I wrote an article last weekend about my excitement about the possible inclusion of Liverpool’s midfield trio Raul Meireles, Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard in our starting lineup. I believed it would give us the required creative talent in the middle of the park to compete with the best in the Premier League. Roy surprisingly elected to play all three in the match against Manchester United last Sunday, but they didn’t all start in central midfield. While Meireles played in the hole behind the striker, Gerrard reverted to playing in central midfield where he made a big contribution to the match, but it left Joe Cole out wide on the left.
For the large portions of the match, Cole was isolated on the left hand side as despite having one less man in midfield, Manchester United controlled possession in the early stages preventing Joe getting on the ball as much as he would like. In fact his selection on the left wing caused two problems, not only a lack of attacking potency but also left Paul Konchesky exposed at left back. Cole would be the first to admit that although he does try in his defensive duties, he is not the greatest tackler or marker in the world, and on many occasions Konchesky had to contend with both Nani and John O’Shea, who provided the crosses for the second and third United goals. Of course some of this can be attributed to Konchesky’s poor defending, but it certainly doesn’t help when you are not being helped out by the left midfielder.
So why was Cole played on the left wing against Manchester United? Especially considering that Roy has opted to play him in the hole behind the striker on a number of occasions and has stated that he believes that this is Joe’s best position. I believe the reason lies in trying to accommodate Portuguese international Raul Meireles into the team. Meireles has said himself he can play in all three of Liverpool’s central midfield positions and Roy believes it will take time to find his best position in the team:
“He had two training sessions and played on Thursday night and he played again on Sunday so it is very early for me to make very strong judgements about where his best position is. The work we do on the training field will show me how best to use him. He actually went out wide right late in the United game and did okay there also. All I can say is he has a lot of qualities and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of use out of him. Most importantly he is a good and talented footballer and he is capable of playing anywhere across the midfield so we will see how we box it up together.”
A Renault Mégane was driven from Menton, France to Gisburn, Lancashire. Can a car change a town?