It’s City’s.

Published: Monday, 08 February 2021
I signed off last week making the point that predicting is a dangerous game - but fun. I said that only two teams could win the title - Liverpool and City. I was quickly proved wrong. 😂😂.

I didn’t see Brighton’s win at Anfield coming. Mind you - nor did anyone else. That’s the game that ended Liverpool’s title bid, not the defeat by City. You might disagree, but either way, now there’s only one team that can win the title. In fact - let’s be honest, the title race is over. City will win it. So, congrats to everybody involved at The Etihad.

Once again, they’re worthy champions. They’ve done it without Aguero, who’s now surplus to requirements. Well - perhaps they’ll use him in the CL because that’s the one that Guardiola really wants to win. He’d give up the title now if you guaranteed him CL success. He’s desperate to prove he can win it without Messi.

As an Englishman I’ve got to thank him for Phil Foden. What a talent. And, at last, he’s got himself a defence he can rely on. Mind you, it’s cost City £500m for him to finally get there. It’s the one area that he couldn’t sort out and why I ironically suggested he should ask Big Sam for advice! If City can keep this run going - and Guardiola can resist getting too clever again - they’ve got a really good a chance of winning the CL.

But what of Liverpool? Where did it all go wrong? Obviously Klopp couldn’t have predicted van Dijk’s injury, a problem compounded by the loss of both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez. Jordan Henderson has done a terrific job filling in, but I wouldn’t have played him at centre back against City. Liverpool miss his energy in mid-field. He IS Liverpool’s intensity. Two, maybe three weeks ago, I said that Tiago is the wrong type for Liverpool. He slows things down. That’s not what Liverpool are. He’s a Guardiola-type player. I was pleased to see Didi Hamann agree with me. Tiago is obviously class, but he’s in the wrong team. By removing Henderson from mid-field I think Klopp shot himself in the foot and weakened two areas of his team. Surely - at 23 - Nat Phillips was worth taking a chance on? He’s a natural centre back. He’s got to be as good in there as Henderson?

I agree with Graeme Souness. Liverpool should’ve spent after winning the title. They always did. Always. It’s one of the reasons Kenny Dalglish left Blackburn - and knew he was leaving even before he got them over the line - because they weren’t going to spend. You’ve got to. You’ve got to add. Standing still is actually going backwards especially when everyone else around you is spending.

A thought for Frank Lampard. Why aren’t his representatives speaking to Bournemouth. Maybe they are? In my view they definitely should be.

What a great job that would be for him. He knows the league. They’ll spend. There’s a new stadium on the horizon. It’s a club 50 miles from his London home. He could afford to buy a row of houses on Sandbanks if he wanted. Oh how his playing success would drive his cousin to distraction. We’d discuss it as we drove the length and breadth of the country. He was insanely jealous so perhaps Frank wouldn’t be calling in on Uncle ‘Arry! But I’m sure he’d always be available for advice. ‘Arry might even offer to help. Maybe go in as Director if Football? You try and stop him!

Frank might not get another one in the PL so he’ll have to work his way back - and he’d have a real chance of getting Bournemouth up.

I can’t go without a word for Mason and Dean - currently English football’s funniest double act. Well - they would be funny if things weren’t so serious. What on earth were they thinking? Tomas Soucek - guilty of violent conduct? Had he used ‘excessive force or endangered the well being of an opponent’? Of course he hadn’t. It was an accident.

As I write I’m expecting to hear that the FA have overturned the decision. That would mean the last two red cards Dean has shown would’ve been rescinded. That’s never happened before.

A former PL manager said to me this weekend that ‘Dean hates players and he’s always fighting his ego’. Spot on. Dean thinks he’s doing is all a favour and that without him there wouldn’t a game. Wrong Mike. There are many other refs. There were always plenty of kids at school who couldn’t play that we gave the whistle to.

In his column in The Telegraph today Keith Hackett says it’s time Dean and Mason were retired. He’s right. At the very least neither should be working for the next three match days. There has to be some accountability for their error prone performances.

Hackett also says ‘I’d love to know what Mason and Dean were discussing when they decided to send Soucek off’. So would I Keith. We all would. We all should. We all should be able to hear what refs and Stockley Park are saying to each other. I’ve argued this all season. We’ve got to be able to listen. Why not? There’s only one good reason why not - because they’ve got something to hide. Here’s how it should work - and if it can work in Australia’s A league it can certainly work in the PL. Over to you Mike Riley.