Your opinion on whether the Origi banner was racist or not does not matter, it’s racist and that’s a fact

There seems to be some confusion when it comes to facts and opinions these days, regardless of the subject matter.

At some point, I don’t know when but it became enough to just have an opinion. The opinion did not have to be informed and when challenged on said opinion, no factual evidence was needed to back it up.

Instead, what we now have is a society full of people who think that their opinion is valid regardless.

Numerous black players have come out and said they do not like people singing about their genitalia, and why would they? While we are at it, I will never understand those who are fighting for people’s rights to sing these songs.

“My enjoyment of the game isn’t the same without a song about another man’s downstairs mix up accompanied by a banner” . What a strange hill to choose to die on.

From a historical point of view, imagery like that which we saw at the Genk game was used to dehumanise black men along with the implication that they were dangerous and would rape white women as they were merely animals. That’s why it always has and always will be racist imagery.

Do I think for a second that the majority, if even any Liverpool fans sing about Origi in the way they do and create banners like they did to belittle him? No, I don’t. I believe they see it as a strange compliment but what they are trying to achieve is irrelevant compared to the damage they are actually doing.

“Divock would just laugh” is a popular retort. I doubt that very much but that’s not the point. It’s not just Divock affected here, it’s every black male and indeed people of every sex and every race.

Why everyone? Because whether you realise it or not, racism negatively affects us all.

Some Manchester United fans had a song for Lukaku which the striker did not appreciate for obvious reasons. Certain fans reacted by continuing to sing the song despite the striker asking them not to. It’s not just us and United of course, it’s prevalent sadly among many clubs.

The Bernardo Silva incident that I’ve spoken about in a previous piece is similar in that, while Bernardo’s intention was not to be racist, he posted racist imagery.
Racism comes in many forms and one is the oxymoronic “positive racism” and that’s what we have at play here.

You’re not flattering these players, you’re dehumanising them and by continuing to defend this racist imagery you become part of the problem.

People can mistakenly say racist things or post racist imagery without necessarily being a racist. If you do so, the best thing to do is listen to the people who are telling you it’s racist and why and then apologise, retract your statement or image and educate yourself and learn from it.

Bernardo Silva and some fans of Manchester City, Manchester United and now numerous Liverpool fans are making excuses for and trying to justify racism and by doing so are inadvertently fostering a racist attitude that is becoming more and more visible in English football and English society as a whole.

So if your opinion is that banner wasn’t racist, you are simply wrong. It’s your choice you can either accept it move on and be part of the solution or you can be a foil for racism.

Choose wisely.

Are Bernardo Silva or Justin Trudeau racist?

You wait for a racism bus and then two come along at once. Actually, I’d like to distance myself from the term “racism bus” in case Trump uses it as part of his next campaign slogan.

Only days after Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau was found to have “blacked up” in a function at his school, Manchester City footballer Bernardo Silva decided to post some extremely questionable material to his fellow City player and friend Bernard Mendy.

The material in question was a cartoon character from a sweet packet from his homeland, a confectionary called Conguitos. The character is considered anti-black imagery given the unflattering disproportionate facial features.  Along with it came the suggestion that Mendy looked like this character.


Trudeau apologised straight away for his blunder when it was brought to light and then divulged another transgression where he had once again blacked up to sing Harry Belafonte.

While he explained that at the time he was trying to be as true to the character as he could, he acknowledged fully that what he had done was racially insensitive and wrong and he apologised profusely.

If you think Justin Trudeau is a racist, then you’ve not been paying attention. There are few people alive today in positions of power that have done more for race relations and LGBT+ rights (while we are at it) than Justin Trudeau. If you don’t believe me, feel free to check out his voting record.

Our Portuguese friend took another tact. Having caused such outrage, he instead decided to then argue that it was down to how people had interpreted what was posted. Bold strategy – and one that of course will now make the eventual apologise that Abu Dhabi PR will force him to give – ring hollow.

Are either racist? I doubt it. In Silva’s case, I believe it was – in Silva’s mind at least –  intended to be a harmless joke between two friends. Whether people admit it or not, there are things we say to people we trust behind closed doors we simply would never say to others. Context is everything.

The issue is, this was not two friends having a laugh, it was Bernardo Silva sharing racist imagery with millions of people on social media. For him to state it was just a joke between two friends is naive at best and disingenuous at worst.

By posting this imagery – given his privileged position – he unconscionably gave others permission to do likewise, especially younger people who look up to him.

It does not however make him a racist.

“Racist” is a term that gets thrown around far too often these days. People can make mistakes and not be racist. Racism is the deliberate act to discriminate based on the misinformed idea that you are superior and someone else is inferior based on race.

