by Tanner Pruitt
Ah, so you’ve come back for more, eh? Seriously though, thank you to everyone who read my article last week. It was a pleasure to take the time to write out my thoughts and opinions for you, the reader. Another week has passed, and that means another week where you can read more of my thoughts. So let us get on with the show, shall we?
Liverpool Youths may have just saved the club a lot of Money
Let’s start with my club, Liverpool, and their defiance to crumble under one of the worst injury plagues a defending-champion team has ever faced in the history of sports and mankind.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but still! Liverpool had been left with Joe Gomez as their only senior team centerback after injuries to Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip and make-shift centerback Fabinho have all been injured at the heart of defense with Fabinho’s injury having occurred during Liverpool’s win in the Champion’s League mid-week.
This forced on 19-year-old Rhys Williams to join Joe Gomez in defense in the middle of a game that looked far from being won. Williams, who is a part of Liverpool’s youth academy, has been on Liverpool’s bench before and has even been subbed on to play in Liverpool’s midfield. But this time around, manager Jurgen Klopp had no choice but to call upon the young man from Preston to shore up the defense.
And somehow, this young man channeled his inner Virgil Van Dijk and performed valiantly alongside Gomez, ultimately helping secure victory for the Reds.
On Saturday, Jurgen Klopp was faced with questions once again over who would start for Liverpool alongside Joe Gomez against West Ham United, a scrappy team known for their physicality.
This time Klopp called upon youth academy stalwart Nat Phillips, who at 23 years old would be handed his Premier League debut. This is a bit unusual for a multitude of different reasons, not only considering this is a bit on the older side for one to make their Premier League debut as a “youth” player, but also because Philips was nearly sold by the club during the Summer with there being very little realistic chance for him to get game time ahead of the first-team’s veterans.
Not only did Philips take his chances, he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, secured the defense and committed his body to the team time and time again on the field to secure yet another victory for Liverpool.
Honestly, as much as I miss the players that are currently out injured, it’s great to see Klopp giving time to these guys who are the future of the club. Williams and Phillips, along with young French defender Billy Koumetio are likely to get a good amount of chances in the coming weeks and month, this is a great time to audition for spots on the team and show the manager, the club, the players and the supporters what they are all about.
Ole’s Well That Ends Well
Now, before all you Manchester United fans get in a huff about a Liverpool-supporting writer giving poor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stick and whatnot, let’s get a couple things straight: I have nothing but respect for this man. Being the manager of Manchester United is probably the worst job in Football at the moment, and considering I can hardly pronounce his name correctly (most of the time), who am I to knock this man.
That’s why I won’t do that. Not here, not in this article, not today. As much as I would love to criticize who tactically inept the decision was to copy Liverpool’s tactics and formation with players who don’t function in the same roles, I won’t… criticize… *sigh* ok, maybe just a little bit.
Seriously though, this poor man is really just a fall man for the Glazer family who seem far more interested in profiting from the club and keeping Tom Brady and his team of fellow moneyed-mercenaries in Tampa Bay happy than what they are with caring for Manchester United and their supporters. “But Tanner,” I can hear you cry out now, grasping on to the Manchester United crest on your jersey, wiping away the tears from your eyes, “we DO bring in good players, we brought in Cavani on Deadline Day”.
This is true, you do bring in good players. But there’s a world of difference between bringing in good players and bringing in the right players. Honestly, the way that Solskjaer changes tactics, I couldn’t tell you what his philosophy is. Nor can I tell you that it actually matters. The ownership at Manchester United only seem interested in buying players that are marketable and can sell shirts, not players who can bring in championships.
And unfortunately, I think all the Manchester United supporters out there know this to be true. The defeat to Arsenal will sting, maybe for a week or two. And then, Solskjaer will go back to using the 4-2-3-1 formation that he stumbled upon that actually brought United some victories, and the cycle will repeat itself.
But have no doubt, Solskjaer being United’s manager only means good things for United’s ownership as long as he continues to miraculously make lemonade out of… well, melons.
The Battle for Top 4 is the Best in Years
I swear, every time I check the Premier League standings it changes. Yes, it’s very early in the season, and yes, I kinda also talked about this last week. But it’s absolutely the most unique season I think I’ve ever seen.
Yes, Liverpool are top of the table (where they belong *cough* cough*), but we also have Spurs, Everton, Southampton, Wolves, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester City all fighting for honors in that order. Now, we can and should fully expect that Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City should be fighting for the Top 4 spots. But in this strange time we live in where fans aren’t able to attend games due to COVID-19 and with England headed towards another lockdown, it’s almost a cruel irony that teams that are traditionally fighting for mid-table spots are fearless in the face of the traditional “Big 6”.
Spurs, whose last great glory was facing Liverpool in the Champions League Final in 2019, is pushing the pace and has shown some great performances and some that are not-so-great. Still, the quality is there. Everton has been mostly an after-though since David Moyes left the club to take the reigns at Manchester United, and have now got a truly world class manager in Carlo Ancelloti with some really great players in the squad and ownership who appear to be hungry to bring the club back to prominence. Wolves have also surprised everyone with their tactical know-how and brilliant yet controversial moves in the transfer market.
And then we have Southampton and Aston Villa who slugged in out in a great game this weekend full of some really, really good goals.
If you are a neutral fan, it’s a great time to be watching.
Since starting Radio Tekkers with my friend Mags, which you can watch every Monday and Thursday on YouTube on the Shooting the Sports Ish Channel, I’ve grown fond of Burnley. This club has so much heart, so much love from it’s supporters, and yet like seem to get put down time and time again by the club’s ownership. Current club chairman Mike Garlick has often kept the purse-strings very tight when it comes to bringing players in to the club, particularly at a time where it seems to be desperately needed. Manager Sean Dyche has been defiant, seemingly making lemonade out of… melons… (checks notes for weird reference from earlier in this article).
But now it seems as if the winds of change are sweeping in to Burnley, with Cheshire-based sports lawyer Chris Farnell and funded by the Egyptian food magnate Mohamed El Kashashy seemingly jockeying for a takeover alongside American-based finance group ALK Capital LLC. Chris Farnell cuts a controversial figure in English football particularly, for a number of reasons all of which I will only describe as “alleged” considering his position and power in the world. So I invite you to do your own research on him and draw your own conclusions.
That said, it would be exciting to see Burnley compete on a fair financial playing field. It’s a wonderful club with rich-history, and the sooner it can get out of the relegation zone the better all of us will be.
Lockdown and the Premier League
This, for all of you who are unaware, is Boris Johnson. He is the Prime Minister on the United Kingdom. Look at him with his two ice creams. What a simple-looking man he appears to be. “Why is Boris Johnson important to the context of this article,” you ask? His government has announced a second national lockdown, beginning on Thursday, November 5 and will last until December 2, with all non-essential businesses forced to close.
This is not a political article nor do I want for it to be. What you do need to know is how this will impact the Premier League.
Per chroniclelive.co.uk and author Josh Challies, “Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport also outlined that elite sport will be exempt from the new restrictions, tweeting: ‘The changes mean people should work from home where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.'” Also reported, the Prime Minister said when asked if the Premier League will continue during a second national lockdown: “I can say yes to the Premier League, I think, with authority.”
The worry for me, however, does not lie with the big clubs, but with the fans and the clubs in lower leagues who have already been severely damaged by the lack of a financial package to keep them afloat. Fans are longing to return to the stadiums to see the teams they support. This is just another gentle reminder that we all need to do our part to help flatten the curve on COVID-19. Leadership world-wide would be wise to adhere to the warnings and directives of scientists and health officials.