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#3: The Ring of Fire with Iluvatar

Broomy

TIA's Redkopi
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The Ring of Fire with Iluvatar

The wait is finally over, the anticipation is building, the flags are beginning to appear, it's only 4 days till the Champions League Final. It's been a week that has seen numerous players linked to Liverpool and a week which saw Kamil Grabara and Harry Wilson suffer play-off heartbreak with their loan clubs...

Thrown into the 'Ring of Fire' this week is TIA Forum Member @Iluvatar



*****

TIA Username: Iluvatar
Location : Urmston (Manchester)

Favourite Current LFC Player : Andy Robertson
Favourite all-time LFC Player : John Barnes
Favourite all time Reds match : Liverpool v’s Barcelona (4-0)
Funniest moment following the Reds : Jumping up in the middle of a pub in Sale (Manchester) when Shaqiri scored this season v’s the old enemy.. Got asked to leave quietly by the manager, so ran off shouting Shaqiri Shaqiri and got chased by some skinheads, made it thankfully.
Favourite non-LFC Player : Ronaldo (Brazilian)
Favourite other clubs (if any) : Dortmund
Other sports/hobbies/past times
: Reading, Rugby, Gaming, Walking
Non-footballing heroes : Kenny Dalglish (For everything he has done off the field - a truely genuine legend and most amazing man)​



Iluvatar, Liverpool have won 18 English titles, but only once have they ever picked up more points than they did this season - 98 in 1978-79, adjusted to three points for a win. And that was from 42 games, making this Liverpool's best-ever points per game return.

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?


I think it all is (injuries permitting), what I believe we've seen this season is an evolution of the team. With a much stronger foundation in defense (Van Dijk, Alisson), we now don't feel the need to gengenpress all game as we are far far more confident in scoring 1 or two goals and not conceding.

What Klopp and his assistants (Pep/Peter) have managed to develop over the summer is a much more confident, controlled and mature team. We are controlling games really well, we are getting better at playing slow and then upping the tempo several levels and just unleashing a wave of pressure that typically leads to goals. I think next season this will go up a notch and with early goals against the lower teams they will be accepting defeat even before playing (as you see with City). Adding the likes of Oxlade and Keita into the mix is only going to add further penetration from midfield which will add another dimension to our game.

A lot has been asked can our fullbacks repeat their double digit assists next season, I think yes. We have developed a system that is all about making them space and boy do they then deliver. It is also why the likes of Henderson, Milner and Gini get such undeserved attention for negativity - Their role is to cover for the marauding fullbacks, it's a pretty thankless task. Having Fabinho really finding his feet though is again giving both no.8s more freedom to attack which goes back to the Keita/Oxlade point of above.

If I was to be objective the sustainability is with key players and last season I think we were a bit lucky - Trent/Robertson/VanDijk/Salah/Mane were ever present and all utterly key to our performances. We need to strengthen in those areas to ensure a minimal drop in quality if we do pick up injuries.


"No chance for Naby. He is really progressing well. We will see how it work out for him for the Africa Cup of Nations. We don’t know yet.".... With Keita ruled out of Saturdays Final, it's been a stop-start first season at Anfield for Naby Keita, his form improved immensely in recent weeks scoring 3 goals in his previous 5 appearances before taking on Barcelona where he limped off midway through the first half in the Nou Camp. How did you assess his first season at Liverpool?

Keita, like Oxlade, like Fabinho etc. has reinforced the humility I’ve learnt in trusting Klopp. I’ve been critical in the past of expecting too much too soon of players coming in, especially without really considering where they play on the pitch, the demands in terms of tactics, positioning and fitness. This team is a finely tuned one, it’s proof that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts for this team. If one player doesn’t press correctly it falls apart quickly, so allowing players time to bed in without forcing the issue is testament to Klopp and his confidence in knowing what is best.

We’ve seen glimpses of Keita.. The good and the bad.. The little drops of the shoulder, the sheer swagger of a cruyff turn when a lost ball results in a clear chance for the opponent to the poor marking or not tracking with energy. The great thing is the good is becoming the norm, where the bad is infrequent and it’s clear he is learning quickly. It’s a shame he got injured because he is soon going to be terrorising teams like he did for RedBull.

He is the perfect pass and move footballer and I am massively looking forward to him playing at his level consistently.

My only criticism (which I know people disagree with) is he knew he was coming here a year before he arrived, arriving and knowing fuck all English to me was all a bit lazy. Get a private tutor and get a head start. That would be my only critique in what has been a good albeit slow first season.


