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Liverpool Article 05 May 2021
Comparison 9 - Mane v Hazard v Sterling

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Three of the best left wingers to have played in the English Premier League, they are all quick and skilful creators and goal scorers. The problem is that all three play the position in totally different ways, for teams that play football in totally different ways.

Touch: While Sterling does have a very good touch, Hazard and Mane are on a different level. Hazard's is particularly sublime on his day. It can be a thing of beauty to watch at times.

Tackling: Mane is a clear winner in this facet of the game. He has shown an ability to tackle like an old-fashioned full-back when tracking back. Sterling has played at full-back as a youngster, but was never the best tackler, but he does try. Something that you cannot really say for Hazard, who tends not to work back at all if he can help it, let alone make a tackle.

Dribbling: This one is very difficult to pick a clear winner in, they are all excellent in their own way. Mane is all about tight twists and turns, sudden dragbacks and a drop of the shoulder and gone from a standing start. Sterling's dribbling is best at pace, when he is very difficult to stop because his feet are so quick and he can nip the ball away just as a challenge is attempted. Hazard is almost a mix between the other two. I really cannot call it.

Passing: I would call this as a tie between Hazard and Mane. They are both excellent at linking play and bringing in others or playing in a teammate. Sterling's passing can be a bit hit and miss, no doubt down to his striking technique on the ball.

Shooting: On this one I will have to give the win to Hazard. Mane and Sterling both score just as frequently, but Hazard's shooting technique is more refined, more consistent and would be the one I would choose to shoot at goal if my life was depending on the ball ending up in the back of the net. Last would be Sterling, who still suffers a bit from poor striking technique.

Heading: Mane is a clear winner in this area. He is very good in the air, with a good leap and timing which enables him to regularly beat much taller players to the ball. Hazard loses in this one, because he usually avoids even going for the header if possible. Sterling is brave but his heading is a definite weakness to his game.

Set Pieces: Hazard is the only regular set piece taker of the three and he is very good with them, so wins this clearly.

Crossing: Hazard's more consistent technique wins him this one too. It is more of a pass than a cross when he is out wide, as it usually finds its target. Mane is usually reliable, so comes second. Sterling is very hit and miss.

Defensive Awareness: Mane edges this one over Sterling, though Sterling has improved massively in this aspect of the game, he is still behind Mane, who is one of the best in the current game at protecting his full-back. Hazard is a long way off either, he very rarely tracks back and is not keen on doing so.

Movement: Again this is between Sterling and Mane, Hazard is more likely to wait for the ball than make a run to get it delivered where he can attack the box. Hazard wants the ball into his feet, he wants to get on the ball and make things happen. Both Sterling and Mane are excellent at making runs into space, looking for a ball to be played for them to run onto. It is very difficult to split them, so I am going to call it a tie. On their games, both of them are always a danger to the full-back with their movement. You regularly see both breaking through into space. So a draw it is.

Reading of the Game: This is an aspect that can be difficult to judge, as a lot of the time players are under very exacting instructions in the modern game. While Mane would seem to be the best in this aspect by a clear margin, Klopp is the only one of their managers that gives his players a large amount of freedom to think for themselves. In particular, Guardiola is extremely rigid and wants his players to display discipline following his tactical plan. That makes it impossible to judge whether Sterling's bad and good moments, in this area, are down to him or the plan that he is following. It is similar with Hazard, though it must be said he has shown little inclination to read the game defensively regardless of any plan. Despite that lack of inclination, it does not mean he would not be capable of doing so. Which leads me to the conclusion that this bit will have to be left open as an unknown.

Decision Making: I have to give this one to Hazard, by a clear margin, so long as it is only related to on the pitch decisions! Off the pitch you would not want him making decisions for you, particularly if it came to choosing somewhere to eat, unless you are happy with burgers every time. On the other hand, there are huge question marks around Sterling's decision making, which has to put him bottom of the trio.

Aggression: None of these three are particularly aggressive, but Mane is the one most likely to fly into a challenge or get in opponent's faces, which makes him the most aggressive. The other two could be said to be on the soft side in this respect, they are unlikely to get embroiled in disputes or smash into an opponent.

