threatened.

Before I departed Anfield, I stuck a note in his locker for him to read before any game in the future. It says:

‘You Are Simon Mignolet. Not A Langer’

I just hope I put it in the right locker or somebody could be very confused today.

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

I always had Patsy pegged as a straight-laced, formal type of guy, no airs and graces and certainly no sign of rebellion in his personality.

Therefore I was stunned when he arrived for our pre-arranged pep talk dressed like Jazz from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. To top all that he was giving me pure attitude, muttering under his breath with a constant smirk on his mush.

I knew what had to be done, and luckily someone got a picture of what happened next:

jazz-fresh-prince

I know, I know, the new Main Stand is a bit fancy, right?

In conclusion, let’s just say that Patsy will be less in-Clyned to rip the piss in the future.

ITHANGYEW.

8/10. 

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

I smirked as I saw the usual Twitter meltdown when the teams were announced at 4.30pm with the name ‘Lucas Leiva’ at CB. The hysteria was approaching the levels I would expect if Donald Trump was seen riding a nuke headed to North Korea wearing a cowboy hat with ‘Kim Jung Un can kiss my orange ass’ on his t-shirt.

Unbeknownst to most, Lucas was actually stood beside me when that shit-storm kicked off, acting as my ‘minder’ while I leveled a few home-truths at the rest of the squad. As a senior squad member he demanded that I be listened to and respected…until it came to his turn that is…

Let’s just say that the reason he had a pop at that Joseph Musker lad on Twitter was because he was a bit upset at the home-truths I delivered to his doorstep:

lucas-twitter-1Lucas Twitter.PNG

Mind you, he’s right. Anybody spouting that kind of shite on Twitter needs to be exterminated, immediately. Isn’t that right Donald?

Oh, and before I forget, Harry Kane was released back to Spurs on Sunday afternoon at 2.54pm after Lucas found him in his pocket.

8/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

 

NEWSFLASH:

BILLY JOEL IS NOT JOEL MATIP’S FATHER….

I know. I’m still reeling from the news myself. It’s like the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker revelation, but in reverse.

Of course it took 98 pages of birth certs, sworn affidavits, a DNA test and a very uncomfortable phone call with Billy Joel himself before I believed it, but I’m satisfied that he’s really not his father…after I learned every lyric Billy wrote too. That’s 9 months of my life I’ll never get back.

In any case, I asked Joel (as I asked all the players) if he wanted me to reveal what I said to him during our ‘chat’, and Joel is the only one who didn’t mind, so here’s what I said to Joel Matip:

Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Sorry. Not sorry.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

Have you ever tried to have a meaningful heart to heart with a Yorkshireman?

It’s like trying to get a baboon to recite the Greek alphabet…you don’t get much back.

However I’m a master of motivation, so when my words didn’t cut the mustard, I decided to cut the gravy…

Yes, for every goal conceded by Liverpool for the rest of the season, James Milner will have one less pint of gravy that week. But I’m not a monster, so I included a motivational aspect too…for every goal he scores or assists, he gets an extra pint of gravy that week.

I’m not sure that’s the best idea I’ve ever had though because he fecking dived looking for a penalty within 30 seconds of our deal being agreed. It was 1.30pm last Tuesday…

Still, a clean sheet is a clean sheet, so that’s good, right? Mind you, with two weeks until his next game, he could look like the bloody Michelin man against Leicester City.

7/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Captain Henderson is being lavished with praise today as the news emerges of a ‘player-only’ meeting that he called, excluding Jurgen Klopp, where the players all had an open, honest and frank exchange of views, which led to the performance we all saw against Spurs.

I can now confirm that it wasn’t a ‘player-only meeting’…because I was there and it was my bloody idea. Don’t believe all you read in the media folks. Alternative facts my arse.

Anyway, I don’t care who gets the credit, as it worked, and to be fair to Hendo he delivered one of the most passionate, goose-bump-raising, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-bristling speeches I’ve ever heard (apart from when I listen back to my own). It was magnificent.

Nobody understood a bloody word, but we all got the gist of it.

Leader.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

I find that to get an open and honest conversation going with a player you sometimes have to do what they do, so they feel that you’re ‘one of them’ and can be trusted.

After applying 9 litres of Nivea to myself I now look 10 years younger, my scrotum has no wrinkles whatsoever and I literally slid out of bed last night. Remarkable.

My ploy worked though as Adam and I had a great chat covering lots of topics; from Bouremouth Lap Dancers to taking out Jurgen Klopps bins. Mind you, during our 45 minute chat Adam ran 12 miles around the room. He just can’t stand still. It could be boundless energy…but it could also be a reaction to the Nivea….

