Liverpool enjoy ‘incredible largesse’ from ‘terrified’ referees…

Liverpool generally enjoy the benefit of incredible largesse from the officials? Who would sell a player to Newcastle?

Keep your mails coming to


Saintly Liverpool?
Some observations on Andrew M’s email in the morning mailbox re. Saintly Liverpool.

1) A fairly historic one, so I wouldn’t have brought it up but as you did…Mane was unlucky? Not dangerous play? Not even a challenge? If Kane’s tackle was high enough to be a leg breaker, Mane’s was a wild, studs-up lunge high enough to be a face breaker. He literally kicked a man who beat him to the ball in the face. He literally caused Ederson to need eight stitches, again, in his face. He literally caused Ederson to have to leave the pitch on a stretcher with oxygen. It was a wildly dangerous thing to do that, at the very least was incredibly reckless and highly similar to what Kane did with the merciful difference that, by luck, no one got hurt in the Kane tackle in terms of being dangerous and (lack of) intent. The blinkers are astonishing.

2) on Liverpool’s fair play championships – yes, they did win those which, as I understand it are based on points awarded for yellow and red cards. However, as was excellently pointed out in the hallowed pages of this mailbox by one Kerry Culchie earlier this month Liverpool benefit from a freakish statistical quirk of being able to consistently foul people while out of possession without being punished by the appropriate number of yellow cards.

That’s what makes the histrionics and Klopp’s cries of conspiracy after one game in which a couple of decisions went against you (but in which Tottenham could say the same) so ridiculous. Liverpool generally enjoy the benefit of incredible largesse from the officials. They basically get five free tactical fouls a match…

I’m not saying they are a particularly violent and nasty team becauae I don’t think they are. But maybe it’s the atmosphere at Anfield maybe it’s because referees are terrified of giving decisions against them in case Klopp calls them a cheater and an angry mob turns up at their house while their children are home, maybe it’s because certain referees from Merseyside aren’t really Tranmere fans… but Liverpool get tremendous benefit of the doubt compared to most teams in the league at the moment. Going into a 50-50 with a Liverpool player is, in reality, like going into a 60-40 with the way games get officiated…

Seriously, they’re so used to the rub of the green that they reflect on a game like the Tottenham match, in with Spurs fans are equally annoyed with bad decisions and think they’ve been robbed where alot of other people would look at that game and say, in reality, yes there were bad decisions against them, but the bad decisions kind of worked out in balance in their favour (personally,  I’d take an opponent getting not getting sent off in exchange for an “accidental” handball goal any day of the week – seriously, he controlled it with his hand…).

And yes yes, let’s get it out of the way, I’m  United fan, ref bias is a bit rich coming from me. But to preempt the responses, I’m talking about the current state of play. Howard Webb retired 6 years ago – no need to cite him in your replies…
Andy (MUFC)


Football Karma
It’s undeniably a fact that Liverpool fans can be rather one-eyed, perhaps more than most. And over the years, undoubtedly, we have had our share of dodgy penalty decisions, not had red cards that should have been given, been offside when the referee said we weren’t etc etc. Many opposition fans have an impressively encyclopaedic  memory of such decisions that they delight in recalling on such occasions. The mailbox is frequently full of such injustices.

Do these things balance out over the course of the season? in our case probably not. Football karma does not exist. Big clubs get more than their share of the rub of the green. Just as the likes of Norwich and Brentford are more likely to be screwed. Life is sometimes not fair.

However, and this is important, these things are not factors in the VAR decision making. The rules are not that VAR should only call the referee’s decision to a clear and obvious error – unless Liverpool got away with one against Newcastle the week before. Each decision should be only judged on it’s own merits. And as such Jota most likely should have had a penalty and Kane absolutely, no question whatsoever, should have been sent off. In which case it’s a completely different game and we’d have won.

Referee’s decisions are one thing. They’re human, they miss things and as such they make mistakes. Frustrating, sometimes very, but it happens. But the whole *point* of VAR is to eliminate those, to see the things the referee misses. And they got it badly wrong. Marginal decisions are subjective and open to opinion. And the Kane decision was not subjective – it was 100% wrong and it changed the course of the game. It’s got nothing to do with fairness or karma and everything to do with not being crap at their jobs.

So guess what? We get to complain. Loudly if we want to.

Where it goes wrong is when Jurgen says it’s because the referee has a personal grudge against him. The referee, his assistants and the whole VAR crew did not make these mistakes because they *all* have a grudge against him. They got it wrong because they were shit. Saying otherwise opens us to ridicule and undermines the veracity of our complaints about the individual incidents.

