Whilst Chelsea limp to their title defence, Jose Mourinho complains that the bus he so frequently parks isn’t expensive enough, and Arsenal continue to stagnate, things are looking a lot more positive at Anfield, and not just because of the recent record-breaking capture of Virgil van Dijk.
There are two things that drive me to write about Liverpool, the first is optimism, and the second is frustration. As you can imagine, after limping out of the FA Cup this is a piece very firmly inspired by the latter.
Perhaps I am being a little harsh on Aston Villa by saying that we limped out, because the truth of the matter is that we were never in it to begin with. Even after taking the (undeserved) lead – a lead which lasted just six minutes – we looked a team that was lacking in confidence, imagination, and ability.
What began as a poor start to the season, is now rapidly becoming a crisis. These were the words of my uncle following Liverpool’s defeat today against Crystal Palace.
It’s a sign of the times that I am not terribly surprised by the fact Liverpool have just lost. Despite the fact Palace were in the relegation zone, and despite the fact Palace had not won any of their last 5 games.
I like Brendan Rodgers, I think he can be a good manager and has a lot of potential, but he seems insistent on ignoring the lessons from the past.
Time and time again Rodgers is making the same mistake, and doing nothing about it. If Liverpool were getting beaten, but they were experimenting with things, then I wouldn’t mind as much, but they are not. As the famous phrase goes insanity is “repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Liverpool have kept just two clean sheets in 19 matches, and yet recent rumours suggest that their best defensive midfielder may be heading out of the club in the near future.
Throughout the summer there were rumours that Lucas could be leaving Anfield, with Napoli, and a reunion with Rafa Benitez, looking to be the most likely destination. It seems that like me, Brendan Rodgers was not overly concerned with the loss of the Brazilian. He still had Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Phillipe Coutinho, and had just invested in Emre Can, central midfield depth did not appear to be a problem.
However, with the start to the season that Liverpool have made, and the defensive frailties from last season still looking to be a major issue, perhaps Rodgers should rethink his decision to allow Lucas to move on.
If Jonathan Wilson’s bible of football, Inverting the Pyramid, taught me anything, it is that football tactics are a matter of action and reaction. A constantly changing and ever-evolving realm of innovation and countering. When one method of play appears to have taken over the world, defeating all that come before it, a coach will discover the tactic that nullifies the seemingly perfect system.
Since Jose Mourinho tore up the rulebook on the stereotypical English 4-4-2 by employing Claude Makelele as a defensive midfielder, sat in front of his centre backs, it seems that no team can be without one. Whilst other Premier League teams had defensive players in their midfield, none were as single-minded and as specialised as Makelele. His sole purpose in the team was to sit, break up attacks, and play simple passes to those in front of him. His inclusion in the team gave the more creative and attacking players the freedom they needed, and was the catalyst for the shift from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.