20 Mar 2015

'It didn't work': Molby urges BR to replace 'struggling' £26m star with Johnson against Man United

Brendan Rodgers' December switch to 343 has quite literally transformed Liverpool's season, but despite the significant improvement in the Reds' performances, the right wing-back position remains an ongoing problem for the team. LFC simply do not have a player in the squad who's suited to playing the role, but Anfield legend Jan Molby has suggested a temporary solution for Sunday's crunch-clash with Manchester United.

In recent months, Ibe, Sterling, Markovic, and Lallana have all been played out of position in the RWB spot, and although all are capable of filling-in, all four are more effective playing higher up the field, unburdened by the increased defensive duty.

What's the solution? In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Molby mused:

"Playing Lallana there [at RWB] didn’t work at Swansea. He’s a good player but he’s not a wing-back. It’s time for Glen Johnson. I know he’s not in favour but he’s played in a lot of big games before and knows what’s required".

The fact that Rodgers actually played Lallana as a RWB is indicative of the problem, and shows that he prefers to have Sterling operating in his most effective role: all-out attacking midfielder.

The problem is simple: Rodgers wants to have all his best attacking players in the team at the same time, and if Johnson comes in at RWB, it means that one of Lallana, Sterling, or Coutinho will have to miss out.

I'm no fan of Johnson, but playing him as a right wing-back makes sense, and it's a role for which he is clearly suited. Indeed, over the last few years, fans have constantly called for Johnson to be tried out as a right-winger, and with the current formation, RWB seems like a no-brainer.

That said, Johnson is often a defensive liability for Liverpool, so although he probably has the attacking prowess to make a difference, it's arguably a mistake to trust him defensively against the Premier League's top teams.

As such, the best solution (IMO) is to play Sterling at RWB. It's not ideal, but he has the stamina, strength, and pace to do well in that role, and it allows Rodgers to play his best attacking players in the same team:

---- Sterling ----- Hendo ----- Allen ----- Moreno

---------------- Coutinho ----- Gerrard

----------------------- Sturridge

Yes, I'd play Gerrard ahead of Lallana, who continues to contribute very little (in real terms) to the team. Gerrard may not be as mobile, but he is a superior long/short passer, and also provides a formidable threat from set-pieces. If, however, Rodgers decides to go with Johnson at RWB:

---- Johnson ----- Hendo ----- Allen ----- Moreno

---------------- Coutinho ----- Sterling

----------------------- Sturridge

With only 1 goal/1 assist in the last 14 games, Lallana - who admitted this week that he was 'struggling' for form earlier in the season - is clearly a passenger right now, and doesn't deserve a starting place. Pressing the ball is fine, but an attacking midfielder's primary role is to create/score goals, not press.

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37 comments:

  1. I think they should give Gerrard a go at RWB. I know he doesn't really have the legs for it but he is a very good tackler and his range of passing and set piece delivery could be utilised without playing him at DM and leaving the defence exposed or at AM which would require dropping Coutinho or Sterling.

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  2. Gerrard hasn't got the legs to press a game for long periods, playing him at right wing back will weaken Liverpool. People have to get over this. Gerrard is not the force he once was, stop dreaming. He will be more effective coming on halfway through the second half when the opposition is tired and his passing can open up opportunities for Liverpool. Playing him from the start would be a mistake.

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  3. Pele for Coutinho :)

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  4. he would have had 2 against city. but at the same time i understand your point. Lallana ability should make him score more and create more. but dropping him would be NEGATIVE

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  5. It's funny how few pundits seem to have any understanding of the way the system works. There's a winger on one side for a reason.



    That notion of Lallana as a passenger is laughable. He's played wide on both sides, at AM and CM. He offers more options on and off the ball than any other player in the team. He has scored outstanding goals and had all round an excellent debut season so far.

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  6. I think Gerrard can play deeper now that we've changed the system. The problem was when our centre halves used to split and Gerrard used to drop deep and collect the ball, leaving massive gaps in our midfield. Now with 3 at the back and runners all around him, it allows Gerrard more of a free role in the centre of the pitch. That being said I can't make my mind up whether Gerrard should start or not. We could use his leadership but if it ain't broke and all that...