Ajax skipper Matthijs de Ligt has been a topic of conversations over in the “who would you buy” thread this past week.... However recent Jurgen Klopp speculation is that he is content with his options at the heart of defence, raising a number of questions over the manager’s plans this summer.

In my fantasy thread I was all for signing him, but that is as it says "fantasy". The reality is we have an amazing backline and De Ligt on the last 6 months doesn't get in the team ahead of Matip (who has grown as a player exponentially) and Van Dijk (an utter colossus). Add Gomez to the mix who has everything to be as good as Van Dijk, and Hoever who looks another fantastic talent, De Ligt just seems to take minutes from Gomez/Hoever and not enough for himself so it's not a good fit for either party.

I'm not of the opinion Gomez is injury prone, his last injury (after a steady spell in the side) was an impact one, and as such we must give him more time as he truly could be special. Why would we put any blockage to that?



Most fans are calling for Klopp to bring in one or two new faces to Merseyside this summer with full back cover and a versatile forward the priority...

Multi-position players who are flexible and excel in various formations and structures. I have a bit of an obsession with a core English spine to the team so my two would be Sessegnon and Sancho.

Sessegnon whilst struggled in his first season in the EPL has all the raw ability to succeed at a club like ours. He'd also get minutes at left back (v's weaker teams) to give Robertson the rotational option, but also at left winger giving Mane likewise. Easy to forget he is only 18, under Klopp he would turn into a super star. Liverpool fan as well.

Sancho is in my opinion a generational level talent. He will be worldclass within 2 years (he's already performing at the top level). A player who has that natural swagger, ability, skill, pace he has it all. He'd be an absolutely amazing player to add into our established front 4 and not be over-awed with the challenge of taking minutes off one of the best front lines in world football.

My thought process is that we don't play with an established no.9 and as such Mane/Salah performing there to such a high level, the much requested back up for Bobby is actually here (+ Brewster) already.



Neil Jones at Goal.com recently spoke of Xherdan Shaqiri, saying he “endured a frustrating second half to the campaign and appears to be out of step with what Klopp demands tactically. A good offer would convince Liverpool to do business for the Swiss." Illuvatar, after failing to build on his initial promise and struggling for game time later in the season, could the Swiss international find himself surplus to requirements?

Shaqiri seemed a target of opportunity when Fekir fell through. He's done well enough and has offered something different to our existing midfielders (I don't rate him as a wide forward in our system). He does seem to struggle with the tactical side of mainly defending, but I'm a bit unsure why our fan base allow Keita a years grace but expect bigger things from Shaqiri in a much shorter timescale.

The problem there comes that with Oxlade/Keita being fully fit/up to speed does his minutes get massively reduced? I agree with Jones and I'd personally allow him to leave if he wanted to (Klopp seems to value honesty and the players happiness), but he certainly wouldn't be on a list I'd force out as he has shown he has a lot to give. If he did leave he'd always have the two Utd goals and the assist for Origi to look back on with fondness (and a shiny CL medal!)

For me it may be as simple as minutes for the returning Wilson or Shaqiri. Either way both could offer something next season.



Iluvatar, Growing up in Manchester, how did you come to support Liverpool?

It just fell onto my lap, literally, in the form of a crown paints kit for Christmas. My dad had no interest in football and my mums side of the family hailed originally from around Anfield so they bought me my first red war paint.. I got an upgraded set every Christmas (always from Santa but I knew the glint in my uncles eye meant it was from him).

This evolved into being the only child in a pretty rough school getting a fair amount of stick (or “beats”) being in the (their incorrect opinion) wrong red, and me being a bit of a stubborn fucker that made me want to support more and I started to watch games. The early days it was Barnes, how could it not be? He was pure silk and played with the grace of a ballerina and a wand of a left foot. I’d even still to this day say hes my favourite player. At the time it was simply childish loving his ability, but I watch videos back and the abuse he got, how he took it in his stride and was utterly breathtaking to boot.


We’ve all witnessed the emotional charged nights at Anfield and abroad, the extraordinary stories, the unforgettable memories... What is your most treasured Liverpool moment so far?

I always supported Liverpool, but when I truely got lost in the emotions of a game.. When time stands still, the nerves are unbearable and you just loose it in a celebration that could have lasted a life time was the 4-3 beating of Newcastle in 96 and I was 13. It was such a roller coaster of emotions, it was two attacking teams going all out chasing down the old enemy from down the M62 and losing meant the title dreams were over. I still remember that 1 two by Barnes and Rush which released Collymore to smash it home deep into injury time for such an impossible angle.. From that day I didn’t just support Liverpool, I now loved them with all my heart, I truely joined the family.


