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Football Thread 2021/2022


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3 hours ago, Gotters said:

The Kane stories seem to be amping up this morning about City for £160m & £400k a week wages.

 

Pretty scathing from a Man City source

 

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Manchester City have made it plain that talk they have agreed a £160million deal for Tottenham striker Harry Kane is nonsense.

And club sources say that the Blues will NEVER pay that kind of sum for a player - a fee that would have doubled their current record and lumped £30million on top.

 

Whoever gave the Sun this (speculation rife that it's from Kane's agent/brother) has really fucked it, Levy won't be accepting less than that now. 

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I've seen Dortmund repeatedly say Haaland isn't for sale and take it with a huge pinch of salt - they may not financially need to sell but once the release clause kicks in any bidding war next season goes straight into his agents pocket and bumps up wages - I'm sure if somebody tested them with a firm huge bid they would have to think about it seriously.

 

The clause is so relatively low compared to what the market rate would be, even in a pandemic.

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There does seem to be a lot of rumours and so on - either the papers are making it up or the agents are planting stories to get things moving but it doesn't feel like there is a lot going on.

 

After all, Grealish was supposed to be a Man Utd player by now (I literally just went to the Graun to check if Sancho had actually signed) and both Everton and Villa have supposedly "declared interest" in Dwight McNeil.

 

(£25m worth in Everton's case.  Ha ha ha fuck off.)

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Lots of players still on holiday, the Gold Cup is on, Copa Libertadores just finished a round, and theres the Olympic teams. I suspect it's going to take a couple of the big transfers to happen to get things truly moving, and even then I reckon it's going to be a lot of late activity this window.

 

In respect of McNeil, I think he might be one of a few Villa have in the fire in the same kind of position. Whether he's first choice in that list, who knows.

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There's often a kind of clog in transfer windows where it seems everyone is trying to sort out a replacement, no-one wants to sell until they know they've got their replacement sorted, no-one's got the money to buy until they've sold their big-money star, that sort of thing.  It's being exacerbated by the two big Spanish clubs needing to sell before they can buy and nobody feeling particularly inclined to buy their overpaid flops.  If the Verane transfer to Man Utd happens we might see things start to move.  

 

The Kane thing is fascinating.  Arguably the best striker in the world, he's keen to move, but it looks extremely unlikely that he will, and he's going to end up stranded at what is now, lets face it, an upper-mid-table team with a squad that isn't going to take them up the table.

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On 21/07/2021 at 15:46, Pants McSkill said:

Also, because football off-season is so quiet and devoid of talking points, The Netherlands women's team have just beaten Zambia 10-3 at the Olympics.

The excellently named Barbra Banda grabbing a consolation hat-trick for the Africans.

 

She's scored another hat-trick today in a 4-4 draw with China.

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4 hours ago, Adrock said:

Best striker in the world? You having a laugh? Lewandoski has been the best for a good few years now, none better than he.

 

I said "arguably" not indisputably. :rolleyes:

 

They're both great players. The argument for Kane being the better player would be that he has a more rounded game, and is a superb creater of goals as well as a goalscorer.  His timing and weighting of a pass is exceptional.  He also plays for a weaker team than Lewandowski, and in a stronger league.  

 

I'm not making the argument that one is better than the other though - just saying that you could make a case for either.  

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Losing possession for 18 months will do that to you.

 

It's kinda sad really. I think he's got the ability to be a very good player. But coming in to a struggling team and making a big step up put a strain on his name and then losing possession for 18 months has people queuing up to sack him off. There's a kind of joy in his failing.

 

If only he'd not conceded that goal kick.

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19 hours ago, Adrock said:

Best striker in the world? You having a laugh? Lewandoski has been the best for a good few years now, none better than he.

 

There are those on reddit who will simply not have it if you suggest Kane is better than Lewandowski...

 

It's those long range strikes of Kane i like so much. Lewandowski is sharper in the box though. I think Kane is getting close to Lewandowski's numbers if he plays for Bayern but i don't think Lewandowski is getting close to Kane's if he played for Spurs. I don’t know how comparable people would say Spurs and Dortmund were in terms of first 11, their position in the league, challenging for the league if you compare Lewandowski's 187 games for them with Kane's first 187 games for Spurs. Dortmund were winning the league twice while Tim Sherwood was managing Spurs and Pochettino spent years trying to change the club's mentality so..fair to say Lewandowski had better conditions, better players feeding him chances than Kane at Spurs. 103 in 187 for Lewandowski, Kane's 187 games from the 2014-2019/20 (so not first, ignoring 6, 1, 19 apps) seasons where he first established himself...135. 