This is not what happened in either of these cases. It is important to understand that what Silva posted and Trudeau depicted were racist imagery but that does not make them racists. All you serve to do by calling people racist who who are not racist, is to take away from the seriousness of actual racism.

A good example of this is that in England, where I live, the reaction to this has been extremely different to what I believe it would have been in America.

Why? As the kids say, there are levels.

Black people in this country have the luxury of not being executed in the street due to being “the wrong colour” by those we are supposed to trust to protect us. This is what actual racism looks like. 

I guess that’s why it is easy for some people to wrongly dismiss this as nothing. It isn’t nothing, it’s a licence for racism whether Bernardo accepts it or not.

How will the Football Association or Canadian voters react? Well that will be interesting to say the least.

Last year Ajax shocked the world, can anyone repeat the feat? (Featuring underrated CL 11)

Image: Courtesy of New Strait Times

Two team to watch in the Champions League that could upset the odds

Internazionale

Let’s get the least shocking pick out of the way first. As a previous winner of the Champions League, I’m hardly reaching too far with this pick, however, given you can get 50/1 on them to win the competition, I feel that I can put them in as an outsider.

50/1 is a ridiculous price for a team like Inter Milan. For a start, the 3-5-2 / 3-4-2-1 that Conte employs, was enough to bamboozle many a Premier League side during his time here and there’s a fair suggestion it could do the same in Europe.

A stubborn defensive unit that have conceded only 1 goal in their first 3 games, Inter has a strong defense, a hard working and balanced midfield and in Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku a strong and potent strike-force.

It’s a tough ask to get through a group with Dortmund and Barcelona, but they certainly are capable and I have a sneaky feeling they will do much better than people anticipate.

Red Bull Leipzig

In the appoint of Julian Nagelsmann, Leipzig have taken the next step in their journey to challenging the cream of the Bundesliga.

Nagelsmann is known as a tactical mastermind and has already shown in the first four fixtures of this season in Germany that not only will he be fluid in his approach to each opponent but that he has the players at his disposable to do so.

Red Bull Leipzig were already the best defensive side in Germany last season and seemingly have improved on that ability this season. While Peter Gulacsi is an underrated keeper, the reason it is so hard to score past Leipzig is how much preparation they put into stopping you being comfortable with the ball.

Nagelsmann has taken this to a new level this season using difference formations to counter how teams play out from the back even employing a 4-2-4 against my beloved Borrusia Monchengladbach and refusing to allow us to play out through the centre, and then pressing when we were forced to play the ball wide to our full backs.

Leipzig players are not just hard working and tactically disciplined though, they are also technically gifted. In Forsberg, Sabitzer and Kampl, you have technically gifted midfielders able to score and make goals. 

Up front the pace and work rate of Yussuf Poulsen causes havoc and the even pacier Timo Werner has proven to be one of Europe’s most prolific young goalscorers.

Red Bull Leipzig are not a side to be overlooked this season and I believe will come out of their group and are a dangerous side for anyone to face on their day.

11 underrated Champions League players to watch out for:

Goalkeeper: Kepa – The Chelsea shot stopper has come on exponentially even in the short time he has been with the club and I believe this is the stage he has been waiting for.

Certain keepers just have this aura around them that they aren’t just there to keep teams in a game but that they can even be the biggest reason they win them and Kepa has that for me. Given the group that he is in and the manner Chelsea play, he will get plenty of chances to be the hero.

Left back: Marcel Halstenberg – The German international may well be the most underrated left back in the world. I never see him have a bad game. Defensively sound, intelligent, pacey, an excellent passer and crosser of the ball and even chips in with the odd goal.

Centre Back: Milan Skrinriar – A classy centre back that Europe’s best will be salivating over sooner rather than later. The Slovakian is eye catching due to his silky style of defending and is a perfect example of how if you are in the right position, you don’t have to fly around like a headless chicken.

The only weakness in his game is that he’s not the best in the air, but given he has Godin next to him, he can get away with that.

Centre Back: Abdou Diallo – He will need to live up to his potential if PSG are to win the trophy they covert most. Another centre back who is outstanding on the ball but again can be got at in the air, the 23 year old frenchman has been an ever present for PSG this season despite the team being able to call on Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe.

Right back: Achraf Hakimi – To see this lad play is an experience. The 20 year old right back is a whirling dervish of a player. The Real Madrid loanee is just so much fun to watch. He’s everywhere on the pitch and goes past people for fun. Defensively he does his job but could stand to improve like most modern full backs who have attacking tendencies but he’s just so damn fun to watch, as a neutral, who cares?!