I love Jurgen and he’s been a wonderful,wonderful thing for our club. But he doesn’t half come out with some waffly b******s after drawing or losing games. Opposition fans will never love us and I’m just fine with that. We’re no-one’s favourite second club.  It doesn’t mean we can’t be screwed over though but silly conspiracy theories take away from any validity our arguments might have.

Jurgen’s an emotional fella and that’s a great thing most of the time. But on this sort of occasion he might be better to think rather longer before he speaks. And then any perfectly justifiable complaints he might have will be taken a whole bunch more seriously.
James, Liverpool


Who would sell a player to Newcastle?
Here is what I don’t understand and Harry De Cosemo’s article seems to ignore it too. Who would sell a player to a Newcastle?

I am assuming that because of their position they would want a proven player who can hit the ground running in England. This rules out almost all players in foreign leagues. They could obviously gamble on this but getting relegated with a few expensive talents might be tricky from an FFP perspective plus there are potential work permit issues which would slow transfers down. The difference between a player joining on January 1st and 31st might be 4 missed games I am guessing which is huge when you’re on 10 points with half a season played.

So Newcastle call up Burnley for Tarkowski. His contract is up in the summer and surely they’d like to cash in…but clubs do seem to have an element of long term self interest and surely Burnley see that helping Newcastle survive this season ratchets up the chance of their own demise in a few seasons time. If Newcastle survive this season it’s certain that they’ll never be at risk of relegation again but for Burnley that means they’re one of 13 clubs under permanent threat of relegation instead of one in 14.

So maybe Burnley are willing to sell but only at a price that cripples Newcastle’s ability to do too much more business. £50m might sound a lot for a player with 6 months on his contract but how much do the Saudis value avoiding the ignominious situation of being the richest club in the Championship next season?

For those arguing that clubs will see Newcastle’s ascendency as inevitable I would argue that a season in the Championship would set them back at least 3 years. 3 years is literally a Premier League career for some managers and 3 years in the league is worth about £300m to all the clubs that might refuse to sell this January.
Minty, LFC


Fixture congestion
I saw some quotes this morning from Jordan Henderson about how ‘no-one seems to care about player welfare’ and how the upcoming fixture congestion is extreme. The general point of the article was that Henderson doesn’t think players should be forced to play so many games in quick succession thereby risking injury.

My first question to him would be: what is your plan for fulfilling all the fixtures? As far as I can see it, the fixtures will have to be played at some point, so should the congestion be now or later?

My main point though is to say that I agree that players shouldn’t be forced into playing so many games in such a short space of time. Their managers should be managing their team selections so as to protect their players properly. Every Premier League club has well over 22 players on their books. Some clubs will have significantly worse second string teams than others, but if player welfare is being raised as a concern, then for me the power lies in the hands of the clubs and managers to protect their own assets.

In my opinion, Henderson (and others) should direct their concerns internally.
Ian Towns, MUFC

So klopp and Liverpool fans are wrong to criticise a ref.

I think that narrative makes sense. All referees should be protected from criticism.

I know some will read that and say I’m making a straw man of the argument but that’s really what people are repeatedly saying. Klopp should shut up and respect whatever the ref says or does.

Which is the same as saying the ref should be exempt from criticism. Or is what you’re really saying – KLOPP should shut up, everyone else can complain.

I suppose that’s a side effect of being e successful coach. Alex “I dine with referees” Ferguson also got criticised for talking about refs, while arsene “I didn’t see it” Wenger just pretended his team never did anything wrong. Both successful both criticised refs and were criticised for it.

Simon Jordan on talkshite says (on his public forum) that klopp is disrespecting the referee by criticising him on a public forum. Well by that logic nobody can give any criticism at All unless it’s in private.

Here’s the thing, when did criticism ever actually make something worse? It doesn’t. The whole nature of criticism is that it point out flaws so they can be fixed. I think managers should be able to criticise referees. I also think the club captain on the pitch should too. If the ref doesn’t have the will power to stand up to player/manager X they shouldn’t be officiating a game. But our refs never develop that confidence because we protect them from all criticism.

There is no “campaign of abuse” at referees. That’s absolute nonsense. if any ref is suffering abuse from a player or manager he has the power to give a yellow card and a subsequent second yellow and red. Stop being weak and demonstrate its your game. Player abuses you? Yellow card. Another does it? Another yellow. Sure it would mean a lot of yellow cards initially while players learned the new line they can’t cross but it would be an overall benefit.

