Signings that fit into Jurgen Klopp’s system is not easy to find


Jurgen Klopp doesn’t like the idea of talking about his purchases but he set the scene for Liverpool’s summer activity with his comment this weekend. The current quad has proved too small and with the expected next season of European Football he will need a much bigger team. He admitted that some of his current charges have not shown the required consistency during the entire campaign.

Klopp doesn’t agree to the notion that the answers are available in transfer market. This is pretty much true in case of Liverpool and not just because of their tendency to be gazumped by their rivals or to miss out on most of the major targets.

It is not a difficult task to complete deals initially but it is hard to identify possible arrivals. It is very easy to rule out players according to Klopp’s system than to find players for the team. Klopp’s tactics are idiosyncratic and most of them do not fit into the system. In order to fit into the squad he needs charges that are persuasively fit and capable of topping the running statistics.

If we look at it position by position, Klopp’s favourite striker is neither the target man Christian Benteke nor the predatory Daniel Sturridge. He is fond of Roberto Firmino which shows that he wants a forward who is the first line of the defence. He doesn’t want a specialist and would rather prefer a multi-tasker. Firmino said during an interview that he can play all of the offensive positions.

A new winger cannot be of the touchline-hugging variety and Klopp’s wide men mostly operate within the width of the penalty area. They are more inside-forwards than outside-left and outside-right. Based on the current glut of attacking midfielders, the market might provide many options. But it is significant that no one can replicate Mane’s contribution and the way he added a different dimension with the pace to accelerate beyond defences.

Liverpool’s sync was disturbed when others were pulled out of their position first when Coutinho was injured and then when Mane left for Africa Nation’s Cup duty. Klopp might be in search of a midfielder after the evolving doubts about Emre Can’s future. Klopp’s squad operate further up the field than most and he once said in an interview that if you play really high then the opponents do not play. The job description is different for Klopp and it has changed in the past few years. Milner has put in the second most crosses in the Premier League this season. This shows how much time he spends in attack than the average left-back.

This has a knock on effect for the central defenders. Lucas is out of contract and Lovren is finding new ways to get injured. This calls for the need of an addition to the team. Klopp has a high defensive line and he needs the recovery pace when a ball is played over the top. Klopp is looking for players with a midfielder’s skillset throughout the side. Liverpool has a different way of playing and that makes it difficult to play against them. But when it comes to recruiting players they create troubles for themselves. The style that Klopp is looking for in his players will make it difficult for him to find the suitable ones.


Pogba’s time will come as a Manchester United Leader


Paul Pogba’s season was all about hitting the woodwork. He has hit the post eight times in the Premier League which is more than any other player. This makes the metaphor feel like an obvious one and his first year back at Old Trafford seems few frustrating inches from doing so much better.

According to Frank Lampard, Pogba is not being played in his best position which is making it difficult for him to perform effectively. Pogba could argue about his statistics that his fortune is not on his best side but that would be half true. He has not yet reached the heights that are expected from him. Many have started to believe that he does not have the quality to be a dominant player.

His year has been an odd mix of startling brilliance, apparent disinterest and visible anxiety so far. Those characteristics were often seen in the same performance. The thing with Pogba is that he is an inspiration to many just because of who he is. He symbolises the expectations around him and that is why his marketing appeal is so huge. He is stylish, likeable and photogenic. He has found the key to the world but he is unsure about how to drive forward.

He is a player of exceptional gifts undoubtedly and that will never be in dispute. He is accurate regarding long passing and his feet are quicker than most of the centre forwards. Right now he is forcing his game to its significant detriment but he has a shot of fearsome power. Pogba is always in a hurry. He took around 124 goal attempts last season and it was more than any other Europe’s five major leagues. His target is to end up somewhere near that total this season. Unfortunately, his performances have shown a pattern this season which rise steadily in quality until it comes to a match where the stage is set for him to prove himself.