Whatever he’s doing, it’s working, especially when he’s got the three amigo’s in front of him.

8/10.

 

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Go on then…what sweet do you think I brought to my one-on-one meeting with Gini last week…

Yep, you guessed it….a bag of Revels.

No, I’m not being obtuse, there was a point to it. There have been games this season where Gini has been oustanding. The goals at home to Chelsea and City stand out, but he was pretty bloody good away to Arsenal and Chelsea too. However he’s also had a few ‘Coffee Revels’ this season which make you want to explosively eject your tongue from your mouth…

So the basis of my ‘chat’ with Gini was him munching through a bag of Revels and shouting out the games he’s played this season that match with the flavour Revel he happened to get.

I’m not one for predictions, but I seriously doubt we’ll be seeing a ‘Coffee Revel’ performance from Gini ever again.

Oh, and ‘Coffee Revel Vomit’ is as grim as you’d imagine. *shudder*

9/10

 

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Since the advent of social media, the world is awash with people who claim to be ‘In The Know’…they know why players are so effective, or why they’re out of form…and to a man (or woman), they’re all full of sh*t.

It wasn’t until I sat down at length with Bobby that I discovered why his form had dipped so drastically. From the outside looking in I thought it was the almost symbiotic relationship with Philippe that he was missing…but I was wrong.

The truth of the matter is that Bobby Firmino has been a major twat and is now embarrassed to be…well, Bobby Firmino. Look, we’ve all done something in our past that we’re not proud of and we’d all rather forget, and Bobby is no different. To add to that he was facing a (deserved) court case where there was always an element of doubt as to what punishment he would be facing, and that’s going to affect you, no matter what walk of life you come from. If you’re a bricklayer and facing a serious court case, you’re not going to be laying as many bricks in the weeks leading up to the case, are you?

Once it became clear what the issue with Bobby was, I was tempted to just leave it alone. The court case was over, his punishment has been delivered and that was that, right?

Heh. Don’t you know me at all?

To cut a long story short, I got Bobby Firmino absolutely trollied – and I use that word for a reason. Basically I got him flutered/balooba’d/banjaxed/wankered/smashed/arseified (select your favourite) on 23 pints of Guinness, strapped him into a shopping trolley and rolled him down Abbey Road while I got 4 lads to walk across the pedestrian crossing as Bobby hurtled towards them. It was to demonstrate that what he did ran the same risks as he now faced.

The poor lad soiled himself, but got the message very, very quickly.

Maybe a weight is now off his shoulders? He was certainly back to form against Spurs…although his shite is still jet black and probably will be for some time.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

 

Some have accused me of playing favourites as our meeting was over a candle-lit dinner and the rest of my player meetings…weren’t.

However you know you’re special, and I know you’re special and our dinner…was special.

I’ll never reveal this to the other players, but there was a specific reason why our meeting was over a romantic dinner. I wanted you to play footsie with me under the table…using just your left foot. I mean, you never use it for anything else and I’ll try anything to get you using it in a game…

Love you xxx

7/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

My meeting with Sadio was the shortest of the lot.

I can’t divulge too much information of course but suffice to say that Sadio looked me dead in the eye, told me none of this mess was down to him, admitted that he skewed that penalty in the AFCON on purpose after receiving my SOS SMS, and he said he’d sort it.

The man is true to his word. He eviscerated Ben Davies and friends.

Majestic.

9/10

Substitutes:

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

My meeting with Emre didn’t go according to my plan. I called him ‘Jackie’ one time too many and was spark out after he hit me with a 6″ punch.

Yep, no similarities there at all.

At least he showed the same ruthless efficiency when he came on to see the game out. Job done.

7/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

What do you do when the Security company you hired to do a job suddenly goes down sick?

You bring on a bouncer. He asked Dele Alli for I.D. and then barred him from the penalty box.

N/A

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

You might think that getting thrown on with seconds left so the star player can get a standing ovation is a bit demeaning, but all these players are on appearance bonuses.

Those few seconds could buy TAA 1,890 Happy Meals.

N/A


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

You’re welcome Jurgen, it was my pleasure, and I’m around to do it again if you ever feel the need.

However I think you’re set for the rest of the season now. They’re a great bunch of lads and it was great to get to know them all in person.

As for our meeting, I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll have another schnitzel for quite a while. I’m glad you took my advice and are taking the lads off for a few days in the sun. Thanks for the offer to attend with you but my small fella has something on Thursday night that I have to be there for.

Don’t forget the Factor 50!

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 0-1 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)

 

Liverpool 0-1 Southampton: The Ranting Rebel League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

Just take a look at that barnet….

Some say it’s a style thing, but they’re wrong.

