At least Liverpool can now concentrate on qualifying for the Europa Conference

Liverpool vs Real Madrid Credit: Alamy
Liverpool vs Real Madrid Credit: Alamy

We have your initial reactions to Liverpool’s absolute destruction by Real Madrid. There will be more along later.

Send your views to


What an honour!
Like the Gauls in the 1st century BC or the Chinese in the 13th century or the Utah Jazz in the late 90’s, it is a privilege to be beaten by superior opposition.
Niall, Annapolis


Ancelotti at half-time…
Lads, it’s Liverpool.
Schlomo Jenkins


…Tonight was like the two legs in one. I had hoped before the game for a draw and 2-2 at halftime would have been a very good final score. But you could also easily imagine us being outclassed 3-0 in the second leg. In the end the game was played at such a pace that it was all condensed into 90 minutes. The famous Anfield effect faded badly and Real just cruised through the second half as if they were playing in their back yard.

The truth is this Liverpool are not as good as the team that gave Real Madrid a game last season, and we’ll have further embarrassment in the away game to prove it.

The worst thing we could have done to Ancelotti was Istanbul, because since then he’s always had the upper hand in Europe.
Paul in Brussels (Bajcetic was great however)


LOLling at Liverpool
Looks like it was another one of those famous Anfield nights that Liverpool fans like to tell everyone about…
Chris Stockdale, NUFC


…Oh well, at least Liverpool can now concentrate on battling Chelsea for 10th. Maybe even be outsiders for a Europa Conference place?

The traffic report says there’s a major car crash on that corner they turned.
Terry, Texas


…Nobody, *nobody* has more respect for the Fine History of Liverpool Football Club than me. But.


Looking on the bright side
Hard to find a silver lining in that one…well at least I didn’t watch it in the pub.
Aidan, Lfc (also didn’t get hit by a bus on the way home from work, so that’s something)


…15 mins after full time, I still feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach and nuts, but some silver linings are:
– no bad injuries/suspensions
– can focus on the league (a big stretch, I know)
– nice finish from Nunez
– the performances just about deserved the result
– more time to focus on loved ones/work/spring weather/Boardwalk Empire
Aidan, Lfc (funny enough, this quotation helps: “Football is the most important of the less important things in the world.”)


The belief has gone
I think on the balance of things it wasn’t even that bad. Stats showed Liverpool were at least on even keel, they just don’t have the guts anymore. 2-0 up with anfield bouncing should’ve been that. But the confidence didn’t just fade, it disappeared immediately once Vinicius scored a great goal. Madrid just seem to ooze self confidence, nothing gets them down. Big big difference maker today.

Not sure how to find that self belief but it’s scary that that is keeping Liverpool down.
Nik (mentality needs to change, easy enough right?) Munich


…There’s obviously many things wrong at LFC at the minute, but we currently have £100m worth of strikers that can’t play 90 minutes. Heavy investment for 30 minutes of good football.


Dear John…
Mr Henry, despite your contrived apology for unilaterally deciding to join a European Super League without asking the fans perhaps now you understand how crushingly stupid that would be.

This is what you’d be signing up to. Week in week out. Being spanked by clubs that actually buy players, consistently, every year. And don’t think that the ESL money would mean Liverpool could buy more because all the other clubs would have the same budget bump and the still spend more.

Come on, Mo, one more ‘revenge’ tweet…

Fair play to RM. Never looked bothered did they?
TM (bring back Origi)


Get midfielders or change tact
Despite going a man down Newcastle came at Liverpool time and time again, that should have served as a warning. I know Gomez was involved in three of the goals and currently has no confidence at all but what were Liverpool midfield doing against Real Madrid? Klopp persisted with the high press and subsequently a high line, it was alarming the regularity in which Real Madrid got the ball to the forward players severally bypassing a static Liverpool mid.

Klopp cannot afford to play the same way with Fabinho and Henderson. Their mobility has taken a massive hit and playing them exposes a fragile defence whose confidence has been shattered the whole season. That Real Madrid didn’t have to get to second gear to annihilate this Liverpool side shows how bad they were. The options from midfield that are injured or were on the bench do not inspire any confidence. Any Premier League team with half a decent midfield will fancy their chances against this Liverpool side. Klopp either abandons his high press or Liverpool fans are in for a very tough few months.
Okembo ( Gooner, Kenya..what happened to Fabinho? )


Let him play!
The discussion about Nick Pope’s red card and suspension ruling him out of the Carabao Cup final has made two things clear: the first is that referees not addressing the media after a game is frustrating, but still preferable to the comments from former referees who all, incredibly, seem to know better. The other is that Newcastle United should be able to defer their starting goalkeeper’s suspension until their next Premier League fixture.

I actually don’t think that goes far enough. I think clubs should be able to specify which fixture they want their players to serve their suspension in. For example, if Manchester City go full tilt in their FA Cup game against Bristol City and by some quirk of fate see Ederson, Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne shown red cards, they should be able to pick them for their next league fixture (Newcastle United) and elect to delay their bans until the following league game (Crystal Palace).

