10 Jun 2008

Why Liverpool cannot and should not sign David Villa

Liverpool are apparently waiting in the wings to snap up Spanish striker David Villa if - as recent reports suggest - a reputed move to Arsenal falls through. Capturing Villa would be a dream acquisition on a par with Fernando Torres, but unfortunately, the Steven Gerrard conundrum means that signing any top quality striker right now would be a recipe for disaster.

The Villa story has been popping up regularly in recent weeks, with Th
e Telegraph recently reporting the following:

“Villa has regularly partnered Torres for the national team and, were Arsenal or Chelsea to fail to agree a deal for Villa then Liverpool would be alerted to his availability”

Villa himself seems positive about the idea of coming to Liverpool, and clearly relishes the prospect of teaming up with Fernando Torres:

"It is great playing alongside Fernando. We understand each other totally and we get on brilliantly off the park."

Alas, as great a signing this would be for Liverpool, with Steven Gerrard at the club, it will never work…and I will explain why.

Quite simply, Liverpool are incapable of playing 4-4-2 successfully with Gerrard in the centre. Everybody is always going on about how Gerrard’s best position is central midfield, but if that’s the case, why does not play there for Liverpool or England?

The answer is simple: Gerrard has proved that he cannot form a *consistently* successful midfield partnership with anyone - for club or for country.

Whether it’s Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Momo Sissoko, Lucas Leiva or Frank Lampard, Gerrard just does not function successfully in a midfield two.

The main reasons for this are his positional indiscipline and hero complex. Basically, Gerrard always wants to do everything himself, which means he abandons his position on a frustratingly regular basis, leaving holes for others to exploit.

As a result of this, the Liverpool team has been chopped and changed in every conceivable way over the years in an attempt to accommodate Gerrard; the 4-2-3-1 formation that Liverpool currently plays is the only formation that suits him.

What about playing on the right? That’s a no-go too as Gerrard has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want to play out there, even though it would probably be the best thing for the team.

So – we’re left with his current position - playing behind the striker. In Liverpool’s current system, this is the only place Gerrard can play, and for him to be successful, he needs two midfielders doing all the donkey work for him.

And therein lies the problem: The whole team is set-up to get the best out of Gerrard, which means that if Liverpool buy another top quality striker and accommodate him *regularly*, the formation would need to switch to 4-4-2. This means we’re back at square one again, i.e. trying to fit Gerrard in somewhere that not only benefits the team but satisfies his ego.

If Liverpool were to sign David Villa - or a striker of comparable quality - such a player is not going be happy sitting on the bench waiting for Crouch-like cameo roles. A player like Villa needs to play regularly and should play regularly, or what’s the point of spending all the money?

Furthermore, Fernando Torres is not going to be happy sitting on the bench regularly to accomodate someone else, and Liverpool fans wouldn’t stand for that anyway, so what is the solution?

Unfortunately, the solution is that Liverpool cannot and should not buy another Torres-quality striker whilst Gerrard is at the club.

Of course, none of this would be an issue if Gerrard could successfully function in a midfield two, but that truth is, he cannot.

If Liverpool's current formation is the template for the future, then buying another top quality striker would just create unfair competition for places up front.

And as we’ve seen over the last year, intense competition for places causes friction and recrimination. For example, in midfield, we had a ridiculous situation where 5 midfielders were competing for 2 first team slots.

This unfair competition forced out Momo Sissoko and caused Xabi Alonso to seriously consider his future. Indeed, Rafa was lucky that Alonso was injured for so long earlier in the season, otherwise the selection headache in midfield would have been even more acute.

The same goes for the striking roles this year - With Rafa favouring one up-front, Dirk Kuyt has been converted into a right midfielder and Peter Crouch has been stuck on the bench for most of the season

If someone like Villa was to sign, and Liverpool continued to play with one up front, it would be a recipe for disaster. Somewhere along the line, either Villa or Torres would become dissatisfied with warming the bench. Alternatively, Rafa could try and accommodate both strikers by playing 4-4-2, but this would cause the team to become unbalanced again for the reasons I’ve outlined above.