Goalkeeper safety has been highlighted ever since Stephen Hunt kicked Peter Cech in the head (well, he was playing for Chelsea at the time…), and the stopper began wearing a protective headgear thereafter. There was much sniggering and mocking when Cech first appeared with the new safety accessory, but we’ve all now grown to accept it. In fact, I don’t recognise him without it. He could walk past me on the street and I wouldn’t know him unless he had something on his head, like a cap, or an American Football helmet, or a Donald Trump wig….

As you know, Fandango is a self-conscious lad, not shy from looking in a mirror once or twice a minute day, so while playing in a precarious position such as goalkeeper, he needs protection, but also needs to look good. So how does he do it?

elnett

Aye, the same stuff as Cheryl Tweedy nee Cole nee Fernando Versini nee Whatever You’re Having Yourself uses, but in far greater quantities.

Pre-game, 19 bottles of that stuff are sprayed on Fandango’s head, ensuring that his ‘stylish’ hair is also harder than concrete. He has his own changing room too which has an extensive air-change system installed to suck the gas out and pump oxygen in. Have you ever seen his hair move out of place, even when he’s making saves or bending over to pick the ball out of the net? Nope, neither have I. So now you know.

As for his performance last night, no fault. He made a crucial save in the first half and didn’t put a foot wrong. It’s typical really, just as we get to the stage of the season when both goalkeepers stop f*cking up, the forward line is busticated. FFS.

8/10 

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

Left regularly exposed on the right flank due to the diamond shape deployed at the start of the game, but he gave as good as he got, and showed real danger when going forward. Some of his crosses were threatening compared to a Patsy Clyne cross (although a fluffy chick is more threatening than the majority of Patsy Clyne crosses).

He demonstrated his ability throughout the game with some sublime first-touches to get him out of trouble, and his experiences this season should see him kick on next season.

Yes, I’ve started thinking about next season. Sue me.

 7/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Dear Dejan,

Any chance when attacking corners you could, you know, move about a bit and vary where you are in the box when you want to head the cross?

I lost count of the number of corners that were slapped to the penalty spot, with Lovren poised, but for a Southampton defender to read it (and why wouldn’t he, it wasn’t complicated) and head clear.

Poor James Milner was getting dogs abuse for his set-piece delivery, some of which was deserved, but if your target keeps standing in the same spot, all you can do is try and hit him…

6/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

A welcome return to the side for Joel, who had never featured in a losing side for Liverpool before last night. Had you heard that stat? I know, they kept that secret, eh?

Anyway, as ever Joel is guided by the writings of his father Billy, and these lines rang true last night as he lay awake trying to comprehend how the team he plays for are so utterly sh*te compared to when he last played for them.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From conceding a goal so late
To driving home in my jeep

I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
James Milner gets wide
But finds it too hard to cross

And even though I know James Milner is wide
I go up for every corner and I stand in the box
And watch him cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out who he’s looking for

So the unbeaten record is gone, he didn’t cure all ills magically (as I suspect Mané won’t when he returns), and lo and behold the current problems can’t be solved with the return (or purchase) of one player.

Great!

7/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

There’s a lot made of the fact that James Milner is supposed to be ‘boring’. Hell, I’ve even alluded to it myself, in jest of course. However one thing I’m afraid James Milner was last night was…predictable.

At this stage of the season, if Millie is attacking, the opposing defender knows that he’s going to pull the ball back on his right foot…and if he goes on his left, the odds are that the cross is going to be gash. Predictable.

When Millie takes corners, he’s going to aim for Dejan Lovren, usually standing on the penalty spot. Predictable.

There’s nothing wrong with predictability in many areas of life. You want your wage payments to be predictable. You want your penalty taker to be predictable (and successful). You want the bus/trains that you get each day to be predictable.

I prefer my full-backs to have an air of unpredictability about them, particularly when chasing a semi-final deficit. I even thought about Bertie Moreno at one stage.

The acid bath after the game was bloody painful.

6/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Now here’s the thing…

The thing is that the skipper is playing with an injury. Klopp’s been vocal about it, it’s no secret. Everyone knows it…EVERYONE….

Numerous times last night Hendo dropped back into that space between the centre backs that is now so en vogue, looking to pick up the ball from Matip/Lovren and launch an attack. All well and good, except for one thing…Lovren passed to Matip (around Hendo) and vice versa. Honestly, it happened regularly. Why???

Is Lovren/Matip better at passing forward than Hendo? Nah.

Are they subconsciously worried about Hendo due to his injury? Maybe…

When you have both Emre Can and Jordan Henderson in the squad, and one is injured, then the other steps in, or should do. Yet last night, and for the past few games, we’ve seen Can and Hendo play alongside each other, and I can’t work out why…

Does Jurgen not trust Emre in the holding role? If so, he’s not fit for purpose as he’s not really good enough to play the Gini/Lallana role…

I’m puzzled. I suspect I’m not alone.