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  7. Lallana has two feet working the ball, no real trackable movement where opposition can say 'yep, that's where he runs and we can stop him doing it' - he has that unpredictability that comes with an ambidextrous talent.


    this allows the kind of play which we've become used to when suarez et al were playing last two-three years - pulling teams all over the place as they couldn't cope with who was doing what and when.....


    as robo lasers pointed out it's also why there is a winger on one side....


    Lallana does something and it is good; his shackles are coming off week by week and as he gets stronger and grows in confidence and stature I believe he will start to show the arrogance we need from him and go for the audacious - which he is more than capable of doing - I like him and I think he is good for an attacking team like ours, especially at home and especially against the likes of M U......


    400-0 to us :-) fingers crossed.....

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  8. Excellent point of view bro......

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  9. Why not jack in the box Borini as RWB ?

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  10. Or why not just give Manquillo a chance again? Anyone other than Johnson will do.

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  11. If only we had never sold Martin Kelly. He would have been perfect for the RWB and RB role. He is super healthy now, is a proper defender and has more than enough pace and was a product of our academy. Let him go for peanuts and loaned in Manquillo who has vanished.

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  12. I still do not see why we needed Lallana when we could have just gone with Ibe this season. The £25m or so that was spent could have gone towards a proper striker which should have been our first priority when Rodgers and the committee knew throughout last season that Suarez was leaving but right at the end we ended up with Balotelli.


    And now it looks like we are getting Ings who is most likely not going to be a regular starter. If we want to challenge on all fronts then we need to start signing players who are first team ready. Ings ain't that I am afraid and will just get in the way of another young player like Origi.

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  13. In all fairness i thought Kelly had run his race just too many injuries and i am not sure he would be suited to a wing back role either.

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  14. He was injured too much. If he's suddenly found health after so many injury plagued years, then that's just bad luck.

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  15. Kelly was excellent when Palace thrashed us earlier this season. He went through almost a year of recovery when we sold him which is exactly what he needed. He is better than both Johnson and Manquillo put together. He showed on many occasions his attacking ability when he played for us and combine that with him being a proper defender IMO RWB would be of no problem.

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  16. I've said for a while now that Johnson is perfect for RWB. I don't agree that Johnson is a defensive lability but with 3 at the back this role relinquishes some of defensive duties anyway compared to the standard RB role.

    Why is it now that many fans have to have some 'fall guy' in the team. There always seems to be a witch hunt build up against certain players..... Johnson, Mignolet, Lucas, Henderson, Allen and Lovren, all have suffered this fate at some point but none of them have fully deserved such hate at times.

    I don't blame Johnson wanting to leave considering the anger of fans he gets but for me, he is the ideal choice for RWB till the end of the season.

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  17. Manquillo should be given another chance

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  18. Johnson ain't leaving because of the fans, he is leaving cause he is on over £100k a week, wants more now and LFC rightly have told him to go seek those wages elsewhere as he is not worth what he is asking. Simple.

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  19. Oh sorry Login I didn't realise you were involved in his new contract negotiations. Thanks for letting me know the truth.

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  20. Well mate, if LFC really wanted him to stay then the least they would have done is offer him his current wages and extended his contract already. That has not happened and is not going to happen either. He is free to leave. We do not even have to pay him a loyalty bonus...

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  21. But you said Johnson isn't leaving because of the fans and implied it's all down to money. So I'm assuming that you have been in the negotiations and you've spoke to Glen at length about his relationship with the fans. Either that or you are actually assuming and passing it off as fact

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  22. His contract is up in two months?


    Surely if LFC wanted him to stay then they would have offered him an extension? 1 + 1 = ?

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  23. Who says they haven't, my point is that you are assuming things. Despite all of this he is still the best player for RWB that we currently have

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  24. I am not assuming anything especially when his agent said during this past weeek that Johnson is looking at many clubs. He is leaving because he is not getting what he wants at LFC and the club will not bow down to his demands. If you want to believe otherwise then so be it.

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  25. I disagree Kelly has found his level at Palace and i doubt a wing back position suits him at all we want a lot better than him.