Composure: Hazard wins by a mile here. He tends to keep his composure no matter what is going on. In fact trying to get him wound up usually results in him just lifting his game. Mane can be riled up and is often targeted due to that tendency, though he is not the worst around, it is just that the two usually playing alongside him for Liverpool are much less likely to lose their heads than him. Sterling, on the other hand, has a tendency to fluff his lines when played in due to a lack of composure and his head can go when he gets targeted by opposing fans and/or players.

Concentration: This is a tough one to decide. All three, particularly this season, have shown that they can struggle with mental focus and lose their way. Hazard has shown a tendency to go missing for large stretches of a season, unless someone fires him up by hitting him with a hard tackle. Then he turns it on. Otherwise, at Chelsea he would be unplayable for a few games and then would fail to turn up for weeks or even months of the season. Sterling does a similar thing, but for him it is when the crowd get on his back, he seems unable to concentrate on the game and his touch becomes horrible. Mane is usually much more reliable, but he has had periods in his career when he is sulking over a move and stops concentrating on his game and it falls apart. I am going to edge this for Hazard over Mane, though it is close, and Sterling is a fair way behind.

Vision: Hazard wins this one hands down, on his day he has exceptional vision and could easily play as a playmaker if he chose. Mane can often get a little too head down and fail to spot the options available to him. While Sterling lacks vision, it is one of the weakest parts of his game.

Workrate: One thing you very rarely can criticise about either Mane or Sterling, is their workrate. Unless Mane is fighting for a move, when he has been known to down tools completely, even going on strike in the past. That for me means Sterling edges this one. Hazard, on the other hand, can be languid on his best days, but has long periods of not bothering to break sweat, which probably stem from his lack of physical fitness, due to lifestyle.

Professionalism: The clear loser here is Hazard, who really needs to learn the advantage of a good diet to improve his health and maybe he would pick up a lot less injuries. Mane and Sterling are much more professional in their approach, despite the nonsense in the tabloids about Sterling when he was first emerging. They are very close and only the disasters that were their attempts to move clubs in the past has shown a lack of professionalism. How much of that is down to bad advice is debatable, but they chose to follow the advice.

Acceleration: Mane shades this one, his acceleration from a standing start is just incredible. It is very close though as all three have the ability to accelerate away from defenders with ease.

Pace: A slight edge to Sterling here, again they are all very quick, but Sterling, despite his short legs and odd running style, is genuinely fast.

Strength: Mane takes this one, defenders often bounce off him. Hazard is also very strong, enabling him to hold off and ride challenges with ease. While Sterling is not really weak, his lack of bulk means he can be pushed aside.

Leap: A clear win for Mane, who is actually surpisingly strong in the air and probably should get a lot more goals with his head than he does. Both Hazard and Sterling have a good leap too, but they are just not quite as good as Mane.

Stamina: After a lot of thought, I will have to plump for Sterling. I really cannot remember ever seeing him look like he was out on his feet, no matter how much work he has done in a match. He always seems to have running left in him. Hazard is the loser here, though he is very good at saving his energy to use when on the ball.

Overall: It is difficult to produce a conclusion after this season! All three have struggled badly, for varying reasons but all three have also been incredibly effective and contributed a huge amount to trophy-winning teams in the past. If we were judging on this season, Hazard cannot get fit, Mane cannot hit the side of a very large barn from an inch away and Sterling has barely been able to get his shoes on the right feet, let alone play football to an acceptable level. Which leads me to the only possible conclusion, which is please let this season be over quickly so we can get back to some kind of normality!

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Suggested by FrankieSaysYNWA

02 May 2021 16:00:01
All the fans of any club who cause damage or disruption should be fined and banned for life. Don't encourage criminals. Police responding to this nonsense are being taken away from far more important crimes. They're often first medical responders to stab or assault victims. If one of your relatives dies because all the police were out dealing with football hooligans, how would you feel?

Some things are bigger than a poxy football club and what league they play in. Grow up the lot of you.

02 May 2021 17:50:51
well said MK Scouser!

Liverpool Article 25 Apr 2021
Liverpool v Newcastle United A Liverpool Perspective

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. Once again Liverpool create a multitude of chances, waste most of them and throw away a win because of it. A game they dominated and should have walked away from with a comfortable win and the only people to blame for not doing so was themselves. Even the normally clinical Jota was struggling badly to kick the ball in the right direction when in front of goal, let alone put it into the back of the net.