An example of this imbalance is the recent Liverpool-Arsenal Champions League game at Anfield. In a break from the usual formation, Rafa played 4-4-2, with Crouch and Torres up front and Gerrard on the left.

By his own admission, Gerrard put in one of his worst performances in a red shirt! If Villa or some other top striker was to come to the club, these poor performances from would (in my view) be a regular occurrence, especially if Gerrard was played in a position he dislikes.

A team with a 4-4-2 formation with Villa and Torres together could line up like this (Using the current squad):

------------------------ Reina

Arbeloa --------- Carra --------- Agger -------- Aurelio

Pennant ------ Gerrard ------ Mascherano ----- Babel

--------------- Villa ------------- Torres

The Gerrard-Mascherano partnership *does not work*. For proof of this, just examine the games in which the partnership has been utilized and then look at the results and the turgid performances that came out of it.

In any event, as discussed above, Gerrard in the center *consistently* is a non-starter.

The 4-4-2 formation *would* work if the team lined up like this:

---------------------- Reina

Arbeloa --------- Carra --------- Agger -------- Aurelio

Gerrard ------ Alonso ------ Mascherano ----- Babel

------------------ Villa -------- Torres

Everybody with any objectivity and sense knows that the best position for Gerrard in a 4-4-2 is on the right, but the incredible sulk will never allow this to happen.

So choices are thus: Play 4-4-2 with Gerrard in the center or play 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard behind Torres.

Surely the answer is to stick with what works? Rafa has *finally* hit upon a winning formula in the premiership after 4years of trying - it would surely be madness to change things now...wouldn't it?

As long as Gerrard is at the club, Rafa should stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation and spend any transfer funds on creative right and left wingers/midfielders and pacy, creative fullbacks.

Ultimately, there is no point in signing a striker of Villa’s calibre if Rafa plans to continue with the 4-2-3-1 formation. I don’t want to see another top quality player wasting away on the bench, just like Peter Crouch has been wasted this

A player like Villa will not and should not play second fiddle to anyone. He - or indeed any top striker – should only be signed if Liverpool are going to play 4-4-2 with Gerrard on the right.

Of course, there is a third option: Sell Gerrard and buy a midfielder who can function successfully as part of a midfield two...

*Cue mass hysteria and Liverpool fans collectively foaming at the mouth*

This article was first published in April 2008. Reposted in June during Euro 2008 to coincide with increased David Villa speculation.


  1. I agree that the partnership of Gerrard with others has been problematic. The modern footballer is a big celebrity and this affects what they do on the field.

    I would love to see Villa and Torres up front though. This would really create havoc - amongst the opposition.

  2. You make some very interesting observations here but then again if somebody is a distraction to the overall progress of the team then it could be time that he is let go. .

    For Liverpool to win the league they need a very strong squad and therefore to get Villa would a step in that direction.


  3. While I agree with some of what you say I might point out that even though Gerrard said (and I totally agree) that the recent match was one of his worst ever in a Liverpool shirt he has in fact played many many wonderful games when he has not been playing just behind Torres... so he can be of value to the team elsewhere.

    Also, while Villa is an excellent player do we need him? Are Torres and Villa both going to score 30 goals in a season?? I think not.

    Making much more sense is the call for creative and pacy right/left backs and a winger or two.

    Queresma looks the part although he seems prone to being a sulky schoolboy (which is one reason I am glad Liverpool did not end up signing Malouda!) but anyone of his quality will cost a lot - are the funds available?

    And while we are at it, why on earth would Rafa buy Gareth Barry unless one of the current Liverpool midfielders is leaving? Useful player he is but I would not swap him for Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso or even Lucas.

