Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category
In: Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson is the first capture for this transfer season. The talented 20 (soon to be 21) year old England Under-21 International joins the Reds on a deal worth up to Stg 16 million! As part of this deal, David Ngog was due to move the other way and become a Sunderland player. This part of the deal eventually fell through.
This signing further strengthens the policy adopted by Comolli and Dalglish to bring in young yet established talent, in this case with first-hand experience in PL football. Henderson was a Stadium of Light favourite and on most occasions was deployed by Steve Bruce on the right attacking side of midfield, meaning that this promising lad could possibly be the medium to long term replacement for Dirk Kujt.
Welcome aboard Jordan!
JORDAN HENDERSON – 20 YEARS – MIDFIELDER – (Sunderland) – Stg 16 million
Out On Loan:
+ Stg 16 million
- No speculation, only deals confirmed on LFC’s website are considered.
- Quantification of deal according to internet sources or Club statement.
- Updates, comments, rectifications, alerts are all appreciated.
By Steve Webster
on Twitter @dcypher_
There was great relief when FSG (then NESV) wrestled Liverpool FC from the strangle hold placed upon it by the cowboys Hicks & Gillett. That momentous day in October was glorious but tinged ever so slightly with fear of the unknown, more Americans; we all feared more false promises and more false hope.
However it now seems that day was the start of the rebuilding of Liverpool FC, from the ashes of despair. No promises were made and actions have spoken louder than words. The gloom surrounding the team last season was quickly lifted with the return of Kenny Dalglish. Selling Fernando Torres, an unthinkable doomsday scenario a year ago, and replacing him with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll a masterstroke for both the team and the fans optimism.
Behind the scenes the commercial side of the operation as progressed, building upon Ian Ayre’s great work to secure valued partnerships and increase commercial revenue streams. Attempts are also being made to reconnect the fans with the club they love after a turbulent few years for supports.
We are still awaiting a decision on the future of Anfield, which is severely under capacity for the club to compete financially on a regular basis under the impending Financial Fair Play regulations. Whether we relocate to a new stadium in Stanley Park or redevelop the current ground is probably the most crucial decision for FSG to make, but for now our attention has switched to a completely different rebuilding project.
FSG know the team needs to succeed on the pitch to help them attract lucrative commercial deals that will financially drive the club forward along with the riches associated with regular Champions League qualification. So money will be provided for director of football Damien Comolli to rebuild the current squad, which is severely lacking in certain areas.
Priority Positions for Squad Rebuilding
It seems like the newspapers and twitter rumor mill as recently linked LFC with almost every player currently plying his trade across Europe, so it’s not easy to fathom what Liverpool have in mind for their rebuilding plans. Here I will look at the areas of the team and squad that need improving, highlight the priority positions and the most likely players to fill them from the current crop of names linked.
Like many, I feel the priority should be a left back and two wingers/creative midfielders. These are the positions that we don’t have any natural quality in. Therefore this is where we should concentrate most of the available funds.
From the current crop of players linked I think Juan Mata & Ashley Young would be the strongest contenders, as they will add quality and pace on the wings which we have lacked for some time now. Both players can also be accommodated more centrally behind a strike or in a front three, giving Kenny greater flexibility with the team formation.
If as rumored, Ashley Young opts for Man Utd instead, we could shift focus to his Villa teammate Stuart Downing. As a more natural out and out winger with better delivery, many have suggested this could possibly prove a blessing in disguise. However he’s not as exciting or versatile as Young and wouldn’t strike fear into a defense in the same way, so I know whom I’d be pushing for.
Currently it looks like Jose Enrique as been identified for the problem left back position. Although he’s obviously a decent player I’ve got a bad feeling he’s not got the necessary quality to compete against world class wide men in the Champions League (which is ultimately the aim for next season). If we do sign him, I hope it’s not for an unreasonable fee or we could end up making a major loss as with Andrea Dossena and Paul Konchesky when they failed make the grade.
Left back is the major weak point in the squad (due largely to Fabio Aurelio’s injury record), so I would prefer us to spend big on real quality in this position. Pulling out all the stops for someone like Fabio Coentrao would make a lot of sense. He has proven quality to compete at the very top level and would provide a solid foundation in the backline for many years.
Next we need to add a centre back and a forward to compete for a starting place and add depth to the squad. I have identified these two positions as a second stage priority for back up as injury left us short of quality here for long periods last season.
