Category Archives: Articles

5 Clean Sheets: Why Liverpool Should Buy This £12m Stopper

Liverpool have recently been linked with a move for Genoa stopper Mattia Perin in the January transfer window.

The goalkeeper has been in exceptional form for the Italian side this season, contributing heavily to the fact that his side have risen to sixth in the league, conceding less than a goal per game.

Perin’s form is notable, with the keeper keeping five clean sheets for the Italian side in their 16 games.

Liverpool require a new goalkeeper, having thrown in reserve stopper Brad Jones for the last few games due to the terrible drop in form suffered by Simon Mignolet.

The Belgian keeper looks like he has a mistake in him in every game, and this is not a tolerable situation for a first choice goalkeeper, undoubtedly the player on the pitch that a manager has to have the most trust in whenever a game kicks off.

Jones will not remain first choice, with the Australian simply not possessing enough quality.

Perin therefore seems like he could be an ideal solution to a conundrum that is facing Brendan Rodgers.

At £12 million, his price tag is not particularly prohibitive, allowing the Reds to manoeuvre elsewhere in the transfer market, given what they need.

He also has a clear pedigree and plenty of talent, given that he has been capped by the Italian national side, despite being only 22 years old.

He is also frequently compared to Gianluca Buffon, Italy’s incumbent stopper and one of the world’s best goalkeepers over the last 20 years.

If Liverpool could secure a player who could match up to Buffon, it would be an exceptional signing.

Aside from his clean sheets, Perin outperforms Mignolet whenever he is faced with a shot.

He makes 3.67 saves per goal conceded, doubling Mignolet’s efforts, with the Belgian only stopping 1.59 shots per goal that he concedes.

The only thing that might be a worry for Rodgers is Perin’s distribution.

Liverpool are famed for their passing style, as evidenced in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the weekend when they dominated the play against Wenger’s usually pass-happy Gunners.

The Italian keeper’s distribution is poor, however, with him only completing 54% of his balls to other players.

Despite this, he seems like he could be an excellent addition, and at £12 million it is difficult to see Liverpool doing better in the January transfer window when looking at solutions to the goalkeeping problem.

Is Cellino Doing More Harm Than Good At Leeds United?

Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)

In the summer, someone on Twitter told me that my parents should have killed me shortly after I was born.

This was, to clarify, in response to me suggesting that it might be good if we went a goal behind in our first pre-season friendly against Guiseley, a game I ultimately attended.

Looking at the squad before that game, it was clear that the situation wasn’t good. We had sold Ross McCormack, comfortably our best player the year before, and not really replaced him. The arrival of Souleymane Doukara meant that we had a strikeforce in which Steve Morison and Noel Hunt were expected to play key roles.

In going behind against Guiseley, I was hoping that it would deal a shock to Massimo Cellino, who stood by the side of the pitch smoking, shaking hands with fan after fan.

By this point, he’d appointed Dave Hockaday as manager, and the situation was looking increasingly dire. I spent most of the first half, which was goalless and offered little hope, discussing with Moscowhite of The Square Ball and The City Talking that we were probably going to end up in a relegation battle.

Moscow wrote a great article about control at Leeds United today for The City Talking, and that is what inspired me to think more about Cellino.

It was not Guiseley (2-0 win) that dealt Cellino the shock I was hoping for, but Millwall away, a 2-0 loss. Between that game and the transfer deadline, we sacked Hockaday and we signed player after player, with first team regulars like Mirco Antenucci and Guiseppe Bellusci joining Leeds.

Why did he require that shock? As you stood at the side of the pitch at Guiseley, you could see that it wasn’t working – that Hockaday was out of his depth, that we had no dynamism, that no one could craft, create, imagine, build, basically do anything.

Yet Cellino stuck with his man and his squad going into the start of the season, and even then you knew trouble was afoot. We won against Middlesbrough against the best efforts of our first team. We got destroyed away at Watford, a game in which we looked less likely to have a genuine chance than a stable football club.