There were long periods Liverpool controlled the play without creating anything, but each time they did move the ball forward, they seemed to create a shooting chance. The worrying thing is that it was dithering from players in a good position to shoot that cost most of the chances. There were so many times I found myself shouting "just bloody shoot will you", while the player would take another touch, then another and then pass or lose the ball altogether.

The last few seasons the lack of a quality clinical finisher has not been a problem because of the high press meaning the chances that were arriving were of such high quality that goals came regularly anyway. The biggest worry for me is that, since signing an actual finisher in Jota, the press has vanished and the quality of chances has consequently dropped. In part the problem is that Jota rarely presses, the one time he did in this game he won the ball deep in the Newcastle half and caused a very dangerous situation. While the players can become more clinical through coaching, and it does need to be looked at, for me it is imperative that Klopp gets the high press working once more. The quality of chances that creates is so high that it makes scoring much easier.

Newcastle United

They came with a plan to sit back and soak up pressure hoping to hit on the break and, while it produced a decent result from their viewpoint, it must be said that it is difficult to say it actually worked. They were opened up with ease and were wide open, even to balls in behind, which is absolutely criminal for a team utilising the low block. Their defending was, at best, poor, and they should have conceded a hatfull of goals. On that basis I have to say that really, in this particular game, they got away with it, rather than earnt it.

All that said, you have to give them credit for keeping on going and not accepting defeat. Also that they were robbed by a silly rule of their first goal. Was it really a clear and obvious error by the referee to miss that? If not why was VAR intervening? Maybe the PGMOL should just throw the football lawbook away, as it is clear they are not taking any notice of it and are just running the game by their own rules. Often making them up as they go along on a game-by-game basis. Can we not just put Mike Riley out of my misery?

Anyway, back to actual football, I have to question Steve Bruce's tactics, which always seem to be the same: passive for 75 minutes and then act. They sit back and apply no pressure on the ball at all until the final 15 minutes and then they become a genuine threat and make it an even game. So why not do that sooner and give opponents a game for 90 minutes instead of 15? He might even find the fans would warm to him if he put a team out to try and win the game from the start.


Klopp - I can understand the decision to play Fabinho at the back once more with Phillips out injured, but it is clear it does not work. But when the option is Williams, with absolutely no pace or reading of the game, up against St-Maximin, I can see little in the way of option. The mistake for me was taking off Thiago, he was running the game, controlling the play and that was crucial when the lead is such a narrow one. Surely the better option would have been to take off the continously ineffectual Wijnaldum and use Milner and Thiago as a double pivot behind Jones?

Easy to say with hindsight I know, but even at the time I could not understand the decision when Thiago was playing so well, while Wijnaldum was barely playing. Unless Thiago was carrying a problem, the choice was a strange one as he was the centre of everything Liverpool were doing. Once he went off Liverpool were unable to get themselves sorted out and Newcastle were able to take over.

Alisson - looked much more like himself than he has done in recent weeks. The hair and beard are almost back to normal and his play is getting there too.

Alexander-Arnold - some of his balls into the box were incredible, the most incredible thing being no one managed to score from them. These are balls that make it easier to score than not, but no one is making the right runs and when they do make a run they are fluffing easy chances. I am not sure what more he can do than put the ball on a sixpence for anyone who actually attacks it.

Also defended well at times, showing good awareness to drop onto the line, though it was offside anyway, to clear one Newcastle attempt. He does still have a tendency to be a bit lazy when coming out to close down a player in a position to cross. I understand the desire not to sprint out and make it easy for the man to just go past him the other way leaving him miles out of position. It is not that I am referring to, it is the lazy jump in the air, usually turning his back, to attempt to block a potential cross. Face it up and get hit in the face if necessary, because the moment you turn your back you are out of the game and have no idea where the ball is or what is happening with it.

