Doesn't this game feel like the Camp Nou game? I think I was more angry at the officiating than anything else on the pitch. Messi's free-kick for the third was never a free kick. Yet, he scored a worldie, and every media house lapped it up.

How do you approach the reverse leg?

Do we go full throttle press or sit back and counter attack? Would we have the energy for 90 minutes and extra time to take it to penalties? For at least a week or so we will have to wait and see how it unfolds.

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I don't remember the 3-0 at Barca that well, but I did read (on here?) that the xG in those two legs was 5-5! Yet we lost 3-0 and won 4-0, when each team had a decent chunk of their xG in the away game.

Finishing is random. I wouldn't mind if all 5 of Madrid's goals were sublime, but 2 were utter flukes.

I really don't care about the 2nd leg. It's a waste of energy. Use it to keep players ticking over and change 5 after 60 minutes!

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It was very similar to the away defeat at Barcelona (2xG each), and then we were very fortunate in the second leg because Barcelona missed two big chances and 1.2 xG in the first half that would have killed the game off before our comeback.

The wonderful - and sometimes frustrating - random nature of football.

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"The wonderful - and sometimes frustrating - random nature of football."

Indeed. We wouldn't want to ruin the moment after the Origi goal by saying "ah, but we didn't win the tie on xG", but at the same time, it was clear that we rode our luck at times. If you win, you're allowed to overlook that, but also, it can still be analysed.

Similarly, Divock could try that shot 100 times and it wouldn't come off very often; ditto the corner being taken that quickly and that accurately.

We always use xG on here, as it's the best public tool, for now. We can debate where it works and where it doesn't, but it's established as a good enough tool to use, and not to be mocked outright if it doesn't suit us. We can also look at game-state with xG, and so on.

Which is why I took great exception to Yassen's "Hah, the Vini xG shows how limited a metric xG is. Hilarious 😁"

... which just seemed really unhelpful.

Until someone comes up with something better, we respect xG on this site and accept that, while limited, it is not extremely or hilariously limited.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Liked by Abhimanyu V Rajput

It’s sad when we lose someone to disagreements.

However I get it , your club your rules.

The shame of it all is no matter how eloquent or intelligent or dumb we are , there is absolutely no doubt that we all want the same thing.

A successful LFC.

I work in Projects and my measure of a good supplier was the Friday night fuck up .

Basically something goes pear shaped at 5pm on a Friday and if the contractor responds and helps, you know you’ve got a keeper.

It’s a bit like this site.

When things are bad we have to stay together and support each other, it’s like a contract.

As PT has discussed before, when LFC are winning etc the comments are plentiful but not incremental.

However when we’re in a bad place, comments flow in like a burst pipe and I’m guilty of that myself.

As someone said earlier if we can keep our heads and treat triumph and disaster both the same etc.

Oh one last thing.

The XG etc was interesting as it showed potential alternative outcomes.

However even just with a pair of eyes that was the weirdest result I think I’ve ever seen from a team that was absolutely battered in the first half.

RM weren’t just lucky. they were lottery winning lucky.

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Just to add, I'm generally for free speech (within reason), and have no objection with whatever people want to say being said. Just not on this private, moderated space, where I have always tried to set the parameters of the debate.

There are plenty of free-for-all spaces out there, and whenever I see them, they seem grim to me.

Again, I'm doing nothing different to the entire 14 years of doing this, and have lost some good people along the way, because opinions diverge. That's fine. I'm not here to please people or tell them what they want to hear. I'm here to run TTT the same way I have, and that will appeal to some and not appeal to others, and tastes change - especially as the world outside of TTT changes, and people get more impatient, irrational and unhinged (but which is addictive and rewarding for those who deal in it).

I also don't have the energy to reads and interact with lots of comments and be polite. I'm not here to flatter subscribers. I don't go out of my way to be rude, but I also expect to be respected and have my rules followed. I try to be fair in my assessments of LFC, not liked.

If anyone wants to call me whatever they want anywhere else, go ahead. I've also apologised to people over the years if I was at fault, and accepted apologies if someone else was at fault. Otherwise, there are a lot of LFC sites out there and people can take their pick.

I'm sure at some point ones much better than TTT will put this place out of business, but if the site has had any unique qualities, part of that has been me having little tolerance for 'bad' posts, and trying to keep the standards up. That means challenging people over bad posts, and sometimes people respond well to it 😜👍

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins

Fucking hell Paul, regardless of pretty minor disagreements, you’ve created a place where like minded people can discuss, agree, disagree and argue in an adult manner all things LFC .