    Here's hoping for 1-0 or 2-0 tonight v Chelski!! 2-1 won't cut it.

  4. I have to say that most of my modern memories of Liverpool (the pleasant ones) are associated with Gerrard: the headed goal and penalty win against Milan; the two goals in the FA Cup Final against West Ham; the superb last minute goal against Inter, plus the goal against Olympiacos. In the game against Arsenal he made Kuyt's goal and scored a pressure penalty. Furthermore, for much of the last 2 seasons, he has played on the right (against his own inclinations). In the last 3 seasons he has twice scored more than 20 goals and his tally is better than that of most strikers. Furthermore, with Carragher, he is one of the last associations with the city of Liverpool itself. If it is a choice between having a partnership between Torres and Gerrard or Torres and Villa, then for many reasons, Gerrard gets my vote.

  5. HOW ABOUT 4-3-3????




  6. 3-4-1-2 anyone?

    caragher, skrtel, agger

    new wingback, alonso, masch, risse


    torres, villa

  7. Playing a 4-4-1-1 will win us more trophies...including the EPL.

    The two key positions we HAVE to buy are world class left and right midfielders. We need pace and creativity out wide that can stretch opponents and create loads of space for Torres and Gerrard. Watch out for a sophmore slump from Torres....Gerrard will be there to pick up the slack.
    Some reasonable talking points regarding Stevie G but is there really someone with his talent thats plays with more heart and desire? Sure there maybe better technical or tactical players but if you want a true grit winner then Stevie G is always going to be at the top of your list. He's won more than he should have given the level of talent around him the last several years. 4 CL semis and so far 2 finals. I'll take it. If everyone around him always played with the same heart and drive we'd probably have a league title in the trophy case too.

  8. We need two new players for a strong first eleven capable of challenging for the title. A 3-5-2 formation would do the trick.
    Carragher, Skrtel, Agger
    Eboue, Masch, Alonso, Gerrard, Bale
    Torres, Crouch
    Gareth Bale is already a great player and will be even better. Buy him. And yes, I think Eboue could be useful aswell. He is a little over-eager and sloppy in his actions now but with the right guidance could develope into a fine perfomer.
    Both Bale and Eboue has what it takes in terms of work ethics, stamina, skill and will to win to succeed as a combination of fullback, wide midfielder and winger. A little bit like Roberto Carlos and Cafu.
    This line-up would be tight in defence and creative in attack. Most of the players are good in both directions.

  9. Jaimee

    You make some good points but overall I think your views on Stevie G are over the top. He might not be a 'big game' player (consistently dominating his direct opponents in the crunch games) but he is a 'big moments' player where a sublime touch, powerful run, incisive pass, crunching tackle or thunderbolt shot end up changing the game (e.g. the Milan, Inter Milan, West Ham type games). Without him Liverpool would be weaker.

    Most of your criticisms of Stevie are valid but you don’t give him the credit he also deserves. He’s given the fans some great memories through the years. You seem to blame him and his personality rather than the various coaches who have not been able to teach him the tactical and positional subtleties of the game.

    As a couach, if you are faced with a player who is special in so many ways but can't seem to learn those subtleties you either:
    1 get rid of him (your position on the matter)
    2 play him centre mid in a 4-4-2 and hope for the best (the Houllier solution)
    3 play him in a position where he puts his best assets to use and his limitation are least exposed (the Benitez solution)

    Benitez mas made his choice. It is undoubtedly a gamble but so are the other options. The question of whether in the long run this will deliver the Premier League is a difficult one and it doesn’t look good so far. Benitez should be judged on the matter at the end of the season.

    However, blaming Gerrard personally is unfair. If is such a bad player than how come Fergusson, Wenger, Mourinho and Grant have all publicly expressed their desire to prize him away from Anfield.

  10. Tippo

    With regards to one player distracting the overall progress of their team, I personally believe Gerrard falls into this category. As I've said time and time again, I accept that he is an excellent player, however, for the TEAM to progress, the best thing would be for Gerrard to leave.

