Liverpool have played 210 minutes of football over the last seven days and by my estimation were dreadful for about 195 of them. They played against Norwich and Stoke without a recognized striker and in Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure they fielded a centre-back pairing who would currently be in police custody if impersonating a defender was a criminal offence. Yet across those two games of football they picked up three points and reached a Cup Final. No-one should be mistaken into thinking Liverpool are anywhere near a good side but the footballing gods have smiled on them this week and Jürgen Klopp is building up plenty of credit in the hearts and minds of the Liverpool fans and owners who will have to stay patient as the German attempts to re-build an English club and repeat his Dortmund feats. Their FA Cup 4th round opponents are West Ham who lie two points ahead of the Reds in the league entirely on merit and have beaten them home and away convincingly already this season with an aggregate score of 5-0. Surely Dejan Lovren will start but even if one of Sakho or Toure lines up against the Hammers, I can see Slaven Bilic masterminding Liverpool’s first Cup demise of the season.
Manchester United’s performance against Southampton was embarrassing and by my count this is at least the fourth time they have lurched into crisis this season. On a day when Liverpool scored 5 in match playing without starting with a striker, United managed just the solitary shot on target while playing both Wayne Rooney and Antony Martial. I have attempted to defend Louis Van Gaal at times this season suggesting that his cautious approach to matches was dictated by the man power, or more importantly, the current form of the manpower at his disposal. He is at the stage now though where he has to be held to account for that dramatic drop in performance of several members of his squad and judging by the boos ringing out at Old Trafford DURING last week’s game he has reached the point of no return with the fans. As I write this, United are yet to face Derby in their FA Cup tie. Paul Clements’ Rams came into that match in atrocious form after a strong start to the Championship season but regardless whether United won 3-0, lost or drew it is only a matter of time before Ryan Giggs is given the job to salvage Champions League football for next season which if achieved will get him the job on a full time basis. If they were going to give the job to Jose Mourinho surely they would have already done so, he would have needed at least a week before the transfer window closed to do some business including one presumes, selling Juan Mata again and finding a replacement.
As for the ‘window’; for all the talk before it opened of a record breaking January EPL spending spree, with two days to go it has all been relatively under-whelming. At time of writing, Jonjo Shelvey remains the biggest deal done and it is not a forgone conclusion that his 12 million GBP transfer fee will be topped by the close of the window at 7am Malaysian time on Tuesday. The one deal that may eclipse Shelvey’s Newcastle move is if the long running Saido Berahino to Tottenham saga is finally resolved. If it does go through will Spurs be buying a prolific young English striker who burst onto the scene with 20 goals last season or a 22 year old man who has sulked his way through this campaign with a miserly return of 3 EPL goals? Tottenham of course are familiar with strikers who have undoubted talent but a questionable attitude, they are still paying Emmanuel Adebayor who has now taken his suspect temperament to Crystal Palace where he will be brilliant or very, very bad. There are no half measures with him.
And finally, one last transfer deal reported in the English media that won’t be happening before Tuesday morning. The Daily Express reports that Robin Van Persie is wanted by Chelsea. Anyone who has seen the once great RVP play for Fenerbahce this season on the Astro SuperSport UEL coverage will have seen he is now a shadow of his former self. If Chelsea somehow end up with Radamel Falcao and Van Persie in their EPL squad I really will have seen it all.