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  26. Well obviously our opinion about Kelly is completely different. He is better than any RB we currently have. That is the way I see it so would for me be an upgrade. Got nothing to do with sour grapes when Rodgers is using square pegs in round holes i.e. Markovic,Ibe, Lallana etc at RWB.

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  27. where's Emre can ?

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  28. All our players are flexible according to BR , Put Jones in goal and play mingo there..or anyone other than johson. Johson is not anything short of liability and i don't know the right word to do him justice

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  29. You really can't see it can you?!

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  30. Ings and Origi will tear up the premier league. You have to understand that Ings is an exceptional talent, as good as any striker his age in Europe. There aren't many at 21/22 playing regular football in the top divisions full stop. He's got so much game it's disgusting. He's at least as good as Sturridge. Explosive movement and great flair, can finish anything from anywhere, works hard and understands the the game. With players of the quality of Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge, Lallana, Can, Moreno around him, he will open a few eyes at LFC.

    And Origi has more potential than I can explain to you. He's a big and powerful unit, quick, with really exceptional tight skills. I predict that all being well injury-wise he'll be among the top three or four strikers in the league within two years of coming to the club.

    If you want to go with untried teenagers instead of seasoned internationals that's nice but... it just doesn't work like that. We're talking about elite professional football. It's about concentration, consistency, teamwork, tactical understanding, strength and endurance. Those qualities are much much more important even than skills like Ibe's over a qhole season. A fit, hard-working side, well-organised and experienced, will always beat a side without those qualities, no matter how much skill is in the team. We've seen this time after time in elite football.

    And Lallana possesses those abilities to a high degree, as well as having a touch and quality that is equal to any player in the division. Lallana could play for virtually any team in the world and we are lucky that he's playing for us. Sure he could do better, but singling him out for criticism is just inane, to me. Just watch the player. He's absolutely exceptional. And what's more he keeps his mouth shut, he gets nothing but positive press, he seems like a calm and mature individual on and off the pitch. He's gold, pure gold.

    Lastly £25m is fair market value for a player who has made such a contribution to our season. I don't know what planet some critics are on. We are Liverpool, one of the richest clubs in the world, with one among the top wage bills in the richest league. We are awash with money. When we come calling it is only natural, right, and fair, that the prices demanded by our competitors match our ability to pay them. We can pay, and we should pay, top dollar for players who are going to display the kind of role that Lallana has played for us this season.

    And which striker is it you wanted us to buy? Because what I rememebr is taht we were in for one decent front player in addition to, not instead of, Lallana, but he chose another club and we ended up with prize turkey Mario Balotelli instead. That's life. But your criticism, in light of these facts, makes no sense whatsoever, does it? All we can say really is: it's a shame we didn't have Sanchez *as well as* Lallana this season. On which we can all agree.

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  31. With all due respect Peter, I think you are overacting. The footballing world today is a result driven business and with all the money involved, players are expected to perform week in week out. If you don't perform or seen not to be trying or playing negative football, then questions will be raised. Johnson was a decent player a few years ago but for the last year or so he's been a liability and everyone has a sell by date. If you look it up, Liverpool offered Johnson a 2 year contract on a reduced salary, based upon his age, current ability and limited game time.
    His agent has confirmed he wants more game time to further his career and obviously more money.
    Not sure what lfc fans not liking him has got to do with him leaving.
    With regards to RWB, Jonathan Ibe would be ideal but he's injured so I would go with Gerrard and agree with the majority.

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  32. Well the changes he has made have worked even if rwb is a position we struggle to fill.

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  33. you are absolutetly right Redburns we should play gerrard on the RWB,i dnt think this will weaken the team as he is an experienced player he defend realy well his passing are no doubt exceptional.i think he'll be a threat for Man U.playing Gerrard there will not be diff at all he's very experienced and flexible

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  34. may be playing him for 90 mins would be mistake but as soon as he's fresh he'l be very strong and liverpool will control the game and create much chances

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  35. Johnson WAS perfect for RWB 3-4 years ago. Now he's about as much of a liability as you can get. Positionally useless, next to no effort and now he's lost a yard of pace, he's totally ineffective going forward. He brings nothing to the team and the sooner he's gone the better imo

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  36. Mignolet, Moreno, sakho, skertel, loveren, can,Henderson, lallanna,sterling, coutino sturridge

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