Central Midfielder: There are few players I enjoy watching more than Fabian Ruiz. A playmaker who is capable of playing box-to-box. His technical ability and intelligence sets him apart from other midfield players. This will be a theme with my midfield.

Central Midfielder: Saul Niguez – see above but with an engine that won’t quit. Bullied as a kid at Real Madrid, moved to Atletico and made his debut at 17 but suffered a burst kidney in a Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen. The injury was life threatening and he spent four days in hospital and 4 weeks in rehab, after which he came back and scored on his return despite wearing an internal catheter for two years and passing blood after every game.
What an absolute legend and one of the best players you could hope to watch.

Central Midfielder: Kai Havertz – My favourite player to watch in the world of football. Not strictly a central midfielder as he’s capable of playing every position on the field and is best utilised by Bayer Leverkusen as a player with a somewhat free role. There is another player I wanted in the front three though, so here we are taking liberties. What can I say about Kai Havertz without sounding like a love sick puppy?

First of all, his intelligence astound me. His movement, his ability to know when to hold the ball and when to lay it off, simple things or at least he makes them look simple but when you do the simplest of things better than everyone else, that’s what makes for a truly special player and that’s what he is. He’s strong despite being only 20, can ghost past people like they are not there, he makes goals and scores goals. Seriously, it’s guy love between two guys. I mean I’d like to think he’d reciprocate.

Forward: Hakim Ziyech – it was nice to see Ajax finally get the recognition they deserve but I still don’t think people realise just how good Hakim Ziyech is. I know because I didn’t myself. He’s capable of playing all across the midfield and forward line. Much like Kai, he has exceptional touch, vision, movement and scores and makes goals. On top of that though, he never stops moving with or without the ball and he is a quality set piece taker.

Forward: Mauro Icardi – Mauro is a bad man in every sense of the word but let’s concentrate just on football for now. He couldn’t have wished for a better landing spot than PSG who have put around him a constant supply line of some of the most talented players in the world. If all goes to plan, he is going to bang goals in for fun.

Forward: Jadon Sancho – I don’t think the world is ready for what Sancho is. That’s right is. I keep hearing what he “will be”, forget that. He’s there. He’s settled in Germany and he is a vital part of Borussia Dortmund. Borussia Dortmund are one of the most forward thinking clubs in Europe and they do not part with their cash without some serious thought, the fact they decided to pay Jadon Sancho £190,000 a week says it all.

For some reason Sancho is still talked about what he could be and yet each week he puts his boots on and sets the Bunseliga on fire. He will revel in the challenge of playing Barcelona especially and I’m not sure they have anyone who can stop him.

Honorary mentions: Handanovic, Verratti, Felix and Lewandowski who are all better known players but still underrated somehow. 

The name’s Brexit, Buggered Brexit

Commander James Herbert Bond, or 007 as you may also know him continues to inspire social media meltdown. Today’s topic? Should there be a Jane Bond?

During the Brexit debacle, it’s nice to have something else to turn your attention to but in doing so, I’ve basically found a similar “style” of debate.

Many of the same “liberals” – like myself – who wish to remain in the EU are for the most part on the same page about anyone being able to play 007, while the same “conservatives” who want to leave the EU are against anyone but a white male playing Bond.

Who is right? Well like Brexit, there is no definitive answer but you see the same lies, misinformation and hard-headedness on both sides.

I’m no expert on Bond – let’s get that out of the way for a start. I’ve seen all the films and I’m handy in a pub quiz on this topic but of course there are those that know far more than I do.

It is with this in mind that I have held the steadfast belief that anyone can play Bond. Why? Because Hollywood have already suspended reality with the character of Bond in enough ways to prove that it can be so.

For us to believe the time span of Bond, he would logically need to be a shape-shifter with a time machine. It is therefore logical to assume that Bond isn’t one person.

As always though, it’s not as simple as all that.

According to the canon in the books, Bond is one man and 007 is one man throughout. The writer Ian Fleming clearly intended for Bond to have his story told in one continuous timeline and there is evidence of this from wife Tracy Bond being buried with his name and her then being mentioned in “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “For Your Eyes Only”.

In “Skyfall” – which of course was not a Fleming iteration – he returns to the family home in Scotland where we see the graves of his parents Andrew and the superbly named Delacroix Bond. So why would they have his codename? (If you look up DFLovett’s piece here https://whatwouldbaledo.com/2015/02/24/yes-indeed-james-bond-is-a-codename/ there is a an interesting theory he poses that potentially answers this)

Showing the gravestones was more than likely the screenplay writer’s way of stating that, while they’ve gone off kilter in terms of canon, the idea is that you are supposed to suspend reality and identify with James Bond as one single person.

