Liverpool’s perfect new Libero?

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Liverpool captain GerrardWATCHING Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard diligently getting on the ball a massive 100 times on derby day got me thinking.

His numerous forays into the depths of Everton’s half dropping balls accurately into opponents trouble spots in a bid to breach an impressive albeit disappointingly untroubled Blues rearguard made me think of a new role for Gerrard; one where his ageing legs will be spared coming into his mid-late 30s and will possibly prolong his career.

Sunday’s performance and his ever presence in the last 36 league games has postponed this notion but the Libero position could make a comeback.

I’m not saying that the Reds captain should grow a Tom Selleck Magnum PI style tache and develop steel tips on his elbows while cultivating a tasty mullet. No, the modern Libero could be relevant due to the team’s penchant to play with just one centre forward.

Yes, we have a proficient enough player who could fit the mould in Daniel Agger but his passing as good as it is, is not on par with Gerrard’s reading of the game and range of passing. The Germans have done this for years with luminaries of the game such as Lothar Mattheus and Matthias Sammer fulfilling this role for club and country with distinction collecting shiny baubles along the way along with being adorned with a mass of medals.

This may not be a regular role for our captain but a retreat in position when the team needs to advance its pressure further forward up the pitch allowing younger legs, the likes of Jordan Henderson for instance, to gallop forward in a bid to win that extra territory and right to play. It may not be advisable to play this way against the rough and tumble, up and at them sides but more suited to Europe where greater nous and calmness with the football are of premium importance.

For this to work it is vital that a ‘nuts and bolts’ type player mops up the breaking balls and puts the foot in when needed. Lucas Leiva has proved to be adept at doing this, an expert at doing the simple things right (easier said than done as many Premier League players can attest). Dan Agger has shown an appetite for attacking space in front of him, this throws opponents who have their roles mapped out from the training ground to the pitch, brings something different to the side, changing the angle of attack and pulling apart rigid formations leaving more space in advanced areas.
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The other way of playing this way is the pragmatic Italian style 1980s manor which meant that the masterful Franco Baresi would sit deeper as a starting position, dictating the positions of his defensive colleagues. This was known as Catenaccio, thereby squeezing the life out of the opposition when out of possession by crowding the central areas and playing a high line therefore choking the life out of their creative forces.

I would shudder to think that this would the way we would go; I believe to would neither suit Gerrard or the team. Italy again proved that the sweeper system can work with Cesare Prandelli utilising their regular midfield gladiator Daniele De Rossi alongside his back four on a couple of occasions during Euro 2012. It was the ease of transition which was striking, the Roma man’s instinctiveness and tactical savvy ensured the challenge was met with minimum fuss.

In this country players are told from a young age what position they are and that’s the end of it, position learnt but no more coaching on the other skills. A new role for our Huyton hero can be revolutionary for English players, a greater picture of the pitch, constantly facing the action will enhance his appreciation/scorn for his team-mates qualities allowing him to lead in a different (possibly more vocal) way also increasing the decibel levels on the pitch in the absence of vocalist in chief Jamie Carragher.

When reading the game and staying on your feet are paramount to good defensive play, it’s not all about the blood and thunder, kick and rush centre-half, subtlety is also key. This is a point well backed up by a former stylish winger Chris Waddle who has been known for his outspoken views on pigeonholing players as one particular type of player.

“I think Steven Gerrard could end up playing in a back four when his legs aren’t capable of playing box-to-box any more. He’s good enough to convert to a full-back or centre-half, he’s competitive, he reads the game brilliantly, he has a terrific range of passing.

“We pigeonhole a player in a position, then we say, ‘He hasn’t got the legs now, get rid of him’. Put him in a different position. You wouldn’t say Glenn Hoddle is a physical player but he did it [at Swindon and Chelsea, as well as Ruud Gullit]. You might get muscled out of a tackle, you might lose a 50-50, but in modern football the aggressive centre-halves, the bully boys with split eyes, have gone.

“You tackle once it’s a yellow card, the second tackle you’re gone. You want players who can intercept, who can read the game, and nick the ball.

Whether or not he is behind the back-four or just in front I would love to see more top players who are of advancing years being wheeled out for the games which can allow experience and knowledge to prosper getting the most out of sizable abilities.”

Quote courtesy of ‘Independant Newspapers’
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I've been following the Reds ever since I set eyes on the majestic sight that is the Kop in full voice with flags aloft, albeit from the television with my dad as a 5 year old in my hometown of Dublin! He would tell me about the Irish contingent, the likes of Heighway, Whelan, Beglin and Houghton, he is a Leeds fan due to his hero Johnny Giles but I had to go against the grain on this one, his 3 year old grandson will not be afforded the same opportunity!
I completed a Higher National Diploma in Print Journalism back in Dublin where I briefly worked for the Irish Independent on a placement, covering Rugby, obituaries (including the great John Charles) and some sub editing. I then made the short journey to Liverpool, where I currently reside to undertake International Journalism at John Moores University. Some will say that over the years I have picked up a Jan Molbyesque native twang but I'm not so sure!
I was also lucky enough to have worked for the socialist publication "Morning Star" covering the Reds at Anfield which allowed me gain access to the press box and press conferences, I covered about 10 games and loved every minute of it!
I am excited to be joining the team at live4liverpool.com. From what I have seen so far the standard of articles have been first class, I hope to contribute to this by publishing pieces which create opinion and debate.


  • David Tobin says:

    Look Gerrard is still one of the best attacking midfielders in the world

    To say he is too old for his best position is stupid. All you have to do us look at lampard who has scored 15 goals this season

    Rodgers has misused and wasted Gerrard this season

    • Jon Doh says:

      Bullocks. Looked at his stats this year as opposed to the two previous years. His numbers are better this year because Rodgers put him in a position to succeed. Your statements can only be described as idiotic.

      • David Tobin says:

        You obviously are just a kid with no little or no knowledge of football.grow up

    • Derek Byrne says:

      “Sunday’s performance and his ever presence in the last 36 league games has postponed this notion but the Libero position could make a comeback.” I didnt say immediately. I agree that he still has 1 or 2 years left in midfield, my point was that a new position could be ideal for him on occasions and more regularly in the future to lengthen his career.

  • bob says:

    i too think gerrard has been wasted . what kind of fool would play a wimp like allen in attack mid or henderson – when one of the worlds best in that position is available

    ridiculous management by rodgers

  • Max says:

    There is no better shooter of a ball from 25 yards than Steve G. His not Alonso that he can lob a keeper from his own Half!!!

  • GAZ says:

    See the stupid Spanish Waiter has only gone and “ruined” another club eh? Top 4 from 6th last season Plus a European trofee -pathetic stuff.

    Are you watching Aldo, Whelan, Lawrenson and other know-all LFC Leg-Ends? Not to mention Carragher himself.

    No doubt the usual suspects will be out trying to convince us that success is actually failure or that the credit is due somewhere else (it was Houllier’s team -right?). Presumably these are the same people who make out they prefer the “fresh approach”, top 8 finishes and European incompetence of Hodgson, KD and now Bodgers – not to mention their obviously superior transfer dealings.

    Have it yiuo own way boys. With a bit of luck we could achieve a stirring (or should that be “woeful”) 61 points this season. Enjoy the open top bus tour.

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