    We can't keep having a situation where the success of the team depends on one player. Currently, if Gerrard plays well, Liverpool play well. If Gerrard plays badly, Liverpool play badly. There needs to be balance across the team, with more big players taking responsibility.

    This might mean having a couple of players who people perceive to be slightly lower quality than Gerrard, but if it means the team functions better and is more balanced, then so be it.

    The current 4-2-3-1 formation has admittedly been working...against poor defences. When Liverpool play top class defences, this formation with Gerrard in the hole is less successful. Recently, the two Arsenal games at the Emirtates, the Man U game and the two Inter Milan games are evidence of this.

    The team needs to be comfortable playing 4-4-2, with a specialist performer in every position. Gerrard is not a specialist in any position, and the team does not function consistently well enough with him in the center.

    Selling Gerrard is the answer. it would, of course, be painful for Liverpool fans, but the success of previous generations of Liverpool teams has been based on sacrificing players who were perceived to be undroppable. Keegan Left. Souness Left. Rush Left. The team didn't wither and die - it went on to even greater heights.

    The same will happen if Gerrard leaves.

    There have been reports in the press recently that Liverpool may have to sell Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel. The solution to this (if it's true) is to sell Gerrard and Babel for a combined 50m, and use the money to buy another Striker and some excellent creative wide players/link men.

    Gerrard's value is going to drop and drop over the next few years due to his age. if Liverpool are seriously thinking about rebuilding for the future, they need to cash in now whilst he's worth so much.

  11. Jim

    Totally agree with you about Gareth Barry. He is a good player but Liverpool just do not need him. I'm sick of utility players who can play in 10 different positions to create the 'options' Rafa is always going on about. With Strikers on the wing and square pegs in round hols, why can' we have some specialists for once?

    Regarding whether we need David Villa - it's a good question. He is undoubtedly better than Kuyt and Voronin, so he would improve the attacking options big style. His partnership with Torres for Spain is very good, and he is technically gifted and skillful.

    I would personally prefer Liverpool to play 4-4-2, or 4-4-1-1, with a link man just behind Torres. Villa could play the link man role without a problem in my view, but 4-4-2 is not going to happen *successfully* as long as Gerrard is at the club.

  12. Anonymous #3 - Completely agree that we need creative, pacy wide men. Thing is, we've been saying that ever since Houllier was in charge, and nothing has changed on that front.

    Also agree that 4-4-1-1 is a good way to go.

    Anonymous #4

    I'm not sure about 3-5-2. Whenever Liverpool have played that formation in the past it has never seemed to work. The team is not used to it and it would take a season just to get settled. If we had the players and everyone was comfortable then I think it could work.

    Then again, I just hate the idea of ostensibly having three central midfielders in the team, whatever formation is played. The idea that creative players need to be protected by two holding midfielders really gets my goat! Liverpool of old never had three central mids to protect Dalglish, Keegan et al, so why do we need it now?

    But Emmanuel Eboue?! God no! His end product and creative instincts are poor in the extreme. Gareth Bale on the other hand could definitely do a job for the team.

  13. Anonymous #5 - I just don't agree that Liverpool would be weaker without Gerrard. I accept that my criticisms of him seem harsh, but they all flow from his conduct for Liverpool on and off the pitch in his capacity as a player and leader of the club. it's nothing personal, thought there are plenty who try and argue otherwise!

    His Managers over the years have to take some of the blame for his failure to develop tactical awareness, but in my view, Gerrard has to take the lion's share of the blame. He wants to do what *he* wants, irrespective of what anyone else thinks. If something doesn't go his way, he makes sure everyone knows about it.

    He is supremely arrogant, there is no two ways about it. He probably thinks he knows better than his Managers and Coaches - something I think can be inferred from the plethora of public comments he's come out with over the years.