The same happened against Liverpool in the Premier League and Southampton in the League Cup final where he started the game with his brilliance. He was close to scoring a gol that could have settled his nerves but both the times his confidence crumbled. Zlatan’s goal came as a rescue in both the matches.

The next few matches are going to be interesting. Pogba will take the leadership for the team at some point of time in Ibrahimovic’s absence due to suspension. He is an interesting character who does not seem to enjoy the limelight too much. He needs to refine his playing style and add more structure to it. Pogba needs reinforcement in order to perform better in summer and show his best.

He might be already taking advice from Patrice Evra of Manchester United who had a difficult start at the club. He became one of the finest full-backs to grace Old Trafford. Pogba has been uplifting during the two month stretch and he is one of the main reasons that United have been unbeaten in the league for a long time.


Thoughts from Tottenham’s Premier League Victory over Everton


Tottenham is definitely the best of the rest after their win against Everton. They are way behind of Chelsea to deny them the title but Tottenham are evolving as one of the best team out of the rest. They are seven points behind their London rivals after the 3-2 victory against Everton at White Hart Lane. The difference will be the same until Antonio Conte’s squad face West Ham on Monday.
This was not their complete performance and they have made it more difficult for themselves than it should have been in the closing stages. It took a difficult turn after Romelu Lukaku and Enner Valencia pulled goals back for Everton but an amazing brace from Harry Kane along with a delicious late flick from Dele Alli was enough to seal the points for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
Kane scored his 19th goal of the season which made him the Premier League top goal scorer. He ascended to the top leaving behind Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku and he scored his 15th goal in the last 13 games that he played. It is impossible to deny the fact the Kane is one of the best strikers in the world.
Tottenham took the lead after 20 minutes of the match when Kane was given time and space around 25 yards from goal. He was not allowed to shoot much in the Everton defence but he accepted to shoot low with power. Everton goalkeeper couldn’t save it and Spurs took the lead.
For the next 10 minutes Spurs dominated possession and they could have scored another goal but they did not and Everton were slightly better in the next half without threatening Hugo Lloris’ goal excessively.
Tottenham showed a different side after the break and asserted themselves effectively. They doubled their lead after 55 minutes when Everton was on the slumbering side. Robles passed the ball to Morgan who must not have been warned about Dembele and Alli shaped danger. The combination of two resulted into a careless pass from Scheiderlin. The ball then fell to Kane and he placed it to the bottom corner effortlessly.
Everton was back into the game in the last 10 minutes. But Spurs got a free kick on the left of the area. Harry Winks dinked into the area before Alli slipped in between some absent minded defenders and flicked boldly into the corner of the net. Valencia’s score for Everton was not enough to snatch a draw.
Eriksen is an underrated player but he is smart and not lazy. He is a curious player and a key cog in Tottenham’s side. He has 10 assists this season and nobody has more in the Premier League. He has scored five goals which is a respectable number for a midfielder from 26 games. It is not easy to become a key member of Mauricio Pochettino’s team by being lazy. Eriksen does all that but in a slightly less obvious manner.
Eriksen just chooses his moments to be aggressive unlike other more obvious all-action midfielders. He told in his interview last year that you don’t need to run if you are smart enough and that’s how he is- Never lazy, always smart.

Pochettino questions the Readiness of Tottenham to win Title


Mauricio Pochettion thinks that Tottenham is not ready to win a title and they need to build themselves in the summer. In the beginning of the month they were hunting three fronts this season but they slipped up in the Premier League. After the defeat against Gent in Europa League, the Spurs are now down to one.

The FA Cup is also full of hurdles. If they overcome Millwall in the quarter finals, Tottenham still have to defeat two of the league’s top six in order to put an end to their wait for the silverware. Pochettino’s squad may have to chase for a place in the top four that will resume on Sunday at home to the ninth placed Stoke.

Pochettino and his players need to work a lot more in order to achieve something that Tottenham never did before. Pochettino believes that the expectations have been pushed higher this season as they had finished second, third in the league last season. But he thinks that the Spurs are not ready for a win yet. They need to build a strong foundation first.