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Very good article from Michael Cox about how good footballers have to be to make it - we should all think of this next time we are coming in to declare 'so and so is crap'

 

Spoiler

In recent times, there’s been a notable shift in the perception of footballers.

A decade ago they were presented as spoilt, overpaid and ignorant, obsessed with cars and WAGs, and completely distanced from the common man.

But Raheem Sterling, once portrayed in that manner, is now considered an intelligent and thoughtful young man and was awarded an MBE for services to racial equality. His England team-mate Marcus Rashford led a selfless and highly effective campaign to help feed children in poverty, for which he was also awarded an MBE — as was Jordan Henderson, for his charitable work during the pandemic.

Footballers are happy to become involved in political issues, often appearing to attract more support than politicians themselves. Something equivalent to Tyrone Mings’ criticism of the home secretary after England’s elimination from Euro 2020 would not, you suspect, have happened in the “golden generation” era.

There are, certainly, those who don’t appreciate this sort of thing and would prefer footballers to stick to playing football. But even they probably wouldn’t dare of going for the old stereotype about footballers being dim-witted. It no longer works. The public no longer think of footballers as being detached from society. They think of them as, broadly speaking, decent people.

The next shift in perception should concentrate not upon what footballers are like as people, but what they’re like as footballers. Granted, some are hero-worshipped and earn a tremendous living, but Premier League footballers are essentially still underrated, both by the general public and devoted football fans.

There’s a tendency to put all high-achieving sportspeople into one group, regardless of their sport. A top-flight footballer is considered roughly as talented as a top-flight rugby player or cricketer.

But think about the maths. Rugby and cricket are popular sports in England, but there are certain barriers to entry, and they are — to varying extents — played in quite particular environments. Rugby, especially, is largely the domain of private schools, which accounts for around seven per cent of pupils in the country.

Using anecdotal evidence, looking back at my primary school class, only one lad played rugby. One was a very handy cricketer. But over half the boys would have said their dream job was to be a footballer. Immediately, the competition to be the best footballer in our class was about 10 times harder than being the best rugby or cricket player.

On top of that, only around 10 countries actually take rugby and cricket seriously enough to regularly produce players capable of playing in the English top flight, whereas football is not merely the default sport in Britain, it’s also the most popular sport across the world. Even prominent sporting nations that didn’t traditionally excel at football — Australia, USA, Japan, China — have dramatically developed their domestic leagues over the past couple of decades. To be playing for the best cricket or rugby side in Britain, you’re competing against a small fraction of the population in Britain, and then the best from a small number of countries around the world.

In football, to play up front for Liverpool you need to be better than the best player from football-mad Senegal, the best from football-mad Egypt, and extremely good ones from other football-mad countries like Portugal, Brazil and Belgium, never mind everyone who grew up on football-mad Merseyside.

In fact, there doesn’t appear to be a single Merseyside-born forward currently playing in the Premier League. The last one was possibly Wayne Rooney, born in 1985. Highly-rated Leeds youngster Joe Gelhardt, born in 2002, might be the next one.

In other words, the best forward, of all those born between 1986 and 2001 in Liverpool, the footballing city in England, was not good enough to be a Premier League regular.

Every club cricketer claims to have played against a future Australian international who was knocking around in the home counties one English summer, and every amateur rugby player has seemingly trained with a second division side, which sounds impressive in football terms, but the difference between the top and amateur level is not actually that large in those sports, because those at the top have not, relatively speaking, seen off the same amount of competition as footballers.

In football, the gap is massive. I was a decent enough footballer. There was never any hope of me making it as a professional, but I very much can playfootball, in the same way that someone who can strum a few songs can reasonably say they can play the guitar. A couple of years ago, I played in a match that was filmed, and I could put together a short compilation of passes and an outside-the-box goal that would make me look quite good (if I omitted the goal I conceded when caught in possession on the edge of my own box, which resulted in a sweary argument with a television presenter).

I played 11-a-side from the age of eight until university, often with players who were considerably better than me. And yet, to my knowledge, absolutely none ever became a professional. Some were released from clubs and ended up in other occupations, and one played in the semi-professional Isthmian League. That’s it, from literally hundreds of keen footballers. Either playing alongside me was utterly ruinous to their hopes, or the competition is absolutely ferocious.

I once played a match alongside a bloke who — I was told beforehand — used to play for Oxford United. He absolutely ran the game throughout, cutting through the opposition at will, exchanging passes with his younger brother like Cassano and Totti for Roma. He was astonishingly good.