    As you said, Benitez has made his choice about how to utilize Gerrard, and as long as it works for the team, then great. Whilst Gerrard is at the club, his talents should be used in the best way, and this is undoubtedly happening in the 4-2-3-1 formation.

  14. Jaimie, one thing you don't always seem to appreciate is that just as you have a weak spot for Liverpool's Scottish players (i.e. Billy Liddell in your all time great Liverpool team so "you could get another Scottish player in there"), so Liverpudlians have a weak spot for players who make good from the city of Liverpool. In my opinion too many of your articles have a negative slant about Gerrard, who has clearly done far more good for the team than bad. Opponents and managers do nothing but praise Gerrarsd to the skies. In a recent UEFA poll for which single player most top European managers would like to have in their team, Gerrard came out second! Are all those great tacticians mistaken then? Are all Gerrard's past and present managers also misguided? I recently saw an interview with Houllier where he said Gerrard was probably the best player he'd ever worked with. Benitez recently praised Gerrard for his moment of genius that created Kuyt's goal in the first game against Arsenal. Are they all wrong then? My own critical faculties tell me no--clearly no. You are beginning to be defined by your antipathy for Gerrard, which clearly most supporters don't share. Sometimes you remind me of that skit from "The Life of Brian" where a Palestinian asks: "What did the Romans ever do for us?" and another man answers: "They gave us roads, good sewage, laws, citizenship, etc." "Yes," says the agitator, "but what did they ever do for us besides that?"

    Gerrard is, and will be remembered as, a great Liverpool player--and if you write another 1000 articles with a negative slant about him they won't change anything.

    In conclusion, I don't see why you are celebrating your banning from This Is Anfield on the first page of your site. I read some of the material, but after a while got bored. Don't you think that a person who continues to want to post negatively about Gerrard on a thread that already has 300 replies is somwhat fanatical? Clearly most people didn't agree with you and this is something you should accept--though no one is asking to change your own opinion, but merely to respect the opinions of other supporters. Perhaps in the end you were banned from This Is Anfield because everything had already been gone over many times (300 replies!) and your persistence was just creating unnecessary anger and agression?

  15. first reason y liverpool should buy villa is that besides torres,all strikers at liverpool are hopeless.voronin,kuyt and crouch goals add up wont tally to the number of goals torres has scored.secondly what if torres is injured?liverpool will have trouble scoring goal like the past season.They cannot only depend on gerrard and torres to score goals.if villa comes in,there will not be any problem finding e net if torres is injured.Look like manu,they have ronaldo,rooney and tevez to score goals.they do not have to worry if one of them or 2 of them is injured because they have alot of star players.So thats y liverpool should buy David Villa!

  16. Anonymous - thanks for your comments. You make a good point re my weak spot for Scottish players. I can certainly understand why Liverpudlians hold Gerrard in such high regard, and I do not begrudge them that. I have never criticised people for championing Gerrard - people are entitle to think what they like. My criticisms have always stemmed from how I personally perceive him.

    Yes, some of my articles have a negative slant on Gerrard, but (for me) it is deserved. All the Managers you mentioned can think what they like about Gerrard - fair play to them. It doesn't make a blind bit of difference to how I view him thought.

    As I have repeatedly stated, I do not doubt Gerrard's ability as a footballer. I do not think he is world class, but he is undoubtedly an excellent player who has done a lot for Liverpool.

    However - I have a specific view about that qualities required of someone representing Liverpool FC, and this is where my antipathy toward Gerrard comes from.

    No player in the history of Liverpool FC has openly disrespected the club more than Gerrard. With his arrogance, ego, negativity, pessimism and countless ill-advised public comments, he represents everything that is wrong with the modern footballer.

    I always go back to the double Chelsea flirtation. Fans try and push that under the rug, but those incidents are a prime example of what I'm talking about.

    What Liverpool player in history has ever behaved in such a way?


