BRILLIANT MIDFIELDER

Thiago could change Klopp’s strategy at Liverpool

Liverpool often play from the back, pass out to the wing backs who are then covered from the rear as they move forward.

In Summary

•Spurs fans are gathering around favourite Dele Alli who has come under constant pressure from Jose Mourinho

•New Chelsea signing Kai Havertz isn’t exactly thanking fellow German Timo Werner for persuading him to join Chelsea.

Liverpool's Thiago
Liverpool's Thiago
Image: reuters

Before Liverpool signed Thiago Alcantara, manager Jurgen Klopp sat down with his assistant coaches Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders and discussed how the brilliant midfielder could strengthen their team for the coming season. They decided that moving for the Bayern Munich playmaker could bring new options to Jurgen Klopp’s usual style of play.

Liverpool often play from the back, pass out to the wing backs who are then covered from the rear as they move forward. The wing backs create more space for Mane, Salah and Firmino as defenders are pulled wide to cover the advance. Usually Klopp’s midfielders pass out wide and across the pitch.

Thiago has spent many years playing the same way for both Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he can control the midfield, threading needle point passes through to the forwards. Therefore, the wing-backs now have the option of progressing down the wing and passing early into Thiago to pick out the three attackers.

Thiago’s arrival does, however, mean there are one or two players who are thinking about their options. He has arrived and will undoubtedly be an automatic first team selection and Klopp now has eight first class players competing for three positions in midfield and Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri will probably eventually move on.

Spurs fans voice their love for Alli

Spurs fans are gathering around favourite Dele Alli who has come under constant pressure from Jose Mourinho. They do not like the way the manager is handling one of Spur’s prize assets. Mourinho says there is a place for Alli at Tottenham but criticises his training, his match fitness and lazy attitude. “Not true” shout the Spurs fans who are desperate not to let Paris St-Germain sign a player who they have long admired. As if to answer his strongest critic, Dele recently holidayed on the Greek island of Mykonos with friends and ex-Spurs colleagues Kyle Walker-Peters and George Baldock. On the holiday, Dele carried on a training programme which included using a static bike and took his sprinting boots and a personal trainer. Dele also has his own personal chef and a strict diet. If Mourinho doesn’t want Alli it would make more sense for him to go out on loan for a year because who knows how long the manager will be around. With the arrival of Gareth Bale, providing he keeps fit, and the blistering form of Son and an improving Harry Kane, it seems a long way back for Alli but the fans have sent Mourinho a message— “we love Alli and want to keep him”.

How Chelsea is shaping up

New Chelsea signing Kai Havertz isn’t exactly thanking fellow German Timo Werner for persuading him to join Chelsea. After his first two games Havertz, who cost a cool £75million, didn’t impress in the Premier League although he scored a hat-trick this week in the Carabao Cup against lowly Barnsley who are far below the standard the Blues will normally play against.

Havertz is not happy at being asked to play as a false No9 in attack and also on the right wing. The two Germans are close friends and on Tuesday were spotted driving along Chelsea’s King’s Road in a 4x4 vehicle and they stopped for a selfie with fans. Werner looked happy but Havertz less so.

Havertz would prefer to play as No.10 with Werner, linking play and making late runs from midfield into the opposition penalty area. Lampard says, “I have complete faith in Kai. He has played various positions in his career, as No.9, No.8 and a No.10.

Havertz knows that Pulisic and Ziyech, who are both currently injured, are likely to be chosen for the wing positions and Lampard put him on the wing as a temporary solution until those players are available. I have learned that Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell will slot into defence and Kurt Zouma and Reece James will keep their positions.

Edouard Mendy will be expecting to move straight into goal although Kepa currently still has Lampard’s support. Lampard is currently trying to support Callum Hudson-Odoi who, I am told, is frustrated at his lack of game time following his serious achilles injury in April 2019.

Lampard has consistently encouraged Callum to work harder in training and believes he can win back his place eventually. It is possible that Callum could go out on loan.