On that basis, I assumed this was a former League One-level attacking midfielder. Nope — when I Googled him, it turns out he’d spent just 18 months in the first team, when Oxford were only in the fifth tier, and he was a right-back. He spent the remainder of his career in lower divisions. He was head and shoulders above everyone else that day, and yet by the standards of professional football, had been on the fringes, in the least glamorous position of all.

A couple of years later, I was playing in a match at Old Trafford arranged by one of Manchester United’s sponsors, where a group of English journalists thrashed a Russian equivalent team. The “managers” for the day, Denis Irwin and Quinton Fortune, generously came off the benches at half-time to help the beleaguered Russian side.

Irwin had been retired for 15 years, Fortune for a decade. Yet together they absolutely bossed the game, ignoring their flagging team-mates and evading challenges from sprightlier opponents by knocking a series of diagonal balls to one another, like one of those “three professionals against 100 schoolkids” games you’ve probably seen on YouTube. They were both still brilliant and turned a 4-0 half-time scoreline into a more respectable 5-3. At one point, I closed down Irwin as he received the ball on the edge of his own box, and after a couple of seconds panicking and trying to remember whether Irwin was left- or right-footed, he’d turned past me and was gone. Class is permanent.

And yet class isn’t actually enough. Gone are the days when mercurial wingers could rely on natural pace and trickery while leaving defending to others. Today, everyone has to press and track back, play their part without the ball. Furthermore, academy coaches devise remarkably complex training drills to improve players’ spatial awareness and increasingly fill their heads with tactical information. If you don’t take that detail on board, others will, and they’ll become better than you. It’s a huge learning process to transform from a talented teenager to someone capable of playing professionally. Besides, in the age of intense scouting and statistical analysis, any possible weakness is identified and exploited ruthlessly.

Perhaps the most brutal thing in the modern game is the consistency required. In some other high-profile occupations, a brief period of brilliance is enough to sustain stardom forever. Some actors, for example, get lucky from a casting in a successful film and live off that for decades. In music, The Killers made a massive album in 2004, an all right album in 2006 and relatively little of note thereafter, yet were headlining the most recent Glastonbury, in 2019.

To provide an admittedly odd comparison, Danny Rose was voted the best left-back in the Premier League in both 2016 and 2017. Yet in 2020, at the age of 30, he was omitted from the Tottenham squad because, basically, he wasn’t considered good enough. He didn’t play all season.

And therefore, the most underappreciated players are those at the top — or at least, those on the fringes of the top, who have tasted tremendous success and are struggling to maintain that level. I recently heard someone suggesting Danny Drinkwater had “wasted his career”, and while recent years have been difficult, he will retire with a Premier League winners’ medal and three England caps, which isn’t too shabby.

It’s worth considering the perception of Jesse Lingard early last season, before his highly successful loan to West Ham. He was treated as an embarrassment, a failure, a waste of talent. Even ignoring his incredible rejuvenation earlier this year, Lingard had already scored in a victorious FA Cup final and a victorious League Cup final, and at a World Cup. He hadn’t done badly.

Joe Hart is treated as a joke figure these days, but has played 75 times for England, won the Premier League twice and kept the most Premier League clean sheets for four years in a row. The ability and dedication required to reach this level are absolutely insane, and even if these players end up featuring next season at the bottom-placed Premier League team, they’re still in the top 0.1 per cent of every Englishman of their generation who grew up wanting to play football.

Perhaps this is the result of me being a season ticket holder at a seventh-tier club and realising how far down the pyramid you can find genuine quality, but I am genuinely irritated every time it’s implied a Premier League footballer is anything short of an elite athlete. I realise that, if a corner doesn’t clear the first man, the fan shouting that the culprit is “useless” is not attempting to provide a comprehensive analysis of his ability, but I can’t help thinking that we’d all appreciate top-flight football more if we more regularly thought about how good these players are.

 

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I enjoyed reading that. I've never been on the front row at a football match, even maybe 10 back i feel like I'm close but not close enough to see how fast they react. There's a few videos on YouTube that are good showing that, i like the first clip from this one with Coutinho:

 

 

I never doubt how good top professionals are in terms of quick thinking, celebrities on soccer aid will always say the ex pros were 3 steps ahead. 

 

There used to be a Man United site that had gifs of all the little moments of skill in games, unless you never blinked you'd never catch them all, sublime skills throughout games and this during the worst nothing football of Moyes and Van Gaal's reign. 

 

Another thing which I've said before about Phil Jones is that we hold players to the standard of greats but players just think of themselves as still little boys who dreamed of being a professional footballer. Even Messi, his first and only thought was to be a professional footballer, not a Barcelona legend. Players see enough talent among their age group get let go that even as professionals playing for the biggest clubs in the world will remember the struggle to get there and remain humble.

