1. And the winner of Sauciest podcast title of the year is….

  2. Just how good are Jordan Ibe & Ryan McLaughlin. The future is so bright I can taste it.

  3. I downloaded the podcast last night so I could listen on the train this morning. Pissed myself laughing all the way to Kings Cross. The “Mordor” comment about the trip to Mansfield was priceless.

    I had a bet with two mates at the start of the season that Shelvey will one day captain England. 11 months ago he was a teenager and he plays in the engine room of a team in transition in the most physical league anywhere on the planet. It’s one thing being a young, tricky winger or a quicksilver forward where innate ability alone can ensure you catch the eye and other deficiencies in your game are overlooked or excused (“defensive discipline will come”; “decision-making will improve over time”, etc.), but there is no hiding place in the middle of the park where any shortcoming is highlighted as a fatal flaw that will perpetually hold you back, be it a lack of pace, positional weakness or that killer pass. Unless you are the archetypal spoiler and/or water carrier, your modern midfielder is expected to have it all.

    Of course, he could still go either way, but I think all the raw materials are there. He will get bigger and stronger and plays in a position where strength and endurance and sheer physical presence will make a significant difference to his development as either a top performer or an also-ran midfielder. And I think when SG eventually hangs up his boots, we could well have a ready-made replacement aged 23 with his best years still very much in front of him. I bloody hope so or I’m in hock for a ton.

    And James Lawton is a cock-weasel.

  4. Very good podcast as usual, just 1 point re Gomez handball, the score was actually 0-0 and it was in the third minute, he put the ball in the goal with his hand deliberately, and the was not kicked at him like the Saurez goal. He owned up to it and it was disallowed, but i probably only because in Italy they have retrospective punishment for these sort of incidents, and therefore would have received a 3 match ban. To be fair though Gomez has shown this honesty before in another game, but he is the exception to the rule. Shame it wasn’t against ManU on Sunday, that would have been more fun…

  5. On the tactics for the weekend, I reckon that this is definitely a game for Downing at left-back (who first suggested that by the way? I remember listening to the podcast but didn’t recognise their voice). I know it is a gamble to put him on Valencia, but his defensive technique when someone is running at him is actually very sound (like the rest of his technique) and he has the speed to go with Valencia. The only issue he has at left-back for me is he sometimes switches off and doesn’t do the instinctive left-back things (ala letting Defoe waltz past him at the back post). But against Valencia, where he knows what he is going to get, maybe it will actually help his concentration and he can do the job.

    The main reason behind my thinking is that if he doesn’t play at left-back you will need to switch Johnson there, and the last thing we want is for Johnson to be pinned back by Valencia. As you guys said, we will only get something from this game if we stick it to them, and the only way I can see us doing that is if we have > %60 possession and Johnson is up high on the right, really ramming home our advantage like he was at Anfield. Also, Downing allows us to play out from the back against a tight press, something that Wisdom struggles with (understandably given his inexperience), and I would expect him to struggle to impose himself on the game at Old Trafford up the top in any case.

    While it would be nice to have Enrique up with Sturridge and Suarez for his physical presence, I tend to agree with Rob that there is something about a Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez top three (Sturridge to play through the middle as Suarez is born to play on the right of a front three and pretty much does this anyway even when he is on his own). At the end of the day, as much as it is hard to admit it, we don’t have much to lose (except a whole heap of pride) so it is probably worth a gamble, and if it doesn’t come off and we lose badly at least we can say we had a go (that and blame it on Howard Webb when he inevitably sends one of our players off and gives them a penalty).

    One more thing, I think your calls for Suso in the middle are premature. While it might work well with the ball, I remember Rodgers trying this out and him looking pretty lost off the ball. Because of how badly the we were travelling last season, I used to console myself by watching the reserves games on LFCTV, and I noticed that Rodolfo Borrell used to prefer Adorjan in the centre most of the time, only bringing Suso in to change things up if things were stagnating. So maybe bringing him in the centre against a team camped in their box with 15 min to go would be a good idea but I think he is still quite a few years off taking up a position in our midfield three otherwise.

  6. Agree with the Downing at left-back thing for the reasons Tom gives. Also, given Wisdom was going down with cramp against Mansfield after 70mins he is clearly (and understandably) not match-fit, so what chances his lasting a full game against ManU? That’s a replacement waiting to happen before a ball is kicked.

    I’d also like to see the three Ss starting up front, but can’t see that formation debuting at Old Trafford, of all places.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a midfield 4 of Gerrard, Shelvey, Lucas and Henderson. I like Suso a lot, but this is definitely one for him to sit out.

  7. All this Shelvey talk does my head in, he lacks one important requirment to be a top class LFC player – he can’t run.

  8. I’d say at 20 he’s already more athletic/dynamic than Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick. Whatever we think of those two, they’re apparently good enough to play in the middle of the park for the best two clubs in the country.

  9. When is the Spanish guy coming back, he was class.

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