Karl Matchett

Karl is busy living the dream of watching and discussing football all day, every day. A Liverpool fan by birthright, he’s experienced the Miracle of Istanbul and the Horror of Hodgson at close quarters, meaning he is able to analyse and talk about games in isolation without getting unduly carried away or distraught any more. Writing and talking for Bleacher Report, CNN, uMAXit, numerous podcasts and others along the way, covering every major game, league and tournament you could imagine.
  • Mentality Has To Be Stressed In Liverpool’s Summer Recruitment

    It’s often lamented that, when Liverpool—or any other revamped, upwardly mobile side for that matter—go close to a big title in any particular season, the summer immediately following it is a “big opportunity” which is invariably passed up. The opportunity, of course, is to bridge that final gap from second to first, or from the clutch of chasers to genuine title-fighters. Sometimes it’s squad depth which needs seeing to, but more often it’s a simple matter of quality, the extra player or two to make the biggest difference in the moments and matches which matter most. ...

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  • How Do The Historic Liverpool Sides Inform The Future Of This One?

    Liverpool are much improved under Jurgen Klopp compared to when the former Borussia Dortmund manager took over midway through 2015/16 season, but as battling for the top four instead of the title in the league and being out of both domestic cups intimates, there’s still a way to go. Often accused of remembering the past rather than looking ahead, Reds fans could be forgiven for wanting to ignore much of what has gone on at the club over the past half a dozen years, but there have been iterations of the team in the not-too-distant past which can teach Klopp’s side a thing or two about where further improvements can be made. In 2013, of course, Brendan Rodgers came within a game or two of the title. In 2009, Rafa Benitez’s side finished the campaign on a five-match win streak, which still wasn’t quite enough to snare the title from Manchester United. And, just two years beforehand, the Reds almost conquered Europe again under the same manager, with a Champions League final defeat denying Steven Gerrard and Co. and second winners’ medal in three seasons. All of those variations of the same side had somewhat different strengths and weaknesses, and while Klopp isn’t going to—and shouldn’t—copy any particular manager’s approach, there are aspects of the 2007 side in particular Liverpool which would benefit from incorporating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugE5ybYIwec Rodgers’ runners-up, of course, had Luis Suarez. There isn’t much to be learned from that side...unless it’s that having an elite player, a truly world class talent, improves your odds of landing silverware significantly. If the Liverpool hierarchy haven’t yet cottoned on to that particular fact, it would be worrying. But during the middle section of Benitez’s reign, where cup finals and being in the latter stages of the race for both league and Continental success, the side had something far more important: balance throughout, structure, defensive resilience. And absolute belief. The latter point is something Klopp has repeatedly tried to drive home: The fans have to believe in what we’re doing. A particular player has to have belief in his own ability. He himself believes the team is improving. It’s a slow, cyclical state, easy to destroy with a few bad results and the ongoing state of immediacy in world football, but Klopp certainly believes he can turn the team into title-winners. Benitez could rarely delve into the very elite end of the transfer market, but his signings consistently had iron-clad mental resilience. Even when they weren’t the greatest in the league on a technical level, any group of players from that era could rarely be beaten, one-on-one or over 90 minutes: Javier Mascherano, Momo Sissoko, Dirk Kuyt, Bolo Zenden. Try and bypass that midfield quartet with ease, without them giving up, without them fighting every inch for possession and position. It simply wouldn’t happen—and then there was the small matter of playing the likes of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso between and around them. The technique and creativity came from those players, but the desire, the expectancy of victory came from every player in the XI, without fail. That’s a big area of improvement for Liverpool to make. Games like Norwich City, Borussia Dortmund and others in 15/16 began to make fans and players alike believe that more was possible, but it hasn’t yet been seen on a week-to-week basis. Incoming players to help the team grow further, in summer 2017 and beyond, have to add not just the speed and technique in the final third which is the hallmark of this Klopp team, but also the determination and mental resilience which was the biggest trait of Benitez’s sides. When it comes to beating the smaller sides, the teams who have given Liverpool trouble this season, it’s not simply down to using space, playing with tempo, getting bodies in the box. All of those are contributing factors, but over and above that has been the mental aspect of the game: failing to hold positions in the moment of transition, and too easily giving up goals...followed by not really believing in the team’s own capacity to get back in the game. The importance of mental power at the elite end of the game cannot be underestimated. Yes, Luis Suarez was a genius, a tremendous goalscorer and an irrepressible all-round talent for Liverpool, but his biggest reason for succeeding was the relentlessness, the drive and the absolute refusal to countenance defeat which came from within him. That’s what Liverpool need, that’s what Klopp must find, to make the next leap from having a great record against the teams at the top, to having a great record against everyone.

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  • Another Summer Of Challenges Facing Michael Edwards At Liverpool

    The end of the season is not yet upon us, but Liverpool are—off the field, that is—ideally placed to make their mark in the summer, a close-season which will be critical in keeping pace with the sides at the top of the Premier League, never mind usurping one or two of them. ...

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  • Liverpool’s Owners Deserve More Recognition For A Job Almost Well Done

    Custodians, owners, target of fans’ ire. Fenway Sports Group are one and all as the current proprietors of Liverpool FC, the organisation which has brought the club back from the brink of financial ruin and incompetent management by the previous owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks. FSG have completely restructured certain parts of the club, on and off the field, yet they still find themselves provoking rage and discontent among some sections of the fanbase. ...

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  • Klopp Must Change Liverpool Fans’ Mentality Again If He Is To Succeed

    It doesn’t need a manager’s press conference or interview on the club website to suggest that short-termism rules supreme in the football world, even when it shouldn’t or serves very little purpose. In an age where everything is available now, the failure of four or five managers to win every title in the season simultaneously is deemed as unacceptable, signs of backward momentum and even “having lost the dressing room,” even when it’s obvious that only one club can win each season. ...

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