 

It's come up again with Son who knows he's one of the attacking players in the world (probably looked at the Guardian top 100 players in the world list or something) but that's not the same as expecting another big club to be willing to spend many millions acquiring you. I just think he's being paid a lot and is happy in London and gets to play.

 

I never doubt how technically good players are, that's why i get so annoyed when they don’t look down the line to see if they're offside or not. I think it's fair to say that in itself is not hard. The receiving the ball in midfield and manoeuvring away under pressure as players do dozens of times a match..always impressive. But not looking down the line..your one job in that moment of making a run that renders everything subsequently void...lazy.

 

Higuain in the world cup final scored a goal and celebrated wildly, he was a yard offside. He's crap in finals and the occassion might get to you but when you're a player who is so good you beat the serie A goal record it's a bit puzzling how something so fundamental to a forward's game leaves you. Werner last season genuinely came across like someone who has never heard of the offside rule even though with his pace so much of his game is running in behind. 

 

The other one is the blast over the bar from a cross where the commentators will just say 'oh it bounced up before'. It's like every player has just agreed; yeah we're all going to miss those, not even gonna bother, just accept those are impossible. 

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12 hours ago, Loik V credern said:

 

There are those on reddit who will simply not have it if you suggest Kane is better than Lewandowski...

 

It's those long range strikes of Kane i like so much. Lewandowski is sharper in the box though. I think Kane is getting close to Lewandowski's numbers if he plays for Bayern but i don't think Lewandowski is getting close to Kane's if he played for Spurs. I don’t know how comparable people would say Spurs and Dortmund were in terms of first 11, their position in the league, challenging for the league if you compare Lewandowski's 187 games for them with Kane's first 187 games for Spurs. Dortmund were winning the league twice while Tim Sherwood was managing Spurs and Pochettino spent years trying to change the club's mentality so..fair to say Lewandowski had better conditions, better players feeding him chances than Kane at Spurs. 103 in 187 for Lewandowski, Kane's 187 games from the 2014-2019/20 (so not first, ignoring 6, 1, 19 apps) seasons where he first established himself...135. 

 

How can you compare two players at completely different periods within their careers and pick an arbitrary period of time? You've assessed Lewandowski from the first moment of moving to a new country as a 21 year old but allowed Kane 26 appearances to warm up.

 

Kane is currently on 298 career league appearances for 180 league goals according to Wikipedia. 0.6 goals per game.

 

Lewandowski is on 497 career league appearances and 353 goals. 0.71 goals per game.

 

Would that be a fair way to compare? It's all a matter of opinion obviously but just plucking arbitrary periods from two players careers and then somehow trying to justify it by comparing the stature of the teams they played for is definitely not a fair way to compare two players.

 

There is no doubting Kane's standing amongst the world's top strikers but he isn't the best.

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I thought that article was fairly obvious - you do have to be exceptionally good (and lucky to a degree) - to make it. As for when people criticise players, sure, you probably should spend a moment thinking how good they are, but that criticism is relative to the environments they are playing in. Joe Hart's performances notably dropped-off a cliff compared to where he once was, Lingard was well off the pace at Man Utd and Danny Drinkwater probably will look back at his move from Leicester with a tinge of regret when he hangs up his boots. That doesn't mean they aren't still incredibly skilful and massively above any random player you'd find at semi-pro.

 

What that article fails to touch on though, and which I think is more interesting in how the game has changed, is the importance of the mental side, something those players he cites above have all been questioned over during their decline/fall/off-periods; Hart lost his confidence and never quite got it back, leading to his fall from Man City and England's graces; Lingard has been public with his mental health issues and Drinkwater probably let that title win get to him and, I think, made a bad career move.

 

I went to school with somebody who did go on to become a professional footballer, playing nearly 300 games across leagues 1 - 3 and he had skills and was fast, but he didn't have the right attitude. He was better than those around him and he knew it and, reading his Wiki page, it seems his attitude was questioned once he'd become a league footballer too. Only he can know how much further he might've gone had his head been right.

 

I think that mental side is also the difference between the very good and the absolute top tier. I'm sure we could all reel off a list of players that have played for our clubs that no doubt had the talent, but just lacked the right mental aptitude to take their game to the next level (I still wonder just how good Stan Collymore could've been at Liverpool, but for his well-spoken of issues; or how David James, whilst having a good career, never quite got over some early mistakes in his Liverpool career - albeit behind a terrible defence - and was forevermore always expected to drop a clanger.)

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