Centre Back & Forward
If money wasn’t an issue then Gary Cahill and Aguero (for whom there as been many rumors) would be ideal signings, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case. So quality young English players, although not cheap would be a sensible route to take. Recently Phil Jones and Conor Wickham have been strongly linked and they seem to fit this bill nicely. Both are young enough not to expect to be instant first choice regulars, but have sufficient quality to step-up and do a job from day one if required.
Once we have identified and allocated the correct funds for the above positions, if money is still available, we should move on to building a better squad that will offer a greater pool of players competing for a starting position.
Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson have been strongly linked with moves to LFC but as of now I don’t think either would be first choice in central midfield in our best eleven. Having said that Adams would certainly add a touch of creativity into the center of the park, which we’ve missed since Xabi Alonso’s exit. His delivery from set pieces would also add another dimension to the team’s attacking capabilities, especially with Andy Carroll lurking in the box! If we can pick him up for around 6 million, this would be a very worthwhile piece of business.
Henderson like Jones and Wickham is in the young English player with great potential category but unlike the other two would occupy a position that would be very congested with talent (certainly if we pick up the players outlined as priorities above, meaning our regular midfielders won’t be required to fill wide rolls).
Since the departure of Javier Mascherano I’ve felt the addition of a specialist defensive midfielder would be beneficial to the squad. However the excellent form of Lucas (who seems to be growing into this position) and more recently Jay Spearing means this isn’t a priority for this transfer window. Maybe we’d be better served waiting until the following season and target someone of Yann Mvila quality ready to play Champions League football.
With Reina having signaled his intention to stay and be part of Kenny Dalglish’s LFC revolution the priority of a new keeper is now very low, although a new back up would be a welcomed addition to the squad. In recent years we have really struggled to find an adequate back-up keeper and thankfully Pepe’s excellent fitness record as saved us from the nightmare scenario of seeing any of them in the first team for an extended run.
At the time of writing, it looks like we are going to sign Roma’s Brazilian keeper Doni for around £1 million and that a deal for Henderson is done (somewhere in the region of £16-20 million).
So it looks like Dalglish and Comolli are reading my rebuilding blueprint in reverse! I think this is why many people are so concerned about the Henderson deal. Not that he isn’t a quality player, I’m sure most fans would want him in our squad, but the worry is that the sizable fee may restrict us from buying the required quality in more important areas.
Of course Dalglish and Comolli‘s knowledge of the game far outstrips mine but I feel most fans will agree the above assessment of the squad isn’t that far from the mark, even if you disagree with the names mentioned as possible signings.
Hopefully this indicates that we are in for a very busy summer and that Comolli is working on deals for all the positions I’ve identified (with several targets for each) and Henderson is just the first of many.
Only with time will we really get a clearer picture of next season’s squad, but at the moment I get the feeling we could see 5 or 6 quality additions arriving. If FSG can provide this sort of backing for the manager, coupled with Kenny’s continued genius, next season could certainly help erase the painful memories of the previous two campaigns – both on and off the field.
By Jayden Nikolic
So Jordan Henderson has (all but) signed for Liverpool. First and foremost, congratulations. An excellent addition to ANY club. And of course, best of luck to David N’gog in the future. However, I’m quite perplexed at the moment in relation to some of our transfer targets. All reports indicate that we’re being linked with yet another midfielder, in Charlie Adam. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the lad. Great player, was fantastic at Blackpool.
However, at this point in time we already have: Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles, Maxi, Spearing, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Poulsen, Cole and now Henderson as well, all players in the centre of the park. Kuyt can also be classified as a midfield player. That gives us a total of 12 (counting Adam and Kuyt) midfielders. Do we really need Charlie Adam? Do we really even need to strengthen our midfield anymore? The following is a list of players I believe we need to sell, buy, or loan out to strengthen us as a squad.
Christian Poulsen: Let’s start with the obvious. I don’t even think I need to give a reason as why he needs to go. SELL.
Paul Konchesky: Absolutely woeful. Not even good enough to play for the reserves. I wouldn’t even let him play at Everton. SELL.
Joe Cole: Not a bad player by any means, however, I can’t see him fitting in with Liverpool’s midfield and needs to go to make way for our young guns. His first season was shocking, and his wages are far too high for the calibre of player he is. SELL.
Milan Jovanovic: He tripped over his own feet in his first game. I don’t think I’ve ever lost faith in a player so quick in my life after seeing that. Astronomical wages and no real skill as a player in the english game. Thank the Lords of football we got him on a Bosman. SELL.