How the hell this has survived considering the dogshit world we live in , is beyond me and testament to you.

Fair play 👍

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Feb 24, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins

We were very unlucky to lose that first leg, let alone lose it 3-0.The third was a Messi free kick that was put in the only spot Alisson couldn't reach and the second had more than a bit of luck about where the rebound Suarez's shot went.

We had plenty of chances to score (Milner could have had a hattrick) with Bobby being cleared off the line and Mo missing a sitter (in the same move) in the last 10 minutes.

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Finishing is quite random. You are spot on! I was looking at Real's home performances and bad defeats. One thing that stood out was Ajax's 1-4 win when they had lost 3-1 at Amsterdam. This was the time when away goals were as precious as the ring from Lord of the Rings.

That was also the season with very random finishing when Ajax lost at home to Spurs after Moura's hat trick, and got knocked out in the semi-finals.

I do think it will be interesting exercise because we are out of other cups anyways. Maybe if we win at Madrid (very low possibility ~ 10%), and proceed to the next around (I mean has to be some probability number in the second decimal) - it might be a big lift for everyone.

However, I don't want our guys to be crocked in making the effort so I get what you are saying in terms of conserving energy. I do have a funny feeling that Klopp might ask the squad to die trying rather than think the tie is lost. I think every coach would try to do that unless if we are talking about Hodgson. 😁😬

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins, Abhimanyu V Rajput

Pressing summary:

I've collected the pressing in 51 matches now for Anfield Index's Under Pressure podcast, and there's a database of over 400 games in total across the Rodgers and Klopp era.

Total pressing actions: 332 (highest ever)

Possession wins: 54 (highest ever)

Group presses: 51 (high)

Efficiency: 86.7% (normal range)

Only one press led to a shot though, so there production wasn't there, but what it tells me is that throughout the match our intensity was back. The only goal caused by a failed press was the fifth.

Bajcetic - who struggled against Newcastle with a really low efficiency - was back to his previously set high standards with 35 pressing actions and TEN possession wins and a 97% success rate.

Henderson had the highest volume of presses with 44 and 9 possession wins (88%).

Gakpo was second on the list with 41, again 9 possession wins, and a 92% efficiency.

Robertson had his highest total (19) for four years, as did Trent with 20 but that is his highest ever - again both of them had high success rates as well.

The one caveat I'd pose is that for 20 minutes at the end we bumped up our numbers because we were chasing shadows and Madrid had no intention of taking risks and were knocking it sideways and backwards whenever we applied any pressure.

For more context, we had more presses in the first two minutes on Tuesday than the whole first half against Everton! The intensity was as high as it could for all the periods of the match apart from after we went 2-0 up until the equalised so could be an indication we slightly dropped off.

One thing is for sure, the pressing was not the problem in this game, in fact it was a huge positive.

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Thanks for these numbers. I would be interested to understand how many shots you’d expect those pressing stats to generate on average? And if this match’s pressing produced fewer shots than average, why might that be?

It did look like we had much more physical intensity in the first half than we have had this season. Real at home in the CL is a very big game and the crowd seemed much more helpful than for PL matches. Can we do it on a wet Wednesday v Wolves etc??

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins

The average for a match is around 3 shots and 0.5 xG (this was one 1 shots and 0.33xG) - but pressing is subject to many different forces such as how much the opposition want the ball being the most obvious.

Madrid clearly do, so we had plenty of opportunity.

There were 13 counterattacks started from pressing actions and winning the ball but we failed to turn any of those into shots. It could be a combination of reasons: poor decision making or execution of the final pass; Madrid's excellent individual defending; their solid structure in transition; or something like an offside; or finally, bad luck!

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Thank you, all clear. Will be tough to repeat high volume in our tight schedule probably, and also PL teams don’t often give us the chance?

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Wow, Daniel. Really love this! I have been struggling with the result since it happened on the eve of my birthday, and I wanted to celebrate with a good laugh on Madrid. I woke up at 4 am to see the result, and couldn't sleep for another two hours.

As Paul has been saying, this result gets weirder by the day!

What about Fabinho? What were his pressing numbers? I also noticed he stayed put in the middle rather than move forward, and lose the ball higher up.

The key thing to our performances has been intensity, and pressing. I hope the boys are able to that again on Saturday because that would help with their confidence.

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This is excellent analysis.

