James Nalton is a sports journalist and football writer at the ‘Morning Star’ newspaper who has done work with ‘This is Anfield and ‘The Sportsman’. He has been accredited by the Premier league and UEFA as well as the FA and founder of website ‘World Football Index’ who mix journalism and fandom, a site to check out. James has agreed to speak to Dan (@DnnyJnes_) from The Anfield Talk. He reveals how Liverpool is looking with all factors considered, the morale of the fans, and what he would do with £105,000,000 if he was Jürgen Klopp and more.
TAT: From your personal view, how is Liverpool football club looking with everything considered?
James Nalton: Liverpool looked to be in a strong position. They broke their record transfer fee twice in six months, finally signing the Centre back Jürgen Klopp longed for, and saw their recent summer signings hit the ground running.
Then they sold their most talented, naturally gifted, and most entertaining player…
Klopp has got the club seemingly back on course the top four on a regular basis is an achievement but they need to build from this position of strength rather than constantly take one step forward and another back.
The next two transfer windows (including this one) will be key, as they’ll have no excuse not strengthen the core of the side.
TAT: What effect is Coutinho’s departure going to have?
James Nalton: Coutinho was blessed with one of the most valuable assets in football, which is the ability to take opposition players out of the game. He could do this either with his passing or with his clever movement and dribbling skill.
He leads the way for Liverpool in terms of key passes per 90 minutes by some distance when it comes to players who’ve played over 500 minutes, with 3.2. He also has the most successful dribbles per 90’ with 3.1, ahead of both Mohamed Salah (2.9) and Sadio Mane (2.6).
He can also conjure a goal from nothing and, above all, as was the case with Luis Suarez, the fans will simply miss watching him play. He was value for money until the end.
TAT: How did you feel the morale between the fans is now?
James Nalton: It’s impossible to judge the morale across the board as there are so many differing views. In the stadium, it seems generally good. Just seconds after Everton scored their equalizer in the FA Cup tie, the Kop was back in full voice, encouraging the team to keep going.
Virgil van Dijk’s subsequent winner, and the fact the team haven’t lost at home this season, means that Anfield is generally in good spirits. But this can change quickly.
TAT: After visiting both sides of Merseyside, which is looking the more complete and looking to challenge more?
James Nalton: Of the two Merseyside teams, Liverpool are obviously the side in the best position to challenge for silverware.
The recent Merseyside derbies gave a clear indication of the gulf between the two clubs in terms of playing style and quality of the playing staff, but given time (and more importantly money) to assemble his own squad of players, Sam Allardyce could get Everton back into the European spots.
Then it’s a case of whether the Englishman can take a team to the next level, as he’s always said he could if given the chance. Should he get the backing, Everton could be the best and maybe the last chance he gets to do so.
TAT: Who would you advise signing to replace Coutinho if you were Jürgen Klopp?
James Nalton: As has been said numerous times in the past couple of weeks, there is no Coutinho replacement. This is the reason Barcelona paid so much for the Brazilian.
But Liverpool are getting a player in Naby Keita who is also unique, and could replace some of Coutinho’s ability to take players out of the game with both passing and dribbling.
Keita will do this from midfield, so the club then need a wide attacking playmaker or a creative support striker.
They could approach this in several ways. Sign a top striker and drop Firmino into an attacking midfield or support striker position. Sign a similar player to replace Coutinho who can drift from the right into central positions, such as Lorenzo Insigne, Bernard, or Jonathan Viera who could also start centrally and sign a creative spark who can operate from other positions but still provide a similar threat. Thomas Lemar or Riyad Mahrez are the two names which have been mentioned in this regard, plus the new mystery man whom the club are said to be interested in.
TAT: Any advice for potential journalists?
James Nalton: The usual advice given to young and new journalists is to find a niche which lacks specialists, learn everything about it, and become the expert, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as it seems like there are already experts in every area of football. So, the best thing to do may be to find the areas which interest you most and concentrate on that.
Try many different strands of journalism and publish them on your own website or on others (live blogs, match reports, podcasts, opinion pieces, video, analysis). Basically, do what you want to eventually do for a living. Think about the environment and location in which you want to work, as well as which area of journalism you’d want to work in. Sometimes the most interesting stories are on your doorstep also learn a language if you get the chance to. Get work experience along with a qualification and one of the most important being, if you get the chance to, and make contacts and network. Watch sports other than football and use interests outside of sport to influence and improve your work. Another main bit of advice is to not be deterred when people don’t reply or you get turned away. Read a lot, and not just about sport/football and finally value your own work as highly as you’d want potential employers to.