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

I thought he played alright actually.

He came closest to scoring (although it would have been an assist to a Fraser Forster howler), and he kept his dilly-dallying to the bare minimum. He also tracked back to great effect, particularly in the first half.

However I refer you to my points above in the Henderson review piece.

Also, ignore the contract tittle-tattle in the press. Nobody knows what’s really going on.

7/10.

 

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

I thought his night was summed up late in the game when he had an opportunity to burst forward but ended up trodding on the ball, stretching his leg back to get it and tripping his opponent.

He was playing in his preferred position, but didn’t have the impact he has had throughout the season…like so many others.

I get the feeling that the key to Liverpool’s success is not ‘a single thing’ but actually a rather complicated puzzle where numerous factors all need to be just right. My theory is:

Firmino central, Lallana deep, Coutinho roaming, Mané in Liverpool, Henderson fully fit, Wijnaldum on the pitch and Matip playing.

Last night 4 of those pieces were missing.

6/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

From the fulcrum of everything good (in a bad team display) against Swansea to a peripheral figure last night.

He tried, but he was out of position, and Bobby plays horribly when he’s out of position. That’s alarming in itself, the fact that his impact is so clearly limited when not in his favoured role…

One thing that has emerged clearly is that Bobby and Daniel can’t play together. Let’s just add that to the long list of problems gathered in January, shall we?

6/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

 

CONGRATULATIONS!

A new 5 year deal, and I’m glad you listened to my advice about staying. Honestly, that Barcelona place looks nice in the brochures, but it’s a kip in reality. A real dive.

Anyway, your next mission is to give Jurgen a kick in the baws, please. Hooking you with 3 minutes to go and we’re chasing a goal? What the f*ck is THAT about? Would the 3 minutes have gone against your ‘comeback schedule’? Me arse.

Needless to say, we need you back to your best asap mate.

Love you xxx

7/10

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

There are certain players that you watch for a long time, and you slowly, gradually come to a conclusion that they just don’t fit / just don’t have it anymore. It can take a full season or even longer, and you regularly fight the evidence of your own eyes and try and justify all the reasons why that player is still the dogs boll*x and needed in the team.

Alternatively you can have moments of clarity – a stunning bolt from the blue as you watch a player and you know, YOU INSTANTLY KNOW, that it’s over for them at your club.

Alas, that happened last night with Daniel Sturridge.

No, it has nothing to do with the misses (of which there were a few), as they can happen to any striker at any time.

This was a moment in the second half when a ball was played over the top, into acres of space for Daniel Sturridge to chase. Yes, there was pace on the ball, but having watched him for years, you know he could catch it with ease, and would then be in a great attacking position. Daniel set off after the ball…and just didn’t have it in his legs to get there, succeeding only in back-heeling the ball to the opposition, in a desperate attempt to keep the ball in play.

Is his extra yard gone from his legs due to the toll of constant injury?

Is his extra yard gone from his head because he’s afraid of further injury?

I don’t know if we’ll ever know the answer, but I know that to go where we want LFC to go, we can’t carry that in the squad, particularly from someone so close to the first team.

I’m gutted, but I know what I saw and I know what it means. Daniel is going to the airport this summer, but he has no idea where his final destination will be .

6/10

Substitutes:

wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

I have no idea what his introduction for Philippe with minutes left was supposed to achieve.

N/A

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Desperately unlucky not to win a tie saving / month saving / season saving (delete as applicable as the season goes on) penalty, and having been sprung from the bench, that’s as much as we could have asked of him.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

The beard has been trimmed.

The excuses and complaints are flowing more freely than ever before.

The laughing has stopped.

As a cup campaign that promised so much fades into the memory banks, the torrid month of January continues with two more games left…another cup tie and Chelsea at Anfield.

The race for the Top 4 has 6 runners and riders, 4 of whom are above the 2 points a game target that normally guarantees a Top 4 place, and the other two are just outside that incredibly high standard.

Make no mistake, Jurgen Klopp is a manager under pressure.

However this is NOT a crisis. It’s a tough time, but that’s all it is. As quickly as the magic died it can be started again, often without rhyme or reason.

Yes, the squad needs more depth, and yes the transfer window is open, but no, that does not mean Klopp should buy someone, anyone, just because he can. He has signed a long-term contract because he sees this as a long-term project, so he’ll only buy players as and when he feels they are suitable and when they are available. That’s not this January, no matter how much you want it to be.