It, along with the fact that we were 2-1 up on xG but 4-2 down (due to two very flukey goals), shows that it was not some aberration of a performance, but an aberration of chance. You can make your own luck, but maybe up to 50%. They killed our waning spirit with a shit shot at 3-2 that went in via a huge deflection.

We didn't take our chances at 2-1 up, and we didn't get a stonewall penalty at 3-2 down.

We "learnt" that Madrid are exceptional at keeping the ball when 4-2 and 5-2 up, and there's no surprise there, with Modric and Kroos (who I suspected would travel when they said he hadn't travelled) et al are involved.

By that stage we had a weaker XI on the pitch, due to wanting fresh legs to chase, but also as our two excellent strikers (Jota and Firmino) are not match fit, while Nunez was likely only playing with a painkilling injection. I personally enjoyed seeing Milly try to close down even though we were 5-2 down, even if it was painful in other ways.

What has really pissed me off over all this analysis is the sweeping statements about the scoreline proving the decline and end of a team, especially a team that is actually being rebuilt already, and especially when nothing about the underlying numbers says a 5-2 scoreline was fair. It was largely a very even game, with Liverpool unable to stretch the lead when on top, which sometimes happens.

I'm furious at some of the scoreboard journalism, and can't believe people's poor sense of a game of football. When we were shit at Brighton I said we were horrifically shit. The numbers then showed it. Again, if you can't "read" a game of football, maybe think before posting or writing articles. If you read it wrong due to emotion, as happens, wake up the next morning with a rational head on. Otherwise, you've lost the ability to do anything other than make a lot of meaningless noise.

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I put this in the post match analysis thread, but maybe the answerers are more likely to come in here.

Can anyone tell me if there was an xG value attached to the Vinicius second goal. I just wonder as there was no shot, as Allison just kicked it off him as he turned his back. Contrast this to the Mo goal where he actually was given the ball a few metres from goal with only the goalie to beat. This must have been a huge xG chance by comparison, even though they both involved a keeper gaffe.

I ask due to the difference between xG and actual goals. Is the Mo one distorting it?

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The FotMob app is pretty good and free. A lot of info in there especially as the game is progressing.

The 538 site is interesting because it creates a non shot xG number too ie the value of play that didn't lead to shots.

Shit happens. That was a hard pill to swallow after 2-0. In my view not much changed. We have a rebuilding job ahead. We will need several transfers and we need to execute them well plus have a few things go our way!

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"In my view not much changed."

See Daniel's data on pressing. And that the Bajcetic and Gakpo were hugely successful. If we've just produced our best-ever pressing display, then actually, a lot has changed.

We have to open our eyes, and not see only scorelines.

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In Klopps own words the gegenpress is the best playmaker. We created 1 shot from a lot of pressing so that's different and would be interesting to understand why. One number or game is no sample size at all. Maybe it was game state? We have won games this season where we've been pretty awful. I thought Tuesday we had some better performances all around the pitch in fact.

My comment re change referred to our current situation re squad and replacements. The Real game just didn't tell me anything new.

Football can be random and shit happens. I hated losing 5 goals to them but that's the way it goes sometimes.

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What games have we won when being pretty awful? I'm sure there have been some, but I won't accept Newcastle away as we were only awful once the game was all but over. It feels like we lost most games where we were awful 😜 Maybe Leicester at home, but I struggle to remember before the World Cup 😳

I agree that we still need new signings, as Klopp has also just said.

On pressing and only creating one chance from it, I guess that's maybe partly down to Madrid recovering well, but also the randomness of a press and where the ball bounces; and maybe the new front 3 didn't always use the ball quickly enough when winning it, despite linking well – as they still don't know each other's games inside-out. If you press that well, then most times it will lead to success, and sometimes it won't.

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I've just seen above that Daniel had recently given similar answers to a similar question above. The main thing is, if we press exceptionally well, then more often than not it should lead to chances.

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The Opta model gave 0.34 to the Vinicius deflection. The Salah one they had at 0.25. The Opta model can be a bit basic in my view.

One reason for the difference is the goal mouth scramble has 2 chances in 1 so to speak. Nunez was 0.65 and Salah 0.23( I've seen higher elsewhere). We can't score both!

Btw the combined xG of Vinicius and Benzema goals were 0.13.

A lot went their way. We did do some good things especially in that first 30 but a lot of our issues were laid bare, when you add in the luck or bounces we end up with that crap score.

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Hah, the Vini xG shows how limited a metric xG is. Hilarious 😁

There is another fine detail. Imagine that the average probability of scoring a goal in an example position is 0,25. So this is it's xG. I would wager a more than two cents that Karim Benzema xG in this exact situation is, say, 2x the average xG.