Maxi Rodriguez: I’m probably going to cop a lot of flack for this one I think. But in my opinion, Maxi hasn’t shown enough as a player for me. Very inconsistent. Very frustrating to watch. I don’t think he gives his all in every game, goes down on the weakest challenge and doesn’t show enough skill on the ball. Yes, he was fantastic toward the end of the season. But the way he had been playing before he ‘came to form’ would he have been selected for Argentina in the Copa America? I have a sneaking suspicion that competition had a lot to do with him hitting form. Big risk to see if he stays where he finished and with the form he hit, we could probably get a very good price for him, reclaim what we payed and then some. SELL.
Nabil El Zhar: Bit of a no brainer, never really made much of an impact, isn’t someone who is overly skilled or valuable as a player. SELL.
Jay Spearing: Had an amazing impact during the absence of Steven Gerrard, really stepped up to the plate and filled that spot well, connected brilliantly with Lucas and made sure we didn’t notice Stevie G was missing. However, still very young, and with our midfield as overstocked as it is, would more than likely drop back to the bench, especially with Henderson coming through and Gerrard coming back after his surgery. This is a kid who needs first team football. LOAN.
Jonjo Shelvey: In the same boat as Spearo, great, young talent. Going to be a big boon to this club when he get more experience, fantastic in midfield, but needs more first team football. LOAN.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos: Clumsy, made too many mistakes, given away too many penalties. I’d love to say the goals he’s scored from corners makes up for it, but they don’t. And Andy Carrol is more than enough of a replacement in that regard. Add to the fact that he’s getting on in age and it’s a pretty easy decision. SELL.
Alberto Aquilani: As much as I would love to see the kid stay at Liverpool, unfortunately he has his heart set on staying in Italy. Big loss financially, but one that is necessary to take. I really did enjoy watching him play for us and did think he would have been a welcome addition to the squad. But Raul Meireles is the better option. SELL.
Raheem Sterling, John Flanagan, Nathan Eccleston, Jack Robinson: All exciting prospects from the youth academy, very much on the verge of breaking through to our First team. Flanagan and Robinson already having had their debuts. I have no doubt in my mind that LFC will be in good hands with these kids coming up. I think right now, for them to get the most experience possible, the should be loaned out, to get some first team experience, either in the Championship or some of the lower table premier league clubs. LOAN.
In regards to players that should be coming through. We need to strengthen the left back position, we need to strengthen our centre backs and we need some new strikers for back up, especially with N’gog heading over to Sunderland. Wingers are also needed to help feed the ball to Carrol and Suarez for us to get optimal use out of those two, Carrol especially. This is a list of who I believe would be good for Liverpool F.C.
Emiliano Insua: Could really help us with our left back troubles, if only as a subsitute or backup. I think it was a little harsh to send him away on loan, because he’s a great player and I enjoyed watching him play in the EPL. I think be it that he is young and susceptible as he is, he could learn a lot under Kenny and improve dramatically. A much better back up option then Glen Johnson playing out of position.
Jose Enrique: I quite like this bloke. He has pace, a good touch and has a great mind for his surrounding on the pitch. Would most certainly fit in with out current squad, and would be a great addition to our defense. With Insua as back up in case of injury or fatigue, Jose Enrique would be perfect for Liverpool.
Charlie Adam: Quite contradictory of myself, I know. But Adam is a fantastic player. Could be terrific as an impact subsitute. And if things were to pan out the way I would like, as written in this piece, our midfield would drop by five. One more presence in the midfield could really push our current roster to perform to their utmost best, because Adam is a skilled player, who could take just about anyone of our regular players spots.
Juan Mata: Most reports are linking us with the pint sized speedster for the wing. I like him a lot. I’ve said for quite some time now that he is someone that would fit in well with out club, and the purchase of Caroll has strengthened my view on this tenfold. Stuart Downing pales in comparison, as does Ashley Young. And with his humble attitude, and wanting only to play for his love of the game, not money, he has the qualities needed in a Livepool player off the pitch, as well as on.
Connor Wickham: Young starlet with a lot of potential, being heavily linked to our club. Given that Kuyt will almost always play in midfield, and Andy Carrol and Luis Suarez will most certainly start, we need a backup striker. Wickham is yet to show his full potential. He’s been tagged as the next Alan Shearer. And rightfully so. He’s certainly going to be a star and is someone I would love to see us take on now, because Kenny Dalglish would bring out the full potential of the lad. I think it’s also worth noting that it would be perfect timing for Dani Pacheco to start making more appearances.
