Kiev - Some Thoughts On The Controversies

Was Salah nobbled?

I'm going to say something controversial but hear me out before you string me up from the nearest tree - I don't think the MAIN intention of Ramos was to put Salah out of the game. Even though his reputation would suggest it was perfectly possible that Ramos meant to nobble Salah I don't think the sequence of events and where they took place on the pitch point to that being the obvious conclusion, Salah being nobbled was more of a fortunate byproduct (for Real) of what Ramos intended.

The reason I say this is mainly because of the positioning of Ramos, Salah and the ball. To begin with Ramos is on the right, Salah is on his left and the ball is on Salah's left as they run towards the right side of the goal (see picture below). Ramos knows unless he stops Salah the attacker will be one-on-one against the keeper but the ball is on the wrong side of Salah for Ramos to make easy contact. This leaves Ramos with one option - foul Salah to stop his advance and to allow his players to reposition. Ramos must've known, given Salah's pace, that if he'd gone to ground but not stopped the Liverpool player there would be no catching him so if the Real player went down he had to make sure he took Salah with him (which is why Ramos kept hold of Salah's arm, I believe). I think at this point Ramos was more concerned with bringing the game to a halt and/or stopping Salah's progress than he was in causing serious harm to the attacker, although he was clearly delighted Salah could no longer continue.

When Salah hit the ground it wasn't the shoulder of the arm Ramos had hold of that sustained the injury, it was the other shoulder. If Ramos was intentionally trying to cause Salah an injury you'd expect the force or twisting to be upon the arm he had hold of resulting in that arm and/or shoulder hitting the ground hardest or more awkwardly causing injury to that particular limb. However, Salah's right arm and shoulder appeared uninjured begging the question did Ramos really knowingly pull Salah down in a way he knew would harm the opposing shoulder? Quite frankly, I don't think Ramos is intelligent enough to work out, during a live game, that if he takes Salah down with a certain amount of pressure on his right arm it would casue enough of an injury on his left shoulder to prevent the player from continuing.

Don't get me wrong, I believe Ramos is the worst kind of player and I think he fully intended to cheat, just not in the way many seem to think. This was just another example of how Real seemed to have luck on their side while Liverpool struggled for good fortune.

Karius - How did it go so wrong and what's next?

It's funny how small details that seem insignificant before a match can take on much more meaning after a match. Kelly Cates, the football broadcaster (and daughter of Kenny Dalglish) happened to interview Guillem Balague, the respected Spanish football expert, during Liverpool's warmup before the Champions League final. After the interview she pointed out Karius to him, saying he had a scared look on his face. This observation turned out to be the footballing equivalent of an onlooker stood on Southampton dock pointing out there didn't seem to be many lifeboats onboard the Titanic as it sailed off onto its doomed voyage.

Karius had proved during the latter part of the season that he was capable of withstanding the degree of pressure Real Madrid exposed him to in the Champions League final, his deficiencies were not as much technical (apart from his annoying habit of parrying the ball back into active areas instead of out wide) but rather psychological. It would appear from the outset that the occassion had spooked Karius and an error on his part would probably result in further errors. This is not meant as a criticism, an event being broadcast to billions would undoubtedly unnerve the vast majority of us, but at the elite level a player overawed by the occasion is a ticking timebomb. The misjudgement he made to gift Benzema the first goal seemed to still be troubling Karius when he gifted Bale the third, lost composure was never fully regained.

Much has been made about the fact the Liverpool players didn't instantly comfort Karius after the final whistle but it's worth remembering there were ten other players who'd just lost the final as well. A team that had actually played very well in most part was individually having to come to terms with a lost dream, one that had been largely undermined by one player within their own ranks. It's hardly surprising many of them needed a couple of minutes to organise their thoughts before they approached their crestfallen teammate in goal. What I found more surprising was that the first Liverpool representative to console Karius was a member of the technical staff and not Klopp. Karius is very much a Klopp project, other players have been brutally removed to allow the young keeper to succeed, so if anyone should've been there first to stand with Karius during this low point it was Klopp.

What happens next will be almost predetermined by circumstance. Will the fans welcome Karius back in goal? There may be an initial show of charitable support but that will no doubt wane if/when the keeper makes an error. Will FSG put pressure on Klopp to replace Karius? I find it hard to believe the American side of the club will not react in some way after watching the team get so close to a title only to see it slip through their fingers mainly due to one specific player. Can Klopp play Karius in a final again? The problem is that finals are so relatively rare in football, managers can't afford to experiment in them. Was this a one-time mental lapse that Karius will learn from or is it a more serious sign of mental weakness? We simply don't know and Klopp can hardly risk another major final to find out. The pressure upon Karius should Liverpool get into another final would be enormous, I'm not sure how Klopp could realistically risk playing him in the knowledge he could fold again. Basically, the young German's performance leaves Klopp with a series of awkward judgements to make and very few of them seem to work in the keeper's favour. The most constructive thing, for both Liverpool and Karius, may well be to move the player on to somewhere else - this would allow Karius a clean slate without the hangover and Liverpool can invest in a more proven entity.