Vini JR and Benzema just proved they are incredible players (statistical outliers). I would not belittle their outrageous skill as pure luck.

Let them shoot and you invite their luck 😉

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“Hah, the Vini xG shows how limited a metric xG is. Hilarious 😁”

So xG is shit now? Right. Didn’t get that memo before. All models are limited but I don’t see why it’s hilarious unless you’re hell-bent on being unhelpful.

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No Paul, it a limited metric not a shit.

Other examples: BMI is a limited metric not a shit. Five years survival rate in oncology is a limited metric not a shit. GDP per capita is a limited metric not a shit.

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Well, try and post more constructively, then.

"how limited a metric xG is. Hilarious" reads like a total write-off of xG.

Improve your posting ASAP.

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Dear Paul,

I would advise to stop telling your long-term customers to do something ASAP.

After more than 12 years of supporting your website and your writing I would expect some level of politeness and respect even when we clearly disagree (it is all about my position on Klopp, isn't it). We must be able to agree to disagree.

I am not the first person here you pick like that because someone is not expressing their view in the way you think they must express it (you even censored Chris the other day). This in a website/forum that words like c*nt are sometimes allowed and where the main author is creating beautiful and original metaphors with an*l sex.

The decision to award xG to this reflection is hilarious, in my opinion. What is the problem with that?

Now, I would abstain from posting anymore. Thank you very much for the company in the last decade. Thank you for giving voice to people like Dan K, Beez, and many others that have/had something to say. It was a pleasure meeting them.

No need to ban me. It would leave bitter taste and would look petty. With respect, I am on my way out on my own volition.


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The one that hit Gomez was pure luck.

The one that hit Vinicius with his back turned was pure luck (in that it went in).

The other goals that pair scored were superb.

Yes, two chances in the same move can’t result in two goals, but it also shows that it was almost worth one goal, so the odds of not scoring from either chance is slim. That should be logical. Had the xG exceeded one goal it would be weird, but to have two chances that would usually result in one goal is “unlucky” not to get one goal.

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On Infogol the two chances combined equated to 1.3 xG and two of our four big chances; plus we only added 0.07 xG after that.

However, some models assign the individual xG to the players in these situations but only include the highest value chance rather than both so not to distort the team totals.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Author

"On Infogol the two chances combined equated to 1.3 xG"

That's just silly, as I've said before - the maximum in the same move should be adjusted to be 1xG. But if, as MikeH says, Nunez was "0.65 and Salah 0.23", then an 88% chance of scoring one of from those two situations seems logical, albeit obviously the second can only arise if the first is missed.

I still find it mad that we were 2-1 up on xG when 4-2 down.

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Feb 24, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins

If you accept that each chance is correctly assessed, then the correct xG for that attack is 0.65 plus (1-0.65)*0.23, which is 0.73 - with the second chance only happening if Nunez misses (35%)

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Also, we have two shots with very high xG during the melee before Alaba substitution. Since only one goal can be scored for those chances, they somehow inflate further our xG.

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Feb 23, 2023·edited Feb 23, 2023

Have been ruminating since Tuesday night and for me it’s clear that our mentality in responding to set-backs has been awful all season. This is completely the opposite of what we have been over the past few years.

We always had additional experts come in toe chat to the squad about the fine margins - throw-in coach, Gronnemark or Surfer Sebastian Steudtner and others than I cannot remember.

I wonder if we need someone back in to remind the players about how to respond to set-backs.

Sebastian Steudtner, the German Surfer Klopp asked to speak to the lads in 2019:

“ As well as sharing his life experiences with the Liverpool squad, Steudtner also took Klopp’s players through a breathing exercise under water.

At first, most players struggled, but by the end of the session some were able to hold their breath for over three minutes.

“They were uncomfortable because it was not their natural environment,” Steudtner explained. “The lesson was they can, if under pressure in a rough situation, push it and stay calm they will go much further than they think they could.””

This seems particularly apt right now and we definitely need something to get these lads remembering how strong they were mentally before. Obviously there are other issues with our squad right now but it seems to me we still have enough good players to have a reasonable end to the season if we don’t get any more serious injuries and if we can just respond a bit more positively to set-backs as they always happen. Real Madrid gifted us a goal to go 2-0 down the other night but they did not react the way our team did when Ali messed up. I know that’s because they have form in coming back from these situations, but so do we and it isn’t that long ago.