Since then, results have been up and down, mostly down. We’ve had a succession of managers with only Neil Redfearn’s side approaching impressive displays. We’ve had young players come to the fore but show their inexperience at crucial points. We’ve had undroppables get game after game.

We’ve also had our owner banned, pending appeal. It’s Cellino that comes into question here, and his control.

Cellino is clearly the captain of the ship, but it’s almost as if he chooses to remove the wheel for extended periods of time. It would be unfair to say he has no plan, but the plan seems to be scribbled down on the back of a serviette that was cleared away by a waiter at the end of the meal.

We’re buying Elland Road, we’re not buying Elland Road. Our squad, including ‘beautiful man’ Noel Hunt, is good, our squad isn’t good. We’ve planned for January, we haven’t, here are the six players we’re buying, we have an embargo, let’s buy them anyway. Where’s the consistency, the direction? It’s taken us weeks to hire an assistant manager for Redfearn, even though his preferred number two was given away for free by Huddersfield.

At this point, is Cellino just doing more damage than good? He’s a man who claims to have the best interests of Leeds United at heart, but is this inability to have a plan before he needs to (a week before the transfer deadline, for example) hindering our progress. I like Guiseppe Bellusci, accusations of racism aside, but you’d struggle to find a Leeds fan who believes he is worth the reported £1.6 million fee we paid Catania for him, a deal pushed through to ensure that we could bring more players in on loan ahead of the impending transfer embargo. Did we really get value for money?

The one true positive of Cellino’s reign has been Nicola Salerno’s eye for a player, with our signings generally working out this summer. By the same token, however, it would be impossible to justify Ken Bates’ time at Leeds by the fact that Gwyn Williams brought in Max Gradel and Luciano Becchio.

Heading into January, our squad clearly needs improvement. What would a player see ahead of them if they chose to sign for Leeds? A team in 19th, one who could find themselves without an owner until March. The relegation battle I feared is coming true, and if we want to avoid it, Massimo Cellino might have to look at himself and hand over more control to recently appointed COO Matt Child than he ever thought possible.

At this point, it might be time for the football men to run the football club. Salerno clearly gets the game in the same way that Redfearn does, and in tandem they could probably get the right players in in January to push Redfearn’s youthful side up the table, if the line of communication is between them without Cellino occasionally popping in and shouting: “hey, what about another midfielder?”

A captain-less ship with Redfearn exerting more influence might work better than one with a captain with no plan who is banned from steering it until March of next year.

What are your thoughts? Send them to us on Twitter @spoughtsblog or comment below.

Photo Credit: Jon Candy

3 Reasons Leeds Should Fear £11m Ex-Skipper Against Fulham

Saturday sees the first game between Leeds United and Fulham since 2004, when the Whites were relegated from the Premier League.

The tie at Elland Road may be Fulham’s return to the ground after a ten year absence, but it also features the return of former Leeds skipper Ross McCormack.

Fulham did a considerable amount of business with Leeds in the summer, signing a 40 goal strike partnership for a combined total of around £12 million, with McCormack moving for £11 million.

While Matt Smith floundered after joining the London side, ultimately moving back to League One on loan, McCormack is slowly asserting himself since the departure of Felix Magath.

However, things are still not hunky dory for Kit Symons’ side.

While they sit only a point behind Leeds in the table, in 18th, they suffered a humiliating 5-0 loss against Watford last week at Craven Cottage.

Leeds showed their defensive problems last week, losing 4-1 to Ipswich Town.

McCormack has not yet hit his true heights, but Leeds fans know there are reasons to fear him against their questionable defence.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. He’s still an exceptional goalscorer, when given a chance – he scored 29 goals last season for the Elland Road side.

2. McCormack is at his most dangerous when he feels he has been wronged. Huddersfield felt his ire last year when their fans claimed he didn’t want to play – the outcome was a hat trick in a 5-1 win. He consistently scored in high pressure, high tempered derby matches last season too.

 

Leeds fans will do well not to give him a reason to play at his peak.

3. He’s provided seven assists this season. A striker like Hugo Rodallega, with eight goals this campaign, could benefit from his service against the Whites.


Errr…or not.