This is still his first full season in the job, I’m amazed at how many forget that, or disregard it and demand instant success. Instant success in a league crammed with oligarchs and oil billionaires and José’s and Pep’s and Arsene’s and Antonio’s and Mauricio’s. I’ve seen it said that THIS season was OUR chance, and we blew it. Yes, THIS season with a team on 55 points after 22 games, which wins the title EVERY season (even when Newcastle blew it 21 seasons ago they had 54 points after 23 games ffs).

Klopp preached early in his tenure that he wanted to turn doubters into believers. It was a nice soundbite at the time, gladly seized upon by the press, but it’s only NOW, when things are not going exceedingly well, that you understand what he meant. Liverpool don’t have believers anymore, and maybe that’s understandable after 27+ years without a title. We’ve all been burned by raised hopes and dashed dreams, so isn’t it natural that we all doubt that it will ever happen? Perhaps, but what good is that to Jurgen and the team? What use is the crowd when it’s deathly quiet or moaning and whining when the going gets tough? The team don’t need the crowd at full volume when they’re smashing Watford for 6, they need them at full volume when they’re struggling to break down a resolute defence, or trying to come from behind in a game.

If you don’t agree with any of this, that’s your prerogative, but throwing all your toys out of the pram, demanding instant signings and calling for the head of Klopp makes you a spoilt little child who has no business being a Liverpool fan.

And that’s my prerogative.

6/10.

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

Liverpool 2-3 Swansea City: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

Simon has been concentrating on his meditation since he lost his place in the first team in order to remain calm, composed and ready to spring into action whenever required.

Since he regained his place, he credited his tantric sessions to his upturn in fortune and doubled-down on this new pastime. Unfortunately he took it too far today.

Deciding to go for a lie-down as the ball is just 3 yards from your own goal is just a wee bit too relaxed for my liking, and was much to the satisfaction of Llorente who stabbed the ball into an empty net with Migs on the verge of ‘Zen’.

Very little chance with either of the other two goals, but yet another day when he didn’t actually save anything. Not alone by any means in having a bad day.

6/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

When Klopp updated the press as to the fitness or otherwise of Patsy Clyne, he informed the assembled press pack that Patsy had gotten two running sessions under his belt and should be fine for this game.

While all that is splendid, would it be a good idea for Patsy to be introduced to a football while running? He looked like he didn’t know what a football was this afternoon. His crossing was woeful, his first touch would make a JCB blush and he was caught for two of the three goals conceded today.

Quite probably his worst performance of the season. Trent Alexander-Arnold, not even on the bench, is reported to have started his warm-up on the full-time whistle.

 5/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Do you remember the TV show ‘Quantum Leap’?

If not, it was all about some scientist dude that could travel back and forward in time, ‘leaping’ into the bodies of some randomers, living their lives while everybody he interacted with didn’t know that ‘he’ was ‘not him/her’. It was a cracking show when you only had 2 channels and Netflix wasn’t even invented….

Anyway, today Dejan Lovren had a real-life ‘Quantum Leap’ episode. That wasn’t really him on the pitch today. Nope, in a stunning development it was Bjorn Tore Kvarma who was spirited into the body of Lovren, which led him to play like, well, Bjorn Tore Kvarma. And it wasn’t the Bjorn Tore Kvarma who played in red in the 90’s, it was the 44 year old Bjorn Tore Kvarma of today…

How else can you explain how Lovren was there but really wasn’t? He missed tackles, he missed headers, he missed bloody everything. Shocking. Again. You have to think that Jurgen will eventually lose patience with the fact that his centre-half keeps throwing in shockers every few months…

5/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

So you finally find out, on the eve of the game, that the fella itching to take your place in the team has just been given the all-clear to do so. The next game is going to be your last chance to put down a marker and to try and keep your place.

Ragnar chose this afternoon to do the bloody opposite. Less Klavan The Barbarian, more Klavan The Metrosexual.

Utterly dominated by Llorente, but in fairness to him he played the best pass of any player in red today…right into the path of Gorgeous Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Matip is back and Ragnar is now about to go into hibernation for the rest of the winter. Personally I’d chuck him in a cryogenic chamber and throw away the key.

4/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

When all around you are losing their head, you can count on James Milner to keep his.

A cracking tussle with Wayne Routledge for the full match, he also decided that enough was enough at two down, rolled up his sleeves (yes, even when they’re short sleeves he rolls them up to his shoulders) and dragged Liverpool back into the match.

A cracking cross led to the first for Bobby Firmino and James was thundering up and down the left wing chasing the winner.

It’s ironic that in a back-four where he’s not in his ‘natural position’, he’s the only one who emerged with his reputation intact.

7/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Wayward with his passing, particularly in the first half, as he tried to force things against the mass-ranks of the Swansea defence, but he worked as hard as anybody to try and turn around what was a living nightmare for all in red.