Of course, this is all my opinion, and only time will tell as to who comes through. As is at this point in time, we stand to make some great purchases in the transfer market. I have the uttmost confidence in King Kenny and co, and know that as of next season, we will be flying high and making our triumphant return to the top four. Feel free to add anything you like in the comments, and follow me on Twitter. (bucky8) I hope you enjoyed my first (of hopefully many to come) post on Empire Of The Kop.
By Paul Culff
So this article is being written on the assumption that the Jordan Henderson deal will go through as publicized heavily in the media. The rest of the midfield roster will remain as per the end of season 2010/11.
Clearly our midfield is currently overstocked, especially the central midfield area. With many of our roster returning from injury or with a point to prove, some decisions have to be made and I am interested to hear people thoughts on the possible midfield shape for the 2011/12 season. With Jordan Henderson, our midfield stocks will look something like this (and this is not including those reserve team players on the fringe of the first team squad or out on loan)
- Steven Gerrard
- Raul Meireles
- Lucas Leiva
- Jordan Henderson
- Maxi Rodriguez
- Jay Spearing
- Jonjo Shelvey
- Dirk Kuyt (if not classified as an attacker)
- Joe Cole
- Milan Jovanovic
- Christian Poulsen
This list is clearly stacked with Central Midfielders and I do assume that we will be buying some wide players but how would we line up if this is what we had.
Let’s start with the 4-4-2 or possibly a 4-4-1-1. I would expect Lucas Leiva and Raul Meireles to play centrally with Steven Gerrard and possibly Dirk Kuyt providing the width. Jay Spearing would provide cover in the middle of the park, most likely taking a place on the bench. Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson are a little more versatile and attacking. It is for this reason that they would be more likely to be injected before Spearing since they can provide width and also more creativity.
Now let’s look at a possible 5 man midfield. Player of the year Lucas Leiva would most likely play the defensive holding midfielder (in the Mascherano mould). I would expect Meireles and Henderson to play in front of him with Gerrard wide right and Kuyt wide left (with the option to switch). Spearing, Shelvey and possibly Maxi to provide back up from the bench.
What about a 4-3-3? In this instance it is probably important to look at our front men as well. I would certainly have Carroll playing as a central striker with Kuyt to his right and Suarez on the left. Behind them it might make more sense to have Gerrard play centrally due to his work ethic, possibly Henderson on the right and Maxi on the left. Lucas and Meireles on the bench with Spearing and Shelvey possibly missing out.
All these scenarios don’t have a place for Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic or Christian Poulsen as I expect them to be sold and if not, there are better players ahead of them. Maxi Rodriguez would also seem to suffer slightly as I am not sure where he fits into Kenny’s plans. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve a place but I’m not sure where he would fit, especially if we sign specialist wide men. Shelvey and Spearing would also become more of a backup bench option if we reinforce the squad. This way they can gain more first team experience or could possibly get loaned out?
Now the Steven Gerrard conundrum is almost debate for another article. The debate is certainly not if he makes the lineup since he is our talisman and one of the greatest to wear the shirt. The question is where to best utilize him? Does he play centrally or does he play wide? Alternatively, does he play in the whole just behind the striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation. His versatility, skill and work rate make him an option in all three areas but what is his best position? It should be noted that he did score many goals from a wide position as he has freedom to move and this is also where he has excelled for England over the years.
Obviously formation and positioning may depend on the opposition but I wonder how Kenny will accommodate to overload of “Central” midfielders. I will be interested to hear your thoughts…..
The transfer window has opened, and it is a lot of talk and speculations around which players who will come to Merseyside this summer.
Transfer Gossip the latest days:
Liverpool make Jordan Henderson offer – After reportedly bidding £13 million for 20-year-old England international Jordan Henderson this past week, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has apparently upped the bid to £18.5 million.
Liverpool keen on Florent Malouda – Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is preparing an £8million bid for Chelsea winger Florent Malouda as he continues his search for a wide player.
Doni to join Liverpool in £1m deal – Liverpool are in talks with Roma to sign Brazilian goalkeeper Alexander Doni, according to the player’s agent.
Sevilla tell Liverpool and Spurs winger Diego Perotti not for sale – Sevilla have told Tottenham and Liverpool that Argentine winger Diego Perotti is not for sale.