This is one theory, probably the most plausible but obviously with the medium of film there is no binding contract to interpret the information you are given in this exact manner.

At the end of the day, what you believe about Bond is a bit of fun. It’s not a real person, there are numerous plot holes and nuances that can be debated ad infinitum and yet in the end it matters to no one beyond entertainment.

In the past it would have been a fun topic with a few disagreements but now such is the world we live in, it’s apparently the be all and end all for race and gender relations.

Funnily enough, like Brexit though – after giving it due consideration – the answer is not as definitive as one side being right and the other wrong.

The conclusion I have come to is both sides are right about the Bond debate. I believe Ian Fleming’s original intention was for James Bond to be one man and that there is overwhelming evidence that proves this.

I also believe that 007 is a codename that was held by Bond and given that we’ve already suspended reality in the Bond films time and time again, I can see no reason why we can’t write in a “Bond” of any ethnicity or gender.

To do this, you’d have to kill off the original Bond, be it old age or however else – which would also cause outcry no doubt – and then explain how the new Bond came to take over.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Bond debate led to people realising that nothing is absolute and that there are reasons for and against and that compromise is the way forward?

Maybe, just maybe, one of the most British symbols around has the answer to the toughest political problem Britain has faced in years? Wouldn’t it be poignant if Bond’s death saved Britain just one last time?

Borussia Monchengladbach 2019/20 – week 1 – Schalke (H)

Apologies in advance for this post not being in German. I am going to learn German and one big reason is so I can talk to the best fans – outside of Liverpool – in football.

So, while most of my fellow “English” fans were watching City v Spurs, I was watching Die Fohlen, because I have my priorities right.

The draw wasn’t the result we wanted but overall – given we were at home – it was probably a fair result.

Both teams had more effort than quality on show and with so many changes on and off the field, it was to be expected.

David Wagner set his team up to be solid first and foremost as always – underpinned by an excellent performance from Matija Nastasic –  whereas there was a real emphasis on trying to attack for Gladbach.

I thought our back four was excellent for the most part and Wendt and Lainer provided a counter attacking threat and really impressed me. Ginter (25) and Elvedi (22) are such a promising young partnership, quality on and off the ball.

In the midfield it was all about Zakaria – what a player he is, I’m so delighted to keep him at the club but I fear it is only a matter of time before he moves on, he’s just too good.

Benes and Neuhaus worked hard but delivered little quality, missing easy passes and not getting the ball forward quick enough. It is no surprise that Zakaria was the one that stood out, not only is he pure class but he can transition attack to defence quickly with his athleticism and he is comfortable all over the field.

Cuisance’s talent is already sorely missed but then that is to be expected losing a player of his calibre. His attitude raised questions though and that’s not something that can be overlooked. Neuhaus will have to be a lot better than he was today, regardless if he stays or goes but he’s young and talented so I see no reason he won’t be.

The front three looked like what it was, a group of players that had never played together. There was potential there and as I say it wasn’t helped by a less than creative midfield.

They will score goals from their pace and effort more than their “clinical finishing” but that’s where Stindl comes in. The forwards reminded me of Liverpool when they don’t have Firmino, as soon as Rafael came on, the attack improved and had a focal point.

It’s a long season and while we didn’t get the three points, there’s a lot to build on here.

Marco Rose’s counter pressing side will be fun to watch and I doubt we will see many 0-0 scorelines like today.

Personally, I see a much brighter future for Gladbach than recent years and this is just the start.

On to Mainz.

Rating Dak – 2018/19 season

Image: Inside the star

Spent the day watching the highlight reels of every game of last season and then the game in 40 for both playoff games.

Panthers:

D. Prescott (DAL), 29-19-170, 0 INT, 0 TD
C. Newton (CAR), 26-17-161, 0 INT, 0 TD

Cam gets the nod by 1 rushing TD

E. Manning (NYG), 44-33-279, 0 INT, 1 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 25-16-160, 0 INT, 1 TD

Manning even as poor as he is thesedays smashes Dak

D. Prescott (DAL), 34-19-168, 2 INT, 1 TD
R. Wilson (SEA), 26-16-192, 0 INT, 2 TD

Wilson comfortably the better as expected

M. Stafford (DET), 30-24-307, 0 INT, 2 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 27-17-255, 0 INT, 2 TD

not much in this one, I’ll call it a draw

D. Prescott (DAL), 29-18-208, 2 INT, 1 TD
D. Watson (HOU), 44-33-375, 1 INT, 1 TD


Watson smashes Dak, he deserved that win.