The most important thing for him is the club and he also said that their chairman has built the foundation. They have new facilities on the ground and new stadium in order to build a better and stronger and bigger club.

They need patience to work hard and to build a stronger team with addition of players that can achieve the goals. Tottenham cannot compete with the clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City in the transfer market as they have restricted spending power due to the construction of new stadium.

Pochettino has maintained the same set of players this season and Victor Wanyama was the only new addition from last summer to have made a positive impression, whereas, Vincent Janssent, Moussa Sissoko and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou were all seen struggling.

Pochettino believes that football is more about quality and being clever. He said that they need to add quality to the team in order to improve. This is not the right time to talk and Tottenham needs to find quality players with the right profile to play for the club. Tottenham will be without Danny Rose and Erik Lamela due to their injuries.

Mark Hughes said that he cannot rule out Stoke being thumped by Tottenham once again. But the Potters boss is confident about his players and he thinks that his players are in a better shape now than the last time both the teams met in terms of their chances to score a positive result against Tottenham.

Stoke have been defeated by 4-0 by the Spurs in their last two meetings. The recent one was in September during a sequence in which Hughes’ team failed to win any of their opening premier league games of the season.

They bagged three victories in this weekend’s clash at White Hart Lane. Hughes said that his team has improved a lot after the game in September. He is hoping for a positive result for his side this time. He said that his team his ready to shine bright and sharp. Xherdan Shaqiri is all set to come back to Stoke’s matchday squad after missing the last three matches due to calf injury.


Leicester City right to dismiss Claudio Ranieri


Leicester City had a remarkable Premier League triumph during the 2015-16 campaign but even before kicking a ball this season, there has been an ominous change of mood in the club.

A press conference was held by Leicester Manager Claudio Ranieri at the club’s Belvoir Drive training ground two days before facing the FA Cup winners Manchester United in the community shield at Wembley. The manager complained about the attitude of the players during the pre season and he also talked about the 19 Azure blue sports cars gifted to the players for winning the title three months earlier by the owner of the club Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Ranieri said that it is more important to think about the matches and not cars. He was irritated at this gesture as it was distracting his players from the challenge ahead. His employers have been pulling back the players backward towards the prolonged celebrations of summer rather than focusing on the upcoming challenges.

Ranieri experienced the changed mindset of his players at Leicester’s Los Angeles training base last summer. His players were happy with the beautiful company of Santa Monica and they were also enjoying the photo shoots with actor Will Ferrell. But they could not do much on the pitch and they were defeated by Paris Saint-Germain with a score of 4-0.

Ranieri was looking for more than the maximum and he was not happy with their performance in Los Angeles. He said that the players lacked the same mentality and even though they were working hard but they were not working as a team which made all the differences.

Ranieri saw the danger signs for his team but he was unable to prevent the team’s fall from grace. His fear of complacency went unheeded. The players stumbled on their achievements and forgot to rediscover their magic.

Ranieri was sacked on Thursday after being told on 7th February that he had the unwavering support of the ownership. He was sacked in less than 24 hours after Jamie Vardy’s first goal of 2017 in a 2-1-first-leg away defeat against Sevilla gave Leicester genuine hope of progression to the Champions League quarterfinals. They may have the chance to get there but now they have to do it without Ranieri.

Leicester City is just one point above the Premier League relegation zone and their priority is to survive in the game. The owner of the club believes that the team has a better chance of surviving in the game with someone else as the in charge of the team. That could be either Roberto Mancini or Alan Pardew or may be even Nigel Pearson.

If no one is appointed as in charge of the team by Monday, assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first team coach Mike Stowell will take the responsibility when Leicester host Liverpool at the King Power stadium.

The decision of sacking Ranieri might seem brutal but considering what he has achieved last season this seems to be the right decision. Not all fairytales have a happy ending and for Ranieri it ended in a hard way but the time in Los Angeles suggested that he was aware of what was coming his way.