    Gerrard was the captain of his hometown club at the age of 23! He was living the dream - a dream shared by millions of fans who lived vicariously through him.

    Yet this was not good enough for him. As is always the case with Gerrard, what mattered to him was personal glory: What can I win for ME? He wanted to leave Liverpool for personal glory. This is despite repeatedly proclaiming how much he loved the club in public.

    The apologists will come up with all kinds of spurious excuses, the worst of which is 'but his career is really short, so who can blame him for wanting to win trophies’?

    It's this kind of thinking that exposes how far the standards of fandom have fallen. So blinded are fans in their love of Gerrard that they become complicit in his betrayal.

    For me, Gerrard conflicts with the whole Shankly ethos Liverpool is founded upon. It's not just about being good on the pitch, it's about having dignity and humility off the pitch. It's about conducting yourself in a manner befitting the club, and this is where Gerrard fails, which is consequently why I have little respect for him.

    The reason I love Liverpool FC is because of what the club stands for. It's not about winning trophies; it's about the philosophy of the club, which is something that sets Liverpool apart from every other club.

    People can argue that I'm living in the past, but as far as I am concerned, some things are non-negotiable.

    And I don't give a damn if football has changed. Some things should never be compromised. For me, Gerrard repeatedly pisses on everything I love about the club, and unlike most fans, I can't just forget it because he plays well on the pitch.

    I don't want the Liverpool I love to become another generic soulless footballing juggernaut, but sooner or later, this is what will happen because the avarice and self-interest of the modern game is infesting the club like a cancer.

    With Gerrard, there is a conflict between old and new values. I judge all Liverpool players on the standards and values of the past. I compare the likes of Gerrard to how players of the past conducted themselves.

    This is where Gerrard falls short. He genuinely believes he is bigger than the club, and he *is* bigger than the club. Rick Parry and David Moores made sure of that when they got down on their hands and knees and begged Gerrard to stay when he was set to join Chelsea.

    They elevated him to untouchable status, and it's been that way ever since.

    It's impossible to explain my true feelings in such a short space, but I will write about it at length at some point.

    As I stated earlier, this is just my own personal view. I am not trying to convince anyone. If the majority of fans want to lionise Gerrard and remember him as the greatest, then fair play to them.

    With regards to TIA - how exactly am I celebrating my banning?! There is nothing on the homepage about that site and there are no links anywhere to the post.

    I find it interesting that you regard a heated debate reaching 300posts as 'fanatical'. The fact is, there was plenty to debate about, and plenty of people on the thread *wanted* to debate the issue.

    Criticising a thread on a message board which is *designed for discussion* as too long is like slagging off water for being too wet!

    The thread was closed for one reason: Gerrard fanbase couldn't bear the thought of their hero being criticised, so they resorted to censorship. It's a microcosm for real life - gag the dissenters and then ridicule them so they seem less credible.

    It's pathetic really, but such things are to be expected.

  17. Jaimie Kanwar - I hope you fall over and graze your knee - your obviously a Chelsea supporter. You'll never get him - He's ours!!

  18. Jamie, every single post you have written that i've read is anti- Gerrard. You really need to get over the fact that he almost went to chelsea twice.

    Gerrard is just a product of the era he lives in, everything he says is all over the web within minutes. i'm pretty sure some of liverpool's previous stars may have metioned things about leaving the club but they could always tell the reporter an hour or so later that they mispoke or something like that and it would never get printed.

  19. Actually, Brad, I wrote this post two months ago. I reposted it because the debate re David Villa is sure reignite. instead of blustering pointlessly about my 'anti-gerrard' stance, why not address the points I make, i.e. why 442 with Gerrard in the team won't work and why 4231 with Villa at Anfield won't work either.