B. Bortles (JAX), 26-15-149, 1 INT, 1 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 27-17-183, 0 INT, 2 TD

Dak comfortably better as expected as he should be!

D. Prescott (DAL), 35-22-273, 0 INT, 1 TD
A. Smith (WAS), 25-14-178, 0 INT, 1 TD

Dak better with his arm and gets a rushing TD

M. Mariota (TEN), 29-21-240, 0 INT, 2 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 31-21-243, 1 INT, 2 TD

Mariota wins this one by virtue of his rushing TD

D. Prescott (DAL), 36-26-270, 0 INT, 1 TD
C. Wentz (PHI), 44-32-360, 1 INT, 2 TD

I’m going to say this is a wash. Prescott went to to toe and given Dak’s rushing TD but Wentz doing more through the air. I say even.

D. Prescott (DAL), 32-22-208, 0 INT, 0 TD
M. Ryan (ATL), 34-24-291, 1 INT, 1 TD

Call it a wash, I’ll give Dak a pass for his rushing TD or it would have been Ryan.


C. McCoy
(WAS), 38-24-268, 3 INT, 2 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 31-22-289, 0 INT, 2 TD

Dak beats a backup

D. Brees (NO), 28-18-127, 1 INT, 1 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 28-24-249, 0 INT, 1 TD

I’d say the Cowboys best performance of the season to be honest. This game was won by the defense though who were remarkable

C. Wentz (PHI), 32-22-228, 0 INT, 3 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 54-42-455, 2 INT, 3 TD

You know what, I don’t care about QBR, I don’t care about the interceptions. Dak was dealing and I’m going to give him this one because 455 yards, is 455 yards. Dink ‘n’ Dak? Not so much. Interception happen when you are playing with guts, I have no issue with this.

D. Prescott (DAL), 39-24-206, 1 INT, 0 TD
A. Luck (IND), 27-16-192, 0 INT, 0 TD

Colts smashed us but I’m not giving this to Luck because he didn’t need to do anything.

J. Winston (TB), 48-34-336, 0 INT, 1 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 25-20-161, 0 INT, 1 TD

Winston with the better arm but a TD is a TD and Dak had 2, so I’ll call this a draw.

D. Prescott (DAL), 44-27-387, 0 INT, 4 TD
E. Manning (NYG), 41-24-301, 1 INT, 2 TD

Not even going to entertain this other than to say Dak was on fire. Best performance of the season 4 TD’s and 387 yards. Says it all. Interestingly no Zeke …

R. Wilson (SEA), 27-18-233, 0 INT, 1 TD
D. Prescott (DAL), 33-22-226, 1 INT, 1 TD

I would have said this was a wash other than it was obvious how much Wilson was working against and yet still he was the better QB just about.

D. Prescott (DAL), 32-20-266, 0 INT, 1 TD
J. Goff (LA), 28-15-186, 0 INT, 0 TD

Goff was in the position Dak often finds himself in this one. He picked up the W having to do very little. Dak on other other hand was the better QB but picked up the L

So overall Dak was the better QB against:

Alex Smith
Colt McCoy
Drew Bress (though his defense won that game and Brees was horrible)
Carson Wentz
Jared Goff

So the best QB he beat had a nightmare, he gets one better performance out of two against Wentz (the other being tied by my ranking), he was better than an overrated Goff, he won the battle of the game managers with Smith comfortably and he battered a backup in McCoy.

I’d say he had 5 games of note that give you hope of what he can do:

Twice against Philly, Saints, Giants and Rams in the playoffs.

Is 5 games enough quality starts to ask for 30m plus?

I’m really not sure it is. In fact I’m being kind, it definitely is not.

There’s a massive caveat to this though. It wasn’t until week 8 that Dak got Coop.

So his record of quality starts with Coop is 5 of 10, 50%.

He threw for over 200 yards in 9 of 10 starts. 6 times over 250, and twice over 300 yards.

He also started to out throw his opponent in terms of attempts throwing more times than his opponent six times. In other words, basically everything he did trended up.

The question is can he get us to the promised land? Well he beat Wilson – although Wilson was the better QB on the day – and he lost to Goff even though he was much the better QB. So the answer would seem to be, yes.

That Rams game is the big one for me. The Rams were better in every area and yet Dak overcame it, not in the win column but he was the main reason it remained a contest and respectable.

QBR means little to nothing. Dak was a better QB when he was allowed to be a better QB.

He took Wentz to the cleaners in the game in Dallas and that’s what I want to see more of. So what if he threw 2 interceptions, the man was on fire. Great players throw interceptions, it’s just how it is but if they also throw 3 or more TD’s and get 400 or more yards, no one bats an eyelid. Go and look at Favre if you don’t believe me.