This has the potential to be a great leveller for the Premier League: big clubs get to keep their best players for their toughest opponents, and the bottom half teams get a bit of a boost as a by-product. I reckon this would be so popular teams would even be prepared to scrap VAR to get it.
Ed Quoththeraven


Reffing hell, what have Barcelona done?
I’m a little surprised that more hasn’t been made of the referee scandal engulfing Barcelona right now.

The implication is that one of the most successful teams of the last two decades could have potentially cheated their way to their success (and not in the usual financial doping way)

For those who haven’t seen what going on the scandal involves payments by Barcelona to José María Enríquez Negreira,

Negreira is a former referee, who rose to the position of Vice President of the Spanish Referee’s committee. Between 2001 and 2018 Barcelona paid him $7m Euros to ensure that Referees treat Barcelona in a “neutral” way. Negriera was getting 10,000 euros a week to “consult”, meanwhile his son would drive referees to the Camp Nou. With Barca’s financial issues getting worse the relationship ended in 2018, Negriera apparently was not happy, demanding additional payments and threating to reveal the “irregularities”.

For years years between 2016 and 2018 Barca didn’t concede a single penalty or receive a red card in La Liga.

So while the Premier League is investigating Man City for irregularities going back over a decade, surely La Liga is doing something similar? Not really, there is a three-year statute of limitations which means they could potentially dodge this bullet. But more and more seems to be coming out so who knows what will happen in the coming weeks..

I used to grudgingly admire Barca but yeah, not so much now.


Saka issue is not a race thing
In response to Robert ‘Yes I am saying that’, your insinuation that Saka is being mistreated by refs because of his race is ludicrous. I can say this with a certain amount of confidence because, unlike your conjecture, there are easily accessible stats to back up my opinion.

According to Opta Saka sits 9th in a table of most fouled Premier League players this season with 40, which works out to about 1 every 49.3 minutes on the pitch. Of the 8 players who have been fouled more, 4 are white. These are Aaronson, Yates, Bowen and Grealish. In the case of the Man City player he is fouled once every 25.8 minutes. Your example of the protected player Kane is 14th in the table having been fouled 34 times. The most fouled player in the league is Zaha with 57 who I’m sure you would agree has a similar playing style and position to Saka. Even going back to last season Saka was 9th and 12th the year before that with similar names and split of races in each season.

Moreover from the injury stats I could find Saka has only missed 2 games through injury since his debut and one of these was for a hamstring pull so not likely to be foul related. For all his supposed mistreatment it doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on his ability to play.

I understand these stats can’t show the severity of the fouls committed or tackles not given as fouls for which I’m sure you think there is an abundance. However, having watched many Saka performances he does go down easily and the fervent nature of his teammates protests whenever he is tackled may be negatively impacting the ref’s judgement. We all know the tale of the boy who cried foul.
Dave, Manchester


Actually, it’s not even a thing
So Saka got a barge in the back? Diddums, Did the back of his boot accidentally get trodden on and come off? Oh Lordie fetch me my tiny violin. Were there a couple of other minor infringements? Won’t somebody please think of the children? Come on it’s football for Pete’s sake not Kindergarten. Sounds like a nice easy game for the likes of Grealish or Zaha.

If we’re going to be whiney and dramatic about things and point out the ref (and linesmen) not doing their jobs then

a) Saka’s challenge on Moreno was arguably a red card offence – late, studs up, on the weight supporting leg – many would see this as a potential leg breaker. Or do special rules apply for a “National Treasure”?

b) If Martinez had been able to “dive exactly where the ball was going” he’d have saved it. He went the right way but got there too late. Those of an objective mindset might reasonably conclude that he may have seen it late. And that this may have had something to do with two offside players obstructing his view. Whatever, they are clearly in his line of sight, the laws of the game say that’s offside, Emi’s dive is irrelevant. The officials got it wrong (yet again), and Arsenal were lucky to get away with it.

Finally Arteta’s antics don’t bother me but if Martinez is fair game for ridicule and chastisement for his (admittedly embarrassing and puerile) antics why not Arteta when he behaves like a cock?
Kevin Villa (Forrest Gump isn’t real you know)


Why is targeted fouling allowed?
Apparently sanctioned shit kicking is a tribal issue to some but it just highlights an uncomfortable fact about the authorities’ view on football – the health of football players doesn’t matter. There are so many premeditated and extremely dangerous fouls that either go unpunished or, bizarrely, are given as a free kick to the offending players. If you compare how the same kinds of fouls are handled in other sports it’s quite shocking how unwilling football is to recognise what’s obviously highly dangerous.

The backing into a jumping player that Harry Kane is fond of should be an immediate red with a very hefty ban. This is the single most dangerous thing a player can do and if allowed to continue will lead to someone getting paralysed. The idea that you can dump a player on their head and actually win the free kick yourself is absurd. The fact that football has done nothing to stop it should be criminal, just hope you’re not the player who breaks your neck so they’ll change it. In other sports it’s each player’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the other players on the pitch. In football it’s each player’s right to endanger someone if there’s the potential of winning a freekick.