Antonio Rudiger is definitely available if a good offer comes in because Lampard has several positions where players are lining up to play and that includes five centre-backs now that Thiago has arrived and hence the possibility of Rudiger leaving.

No excuses for Solskjaer

Following their defeat to Crystal Palace Ole Gunner Solskjaer looked up at the VIP seats where the solitary figure of Sir Alex Ferguson stared down at him. The legend of United wore a long face etched with sympathy as if to say, “You have a lot of work to do.”

On Monday morning, the two talked on the phone because Sir Alex is keeping away from the training ground, where he likes to give Soslkajer support by giving him advice and encouragement. Solskjaer’s excuse highlighted a lack of pre-season training for his team’s very under-par performance against Palace.

It was later pointed out to him that across town at City the club did not have one single preparation “friendly” match before the season began and yet they beat Wolves, who most people would say are superior to Palace. Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward, who reports to the owners, the Glazer brothers, on Monday morning also looked very unhappy with United’s dismal performance.

Already the critics are talking about an immediate improvement and turnaround or Solskjaer will be relieved of duty pretty quickly. I have heard that inside United there are problems with several people again criticising both Woodward and the board of directors who they feel are arrogant and out of touch.

Long gone are the days where Sir Alex motivated and ran United and now there is no respected leader in place. Solskjaer said this week, “We need four or five games to get up to the standard we’re capable of.”

Lamptey shows Chelsea what they are missing

Remember the name Tariq Lamptey because of all the players who have kicked off the new season, this lad has made the biggest impression on me. Chelsea must be annoyed with themselves that they let this youngster get away from their Academy after training him for years only to see Brighton sign him for a mere £3million.

Against Newcastle he won a penalty, was instrumental in Brighton’s second goal and totally dominated Newcastle’s talented and dangerous Allan St-Maximin. He was finally kicked off the park and had to retire to the dressing room but his 58 minutes saw more action than most of the players, who were on the pitch for the full 90 minutes.

He is small but then again so is Messi and so was Maradonna. He accelerates dynamically, he goes past defenders and is thoughtful in defence and tough in the tackle. His new boss, Brighton’s Graham Potter, said this week, “He’s been a breath of fresh air since he came to us. He’s a special talent, a special character, very humble and he’s got a great personality.”

How Chelsea let this youngster get away is beyond me and the club would not be drawn into an explanation when I contacted them. They had no answer but it was obvious they realised they had made a mistake.

Guardiola is comfortable with his player options

Immediately after Manchester City’s win against Wolves, Pep Guardiola said that he is happy with his team set-up and at the moment they are coping well with losing the injured Sergio Aguero for the upcoming handful of games.

Phil Foden improves with every game, Kevin de Bruyne has started the season where he left off last time around, Raheem Sterling is full of fight and energy and Gabriel Jesus looks more than capable of bridging the gap until Aguero is fit again. What makes Guardiola so successful? He is a football fanatic.

After a Saturday game he returns home and on Sunday watches replays of City’s game in readiness for his team debrief on Monday morning. Whenever he has a free hour, he doesn’t relax, watch a film on TV or indulge in a little gardening or even play a video game.

No, Pep replays old matches, watches and takes notes on moves, strategies and strengths and weaknesses in teams. His entire life revolves around football and it is something his family have come to accept.

Giroud looking to leave Chelsea

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has spoken to Juventus and agreed a verbal deal to transfer to the Italian giants. Giroud was very successful at the end of last season and helped manager Frank Lampard get the Blues into a Champions League qualifying position.

However, the arrival of Timo Werner, the progress made by Tammy Abraham and with new recruit Kai Havertz also being able to play upfront, it means Giroud could be fourth in line to start matches and he is eyeing a return to the French national team and needs first team football.

Spanish striker Gonzalo Higuain has been released by Juve and Giroud would be the ideal replacement at around £4.5million however Juve manager Andrea Pirlo is also looking at Roma’s Edin Dzeko, Everton’s Moise Kean and ex-PSG’s Edinson Cavani who is now a free agent although he would prefer a move to Atletico Madrid.