Dak has answered the questions we’ve asked on the occasions he’s been allowed to answer them. Yes he can be a game manager (not a bad thing) but he can also air it out when he’s given the go ahead.

His body of work last season doesn’t warrant the money, that’s true but the question you have to ask is, how much of that is his fault? The answer from the information I’ve just provided is very little and certainly a lot less than seems to be the narrative.

The delightfully random thought process of Shaka Hislop

image courtesy of sportsmaxtv

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2LSW3hroSc <— You will need to watch this first.

I’m about to eviscerate Shaka Hislop, figuratively speaking of course. I have nothing against the man, quite liked him as a player but he’s one of the single worst analysts around. It’s not just him, Nicol and Burley are right up there as well but Shaka is the one that had me wanting to put my head through the telly of late.

“Best Attacking Trios”, that’s what we are given as the criteria. Nothing else.

It’s fair to assume that we are talking only about in the Premier League, not all competitions. Other than that, at this point it seems clear that Shaka can do what he wants when he wants with the trios on offer and boy does he as he plays jump rope with logic.

Let us begin:

10 – Bournemouth. Shaka starts by telling us that Bournemouth scored more goals (56) than Wolves (47), Everton (54) and West Ham (52). Fair enough, factually correct but don’t get too used to facts from good old Shak Daddy. I’ll even be kind enough to overlook that neither he nor anyone at ESPN bothered to provide the number of goals and assists that any of these players scored or referred to them in any way.

Wilson – 14 goals/ 9 assists
Fraser – 7 goals/ 14 assists
King – 12 goals/ 3 assists

Total 33 goals/ 26 assists – 59 direct inclusions out of 56 goals.

Now I’m not great at maths but this isn’t just a case of me not being able to count. They are so directly involved in each others goals that they between them have more assists and goals than Bournemouth scored. Seems improbable but it’s true.

These players don’t get the praise they deserve, few teams “attacking trios” give you more. What does Shaka say? “I don’t think Bournemouth score as many this time around.” Is a reason given for this claim? Of course not.

9 – Everton. “Richarlison a little bit inconsistent”. Fair comment. He could be a worldy this lad but that’s another topic. “Moise Kean is a player I like a lot.” Okay, fair enough, he even goes on to say that Kean has yet to kick a ball in the prem and he says that he’s going for potential over what we know. I don’t agree with him doing that as I prefer what is over what may be but I can live with it.


Kean – 6 goals/ 0 assists
Richarlison –  13 goals/ 1 assist
Sigurdson – 13 goals/ 6 assists

Total 32 goals/ 7 assists – 39 direct inclusions out of 54 goals but really we can only go off the two players that were actually here which is 26 and 7 which means those two players were directly involved in 33 of Everton’s 54 goals. 


8 – Wolves. His first knock on Wolves is “they’re more defensive and the others are more willing to concede.” Given Wolves conceded 46 goals and Everton conceded 46 goals, I’m not sure where Shaka is basing this opinion.

Bournemouth are certainly more willing concede as show by the 70 goals they conceded last season. He then goes on to say absolutely nothing about Jiminez – the surprise package and one of the best strikers in the league last season – nor Diego Jota, who was sublime at times and again is one of the most underrated attacking players in the league.

I can understand not talking about Cutrone who regressed last season and whom he probably doesn’t know all that much about. Personally I’d have gone with Joao Moutinho given his pedigree, his quality and given he provided 1 goal and 8 assists or Ruben Neves with 4 goals and 5 assists but, Shaka didn’t so let’s see what the numbers say.

Cutrone – 3 goals/ 2 assists
Raul Jiminez –  13 goals/ 7 assists
Diego Jota – 9 goals/ 5 assists


Total – 25 goals/ 14 assists in 47 goals but again there’s no point in involving Cutrone and the facts tell us that Jiminez and Jota were responsible for 22 goals and 12 assists, so directly involved in 34 of Wolves’ 47 goals.

Which is –  given they were both first season players in a team playing in its first season back in top-flight football – absolutely phenomenal. I would again like to point out how insanely underrated these two players are. Not bad for a “defensive attack” I would dare to venture.

7 – Leicester City. “In terms of their scoring, they don’t drop off at all.” I agree, but you’re telling us nothing, again. Again, no issue with this but given the logic behind it, why are they so far ahead of Bournemouth?

You’re not talking about potential here other than what might be added with Perez who again I see as a massively underrated forward.

Why not talk about Perez coming off the back of his best season ever? Why are Leicester not considered a “defensive attack” with Perez and Vardy being well known to defend from the front?

