10K Up at Anfield Index
Tony Evans’ Column today marks article number 10,000 here on Anfield Index. There have many iterations of the website during that period and we are part-way through the latest rebuild, thanks to all the writers and editors who have contributed over the years and most importantly to all the readers for your continued support. Here’s to the next 10,000!
No Need Jurgen
“Goals pay the rent… and Keegan does his share.”
David Coleman’s iconic commentary from the 1974 FA Cup final still gets quoted but it’s no longer true. Unfortunately, television pays the rent these days. That makes Jurgen Klopp’s run-in with Marcus Buckland after the 2-0 victory over Sheffield United even more cringeworthy.
Klopp has always been spiky. His smile and charm sometimes hides that aspect of his personality but Jurgen is always up for a scrap. He needs to choose his battles better, though.
The Amazon Prime presenter made a sarcastic quip about 12.30 being Klopp’s favourite kick-off time. The manager then went off on one.
Now, English is Klopp’s second language and it is possible that he missed the nuance. Even so, the exchange was uncomfortable. And unnecessary.
The 12.30 issue rumbles on and on. If Klopp really wants to complain about it, he should be knocking on John W Henry’s door and do his raging there. The owners agreed to the TV deal that allows the broadcasters to select teams for individual slots.
The maximum any club can play at 12.30 on Saturday is six times per season. Liverpool will be grabbed for this kickoff any time there is an opportunity.
TV Decides These Days
This weekend is a good example why. Sky Sports have the first choice for their 4.30 Sunday slot. They have chosen Tottenham versus Newcastle, which looked the game of matchweek 16 when the picks were made (Aston Villa v Arsenal has since emerged as arguably the better option). TNT Sports have the second choice and nabbed Liverpool because, well, the Reds are box office.
So there we have it. Klopp can expect to play on Saturday at 12.30 six times a season. There’s no point moaning about it or making a dick of yourself on live TV when a presenter makes a gag about it.
Yes, it is hard on the players to have such a quick turnaround but it’s the price you pay for being popular. How popular? A study by the Centre for Sports Business at the University of Liverpool Management School published three years ago looked at televised Premier League matches from 2013 to 2019. Armchair Fans: Modelling Audience Size For Televised Football Matches is a complex document, and I won’t blind you with science but, essentially, the presence of Liverpool and Manchester United in a live match boosts viewing figures by 75 per cent. The nearest rivals were Arsenal at 43 per cent. Manchester City are way down in the mid 20s. This will have changed since the study was released but not massively.
Liverpool & Man Utd Box Office
The effect of this is shown in the facilities fees paid when clubs have a game screened. In 2021-22, Liverpool had the highest facilities fee (along with Arsenal), raking in £25.27 million.
Playing at 12.30 is a byproduct of having massive appeal. Quit moaning about it or get it changed. While the money’s flowing in, FSG will be happy. But, to be honest, I’m bored with the whole subject now.
If it’s the impact on players that worries you, then there are bigger battles coming. The Champions League starts its new format next year. There’ll be two extra games in the group stage. But there’ll be more money. Yay!
In the player welfare vs income battle, the 12.30 kick-off is an ancillary battle. Klopp would be best saving his anger for the men who can change things.
Joel Matip knew his injury was bad from the moment it happened. He signalled to go off the instant the contact was over. You hate to see this happen to any player.
Hopefully the eulogies for his Liverpool career are premature but it’s hard to see him coming back. At his age – 32 – this sort of injury can be the end.
Sometimes, you forget just how good you have to be to play at Liverpool’s level. It’s only natural, too, that you look at the man who plays alongside Matip, Virgil van Dijk, and make comparisons. Few defenders in the club’s history come close to the Dutchman in terms of stature, ability and dominance.
Matip, though, has done an excellent job. Superstars are great but you can’t have 11 of them in a team. The German-born Cameroon international wrung every bit of talent out of himself and never let anyone down. His partnership with Big Virg was the best it’s ever been this season.
Let’s wish him well. It would be nice to see him back.
Hodgson’s Job on the Line
Poor old Roy Hodgson is in trouble. Wouldn’t it be a crying shame if Liverpool were the team to put the final nail in his coffin at Crystal Palace?
Reading that back, it looks bad saying this about a 76-year-old. No, we wish you a long life, Roy. But in retirement. Hopefully you’ll get the sort of send-off you deserve from the Reds.
We owe you.
Another Conservative Prime Minister, another apology in Parliament, no change. The Government’s response to Bishop James Jones’s report was pathetic.
Keir Starmer has said he will implement a Hillsborough Law after the election. Let’s see if we get anything out of that Tory. I’m not holding my breath after he praised Margaret Thatcher.
I wrote about the atmosphere at Anfield a couple of weeks ago. On Sunday, I was in the main stand. Things were flat for the majority of the game.
Then came the mad late comeback. The old place snarled, picked itself up and became a bearpit. The two Fulham fans I was with were shocked by how ferocious it suddenly came.
Again I say don’t worry about the atmosphere. Don’t try too hard. It’ll be there when we need it. Fulham proved that.
What strikes me watching this team is that there’s still so much to come. You can see them tripping up occasionally but, by God, when they click properly, they will be fearsome. I’m looking forward to that moment.