I must say at this point that I don't hold anything against Karius personally. The young man had been improving steadily as the season progressed and no player goes onto the pitch intending to have a shocker. In most games of football someone has to be the hero and someone has to be the villain, otherwise they'd all end in draws. It was just unfortunate Karius found himself in the most high profile game in club football when it was his turn to be the villain. What's important now is that Liverpool work out a solution that is progressive for everyone involved and that certainly doesn't include mentally torturing Karius, however much social media may demand it.

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  • I think ramos very much knew what he was doing but i doubt very much he meant to hurt Salah like that, more just to stop him and unfortunately it ended the way it did, needeless to say ramos would have gotten over it fairly quickly when he seen Salah going off purely because Salah was our danger man. I could be wrong of course and maybe he did set out to hurt him in some way, i suppose only he knows and if he's guilty he certainly ain't gonna be telling the world.

    As for Karius, i'm sorry but there's simply no excuse for making those kind of mistakes, especially in a CL final never mind a normal lge game. Some are blaming Klopp for not bringing in a top keeper last summer/january when it was clear we needed an upgrade and i agree to an extent. He stuck with Karius, gave him a chance and i will admit in the main he has improved but mistakes were always just around the corner and so it proved, just a god dam pity it cost us a european cup. Karius, Moreno, Lovren, Mignolet are all in the same bracket, will have good periods when you think their kicking on and then boom, a mistake that will cost us a goal, 3 points or a cup final, they all have to go, simply not good enough imo. Klopp is trying to put a top class team together and these players will never fit the bill, i wouldn't even have them as backup.

    • Bout time you agreed with me Warrior, gettem out this transfer season.  Yes I'm still here (although barely)!  Quintuple bypass may have put me down but not out!  Going to be out of contact for 3 to 4 weeks while recouping my energy levels then back to a new and more staid reality.  See you guys later.

      P.,S.  Why hasn't someone assassinated Ramos?

    • The very best of luck with your recovery you old dog, i've no doubt you'll be back on soon with that sarcastic personality of your's.

      P.S. Plans are being made for Ramos and they aint pretty!!!!!!!!

  • Since writing this blog I've heard a number of international level ex-footballers say that at the moment Ramos tackled Salah his mind would've been far too busy trying to work out how to get out of the dangerous situation he'd found himself in to be formulating any other underhand plans. That's the one thing people don't seem to be noticing - Salah had completely undone Ramos positionally and the defender was acting in a state of panic as much as anything else. He knew if he didn't stop Salah somehow there was real potential he'd score so he chose the last-chance move of dragging him down by his arm because, in reality, he had few other options. Conspiracy theorists will read more into it but if you look at the whole context of the incident it points more to an attacker out-witting a defender who in turn reacts inappropriately out of panic. I think it'd be giving Ramos too much credit to say he intended to take Salah out of the game when in fact he'd just made a clumsy illegal challenge because he'd messed up.

    The thing with the Karius issue is that you can never be totally sure how any player will react in a final until they're there because the conditions are impossible to replicate beforehand. As soon as self-doubt creeps into a goalkeeper you're in big trouble because it multiplies with every error made, as we saw with Karius. I'm a little surprised the coaching staff and players didn't pick up on his body language before the game or at halftime because I've read a couple of accounts from media people who've said he looked noticeably uncomfortable before the game. I do feel sorry for him because he would never have intended any of this to happen and so much of his good work has gone up in smoke in the space of ninety minutes. The problem Klopp has is that he's trying to construct an elite squad and that perception will be made tougher while it contains a keeper with such an obvious black mark on his record, I'm sad to say.

    • Yeah, like i said, more to stop Salah than hurt him i feel. i'm not liking all that voting BS to have Ramos retrospectivly banned for it, a pure sign of sour grapes imo, we'll get revenge on him and Madrid in next seasons CL if we meet.

      I'm going to sound like a heartless sod now but i don't feel an ounce of sympathy for Karius, i'm more leaning towards blaming Klopp for putting too much faith in players who clearly won't make the grade at a big club, Karius, Moreno, Mignolet, Klavan, Lovren, practicaly the whole bloody defence imo. Unfortunately we'll still have at least 3 of them at the club next season but for me our defence needs serious work in this transfer window.

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