By Mayank Gupta
Without a doubt, every RED at this point is wondering the following questions
a) When will the KING be crowned??
b) Who will we buying the summer
c) (In a hushed tone) NESV is good and have show promise in January but can we trust them in the summer to open their wallet. Amidst all these ambivalence, every RED is making his own formation, team and squad for the next season.
I did not watch the LIVERPOOL of 80s as I was a toddler then but watching Liverpool over the last 14 years, I am sure under Kenny we will play football full of attacking intent which was missing since a longtime. As an icing on the cake we will take the game to the opposition from the back line (and even Pepe Reina could be starting the move).
Furthermore, we will play a variety of formations depending on the opponents and grounds unlike Hodgson where even I could predict the first 11 after seeing the injury list on Saturday’s Daily Mail. Today,we sit glued to the TV sets, internet sites till the 11 are announced as we never know what is the team. Keeps us on toes before we sing ”You Will Never Walk Alone”, keeps the opponent guessing,broadens our smile when we score the first goal, provokes chants of ”DALGLISH, DALGLISH” at 70 minutes in the lead and more importantly gives us more faith 2 hours later in the King himself.
Surprise of the team makes the squad players work hard to earn their place. (No wonder a spoilt, sulking kid left the team as he wanted place by right and did not want to earn it) As a RED for 14 years, it was extremely impossible for me to dream about the world’s best players even in my dream team for the past 2 seasons thanks to some Texan idiots. However, with the intent, promises and work philosophy of NESV so far, I will jump the gun this time. From the little I have watched the King make his team lists, I will try form my 2011 -2012 team and squad.
One of the biggest desires of every RED is class wingers to serve in crosses for Andy Carroll. An understandable concern if we want to play a 4 – 4 -2 or a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 (with Carroll upfront on his own). However, what if we play a 3 – 2- 1 – 3 – 1 (i.e. with the 2 wing backs Kelly and Johnson/Aurelio). People would doubt it but I never did doubt it when we played that against Stoke even without Carroll.
The strength of 3 – 2 – 1 – 3 – 1 lies in the good centre backs and a good DM ahead of them. In Skrtel, we have a monster of a CB at the centre of the 3 who can dominate the air and has a physical presence about him. In Krygiakos, we get the air but no physical presence or speed. Hence, we will need a substitute for Skrtel in this formation.
On either side of Skrtel, we have our own Carragher who likes to hoof the ball upfront or give a short pass. In this system, it is easier for him to give it to Lucas or Kelly or Skrtel or Pepe and not hoof it up which annoys us. On the subs bench, we again have Krygiakos or Ayala to play there and do not forget we have Kelly who is a natural CB. The non the other side we have my favorite defender in the team – Daniel Agger. A guy who loves to hold play, take the ball forward and start amove. A versatile and a perfect defender but injury prone. However,when he goes forward, the system allows the DM to fill his
place and keep the system of 3 defenders intact. Wilson seems an ideal substitute for him.
The 2 wing backs in this system need to be quick and efficient crossers of the ball. Aurelio, Johnson and Kelly are good crossers.Kelly is quick to revert back to his defensive duties, however same cannot be said for Aurelio and Johnson. However, Johnson and Aurelio like to cut into the centre of the field which is something Kenny would not want for the system to work. Cutting in means more people in the box and cramped for movement and small length and space for crossing. Besides, cutting in exposes our flanks for the teams to setup a counter attack.
In such a scenario a defensive midfielder who is quick is needed to tackle and break the counter or ideally for a wing back who can cross from the flanks and revert to defense. Leighton Baines or José Enrique are ideal not Cashley Cole as he likes to cut in or Marcelo.
In such a system, we need a quick holding midfielder who loves to make a tackle. We have Lucas and Spearing. Lucas loves the big games where he ups his speed and becomes a fan favorite for a week until the next match where he does only one part of the job i.e. makes tackles. Spearing is maturing into a quick player and will need time to get to his feet in order to make the tackles and pass at the same efficiency. A DM in this system has the option to lay the ball sideways for his wing backs or distribute the ball to the 4 players ahead of him.
Ideally, these 4 players are positioned in the following space –Striker upfront on his own tussling with the opponents CBs and trying to stretch them. The AM right in the spot behind him and the two forwards on either side to pounce of the headers from no. 9 and run into the space of the stretched defense. A good ball distributed nicely by the DM could result in a nice move testing the keepers. Else the two wide forwards could be near the flanks if the WBs are way behind and receive the ball.
Charlie Adam or Xabi Alonso are the only people who can spring to mind to make this work. Lucas and Spearing are good but have to learn to distribute the ball quickly with effectiveness. We need a ready made first 11 player for this position and Lucas and Spearing on the bench unless Lucas continues this maturing curve and distributes the ball nicely.
The remaining 4 players have the duty to score. How to keep a formation where the opponent defenses are scattered is a like small diamond.
——————————Attacking Midfielder Shelvey—————————————-
—Right Forward— Suarez/Maxi/Kuyt———————————–Left Forward—-Suarez/Cole————-
————————————Centre forward — Carroll/ Suarez——————————————————
People are all discussing a need for an attacking midfielder for the next season. However, I firmly believe in the 3 players we have currently in our team. Gerrard is beyond discussions of a simple man like me. Meireles has shut his critics with those dazzling runs to provide options to wide forwards and WBs. As for Shelvey, the kid has a great eye to spot a space and make a pass. His vision for reading the teams play and opponent defense movement is as canny as Kenny. However, he has to become more athletic, robust, strong and quick for the EPL just like Meireles has to man up at times. We do not need a substitute in this position.
For the right forward Maxi and Kuyt are as good as anyone in the market as the crossing duty would majorly lie with the WBs. Both these players and Suarez love to drift in and make a short pass or a fierce shot at the goal posts. Ideal players for their positions. Neither likes to play at wings and Kuyt has already displayed his poaching ability against the Mancs. Maxi likes to score with a fierce shot and Meireles/Gerrard/ does not have a poaching ability (evident against Chelsea).
Keep them there to poach off the headers and lay-offs from Carroll. Cole gives us a wide option on the left with Suarez. Where as, Suarez and Cole like to drift in and play more central, Cole gives us the option of putting in decent crosses sometimes. As LB is our major concern Cole can relieve some of Johnson’s duties by putting in the crosses from the left and keeping Carroll happy.
We just can’t get enough of Suarez. He likes to drift, cross, free kicks and everything else. I cannot assign him a responsibility as he may get annoyed (like with Spearing). So simple responsibility will be, go make those mazy runs from left or right and put the ball in the net.
If the system works and everything does stick to their responsibility,Carroll shall have an easy task of justifying his 35 million GBP.Get those headers and the lay-offs to the poachers and score your headers from set – pieces.
To conclude, this formation needs a LB like Baines and a DM like Adam. No wonder King was outrageously bidding for Adam in January. I hope we get him in the summer. If Baines/Enrique comes,I can see Johnson starting RB, Kelly on right side of Skrtel and Carragher a squad player.
For my next formation, I will soon be analyzing 4 – 4 – 2.
PS – I am not John W Henry who knows how much money is there in the summer, hence, only the players we have and used are analysed here to make this system work.