Guest Writer Iain Anderson, of Why Say Anything fame, gives his take on Liverpool’s new era and the progress of the MLS.
There haven’t been, to my knowledge, many famous people with the initials JK. That isn’t to say there haven’t been any. Some spring easily to mind; John Kennedy, John Keats and Jeremy Kyle, although the latter should hardly be mentioned on the same planet as the two former.
So it is a little bit of a coincidence that the two most famous German football managers in the world both have the initials JK. One is the manager of a bunch of individuals who haven’t been having a great time recently and so is the other one.
Football or, as the Americans know it, Soccer, is coming on in leaps and bounds in the States. With MLS thriving and two new teams due to join in 2017 it won’t be long before Soccer is the number one game in America. The only thing not progressing as it should is the national team.
Jurgen Klinsmann sees every defeat suffered by the American national team as a blip. It is never anything serious and, from what I am told by sources across the pond, it is never his fault. Failure to beat, or even draw, with Mexico meant they missed out on a place in the Confederations Cup. Jurgen is now starting to take his job more seriously.
The person shouldering the blame should be, in many American eyes, Sunil Gulati, the president of US Soccer. It is he who gave Klinsmann a long contract through to the 2018 World Cup and is, therefore, responsible if it all goes pear shaped which it is currently showing signs of doing. The under 23 team face a play-off against Colombia, providing they can beat Canada, in order to qualify for the Olympics. Most people thought they would already be qualified by now.
MLS has more homegrown players than any US league before it but they are still not producing enough quality players to progress the national team. This needs to be addressed at youth level, where dedicated coaches need to be employed in greater numbers to unearth the stars of the future. They then need to be selected as soon as they are ready to gain invaluable experience and, hopefully, take the USA to the next level.
Meanwhile, back in the sceptred isle, the other JK has decided that, if you run around more than the other team, you will win matches. His first game, against Tottenham Hotspur immediately disproved this theory by ending in a draw. In fairness, the theory probably is a good one when he has some of the better players available. Pressing the opponents continuously is a good tactic, unless you keep giving them back the ball and having to do it again and again, which is what Liverpool did. This just results in tired players.
The other problem is that, against the better teams, winning the ball back is no big deal. A lot of them are quite happy to let you have the ball, confident that they can deal with any threat. So Liverpool have to be particularly good when they are in possession and, hopefully, score a couple of goals. If they don’t, not only are they tired from all the pressing, but they are now more vulnerable as well.
So we may be seeing Liverpool concede the occasional goal, but with all their pressing, they should be able to get the ball back enough times to score, providing Daniel Sturridge is playing…….. and Christian Benteke.
So the future looks quite bright for both Liverpool and the US of A football/soccer teams. One of the JK’s will be given time to get things right. The other JK may just be running out of time to get things right, but his lengthy contract may be a saviour.
Whatever happens, I can’t see either of them writing any poetry, so no matter how many German football managers come along with the initials JK, I think that John Keats will probably remain the only poet with those initials.