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I know what you're saying. But they're also human, and responding to setbacks can be harder after the 18 months they've had - more games than any other team in Europe, and massive disappointments in the way last season ended. Lots of injuries, more pressure, more fatigue.

I don't think it's about reminding people, but rebuilding confidence and belief, and that takes time. It's not an on/off switch. Next season can easily be very different, with a better preseason, 25 fresher players, including 2-3 new ones.

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I'll add that I've collected the pressing stats today, and though I can't say anything until the podcast is recorded, will do a detailed post tomorrow and it all ties in with what Paul has mentioned above, and in the Zen Den piece.

This is the most confusing game I've ever analysed.

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Feb 23, 2023·edited Feb 23, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins, Abhimanyu V Rajput

Amazing stuff, Paul! I was surprised how people reacted to our defeat. To me it was no surprise, but we were also extremely unlucky. Weird how luck has disappeared this season. Salah said after the Newcastle game 'you make your own luck'. I have no idea which gods we have pissed off 😂. Anyways, i hope Klopp can pick our lads back up again. We have to keep the league momentum going. We need a win against Palace.

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My observations: (i) if I was picking a combined mid/fwd 6 from the RM/LFC sides based on this season's form, I would pick all six from RM; they're a bloody good side capable of bopping other bloody good sides, let alone the uneven collective that is this season's LFC; (ii) of course what actually happens in a particular match is important in and of itself but extrapolating from it to the health of the entire club is narrating noise; (iii) we are in a position where lots of things could get better but the chance that *all* of them get better is pretty low: lots of teams end up in long-term transition due to vicious circle effects that are hard to overcome. I think we'll be lucky if we recruit well in the summer, young players progress as hoped for, and it all sticks in time for a title challenge in 23/24.

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Interesting point, Joel. However, I wouldn't trade any of the front three for the Real Madrid ones. Vini seems close enough but is entering elite years. Benzema will retire in sometime along with Modric. Camavinga has been inconsistent with Valverde being really consistent across all positions. We are just a year behind curve of Real by the way, and have a very promising prospect of Bajcetic. We have also got Tyler Morton along with Elliott, and Jones for midfield positions.

Effectively, we have four high potential ceiling players while Real Madrid will have to blow millions in the market, and once coveted Elliott who turned down the move. We need two as a cover for Fabinho if he stays, and for the departing Keita and Oxlade.

If you look at our roster, we are nearly there. I had hoped by some miracle that we would sign a midfielder in January, but when I was pointed to Will Spearman's research, and being the replacement for Ian Graham last night, it made sense why we didn't dip into the transfer market.

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Ah, but the future's a different thing! I was just thinking of selecting a team for now. Bajcetic may turn out greater than Camavinga or Valverde but, as of now, he's played about 15 games and gets tired around the 70 minute mark.

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Thanks for the replies, but I haven't gone through them as I'm too tired.

I just wrote my weekly ZenDen piece, for those paying subscribers on there for my 'bonus' content (£3.50 a month, for basically the kind of articles I used to do in the early days of TTT, which was still write such articles outside of TTT - in that case, for the official LFC site up until 2010), but the first half makes a few additional important points before the paywall, that I think people on here should read:


I need to clear my head for a couple of days, at least. But there's little time. At least going out of the CL will reduce the manic non-stop football that just wears me down, especially when we don't win and there's a meltdown.

Everyone needs to ask themselves: is it only about winning, and even though football is very important, shouldn't we try to enjoy it a bit more?

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Feb 23, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins, Abhimanyu V Rajput

Paul, just read the Zen Den, you should be able to get your writing on prescription, it would improve the mental health of every true red.

Of course, they have to be able to read and spot the difference between a Ruddock and a footballer!!

Regarding your recent article about the transition of the team, I think that we have more than 5 of the new team, we already have Elliot and Kelleher, obviously we don’t need to replace Ally just yet, but if we did.

Also, Doak is quietly getting up to the level and we may be just a couple of years away from a potential new CB partnership in Quansah and Billy the Kid. Far too early to say but some hopeful signs.

Keep up the writing, maybe Merseyside NHS will add it to the prescribing list!!

At the very least everyone needs a lesson in the peak end idea, see I’ve even forgot the phrase doh!!!!

