You’ll Never Walk Alone…unless you’re a goalkeeper whose two mistakes cost the side the Champions League. Then, you’ll be left to suffer your humiliation in isolation until your opponents console you in their ‘trying to stifle the celebrations but thanks mate!’ kind of way.
All the while, your captain and other team-mates sit pathetically on the floor, wallowing in their own self-pity. Post-match, Steven Gerrard sat crestfallen as Lampard, Ferdinand and Lineker enjoyed the moment of Gareth Bale’s stunning overhead kick, as well as the revelling in their former international colleague’s discomfort.
Ferdinand’s new openness included the warning that the rest of the Liverpool squad will offer no solace. He admitted he had looked around a dressing room before and blamed someone for costing him a medal.
Football is a dog eat dog world.
Loris Karius’ performance will be a recurring nightmare for the player; there’s nowhere to hide when the world is looking and he didn’t try to. There was no hole deep enough for him to dive into.
I have nothing but deep sympathy for him. The individual, a 24-year-old man, has to resurrect his career from the ashes of that night in Kyiv. Liverpool fans already consigned him to the summer scrapheap while bemoaning a lack of ‘Plan B’ from the manager as well.
A word of warning: Liverpool John Lennon Airport is banning planes towing banners proclaiming “Klopp Out”. With the storms lashing England today, there’s a danger of crosswinds causing all manner of problems as the planes land.
The upshot is Liverpool are in the market for two new goalkeepers this summer. We just want one and Unai Emery, the gossip tells us, is doing a ‘Pep’ and returning to a former club for his goalkeeping solution. Sevilla’s Sergio Rico, the reports claim, is the man in his plan.
An interview here offers an interesting insight into some of Emery’s thinking about football and his philosophy.
Can you talk about your style of play?
Being competitive means adapting yourself to the reality of your opponent. Sometimes, you win because you use the ball better, and sometimes you have to adapt and give in to the idea that you don’t have it. That’s why I’m so admiring of Guardiola and Simeone. Because they are competitive with opposing styles…Let me say this: PSG played well and won. Many people don’t value that enough and believe that it is easy. But what happened to us? We lacked competitiveness in important moments. Why? Because this team is not confronted with enough moments of adversity in the league. Being competitive also means being faced with adversity. One has to suffer like Simeone’s team to win. One has to suffer like Pep’s team to win in England.
My team had two basic principles: having possession and pressing. That was the basis. Having the ball, and winning it back as fast as possible. I should add a little nuance. I’m talking about having possession and not positioning because there are moments where you can win the ball through positioning, and others where moving out of position can surprise the opponent. And like Guardiola says, if you have to win with a long ball from the goalkeeper towards the striker and that the forward scores with his ass, then so be it! We work like that as well.
Emery must add more than “nuance” to Arsenal. His biggest job is how we work without the ball when our opponents are in possession. Defending from the front underpins the pressing game he likes to employ. That he mentions it directly underlines the change we’re going to witness.
Both our goalkeepers should also be concerned. Their distribution isn’t good enough to fuel Emery’s philosophy; no wonder he’s looking at Rico.
The other area of importance is defensive midfield role.
Let’s talk about the defensive midfielder, an essential element to a team. Why has this position been a weak spot for PSG this season? You have tried playing with Motta, Lo Celso, Rabiot, Verratti, Lassana Diarra…
It depends… I remember when I would analyse Real Madrid, I thought that Xabi Alonso suffered from not having to run track back and that he was the weak link. When I would analysed Barcelona and saw Busquets, I thought that Sergio suffered from the space left behind him. I thought the same with Thiago Motta. All the great defensive midfielders suffer from a lack of space behind them, and when they are required to track back. But when a team has the ball 70% of the time, that is more important than knowing if you’ll struggle when tracking back. You are the one dominating the matches. That’s why your defensive midfielder’s output during moments where you don’t have the ball is less important.
With Arsenal, we’ll have 70% of the ball bar for a dozen matches each season in the Premier League. But this year, it’s been away from home where the problems arose and marrying his philosophy to the raw materials of the squad is his biggest issue.
Maybe they will surprise us and prove more adaptable to their new roles, changing their ways where defending applies. There are some interesting times ahead.
Right, I’m off to work out how we fit Gareth Bale into the Arsenal side, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo since both are so eager to leave Real Madrid.