Like most Reds fans, my mind is fixed on how we will line up next season. Not necessarily personnel wise, but in terms of formation. A lot of people have assumed that the Reds may revert to the 4-2-3-1 that served us well under Rafa Benitez. It is probably a sensible judgement to make considering that the Academy and now the Reserves under Rodolfo Borrell will most likely utilise the same tactics. It would make sense to ensure these tactics are then replicated in the first team,
Still, what we have seen of King Kenny and Steve Clarke’s tactics so far is that they are highly adaptable. During their six month spell in charge at the end of last season, we saw variations of the three main formations, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 being utilised, and you wouldn’t bet against this happening again next season. Certainly, this can only be a good thing as variation is essential when coming up against opponents which differ in style.
For example, you are more than likely going to go 3 at the back against the likes of Stoke and Chelsea away from home. The former because you need more bodies in the box to deal with the aerial threat, and the latter due to their 4-3-3 formation. At home, it is better to go in with a 4-4-2 or an attacking 4-3-3 formation. Especially against smaller teams who get all eleven men behind the ball, the need for width and pace is essential to stretch backlines and provide space to get in behind to get an early lead. Against “top four” teams, a five man midfield is essential to ensure you dominate possession and not allow the other team to overrun you in midfield. Tottenham showed in their 2-0 victory at Anfield how a 4-4-2 can be outdone when you come up against a class opponent.
So the operative word then is “adaptability” and Kenny Dalglish will surely be looking for players who can fill in a number of positions. I’m fairly certain this is why Jordan Henderson was targeted for both his ability to play out wide in a 4-4-2 formations to deliver deadly crosses to the head of Andy Carroll as well as being able to play alongside Lucas in central midfield when playing a 4-3-3 formation.