We also need to differentiate between complaint/critique and abuse. It is not abuse if a player angrily disagrees with a decision. It’s not abuse if a player says “I think you got that wrong mate”
It’s abuse when I player calls the ref a wanker. Or something similar.

Protecting them from criticism isn’t helping them, as evidenced from the fact literally nobody so far has said we have the best refs in the game.


Yes, there are bad decisions, but while it’s very easy to complain, I don’t see former players rushing to become officials.  Maybe, given the amount that the game has given to them, the likes of Shearer, Redknapp and others should actually push to be involved or, even better, when they finish their playing days should move over to refereeing as they are still young, fit and could contribute.
Nick in Woking


I hope the esteemed editor of the mailbox will give me the right to reply to Johnny, Brentford FC fan. He took issue with my earlier mail criticizing the response to the ref’s mistakes in the Spurs-Liverpool game and the crux of his argument is that refs mistakes impact so many people from a financial and actual health perspective. Now granted the average person working at their desk wouldn’t have a similar impact if they made a mistake at their jobs, but let’s be real here. If we use that logic, everytime you get behind the wheel and drive you have a much greater chance of impacting someone’s life and health  than the average referee. Politicians, doctors and plenty of other jobs also have a more direct impact in that regard.  I really don’t understand how we are acting as if referees are in a completely unique situation in that context and I would say that’s a bit melodramatic.

From a financial perspective- I am assuming he meant that the club might lose money due to having less points at the end of the season (presumably not the players who would still be receiving a pay cheque if they got injured). If we take this broader societal view , I think it’s fair to say that Liverpool missing out on a couple of millions for finishing third instead of second is not something that will tug at the heartstrings of the Country especially during a pandemic.

Also just to clarify- I did not say that refs should be above criticism. My issue as I made very clear in my email is that when the criticism suggests malevolent motives on the part of the ref (as Klopp and many fans insinuated) and when the criticism is basically relentless abuse and death threats on social media, I would really have to wonder why we would condone that. Should death threats and thousands of abusive messages be a valid response to an incompetent refereeing performance? If you answered yes, then I don’t know what to tell you.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda

Ian Ramsden, New Brighton’s “referee fix” is exactly the sort of progression feared by those who’ve opposed VAR. Espousing more time for refs by the pitchside monitor validates those fears. We want to watch actual football, not the anal-retentive fussings of “arm-pigskin”.
Ebrahim (prefer a fair match myself, but at least it’s the Pool), MUFC, Seattle 


Wouldn’t post-match interviews be fun if…
I’ve been casting a casual eye over the mailbox since the weekend at the fallout from the Liverpool Spurs games and post-match comments from Klopp.

One thing occurred to me – it seems perfectly acceptable for Klopp (and all managers for that matter) to openly criticize the performance of referees (who are fellow professionals) following a match, but wouldn’t it be fun to see interviews the other way round?

Imagine the referee interviewed after the match and being asked his views on the performance of Klopp / Manager X?

“I think he was an utter disgrace, he clearly got all the big calls wrong today… the set up for the game, the decision not to make any changes…. He left players on the pitch that shouldn’t have been there, everyone could see that. What was he thinking? And what were the coaching staff doing? Surely its there job to advise when he misses something and help him make the correct decision.

The whole system needs a review, they need a change because performances like this are ruining the game”

It’ll never happen but wouldn’t it be fun?
Lee (not the one who seems to write in every day)


More Spurs vs LFC
Sorry to still be on the Spurs v LFC chat, but Ally, London’s assertion that Liverpool are some big standard League 2 side if you put in a few dirty challenges is a bit odd, not least because, despite Conte “setting up to beat them” he didn’t. It was a draw. Secondly, this abuse all players attitude relies on one key individual, doing a wildly chastised performance in the middle.

Harry Kane should have been sent off, as is well established, and had Emerson been punished for his foul on Jota, we would have likely seen a second red.

Playing half a game with 9 men is surely not in the plan.

Similarly last season when Everton went for the abuse fellow professionals angle, Pickford got away with his, Richarlison didn’t, Everton picked up a point.

I wouldn’t say it’s sustainable, but we all know the standard of refereeing means it is.
KC (if you think players don’t go out to hurt other players, I have some magic beans for you. Kane meant it) 


Mane on Ederson
Did Andrew seriously just try to claim Mane’s red card for planting studs in Ederson’s face was not a red card for being dangerous? Was he sent off for being too friendly? I wonder if Ederson thought it was dangerous while he was being stitched up?

It may not have been deliberate, but it certainly was dangerous. We are all used to revisionism when it comes to Liverpool, but my word that is some take.
J, London


Jurgen Klopp
From the man who charged onto the pitch to ensure a red card for Pascal Struijk following an innocuous and accidental tackle; seeing him lose his rag over calls against his angelic team make me laugh with glee.