Anyway, Viva Les Rouges as they are now saying in Barcelona

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Feb 23, 2023Liked by Abhimanyu V Rajput

As I’ve got older it seems as though results matter less than they used to, although I’m still desperate for LFC to win. This season for instance I really wanted us to beat Everton because of all the hate and I’ll always be really keen to see United especially, but also Chelsea, beaten. On Tuesday night I really admired some of our football, especially the first goal but also Madrid’s. They move the ball beautifully and Vini’s first goal was brilliant. No one’s fault, just great play. Admiring the opposition play takes so much heat out of spectating, although I still get told to calm down! Persistent fouling and poor officiating are the only things that get me riled now. And with this group of players, they’ve given me so much pleasure, I can cut them a lot of slack.

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You’re right of course but I feel it’s really tough to detach yourself.

I honestly think I would stop watching but it almost feels like an addiction.

I’ve been following them since I was a kid and it doesn’t seem possible to just enjoy the journey.

I’m not really talking about meltdowns but just the whole experience.

It’s probably not healthy.

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Paul, who do I contact about a paypal payment that went through today on old tomkins times as a benefactor. Thanks

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I'll refund ASAP via PayPal and Stripe. Can't cancel the old subscriptions yet as the old site is currently offline, so can't get to the backend. Once I can (I'm waiting for Rox to sort it) I'll cancel WooCommerce, which will end all recurring payments. Otherwise, people can go into PayPal and cancel theirs themselves.

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Paul, thanks for that, appreciate the quick response and refund.

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Feb 23, 2023·edited Feb 23, 2023

It's good to look at the trajectory of our attacking improvement over the last 3 games. Like you, say it goes back even further with firstly the experimentation of where to play Nunez and Gakpo (given quite a few minutes on the wing) and then the Gakpo as false 9 plan which took a few weeks to settle, but then almost suddenly looked right. He's played a lot and it's not surprising if he tired, although the effects of coming up against Camavinga meant he could n't catch a breather in this match.

Really, the elephant in the room for me, is how do we get through to the end of the season? With a busy schedule ahead, how do we respond to those moments when we need a midfield refresh? I agree the longer term, post summer, future looks brighter and potentially extremely bright and also, even if we don't get top 4 that isn't necessarily the end of our universe - that could even set us up for a potential title challenge.

However, even if we knew right now that top 4 wasn't possible, the next part of the season could be vital for the development of our squad. I don't like the idea that our midfield will be mostly comprised of dead wood just floating and jetsaming along til the end of the season. That's really not the healthy vibe I expect in a Klopp team. I felt quite hopeful with Keita around that we had a bit of usable depth and I am really quite upset that he didn't play a part on Tuesday. The same goes for Ox and Jones. If we are talking about the team having a crisis in confidence, then having the management make such a pointed statement about the backups not being of sufficient quality is bound to spread an atmosphere of insecurity through the squad. The impression I get is that since the post Brighton game fallout, there must have been harsh words, but an unwelcome consequence is there is viscious circle where over half of our midfield options feel demotivated/ lack of self esteem.

I don't think this is Klopp's fault that it's come to this, but the club as a whole has clearly failed by letting this situation arise. That we have to go through for the next few months wearing this failure like a badge of dishonour is humiliating for LFC. I guess we just have to grin and bear it, but it would be so nice if there were a few shoots of positivity from some of the midfield reserves. I think Milner's been great, but every time he comes on, it feels a bit like he's embarassing the younger guys that they can't compete with an old goat.

Anyway, my general point is about the anxiety and how can we shift it. I think it's a good thing that Fabinho managed to play half a good match at least. Same for Hendo obviously. They've contributed. But if the squad as a whole is going to build confidence, (which is pretty much Klopp's mantra), then we simply have to squeeze a bit more out of the other guys. And hopefully find a few green shoots for the future squad too. Is Jones the only one who might still be around next season?

Incidentally, on confidence - I did feel for Joe Gomez. He got so harshly punished by RM for the slightest of mistakes and the inevitable micro-examination that came with them. I thought you could see from his facial expression, that he was just sick from the misfortune of it all. I hope he doesn't overthink it. His lot was essentially unfair and he was very close to having an excellent performance in tune with the last 2 previous matches. Forgetabout it Joe!

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"The end, instead, comes after having the same shots, more xG and more big chances against a Real Madrid team, as reigning (lucky) European champions who scored two lucky goals and got away with a clear penalty foul at 3-2?"

Thank you for this Paul. I'll read through the rest of the article today but this really helps in bringing some reality to the defeat.

Yesterday I switched away from all things football because, as I learnt from this site, the immediate knee-jerk reaction to a defeat is almost always wrong.