However…

When you’re captain of a side, you have to see what others don’t see, and keep calm when all around you are losing their head….

When Liverpool equalised with over 20′ left to play, there was no need for a gung-ho, desperate assault on the Swansea City goal. They were on the ropes, and right where we wanted them. Naturally many in red wanted to pile forward, get the winner as soon as possible, but that’s where leaders are required on the pitch…

Hendo needed to get everybody to calm down. Get word to them all to settle, take it easy and to work a winner in due course, not at the next available opportunity. However he seemed to be as caught up in the drama as everyone else.

Harsh? Perhaps, but Oh Captain My Captain, that’s why you should be different.

6/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

Prior to kick-off, I tweeted (you can check if you don’t believe me) that Jurgen Klopp had gotten his team selection wrong.

I hate when I’m right.

We had no need for all three of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and The Geordie Wine Gum to play at home to a Swansea City side who were certain to put 11 men behind the ball, particularly to start the game (which amazingly, they did!).

When you’re faced with a mass defence, who are intent on shackling your front players and playing the defensive line in touching distance of the midfield line and denying any space for the likes of Coutinho/Firmino to turn and run at them, you need to deploy Lallana deeper. He can then make the kind of late, surging runs into the box that nullifies a deep-lying defence, and keeps all the Swansea midfielders on their toes.

Alas, Emre was selected for a game that did not suit him. Games like last week away at Old Trafford are where Emre now thrives. Maybe in time he’ll develop to take games like today by the scruff of the neck, but his current abilities tend to slow up the ball and prevent the quick passing and movement required to unlock the defence.

Many have said that he was picked as Klopp knows that even against a Swansea City, we can be caught too easily on the break. That’s a valid point but…well, how did that work out again?

A poor day for Emre, but he was played a hospital ball by his gaffer…

6/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

For over an hour, it was another one of those games where I was asking myself ‘But what exactly does Gini do?’…and then he answered me.

What The Geordie Wine Gum did to set up the equalising goal is something that I can’t see Emre Can doing at present, so that’s why he starts ahead of Emre in games like this in the future.

I’m not saying he was magnificent, and for large chunks of the game he was all at sea as much as the next man, but he showed quality when it mattered.

A little more wouldn’t hurt mind…

7/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Considering he was played away from his best position, I thought Adam was magnificent this afternoon. The vast majority of threat came through him and he was desperately unlucky not to get on the scoresheet or provide an assist.

I don’t want to harp on about it, but if he had been deployed from deep for the full game, things may have been different. Of course our defence would still have been as effective as a waterproof teabag, but we may have scored a few more…

8/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Welcome back Bobby F!

That’s two of the best goals of the season, right there, right when we needed them.

A superb sneaky shove in the back of the defender before a THUNDEROUS header into the net, but this was usurped by a frankly filthy piece of skill to chest down a looping cross and half-volley the ball into the corner from 12 yards.

I want to leave my wife and kids and run away with that piece of skill. His double-act with Philippe will only grow in strength as Coutinho gets back to full match fitness.

I can’t bloody wait. We need him now more than ever.

9/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

It’s good to have you back and starting a game for the first time since November.

As you have seen, very little has changed since your last start. Teams still come to Anfield to park the bus, but during your absence a little bit of magic, a little spark, a little je ne sais quoi has been lost from the team. Nobody can put their finger on what it is (some say it’s called ‘SADIO’, whatever that is), but I need you to do whatever you can to bring it back. Please.

Yes, it’s unfair to ask someone just walking again to ride to the rescue, but that’s your lot mate. Get Bobby dazzing again. Get Adam back in the goals. Get Mané back from Africa (kidnap him if you have to).

You know what to do.

Love you xxx

7/10

Substitutes:

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

When you come out in an interview and proclaim that you’re the best striker at the club, it would be nice if you come off the bench v Swansea City and prove it.

I’m not saying Daniel was poor, but he didn’t have the impact I was hoping for.

6/10

origi

Divock Origi:

20′ to make an impact…and it didn’t happen. Oh for the Origi of a few weeks ago who was rescuing a win against Sunderland.

Mind you, for the majority of his time on the pitch he was asked to be Andy bloody Carroll with long balls fired at his head. That’s not his game, like….

6/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip:

If you think I’m going to research some Billy Joel lyrics for an injury time cameo appearance, you’ve got another thing coming.

Thrown on up front? That’s embarrassing.

N/A


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

It’s great! 10 league games left at home! Fortress Anfield! Watch the run we go on now!

Well, that lasted all of 90 minutes.

You picked the wrong bloody team Jurgen. W.R.O.N.G. But we all make mistakes.