Fabinho - he is not a central defender and it shows time and time again. Far too often he sells himself needlessly in a challenge that he has no need to make, usually in the opposition half where there is absolutely no chance of him ever recovering in time to make a difference. What Fabinho is brilliant at is staying on his feet and just poking a leg in to take the ball away from an opponent, but he rarely does that in defence. Usually because he has been caught by a run in behind. In his midfield role, he does not have to be aware of those, as they are passed on to the defenders behind him, in defence he needs to spot them and prepare for them.

Kabak - one-on-one defending was very good from Kabak, he was able to deal with a number of those situations well. But, and it is a big but, the big weakness Liverpool have is in being caught in behind and he is a massive culprit in that regard. Most attacks against the team come from longer balls played over the top of the centre-backs for opposing forwards or midfielders to run onto. Because of that, the key asset that is needed in a Liverpool centre-back should be an ability to read those balls and deal with them and the runs. Kabak shows no sign of improvement in that respect, so I have to question if he is the right player for the club for the long term.

Robertson - a mixed game for Robertson. Some of the work and pressing he did was exceptional, stealing the ball and charging forward, though he could have done better with the shot. But it was mixed between some heavy touches and lack of awareness defensively.

Thiago - one of the best players on the pitch, controlling the play from kick off until he was subbed. Some of his passes were a delight to behold and it gave Newcastle a lift when he went off. It also helps that he is better positionally than both Jones and Wijnaldum, often being in the right place to pick off loose balls due to using his experience and intelligence. Without him, the midfield was very open.

Wijnaldum - at the beginning he showed excellent defensive awareness to cover behind the defence, which shows he does have the capacity to spot when he is needed to drop back. The question has to be asked, why is it just one instance in pretty much the entire season that he has shown any kind of inclination or awareness, despite spending a large portion in a defensive midfield role?

Mane - he was physical and worked hard, but his touch was off and he could not have been any worse in front of goal if he was trying to be. Mane's shooting was terrible and then when he got one-on-one with the keeper, he just dithered and allowed the keeper to get the ball. Awful performance and was probably the worst culprit in front of goal.

Firmino - his hold up play was excellent, he was getting on the ball, dancing away from opponents effortlessly and his movement was very good too. Sadly it was let down by his passing, which was very loose and his finishing, which was poor. Not a good day for him.

Salah - did brilliantly with his goal and everything apart from his shooting after that was excellent. He was creating chances, winning the ball back, breaking up counters, linking up play and generally was very good. Right up until he got a sight of the goalposts, when he fluffed every other shot he got.

Jota - a bad day at the office for Jota. Apart from one moment when he decided to finally do some pressing and won the ball back after hounding a Newcastle player, his game was awful. His touch was poor, his passing was poor, his movement, everything was just not there. His insistence on constantly trying to take Murphy on for pace was frustrating, as it was clear Murphy had the beating of him in a footrace. Jota is beginning to look like one of those players who is sensational against tired legs as a sub but struggles to play from the start. I am sure he is more than just an impact sub, but it could become a psychological burden on him if he does not get over it soon.

Milner - replaced Jota in the 58th minute. Did not have a particularly bad game, in fact he had a good shot which Dubravka did well to stop as he saw it late, but after Thiago went off Liverpool could have done with him just sitting in front of the backline and providing protection. His tendency to charge about trying to be everywhere was not what the team needed at the time.

Jones - came on in place of Thiago in the 77th minute. Showed good movement but he is not ready to control the tempo and Newcastle raised their game in response to Thiago going off. It left Jones really unable to get his game going.

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22 Apr 2021 15:16:48
I don't mean to play Devil's advocate and I accept this may not be a popular view but I think the outrage from fans over the ESL has been disproportionate and misinformed.

The ESL would replace / be detrimental to the Champions League and would not affect domestic leagues - so why the massive demonstrations of misplaced frenzied indignation?

Also, the ESL would allow other teams to gain entry to the league through success in their respective domestic leagues.

So I really don't see the problem and I don't see why Liverpool fans shouldn't be exuberantly supporting the ESL.

{Ed001's Note - then I can only think you are misinformed. Only reason I can think of to support something so anti-competitive that enables a single group of clubs to gain more and more wealth at the expense of the rest, without having to earn it.}

20 Apr 2021 16:17:02
With the vast majority of fans appalled by the super league, could the unthinkable be arranged and supporters of Liverpool and United March together in protest prior to the upcoming match?
What a statement that would be from supporters of clubs with such rivalry.