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Since Rafa's vintage team thrashed Real Madrid in 2009, every time we get drawn against them, we are either too weak/severely weakened/not strong enough (2014, 2021, 2023) or when we are at equal strength with them (2018, 2022), RM got lucky and/or used the Dark Arts. We just get no luck against them, its like they've sold their soul just to get on top of us since 2009. How I long for the day when we finally knock RM off THEIR fucking perch. But I digress.

I don't blame the players, naturally I don't blame Jurgen. And though they are low-hanging fruits, FSG aren't completely to blame either. Rather, I'm pissed at our fitness department this season. How is it that we get consecutive injuries after consecutive injuries on many of our backbone squad players, players like Jota, Diaz, Konate, and to an extend, Thiago? WTF is going on with the fitness regimen there?

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I'm not reading comments, but Diaz fell very awkwardly on his knee. Konate went in for a sliding tackle in preseason and was out for months because someone smashed into his knee. If you're gonna criticise about fitness, at least get the facts right. Plus, read the article about how many games we've played. I worry that people like to post but don't actually read the articles.

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I did read the article, I apologize if it sounded like I didn't.

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Brilliant as ever, Paul. You are a font of sanity and wisdom! Last night was disappointing but hardly surprising. I just can't understand the Twitter 'Klopp Out' meltdown or The Athletic's po-faced pile on. 😉 I enjoy reading Michael Cox but his analysis was a little too basic and simplistic. He really needed to do more research as you have highlighted.

Five of Real Madrid's midfielders are essentially better than all of our best three midfielders. We need to accept this fact. Even though Bajčetić is an absolute "baller" with a bright future, he is just a skinny kid with a handful of top level professional matches. There is absolutely no way that he should be the key man at his tender age. I accept that tactically Liverpool were naive and far too open. We allowed 'chaos ball' to develop with a view that a more unstructured game was to our advantage. Klopp can be criticized for that; it was obviously one part of the game plan. It was never going to be sustainable for more than 50 minutes so it was really important to get to 3-0. Once that chance was missed, I was personally dreading the rest of the match! Whichever way one looks at the 1st half, the Real injury worked to their advantage by allowing them a break and a tactical tweak.

Joe Gomez is a lovely bloke but is not an elite level CB. Given how tall defenders are these days it is very, very unlikely he will ever be imperious at CB even if he remains injury free. That is just modern biology and sports evolution.

Ultimately, Tuesday night was a lot more nuanced than sloppy or bad defending. Alisson had a cognitive blip by essentially 'double thinking' when Vinicius was obviously running to block the passing lane right. He knew, as we all did, that he ought to just "welly it" centrally but chose to play Pep ball back to the CB as if it was a moral imperative. He will hopefully learn from that! Núñez was blatantly fouled, so only Fowler knows how the referee has missed that penalty 😠 Clearly, it is not just PGMOL who have a corruption (anti-Liverpool) and bias issue...

The continued absence of that monster Konaté and the non-existent legs of Fabinho means that Liverpool are effectively playing with 1 less defender or just 2 midfielders. It is truly shocking how frail Fab is. I have mentioned it before but I sincerely believe that he is medically unwell but currently undiagnosed.

It looks like the Top Four is gone. 😒 The Champions League this season is already gone bar the return leg at Bernabeu; which will be a serious headache for FSG. However, less matches in 2023 will allow a proper re-set next season and more training time together.

The rebuild has begun!

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I don't believe how top 4 is now gone?

We were ahead of Newcastle in modelling the last that I saw.

Nothing has changed. Other than we are now more able to focus on the Prem.

Jota is making the right movements - fitness will return - the same for Firm.

Konate will come back and VVD will regain full fitness.

I believe that Klopp can get them focused on the Palace and then Wolves games. Win those 2 games and we are in the mix a point or so off top 4 with 14 games to play.

We have scored the first 2 goals in our last 3 games - do that against Palace and Wolves we are certain to win.

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Of course, it is mathematically very possible for Liverpool to do it and claim 4th spot. However, with their current psychological and physical fragility it is not at all realistic..! Even the likes of Palace and Wolves can seriously expose us. Young Stefan Bajčetić will need a breather soon, so unless Naby somehow stops being made of glass our midfield might be struggling again. I hate saying it but we have a brittle middle and Klopp repeatedly appears to expose both Fabinho and Henderson to ridicule...