Klopp should try being in a non-top 6 managers shoes this season. We’ve had to contend with Xhaka trying to break Raphinhas leg (lol, no card), denial of a clear and obvious penalty vs Newcastle, two ludicrous penalties given to Chelsea, That’s just some of the decisions that have “gone against us” this season.

Does Bielsa come out and moan about it? No.

The word Schadenfreude seems apt for the current situation.
Mat, Leeds


Hi there,

Neill, Ireland has a point of sorts when he says that it’s not entirely fair that CAF should be expected to cancel or postpone its flagship competition when many of the European Leagues are not taking any reasonable COVID precautions themselves. However, there are fairly discrete and clear risks attached to inter-continental flight (mostly linked to confinement and air recirculation) which are not linked to intra-country travel in the UK, and I imagine, say, Liverpool have less faith in the Guinean football authorities going to the same lengths as they do in maintaining COVID protocols.

But that’s largely by the by. The escalating “Anglophone Crisis” in Cameroon, between Ambazonian separatists and the Cameroon government, is showing signs of tipping over into a full-blown civil war, with fairly credible allegations of war crimes (using children as human minesweepers, for example) being levelled at the Cameroonian armed forces, and other, though possibly not as eye-catching, allegations being levelled at the two rival Ambazonian forces. Because Nigeria are thought to support the Anglophone separatists, relations between those two countries have deteriorated.

Cameroon is not currently a “safe place” to visit, and if I were a European football club I would not want my highly expensive assets going anywhere near there. CAF have had since 2017, when the current conflict sparked, to address this, and have done nothing.
Dara O’Reilly, London


Granit Xhaka
I’ve written in twice in past with pretty scathing views on Granit Xhaka but I just wanted to add to what TY A wrote in yesterday’s morning mailbox.
Xhaka does indeed slow the play down far too much, and I absolutely agree his strengths do not outweigh his weaknesses. Unfortunately he’s still our second best midfielder at the club and then I started asking myself how that is possible after 5 mediocre years?

One of the things that irks me is lazy line of “he is a player that managers really trust as he’s been picked by the last 3 managers: Wenger, Emery and now Arteta”.
I’ve heard it from f365, Arseblog (who I almost always agree with) and multiple others.

Aside from Emery – where Xhaka was teachers pet for while – what other options have Arsenal had? What other competition?

16-17 season… Cazorla injured after the first part of the season and only played 8 games. Wilshere went to Bournemouth and Ramsey had his usual topsy-turvy form and injuries, making 20 odd appearancs. Then there was Elneny and Coquelin…

17-18, Basically the same, aside from no Cazorla at all, sadly. Wengers last season.

18-19 – Emery’s first season, Coquelin and Wilshere had left, we brought in Torriera and Guendouzi- both started well. Xhaka was senior and ended up captain. Fair. But he was pretty mediocre.

19-20 Emery/Arteta half season,
Xhaka was so shite the Arsenal fans booed him, he told the fans his opinion and should have left. Torriera didn’t fully settle and Guendouzi was a #### and didn’t play another game after Brighton.

20-21 Arteta has a stabilizing job to do of the club and we had bigger problems than midfield and Xhaka who – I’ll admit – has improved under Arteta and his structure. At the end of his best season and a decent euros, Arteta was willing to let him leave for a reported 20 odd million and not a single club came in for him after Roma wouldn’t pay the asking price. Dinosaur Jose was the only coach who wanted him. Allegedly for his “leadership”

21-22 – here we are. Already been sent off vs City for a reckless lunge. He should have been sent off for two yellows vs Leeds for moronic Xhaka moments. The guys a fraud who’s survived by default. He’s had no real competition and Sambi has shown more dynamism in 5 months than Xhaka has in 5 years. He’s been much improved and is far less exposed in this Arsenal system where we aren’t done on the counter every other game like we used to be. Sambi is raw so I do understand why Xhaka is in the team, he’s relatively solid these days if underwhelming. At the end of the season I fully expect us to finally move on. And no, he should not be captain ever again. Your captains list shouldn’t have even had him on it, let alone second from bottom.
Stress, Afc, Canada


No manager would accept a player “doing their own research” and refusing to follow the clubs diet plan, training regime or recovery procedures. So frankly I’m amazed that most clubs are allowing players to refuse vaccination. Mind boggling to be honest.

Would the same people defend a player who claimed he can have 5 pints every night and be grand the next day because he has done his own research?
Steve Limerick


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