23 Apr 2021 14:15:58
I was just thinking this, absolutely. I’m not sure where such a march would take place, maybe one in manchester and one in liverpool on the same weekend? Maybe at our game in a few weeks time? Anyhow its going to be very difficult to do so in C.V. conditions, which is exactly why the owners have enacted this at this time, but we have to strike while the iron is hot.

15 Apr 2021 00:52:33
I actually thought we played fairly well on the whole tonight. The intensity was good at times and lacking at other times.

The main concern is our finishing, it’s been so poor over the past few months and it really highlights the need for an out and out goal scorer. I also get frustrated with the pointless crosses into the box (ones that are just sent in with no purpose, usually in the last 10 mins) we don’t have a focal point to aim for so we just waste possession, we’d be better off just passing the ball around for another 30 seconds to try and draw the opponents out to crate some sort of pockets of space.

Alisson - had very little to do tonight, had one very good moment stopping Vinicius (who should have done better with his attempted chip) and then gathering before benzema could get there.
Trent - thought he played very well, was almost back to his best offensively but I thought he defended very well and certainly learnt from the first leg.
Kabak + Phillips - both looked fairly comfortable throughout the game, were never really put under pressure. Phillips looks to be improving his passing which is good to see.
Robertson - didn’t really put a foot wrong, but he is in desperate need of a rest. While he’s still performing quite well it’s not his best. I’d largely put this down to lack of rest, would have been nice if he was rested Vs Villa in preparation for tonight.
Fabinho - played well. Defended astutely and controlled the game for large parts.
Milner - didn’t do anything particularly good or particularly bad, it was a steady game from him. Would be nice for him to try and drive forward a little more.
Gini - thought it was his best game for a while. There were still moments that frustrated me but all in all he had a good game. Could have grabbed himself a goal.
Salah - should have scored in the opening few minutes (looked fairly complacent with the shot almost like he’d already scored before shooting) he had a few good moments but Madrid defended very well and managed to prevent him having a larger impact on the game than he would’ve liked.
Firmino - needed to lead the press more often, something which has been lacking for a while (not just him but the whole team) . He had a few nice touches. But again just looks short of confidence in the final third.
Mane - he’s severely lacking confidence, had some bright moments against Valverde which gave me some confidence. But his touch was loose at times and made some bad decision making throughout the game.

None of the subs really got into their groove. Thiago made a couple of decent passes but he too looks short on confidence, would have liked to see him take players on to try and create something. Jota didn’t really do an awful lot when he came on, I was baffled he was out in the left thought he should have gone through the middle. Ox and shaq didn’t have enough time to really influence the game.

Overall there’s some positives to take from this game but there’s also plenty of work to be done. On to Leeds at the weekend.

Also, whilst writing this post. I send my thoughts to family and friends who were affected by the tragic events at Hillsborough 32 years ago. Gone but never forgotten.
JFT 96.


15 Apr 2021 00:49:07
I actually think we were much like the liverpool of last season tonight without the finishing of course! Lots of energy, pressing and passion in our play, klopps decision to drop thiago was vindicated as once milner came off and fab dropped back to defence we gave up the midfield battle- trent had a vedy mature performance and gave a much better defensive performance ( something he apparently can't do ) . A few things did stand out throughout the performance, Mane has lost his pace and confidence and was a million miles of salahs level- without his pace he is very innefective! ( needs to be sold to reinvest in summer) Bobby is not good when dropped back behind the 3 strikers- seemed lost and gave up posession to easily and finally Fab is a monster in midfield, i knew he was good but tonight was a masterclass in the number 6 role! Can you imagine a midfield with fab, hendo and thiago more advanced all playing ahead of VVD and Gomes ( or potentially Konate) next season! From my perspective we have not turned into a bad team overnight, with a bit of luck we sneak top 4 and make 2 or 3 decent signings in summer and we are 100% title contenders again. Dream summer, Konate, a decent midfielder ( maybe bissouma) and patson daka or a sancho for attack! Obviously Id love a haaland or mbappe but even in a dream that's just unrealistic.

{Ed0666's Note - I’ve been saying it for a while Mane has to be sold.


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