You’re in the trenches now Jurgen. Whether it’s an issue with energy levels, fitness, motivation, belief…whatever…it’s down to you to fix it.

Where before kick-off we are eyeing a league title, we’re now cheering on Burnley/Hull to help us in a quest for a Champions League place.

You’re right Jurgen, every game from now on is a final. You’ve got a great record in finals, right? RIGHT?

Awww crap….

6/10.

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

Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Liverpool: The Ranting Rebel 3rd Round Replay Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

Now I’m not one to cast aspersions *cough* but the locals in Plymouth have never seen a man like Fandango before.

The poor lad did well to make it out of Home Park with all his ‘bits’ still attached. The scenes as he tried to get back on the team bus to go home made ‘Beatlemania’ look like a Donald Trump Inauguration. The Plymouth females (and an alarming amount of males) threw so many knickers at him, he’s now the fourth biggest cotton trader on the planet and is listed on the FTSE as of this morning. Remarkable.

As for his performance, it was another clean sheet, a couple of decent stops and pretty much void of brainfades. The young fella might just make it…you know, aside from the fact that he was voted the second best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga…but as Theresa May has taught us so well, what the f*ck would the Germans know about anything, eh?

8/10 

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

To my ‘trained’ eye, TAA looked a bit nervy last night, a bit shifty, a bit uncomfortable.

Perhaps he was a bit tired after his efforts at Old Trafford just days before, or he was feeling the pressure as he realised he was playing in the same back four as Bertie Moreno…or perhaps he was just bloody cold and far away from home in a strange, strange land where the locals like to eat all their food wrapped in a pastry case, even their Weetabix….

In any case, when push came to shove, TAA stood tall and was responsible for more than one crucial intervention as the hosts tried to put the Liverpool Reserves under pressure. Assuming that Patsy is back on Saturday, Trent has proved himself to be a very able deputy…so all those mewling chequebook fans can shut their cakeholes when ‘lamenting’ the ‘net-spend’ and ‘lack of depth’ in the squad.

Y’know, even if the amount of Liverpool fans who constantly wailed about these things did so at Anfield, the atmosphere would be 274% louder.

Just saying…

8/10. 

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

An act of genius from Klopp which has gone undetected by the majority.

If you have to break into a secure area, who do you call on to get you in?

  • A. Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible
  • B. Catherine Zeta Jones (in THOSE leggings) in Entrapment
  • C. The Hulk
  • D. Lucas Leiva

The answer is clearly D, and if you said A, B or C then you’ve earned yourself some extra homework (you have to read four other Ranting Rebel Ratings from last season. Off you go, I’ll wait…)

Why Lucas? Well, who better to break down the shop than the fella who knows most about shutting it up in the first place? Think about it…

Of course the bad news is that his goal heralds the end of days. It’s even in the Bible. Genesis 2:45 says ‘On the eve of the rise of the tango shitgibbon, the not very Brazilian Brazilian shall decimate the pastie-lovers by rising like a Phoenix to thunder a header home at the near post’.

And they say that the Bible is vague on specifics….

9/10

joe-gomez

Joe Gomez: 

 

It’s not the first game back after a long absence that’s the tough game, it’s the second…

Adrenaline, excitement and trying not to poop your pants gets you through Game 1. However Game 2 is where reality bites, and I think we saw a bit of that with Joey G last night. He wasn’t bad, but a large Cameroonian gentleman gave him a rough time, and not the kind that certain websites specialise in…

However, considering last July he was broken and probably 6th in line (maybe even 7th) for a CB spot, he’ll take last night all day long. If you get what I mean.

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno: 

 

I’m struggling to say something about Bertie…

That’s a good thing, because it’s fair to say he’s given me plenty of ammunition for barrages of bile in the past, but last night he was downright dull.

Adequate going forward. Adequate at the back. Adequate.

I like that word.

7/10

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart: 

 

Imagine one of those ‘Wagon-Wheels’ that you see on the graphics for the cricket, when some lad has hit a century, and they show where all his shots have gone.

Forward, Backwards, Leg-Side, On-Side, Silly Mid-Off, Dopey Back-Left, Centre-Right-Alliance (or whatever, I’m not an authority on cricket).

wagon-wheel
No, this is not Kerplunk…

Anyway, ‘Bobby’ Stewart can match Jordan Henderson’s Wagon Wheel for exactly 180° of a circle (this is going to test your maths knowledge…). Sideways (either left or right, and backwards, Kev is sound as a pound, and a match for Hendo.

However as he tries to play the ball forward, that’s where the difference is a lot more stark. The accuracy and vision are missing, but then I am comparing him to the Liverpool Captain. So I’m being harsh, right?