I’m a huge fan of the potential of this front 3.




Let’s see the stats:

Maddison – 7 goals/ 7 assists
Vardy – 18 goals/ 4 assists
Perez  – 12 goals/ 2 assists

37 goals/ 13 assists – the potential here is frightening. It’s not a huge reach for Perez to not only reach those numbers again but improve on them in a more attacking side with better service. That said what we are actually dealing with is 25 goals and 11 assists so 36 direct involvements in 51 goals. Still not too shabby.

6. Chelsea. And here, we, go … Stop it, just stop it. How on Earth are Chelsea ahead of anyone in terms of what the front 3 are capable of and provide? Even potentially, just stop it. Let’s hear what he has to say though: “Giroud is not a goalscoring centre forward” – The man ranked 49 on the all time Premier League goalscorers chart is “not a goal scoring centre forward.”

Fair enough, if you are saying that at this moment in his career he isn’t a goalscoring centre forward as he is well past it, then fine. So I’ll give you that even though it wasn’t exactly the most accurate of comments. So with that said, what exactly does this now non goalscoring forward bring to the table? “He’s not going to get you 20 goals, as is the normal standard for a centre forward.”

Four players got over 20 goals last season, 20 is not “a normal standard at this level”. Then we hear “If he gets you 10 you take that.” You are really selling Giroud to me here Shaka. What about Hudson Odoi, I mean you must really like him and be bullish if you’re putting him up there with a 10 goal a season striker. Oh for the record, Giroud managed 2 goals last season in 27 appearances, although 20 were as a sub. So come on, sell me Hudson Odoi because you’ll need to. “There are question marks around him and his fitness” … erm … okay … “this is the assumption when he does come back, he doesn’t miss a beat”… yeah because he carried Chelsea with his 4 starts last season and his 39 minutes per appearance in 10 games.

Pulisic next and apparently his qualifications are “he’s been simply outstanding in pre season”. Yeah? So has Rhian Brewster, he’s not even top 8 in our most important attacking players. Pulisic, a man who couldn’t beat out Jacob Bruun-Larsen at Dortmund. No offence to JBL but if Pulisic was as good as Shaka thinks he is, he’d have had JBL sat watching him on the bench. No offence to Pulisic either, we have no idea what he might be in the future.

“There’s a lot to caveat to Chelsea being this high”. That might well be the understatement of the season, and we haven’t even kicked off the Premier League yet.

Numbers?



CHO – 0 goals/ 1 assist (let’s hope he doesn’t miss a beat when he gets back)
Pulisic – 4 goals/ 4 assists
Giroud – 2 goals/ 4 assists

6 goals/ 9 assists of the 63 Chelsea plundered last season.

Wow, I mean just wow. They pay this man for his opinions. I wonder who is paying him at Chelsea. A manager who is new to the Prem, according to Shaka at least, is going to take 2 bench players and an over the hill Giroud – who probably won’t start for Chelsea as the presenter rightly pointed out – and make them the 6th best attacking trio in Premier League? Yeah good luck with that one. Seriously, one more time! WOW!


5 – Manchester United. First of all, there is no way you can do a top United attacking trio without Pogba and yet, guess what Shaka does. Lingard, Rashford, Martial. No seriously, he’s off again.

Pogba is lazy and has a bad attitude but he had 13 goals and 9 assists and is still one of the most talented players in world football. Shaka thinks that Lingard is better in his trio. If someone could check his dressing room for illegal substances, that would be great.

Even Lukaku had to be ahead of Lingard with his 12 goals. Yes he had a poor season and needs to get back to his “fighting weight” but I’m not stupid enough to write him off.

Martial – 10 goals/ 2 assists
Rashford – 10 goals/ 6 assists
Lingard – 4 goals/ 2 assists

24 goals/ 10 assists – 34 direct inclusions of 65 goals. This would have shot up with Pogba, but alas.

Four goals and two assists and far less talent got in ahead of 13 goals, 9 assists and one of the most talented players on the face of the Earth. Brilliant Shaka, I wasn’t expecting comedy from ESPN. The best part was the one thing he said about Lingard was “You saw an inconsistency from him [Rashford] that you’d more associate with Jesse Lingard”. Outstanding. If this was a court case, you’d not only have them find Lingard guilty but they’d probably want to bring back capital punishment.

4 – Tottenham Hotspur – Kane, Son and Alli. “Kane best finisher in the league, no question”. Well sorry Shaka, but there is a definite question when it comes to that.

