WHEN FSG signed Brendan Rodgers as the new Liverpool manager following the departure of Kenny Dalglish, they were clear on what they wanted out of the new guy.
They wanted a manager who had a clear vision, and would be able to make the team play attacking football, with an attractive style, in an order to bring back the glory days to Liverpool once more. A return to The Liverpool Way of playing football.
Rodgers has been very clear on the philosophy he likes his team to play with, a philosophy derived from the Tiki-Taka or totaalvoetbal style of play. It depends on all 11 players, as a cohesive unit, being comfortable with the ball at their feet, passing it around, probing & prodding the opposition team and slowly exposing weaknesses over the entire period of 90 minutes. There’s no rush, no long ball lobbed down the field hoping to find a player, no rushed clearance. The entire system is built around the philosophy of calmly passing the ball around utilising all the players on the field to get yourself into a position of advantage.
This style of football, which Rodgers used at Swansea, to excellent effect, calls for the 3 forwards to be mobile and interchangeable, passing the ball between each other and the midfielders, probing and looking for opportunities and only shooting when they’re sure of a goal.
Andy Carroll, the £35 million player Liverpool bought from Newcastle is a big, young striker with world class aerial ability, and a killer left foot. While he is undoubtedly talented, whether or not he will fit in to Rodgers’ style of play remains to be seen. Under his style of coaching, the 3 forwards need to be mobile and extremely good with possession, passing the ball around along the ground and interchanging positions among themselves to keep the opposition guessing. Spain made their way through most of the Euros playing without a recognised number 9; instead opting for a false striker to further enhance their passing. While this might mean that Carroll will have little to no part to play in Rodgers’ Liverpool, I am of the opinion that he will still be of use when the situation calls for it.
Carroll showed, towards the end of last season, when he was finding his feet in Liverpool, that he is capable of holding up the ball and passing it on to his team-mates as well as any of the other players in the team. He was as hardworking as anyone, and his performances really helped Liverpool on more than one occasion. Also, having an out and out number 9 with aerial abilities that’ll strike fear into any defenders mind might not be a bad thing to have in your arsenal.
When playing against teams that employ tactics like this, a strong and big number 9 like Carroll might come in handy when you can cross balls into the penalty area from the sides and have Carroll hold it up or quickly lay it on to a team mate to score. With Carroll on the team, defenders will also have a hard job on their hand marking him and the two other mobile strikers causing havoc throughout their half. Also, Carroll’s ability to win headers will come in handy when playing against teams who are strong at corners or long throws or free kicks, as he has already proven last season by making quite a few well timed intercepting headers to clear the ball from a danger area.
All in all, Rodgers should not be looking to get rid of Carroll as soon as possible, and just might keep him around for a while. Carroll is still only 23, and is eager to learn, and is bound to improve in leaps and bounds with the proper training and regiment; something Rodgers should think about.
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