Well, no…not really. I mean, he’s in the squad to step in when required, so he has to step in and do the same things, at least close to the same standard…and he’s out by about 180°

P.S. If you’re now humming that Nathan Carter tune…I’m sorry *cackles*

6/10

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

Please don’t go!

I know that a cold night in Plymouth, playing against an 11-man defence in front of temporary stands (and temporary fans) is not exactly ideal, but it’s way, way worse in Barcelona.

No, really, it is.

When they get drawn against a minnow in the cup, they have to play away in Lanzarote, in the crater of a volcano that’s about to erupt at any time, sulphur fills the air, dust chokes your airways, the pitch is 50% grass and 50% burning lava and the average temperature is 169°C. Fatalities are common.

What? That still sounds better than last night?

Aye, I can’t argue with you.

Love you xxx

8/10.

ovie-ejaria

Ovie Ejaria:

 

On a positive note, Ovie didn’t look out of place against Plymouth.

On a negative note, Ovie didn’t look out of place against Plymouth.

If these ‘kids’ are going to ‘make it’ at Liverpool, they should be standing out, showing signs of real class, signs that you know they’re going to play Premier League football regularly very soon.

Unfortunately, and Ovie is not alone here, none of them really did (nor did some ‘Senior’ players).

This wasn’t a one-off game either, these kids played 3 hours of football against Plymouth Argyle…and did very little…

I’m glad Jurgen is giving them a spin, because he has to find out one way or the other about whether they’re going to keep our ‘net-spend’ in the black (that’s a joke by the way…).

Should Liverpool secure a Champions League place this season, then you suspect that the summer transfer window could be busy…and you wonder where that will leave the likes of Ovie Ejaria…

6/10

 sturridge

Daniel Sturridge: 

 

When Liverpool played away to Burton Albion in the league cup last Autumn, Daniel made a cameo appearance off the bench and fired in two quick goals.

The difference between that night and last night is in the players he had around him. At Burton he had the likes of Lallana, Henderson and Mané, whereas last night he had Ejaria, Woodburn and Stewart.

I’m not making excuses for Daniel, as last night didn’t go as I’m sure he had hoped/planned, but I saw him making clever runs that better players would have spotted / anticipated.

His scoring record speaks for itself, but he plays alongside class players for the majority of those games.

Does this mean he’s not a natural ‘leader’? Probably. But did anyone ever think he was?

At his deadliest, he was playing alongside Luis Suarez who was in the form of his life (and still is…). Some players make things happen, others are deadly when others do. Daniel falls into the latter category.

Of course the eternal question still remains…does he fit into Klopp’s plans? Well I suspect that he absolutely does, until Klopp can find someone else. That’s the way of the footballing world…

7/10.

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

Ben looks like a young child, all rosy-cheeked and cherubic, like he wouldn’t hurt a fly…Awww…

Ben played like a young child, all rosy-cheeked and cherubic, like he wouldn’t hurt a fly…Awww crap…

He’s very young, hopes are high and he’s got a lot of developing to do. Hopefully.

6/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Not a great night for Divock, but there’s a caveat looming…

The poor fecker played in 5 different positions last night over 90 minutes.

Centre of the attack. Left of the attack. Right of the attack. Back to centre of the attack. Back to the left of the attack.

I’m surprised he didn’t start attacking the wrong end, he must have been dizzy.

A couple of fecking goals wouldn’t have hurt though.

It’s going to click on Saturday against Swansea, right? I mean it has to, right? It’s only fecking Swansea, right? RIGHT?

6/10

Substitutes:

ojo

Sheyi Ojo:

 

15′ cameo.

I can’t remember anything about it.

6/10

harry-wilson

Harry Wilson:

 

Let me tell you about Harry Wilson.

  1. He’s Welsh. He could be the next Gareth Bale. He probably won’t be.
  2. He is the youngest Welsh international ever, beating Bale’s record.
  3. He is the youngest international in LFC history.
  4. He was on loan at Crewe Alexandra. Let’s say nothing more.
  5. He’s been banging in the goals while captaining the U-23’s at the age of 19

So that’s the facts and figures.

He looked lively last night, in fairness to him. I’m glad that he didn’t score from the deflection as he charged down the goalkick. I mean, he’d much prefer his first goal for the first team to be a bit better than that…

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

It all feels a bit flat Jurgen. Still.

At least we have a win on the books for 2017, so that’s positive. You can also point to the fact that you’ve rotated more than the Earth since the end of 2016.

Time to get the first XI back into the groove on Saturday Jurgen. Time for the Avengers to Assemble (minus Mané). A healthy and spirit-lifting 5-0 spanking would do wonders for morale. I’ll just leave that to you…

7/10.

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