Liverpool face battle to sign Phil Jones – Liverpool will have to overcome interest from Arsenal and Manchester United and pay in excess of £16 million to sign Blackburn defender Phil Jones.
Arsenal and Liverpool considering bids for Bojan – Liverpool and Arsenal are in touch with Barcelona over signing unwanted forward Bojan.
Who would you like to see in Liverpool next season?
Follow me on Twitter: @Carroll9Fans
By Jonny Mullins
We cannot get carried away by our performances in the final few months of the season. Since Kenny Dalglish took over the helm from Roy Hodgson, results and performances have hugely improved. More wins, more clean sheets, more goals, and far better performances on the whole. The pass and move style Dalglish favours has been a breath of fresh air, with the movement and quick incisive passing a delight at points. But we are still a lot of hard work away from a genuine title challenge.
In reality, the performances towards the end of the season did show that we don’t have as bad a squad as the media had portrayed us to under Hodgson. There was some exciting play and the whole tactical feel was more flexible and fresh. With Hodgson there was always a feeling of trying not to lose rather than to go for the win. Under Rafa Benitez, there was a more controlled feel and the football was very intense. Both Benitez and Dalglish’ methods can be equally successful if done correctly. But it has been a breath of fresh air to see such lovely attacking football with beautiful interchanging of movement combined with quick incisive passing.
There is less time taken to get forward. According to Opta under Hodgson the team had on average more possession than under Dalglish (53.2% under Hodgson – 50.6% under Dalglish) which seems bizarre at first but not as bizarre as you’d think; the team was more defensive and sat deeper, meaning and there was more passes between the defenders at the back, whereas now, the ball is usually played forward quickly, trying to create on a more regular basis rather than keep the ball and wait for gaps. However there is more attention on keeping the ball along the floor. Even Jamie Carragher, noted ‘hoofer’, has taken to a more simple passing game. The team has regained the higher defensive line that it had under Benitez and the flexibility of positions has been brilliant, most notably in the 5-2 win over Fulham. There has been a variety of different formations used; 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1, even a variation on 3-5-2 and 3-6-1 have been used since Dalglish took over.
However, as said, there is still a long way to go. The hardest scenario at the moment is how to get the best out of Andy Carroll. Since his £35 million move in January, the team has been at its best when he’s not been in the side. While Kuyt and Suarez have thrived together with this new approach, Carroll’s directness hasn’t yet fitted in. There’s been a feeling of being unsure of what to do when he’s in the team. Against Braga, the team made far too many long balls to him and the football was poor and certainly not incisive. In theory, he should fit in just as well as Kuyt. He’s strong, surprisingly good with the ball at his feet, and even has an underrated amount of pace on him. He just hasn’t fitted in for some reason, other than in the 3-0 win at home to Manchester City.
Of course it doesn’t help that his biggest strength is in the air and there are no proper wingers in the squad. This is something the team has lacked for years and is something that many fans are crying out for. This does bring its own problems. With a straight winger in the team they have more of a responsibility to stay out wide. The team therefore has more settled positions and less opportunity to interchange positions and the play becomes more predictable. Unfortunately the quick passing becomes harder to pull off because the positions become more rigid. The performance against Fulham was all about swapping and changing and it came so naturally meaning that the play could be quick. If positions are more rigid then the play has to become more patient.
It is therefore very hard to get the best out of pass and move and also Carroll. One way you could possibly get the best out of both is to push the full backs high up the pitch, Barcelona style, and get them to get the crosses into the box, unBarcelona style whilst still having the movement form Kuyt, Suarez and Gerrard etc without a winger. It’s clear a left back is needed; Aurelio is the best we have but is extremely injury prone and a new quality left back is needed, with Jose Enrique the favourite at the moment. On the right, Glen Johnson is obviously there and his attacking assets could be more important than it has been at any other point since he has come here.
Meanwhile in midfield a central playmaker may be what’s needed. Jordan Henderson is seemingly on his way already but it remains to be seen what type of role he will fill. If wingers are bought in, then someone who can spread the play with Lucas could be key in performances next season. It may seem stupid but looking at the model Manchester United have would be helpful – their central midfielders keep the ball ticking around from deep positions. They don’t have a genuine attacking midfielder who plays between the midfield and front line because their wingers are such a key part of their play – Nani topped the assists chart in the league this season with 18 and Valencia and Park are big players for them.