Finally, With just 4 days to go Liverpool’s ninth European Cup Final, the pre-match thread is currently full of line-up’s, tactics, superstitions as well as the heated debate on UEFA’s decision to allocate just 16,000 tickets to each club... Instead i’m going to ask you about your best memories of following the Reds around the continent.... 14 years ago, the miracle of Istanbul happened, arguably the greatest comeback in a major football final... What are your abiding memories from that night?

Very very hazy. At 3nil down me and the lads watching it started doing shots with the intention of going out to town shortly after the final whistle.. Drowning our sorrows most certainly.. What followed was disbelief and utter utter chaos.. Its very hard to sum up in words watching that game, you just by the end were riding such a wave of emotion and adrenalin it was impossible to come back down from for weeks after. Me and the lads all ditched work the Monday/Tuesday and just went on the biggest bender we’ve ever been on and just laughed for what seemed an eternity.

I honestly thought that this was it, we’d kick on from that point but sadly it wasn’t to be. That’s why this final and last seasons seem so so different, there is such a belief and momentum that even if it’s not our day (I think we win 3-1 on Sat though..) We go again, and this time we mean it every bloody single time.


The 'Ring of Fire' - a new weekly feature on the This Is Anfield forums.

Many thanks to @Iluvatar for taking part this week and for taking the time to answer the questions so indepth, thanks mate!

Previous

#1: The Ring of Fire with Sweeting
#2: The Ring of Fire with Mascot88


 

Broomy

TIA's Redkopi
Joined
Jul 7, 2007
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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
 

Billy Biskix

TIA Youth Team
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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
Most of it should be repeatable. We are at the point where the team is now so good it's hard to improve on. We are waiting for Man City to get slightly worse. The big leap forward over the last 18 months or so, post-Coutinho, has been in our defence and game management. The money we got was well spent and we have used it to help construct a strong spine to the team that should last us for years to come. We have the best goalkeeper in the world, the two best attacking full backs in the world and potentially the best CB partnership (VVD/Gomez) in the world. We have finally got ourselves a genuine DM who is completely comfortable in the role. JK built the team from front to back and while it was thrilling to have such a brilliant attack I always doubted we'd be able to win the really big trophies and certainly a PL without being able to regularly keep a clean sheet and manage a game out. This season we have proved we can do both.

On unsustainable hotspots, next season I'd like us to rely less on 'willpower' as JK called it to win games, and become more clinical and ruthless. Our PL campaign was relentlessly brilliant but it was also hard work and terrifying at times. From the City defeat onwards there was barely a game we just breezed through from start to finish. City didn't tire in the way we hoped because they were winning games in the first 20 minutes. We were winning them in the last 20. Over a long period that is definitely going to take it out of the players and you can't always rely on a never say die attitude. We are so much better now than most teams that we play that I would like to see us win games early and in a more boring fashion next season. Get in front and kill the game stone dead.

The other 'hotspot' is the reliance on the front 3. Origi did really well when he came in and Brewster may be a great prospect but relying on Mo, Bobby and Mane for a third straight year seems high risk to me. If we do nothing else in the transfer market then another forward/wide player is a must.
 

Red_Jedi

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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
Great interview again - enjoy reading these and get to know some of the forum members.

Regarding the question above - well, the expectation of our club is back where it should be.

Ask the football world, do they expect us to challenge again for the league next season? Would any Liverpool fan take 2nd place next season? Remember, getting a champions league spot felt like an achievement just a couple of seasons ago...

To me, the evolution of the squad and playing style puts us right up there with the best teams in the world... we’ve beaten Barca, Bayern, PSG, Napoli this season - and kept a clean sheet against city, as well as beating all the others in the top 6.... in fact I think we beat 18 out of 19 league opponents last season - when was the last time we did that?

At the same time, we had our fair share of late winners and luck - Everton, spurs, PSG, Newcastle, Southampton etc etc - however I believe that luck is defined by where preparation meets opportunity - and Klopp has this team fully prepared...

This might be the only hot spot that may not be sustainable - but right now, we are just getting stronger and stronger.... and this summer for transfers is a significant one - the likes of studge and Moreno will move on, maybe Lallana too - and the replacements will strengthen the squad.

So next season - offer me 2nd place and another final - no I think we can and will do better.
 

Dane

NEXT!
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How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
So much happened throughout the season which contributed to defining the outcome, that there can be no guarantee of repeating.