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I don’t think top 4 is gone, just unlikely. Jurgen's job now is to boost the players and try to raise confidence levels and get rid of the nervousness that seems to plague the team at times. If the Reds had got a favourable ECL draw (Leipzig, Frankfurt, Porto, Inter) and gone though to the last eight would it have been seen as a successful campaign. A second favourable draw in the last eight would have meant a semi final! We just got one of the worst draws imaginable. Two wins and a draw in the next three league games would be good. Or three wins!

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Feb 23, 2023Liked by Paul Tomkins, Abhimanyu V Rajput

I couldn't agree more with the ridiculousness of the reactions by the media. I get that if you're a fan, yesterday sucked. I thought it sucked. We all thought it sucked experiencing it. But my notifications have been an endless stream of breathless "Is this the end of Klopp's Liverpool?" and it would make me embarrassed to be a journalist.

Here's two narratives:

- In a rematch of last year's Champions League Final, Real Madrid handed Liverpool their worst European defeat. Combined with their poor league position, is this the end of Liverpool's run?

- A retooling Liverpool side were able to score 2 on the reigning European Champions before some unlucky breaks and falling apart.

The problem with the latter narrative is it requires pundits to both pay attention and be willing to understand luck is a factor. There was a hilarious bit on our coverage here where Peter Schmeichel declared that Real Madrid's victory in Paris had nothing to do with luck, then after a package breaking down the game Jamie Carragher called him out on how even he described multiple pivotal moments as lucky. It's just a pathological obsession some pundits (particularly those who were high level athletes) have in acknowledging the role of luck... in a sport that literally includes a bouncing ball.

But I think the general bias of punditry towards simplicity and sensationalism means we don't get the kind of analysis here and have to suffer through all sorts of silly narratives. Which is a shame because the reality of what happened is far more interesting. As a test of where the project is, this early in its turnover, I think we can see some real positives and some real negatives. It's also interesting because this Real Madrid side is very similar to what Klopp is trying to do.

I would never be confused as someone who likes Real Madrid, but the progress of rebuilding from their Galacticos Era is fascinating. They've made some smart signings of older players on frees (Rudiger, Alaba), have spent years bedding in young transfers like Vinicus and Rodrygo (a combined 90 mill, or, what Chelsea will spend on the next player that they have no plan to utilize), other young transfers like Camavinga and Tchoumeni, some players through the youth academy, while phasing out (but still getting valuable contributions from) the remnants of that Ronaldo side. Of the side that won in Kyiv, they had three start at Anfield and three come off the bench. Compared to 5 start and 2 come off the bench for the Reds. Very similarly, they're just a little ahead of the curve because they started sooner.

They have also suffered through lean times because of this (by Real Madrid standards). This is the 5th season since Kyiv. They have only two leagues and one European Cup, a paltry return (by Real Madrid standards) and even that is buoyed by their miraculous UCL run last season and being able to nip a pair of leagues off a a basket case in Barcelona.

In many ways, Kyiv was Madrid at the end of one era (Ronaldo would be sold shortly after) and Liverpool at the start of one (that team still didn't have Fabinho or Alisson). Since then Madrid has rebuilt, with (by Real Madrid standards) limited spending, at least certainly compared to the abominations, and are almost a blueprint for a process Klopp is only in the early stages of. In an era where the abominations are spending disturbing amounts of money and other European giants like Bayern, United, and Juventus are struggling to find a way forward, two of the most distinguished clubs in world football rebuilding and retooling on the fly without bankrupting themselves or relying on oil money is absolutely fascinating.

But, nah, let's speculate if KLOPP'S LIVERPOOL IS AT AN END!

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Thanks Paul, your analysis always brings to mind the Kipling quote “ If you can keep your head when all (Carra etc) about you are losing theirs…” . You truly are the zen master. After the previous two victories I persuaded myself the old Liverpool was back but then last night I felt gutted, remembering the Aristotle saying “one swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day”. However your fantastic piece lifts my mood, we don’t need to rebuild from scratch as Jurgen has already quietly started the renovations. It’s a work in progress and like all great masterpieces it will only be forged through blood, sweat and tears (and doubtless more defeats !) but I have confidence in Jurgen that it will be worth the wait. So while “walking through the storm” I’ll remember there will be “a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark”. How easily we forget the joy this group of players have given us, wonderful Anfield nights (Barca) that will return if we can keep the faith and remind the team at every game they truly will “ never walk alone “.

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Thanks Paul, another amazing piece. Really appreciate it.

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Thanks Paul, really needed these reads after last night; really calmed me down. It’s impossible to be down while recognizing the midfield is utterly poor this season. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole, you’ve given me a reason to hope that missing top four this year might not be fatal. Maybe.

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