Luis Suarez has been a brilliant buy not only for his ability but also his versatility. When we bought him people seemed to think that he would be in a deeper role, maybe out wide a bit more with Carrol up front. In fact when he and Carroll have played together, Suarez has been the one in the role higher up the pitch on the shoulder of the centre backs. This has been fairly clever tactically – defenders sit deeper because of his pace and skill and then Carroll can get into positions higher up the pitch to cause more damage in the air. When he wins the ball in the air further away from the goal then there is less danger for defenders because knock downs are in areas where it is easier to deal with and the play is still far away from the goal. When there are knock downs around the penalty area, the ball can go anywhere and if it lands in the right spots, chances and goals are created.
Yet having Suarez in a higher role leads to a possible outnumbering in the centre of the field where most of our attacking play takes place. If one or two out and out wingers came in, then the middle of the pitch becomes more vulnerable.
In fact the key to getting the best out of Carroll may lie in two teams of the early 2000s. The first of which being Rafa Benitez’s Valencia and in particular the 2-0 win over us in the first game of the 2002-03 Champions League Group stage campaign. Any who watched the match will remember how dominant Valencia were. Their passing was slick, the movement was quick and they pretty much tore us apart, especially in the first half. The thing most people remember from that night was their midfield of Baraja, Albelda and Aimar, similar to the lovely balance we had a couple of seasons ago with Mascherano, Alonso and Gerrard. The Spanish duo and the Argentine completely dominated play that night, most notably in the first goal with the trio combining in a lovely one touch move.
However the pivot in attack for them that night was John Carew who gave them an out ball and allowed them to play it long for him to hold onto before their midfield pushed up and played their passing game again. For the second goal off the game, a long ball was played forward by Mauricio Pellegrino and Carew took it down with ease, held off a defender and laid it off to Ruben Baraja who burst forward and drove it into the corner. This was a great example of versatility that they showed and with players like Vicente and Rufete out wide they had a host of options. Yet Carew was the man in the centre who enabled their midfield to dominate.
The exciting thing is that Carroll at just 22, looks a far better player than Carew and has a far better eye for goal whereas Carew was simply there to hold the ball up and lay it off for Valencia’s midfield to dominate proceedings rather than as a goalscorer where he is poor. Carroll could do both and is surprisingly good with his feet as well.
The other model could lie with a less successful Bologna team at a similar time. zonalmarking.net put this team in their 20 teams of the decade and purely for a tactical reason. In attack they had the big front man Julio Cruz, who scored just 10 goals in the 2001/02 season and just 27 goals in his three seasons at Bologna. However, Cruz was key in Bologna’s 7th placed finish in the 2001/02 season. He was a handful for defenders and created space for other players to run into. His basic job with the ball at his feet was to lay it off to players who were breaking from midfield. The main one of these was the impressive Giuseppi Signori, an attacking player who was capped 28 times for Italy and was the main goalscorer for Bologna, scoring 66 goals in 142 games for them. He played a slightly deeper role than Cruz and often ran into the space created by Cruz as did the deeper lying midfielders.
Even looking at this video from the 2001/01 season in a 2-1 win over Verona, you can see glimpses of this system in full flight, with Cruz the target man and midfielders running from deep.
In fact, one clever way space was created for the deeper Bologna players to run into, was Cruz holding the ball and moving deep, dragging a defender or a midfielder with him. Thus players like Signori ran into the space and created big problems for defences.
If you swap Cruz for Carroll and Signori for Suarez, there is a benefit in a system like that just like there is in Valencia’s. Valencia’s was far better to watch and more successful (they won a league title with John Carew as their front man!) but Bologna’s with less talented players was very impressive, especially considering that they only just missed out on fourth place at the end of the 2001/02 season by 3 points.
Bologna’s system especially, helped set the mood for lone striker systems that have become prominent in the last decade with players who can hold the ball up and help teams keep possession. Rafa Benitez used this after poor away displays in his first season here and bought Peter Crouch, who could hold the ball up well.
Thus, maybe using Carroll as a pivot for the team isn’t such a bad idea. Carroll is such a rounded player that he brings more to the table than Cruz and Carew did to their respective teams. He wouldn’t just be a battering ram up front. He’s a very talented striker and on top of it all, brings goals. If we get him working to his maximum then the team will be a big force next season. Until then we need to find a system to get the team working together and having him in a pivot role, with midfielders coming from deep and full backs creating overlaps could work really well.