  • Shockingly bad decisions against us – VAR should mitigate a repeat of them
  • To a lesser extent in my opinion, wrong decisions in our favour – See above regarding VAR
  • Good fortune and bad fortune – 11mm versus Man City and agent Pickford are 2 examples
  • Teams basically rolling over against City – I think we’ll see a difference next season

One thing which I think is guaranteed to be repeated next season, and for me it is more important than anything, is the mindset and attitude of this current batch of players who just dont know when they're beaten.
Positive attitude, work rate and application are precious attributes in a team, and thankfully this team has them in abundance.
 
Last edited:

Mascot88

Yours for £1m. Need to make room for Dean Saunders
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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
I think if you look at points totals, this is a 95 point team. Next year, it might come about in a slightly different way - we might lose a couple more, but draw a few less - but that should be the target.

It’s entirely possible for a one dimensional team like Liverpool 13/14 or Leicester 15/16 to put together a run and challenge for the title, but to be perennial contenders I think you need to be versatile in how you win matches. This side has shown that it can blow a side away and it can dog out a scrappy win if necessary. It will find a way past a parked bus, and kill a game when that’s needed.

So I think we’re going to be back challenging next season. I don’t see this as a one off.
 

Red over the water

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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
Great question. I think we can improve in some areas, so I’m going to be optimistic in answering the question.

The defence was brilliant, but I think if Gomez plays next season alongside Van Dijk he will build on the incredible half season partnership that was emerging last time. Matip came in and did well, but we seemed to concede more goals in the second half of the season, so I think this can improve.

I also think the midfield can improve. It wasn’t until quite late on that Fabinho found his groove as the number six, which gave Henderson a new lease of life as a number eight, while Wijnaldum had a good season and Milner was dependable as ever. Next time we should have Keita ready to play from the off, and Ox should be fit to go too, so I’m sure we will see more thrust from the midfield as both of those players add more than they were able to this last term.

So I have genuine reason to believe that things might even get better.

The unsustainable part might be the front three, as an injury there might set us back. I have to believe the club is working hard behind the scenes on mitigating that, and I’m sure we will add more firepower, in whatever form that comes.

On the other hand, Mo scored fewer goals, so maybe he will add another ten next time?

We won a few games through sheer force of will last season, and while that might not be sustainable, I think it will be, as that’s the character of the team, and once you start doing that you will add to it. Consider all those late winners for Man Utd and what came to be known as Fergie time. The never say die stuff starts to become part of the DNA and I think we are getting there with that.

We might not repeat all the assists from the fullback area, as the opposition might employ tactics to reduce that a bit. However, good luck to them if they do, as there will be more space through the middle, and this Liverpool team has the ability to take you down in a variety of ways.

Can’t wait to go again next season. Let’s finish this one with number six!
 

Flobs

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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
Our defense has been tremendous this season. I doubt we will be able to equal that perhaps lose one more game?
Then our attack hasn't fired like I believe it can it's unsustainable to not have a few more matches where we look flambouyant in attack so a few more wins are on the table next season.
The number of draws we had seemed to define our season by the end. I don't think that number of draws will happen next season. This number of draws was defined by the above 2 'observations' so quite a few fewer draws. That should put us on more points as losing compared to a draw just drops 1 point whilst winning adds 2 points.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

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I heard this question asked over on the Liverpool Echo Podcast during the week and thought it might be an interesting question to ask forum members here....

How much of this season’s Liverpool underlying performance is repeatable and what are the unsustainable hotspots?
Under Klopp I always feel we improve as the season progresses. Not as in a run of form like all teams can have but actual improvement. The team Klopp finishes a season with would spank the team Klopp started that season with 9 times out of 10 even though they are almost the exact same players. He's just got the individuals to kick on with their development.

So what is sustainable? Our quality. Year on year under Klopp (long may he reign) our side will improve and continue improving with or without new signings.

But I feel that in some places we are stretched thin to breaking point. I don't think we can continue relying on certain players to play 80-90% of our games. We do "cope" here and there without them but there are maybe 4/5 players who, if they are missing, completely destroy that rhythm of constant improvement.

We are only talking hiccups on the road here, the general trajectory will continue towards great play and ongoing success but it might limit the trophies we can win. In Europe that could be enough to lose a tie or get knocked out of one of the domestic cups. Hell even in the league we are faced with a rival that looks like they will be getting to 90 points regularly so there isn't much room for slipping up there.

I'd say Salah or Mane miss a run of 5 games or more and it could stop us winning several of the competitions we will compete for. Other players are important such as VvD, Firmino and Alisson and we will struggle without them. But it won't be struggling if we miss those two it'll be our chances severely harmed for any competitions that we play for during that period. This isn't like Barca missing Messi (they play Suarez and call up their fourth choice for their front 3) or what other teams that have a mega player have to face. We have nothing in reserve for these mega talents. We need it.