We live in a world where everything is recorded and the best stat we have for “best finisher” is “expected goals”. Kane ranked seventh on that stat in 18/19 with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang at number 1, not to mention the Gabon international scoring more goals and sharing the golden boot. Salah, Aguero, Vardy and Mane rounded out the top 5 and Kane was quite the way back as well.
In fact even by your own scale, he missed out on the “normal standard for a centre forward at this level” of 20 goals but as we’ve seen, you’re not big on facts or consistency.

Numbers?

Kane – 17 goals/4 assists
Son – 12 goals/ 6 assists
Alli – 5 goals/ 3 assists

34 goals/ 13 assists – 47 direct inclusions out of 67 goals.

Could have gone with Eriksen but understandable why he didn’t. Cast your minds back to Bournemouth, 33 goals and 26 assists is better, right? Not flashy enough though, got to go with them FIFA stats, boiiiiiii.

3 – Arsenal. “I think Pepe is a perfect compliment to Aubameyang and Lacazette”. I agree, why though? No issues with this other than number three has about 10 seconds devoted to it. This is the most exciting new attack in the Premier League, any chance of some insight on what we have to look forward to? No? Alright then.

Tale of the tape:

Aubameyang – 22 goals/ 5 assists
Lacazette  – 13 goals/ 8 assists
Nicolas Pepe – 22 goals/ 11 assists

57 goals/ 24 assists – Again though, pointless going on anything other than Aubameyang and Lacazette who managed 35 goals and 13 assists out of Arsenal’s 73 goals.

22 goals would certainly suggest that Pepe is the “decent finisher” Shaka claims him to be.

2 – Liverpool. It was always going to be one of either they or City at one and two and so it proved. What did he have to say though to back up his choice though, let’s see.

“My concern for Liverpool is that all 3 have played in international tournaments this summer, how do they cope?” Fair comment. It’s a long season and it can certainly take its toll.

“You saw Salah start last season a little bit slowly, after the World Cup”, well yes we did but that’s because he was injured, not once but twice between the end of the 17/18 season and the start of the 18/19 season. None of Salah, Mane or Firmino were injured on international duty this time around. So I don’t see the relevance to that comment.

Absolutely nothing is said about Liverpool, the fact they had two golden boot winners in their side – a feat that has never been accomplished before last season to my knowledge – is apparently irrelevant in the “the best attacking trio” debate.

Stats?

Firmino 12 goals/ 6 assists
Mane 22 goals/ 1 assist
Salah 22 goals/ 8 assists

56 goals and 15 assists or 71 direct inclusions in 89 goals.

1. – Manchester City. “The Caveat to City being this high up is that De Bruyne rediscovers his form and doesn’t have the injuries he had last season.” I’d have no issue with this other than he’s more worried about Liverpool’s front three possibly getting injured based on very little but is willing to give De Bruyne the benefit of the doubt after having played only 19 games last season and started only 11.

As if that’s not enough, De Bruyne himself has complained that he doesn’t feel ready for the new season because of City’s pre season.

No mention of Aguero’s injury history either or indeed him at all, and no mention of Sterling and his impressive season last year. 

So with the target to beat 56 goals and 15 assists how did the 3 he chose match up?

Aguero –  21 goals/ 8 assists
Sterling – 17 goals/ 9 assists
De Bruyne – 2 goals/ 2 assists

40 goals and 19 assists or in other words 59 direct inclusions in 95 goals.

Of course Liverpool win out but that’s because De Bruyne wasn’t fit, clearly. More realistic targets for him would be 8 goals and 16 assists as he had the season before his injury. I feel it’s only fair to talk about Sane whose 10 goals and 10 assists are far more fitting when making a direct comparison about the best attacking trios of each team last season, or even Bernardo Silva who may only have managed 7 goals and 7 assists but I would argue was City’s best player by some distance last year.

And that’s it. That’s what we got in 8 minutes. Nonsense, contradictions and whatever random thoughts came into Shaka’s head.

I understand there were time constraints, fair enough. Why though? It’s a much more interesting topic than half the crap they talk about like who might go where and why. ESPN if you need a consultant, give me a shout.

So other than Shaka Hislop likes to put Football Manager type scenarios into live broadcasts that show no football analysis whatsoever, what have we learned? We’ve learned that players like Aguero and De Bruyne who have woeful injury records should not have that taken into consideration but players like Mane, Salah and Firmino who don’t should have it used as a reason why they are not as good.

Most importantly though, we’ve learned that the most underrated front three in the Premier League – out of this lot anyway – is Bournemouth’s and if we are just talking statistically and taking into account the importance of their goals and assists; Josh King, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson are simply untouchable, not as Shaka says TENTH. 

Tune in next time for MY researched and actually worth looking at top attacking trios of the Premier League.