The kicking of a player’s calf when the offender isn’t in a position to make a tackle. They’re not trying to play the ball, they’re not even trying to trip the attacker up, they’re trying to injure someone. Fabinho did one a couple of weeks ago and sat on the ground with the facial expression of a man who knows he’s just been sent off. However, he wasn’t, he was booked. He had no intention of playing the ball because he was nowhere near a position where he could have reached it. When refs are more lenient on a player than the player is on himself we should recognise there’s a very big problem somewhere.

Rotating targeted fouling would be laughed at in other sports. The very idea that a manager can devise a scheme of fouling where his team doesn’t get punished would be a scandal in something like rugby. Football seeis the premeditated fouling of a player as somehow less serious than the fouled player snapping, truly amazing. We would book you but you’ve been clever. This player has been fouled 20 times but no single player has fouled him more than 4 times so technically I can’t book anyone. Astounding logic isn’t it? This type of tactic is the ultimate disrespect you can show to a referee – we’re going to do this but you’re too stupid to see it, too weak to punish it and too chicken to not hide behind technicalities.

No, no. Better to send off managers for saying words or players for running aggressively in the name of respect. Football, where it’s worse to challenge authority than it is to challenge a player in the air.
SC, Belfast


Mock the week
Was in two minds as to whether to send this or not given potential opposing views. However, sod it. If the internet isn’t for sending one-sided opinions then what’s it for?

I know it isn’t big or clever – Arteta taking the p*ss out of Simon Hooper – but it isn’t half funny! Do people like Stan (knock a woman about) Collymore want all managers to be soulless robots? Does he really think that Hooper went home and spent the evening worrying about that 2-second event? I’d be very surprised it even crossed Mr Hooper’s mind. Maybe he’s smart and not on Twitter? At worst, he maybe thinks Arteta is a prick and will make sure he gives a 50/50 decision against Arsenal at the next opportunity.

In the Man U v Leicester game on Sunday, James Maddison clearly told the ref to ‘f*** off’ and flung an arm in his direction as if to emphasise the point. No booking, no talking to. I assume the ref didn’t think it of any note. Is Stan claiming that is out of order as well? It happens all the time. I’ll bet the Ulrika beater has done it. Maybe it doesn’t count when you’ve stopped playing?

I know refs have an extremely difficult job. I sympathise, I do (not you though Lee Mason, see ya). But they are grown men & women and wouldn’t be in football if they couldn’t take some of the abuse that will inevitably come their way. Who goes into refereeing without some level of acceptance? This isn’t a new thing.

I know people will say it trickles down to grass roots football and I get that. But it was ever thus. Refs in the lower reaches and especially Sunday league type stuff, get far worse abuse. It’s not right, but will adults ever stop swearing at each other and mocking each other? I doubt it. If a local ref called me a c*nt, would I care? No.

Of course, physical abuse is completely different and unacceptable at any level. That should never arise. That said, I did see a ref many years ago (French Sunday league) punch a player who pushed him. Very funny and drew a very quick line under the situation. Was it right? Clearly not and could have gotten out of hand. But, ya know.

Will it ever change? Probably not. In any high pressure environment, especially sport I guess, these things happen in the heat of the moment and if Mikel Arteta making a rather amusing ‘roly poly’ motion with his hands towards a grown man is reason to complain, then I really do wonder where we go from here?

Yes, we all have an example to set to the younger generation, but they’ll also understand some of the passion that goes into the game. Unfortunately it can boil over but surely most functioning adults know where the line is? Don’t they? Please say they do.

Maybe I’m wrong? I’m sure there are referees who will disagree with me and give examples of unacceptable levels of abuse. This brings me back to my ‘knowing where the line is ‘ point. Maybe it’s not just a problem with football, maybe it’s society as a whole? We can be arseholes….
Stu – Gooner in France


Why one-footed?
Nice pieces in the mailbox discussing the never-ending issue of why professional footballers cannot learn to do some basics (use other foot or take free kicks etc).

I think we should look to other fields of employment for clues. One of the most common queries for personal development is whether you should focus on strengths or focus on sorting out weaknesses. From my experience, the people who rise to the top are usually outstanding at something, rather than a little good at many things. Therefore when progressing, folks become masters at one or a few things, rather than a jack of all trades.

Taking this to football, is it better for players to try and develop an all-round game, or capitalize on the few strengths they have always had (pace, heading or whatever)? I believe the coaches work out that it’s more fruitful in the bigger picture to have players excel at a few things, and for the manager to work out tactics to get the best out of the team together. This model works better than relying on all of your players to have fantastic all-round games, which would take a very long time to build.

Or it may just be that the money/fame makes them lazy.
The Big P, Vancouver


Some curious abuse
Poor andropausal bastard couldn’t help himself. In efforting to describe the upbeat vibe currently at Man Utd, dave had suggest it was all the sweeter because “Ronaldo is in the mud”…whatever the fuck that means.

Aggrieved caponated englishmen.

Reviled worldwide.
Brian Weir

(Pretty sure caponata is an olive dip – Ed)

The article At least Liverpool can now concentrate on qualifying for the Europa Conference appeared first on