  20. First, put on your Man U jersey already because you sicken me. #2. Barry's signing is imminent and therefore Gerrard will have a partnership in a 4 man midfield that he can work with. Then the Torres-Villa situation will work.
    I know you are a Man U fan just trying to get Liverpool fans going so cut the crap and write a blog about your own players instead of spouting useless garbage. You aren't a manager and your blog clearly demonstrates you lack the intelligence and the positive forward energy to ever make a reasonable contribution to any discussion of football. Cheers.

  21. Oh god, not another one of the tedious 'but he's a Manc because he doesn't agree with me' brigade!

    Sifting through the detritus of your post, it is clear that you have no clue what you're talking about. What 4 man midfield containing Gerrard are you on about?! The one that excludes Mascherano from the starting line up?!

    Barry is being bought to fit into the 4231 formation, not 442. He will (possibly) replace Alonso and it will therefore be masch/barry holding, with gerrard ahead of them.

    Less than inspiring in my view but we'll see.

  22. Personally, i think Gerrard is a great leader of the midfield as Carragher is for the defence. Yes, he has become a hero, but no he has not become bigger than the club itself, The majority of liverpool players know the name on the front of the shirt is bigger than the one on the back and Gerrard is one of those.
    I think you have a bit of a vendeta against him, you go on and on about the things you dont agree with, however seem to have spells of anmesia regarding the many 'magic moments' he has provided us fans.
    I agree Gerrard plays his best 'attacking' football when slotted behind Torres, however there are numerous examples of him playing equally as well in the centre, he is not just an attacking player but a defensive one aswell.
    As for formations i would not be surprised if we saw a 3-4-3, hopefully after the transfer period containing:





    And yes i do understand everyone is entitled to their opinions, but i don't quite understand where you are coming from.

  23. I think it's clear from things that have happened over the last 5 years that Gerrard *is* bigger than the club. The fans have made him into some godlike figure who can do no wrong; the media big him up he's the greatest player ever to walk the earth and worst of all, Rick Parry and David Moores made him bigger than the club by bowing down at his alter during the double Chelsea debacle. Their sycophantic acquiescence to Gerrard, which included agreeing to consult him on potential transfers, was shameful.

    I could go into further detail (and I have elsewhere on the site) but what is the reasoning behind your contention that he is not bigger than the club?

    I have no 'amnesia' over Gerrard's contributions; I have repeatedly acknowledged his ability as a footballer and his achievements - of course, my detractors always fail to acknowledge this because it doesn't fit their 'he's a manc!' arguments.

    You say that there are numerous examples of Gerrard playing well in the center, but if that's the case *why does he not play in the centre*?! Surely, if he was so good in that role, he would play there regularly for Liverpool and England.

    Players are supposed to be played in their best roles, are they not? The problem with Gerrard is he has no 'best role', and that is the problem.

    As for the team formation you suggested - 343? So, once again, everything has to change just accommodate Gerrard! When have Liverpool ever played 343 or 353? Hardly ever, and it's not going to happen now because the players are not used to it. It would take a whole season just to get used to the change in formation anyway.

    Whilst Gerrard is in the team, the only formation that works FOR HIM is 4231. This is not best for the team, and Liverpool will never win the premiership playing that formation.

    Rafa's persistence with that formation is also the reason buying another top class striker like Villa is pointless - it will mean one of Torres or Villa is either a) On the bench b) stuck out on the wing like Dirk Kuyt.

    Rafa has made a rod for his back with the 4231 formation, and he isn't going to change it as long as Gerrard is at the club.

  24. Ste Gerrard is already a legend
    A player that the KOP will always remember

    And this blog will not change it, even some sick bastard think that he prefers England on LFC and other stupid and useless crap

    He WAS LFC for the last five years (Houiller's era) and now he's backed with great players like torres and Masch and cie

  25. I dont think that youve really considered that Gerrards BEST position IS just behind the striker/s.
    He is an out and out attacking midfielder.
    He is not as influential on the right, the only reason Rafa played him on the right during 06/07 was because he wanted to consolidate the midfield, with a then better Alonso.
    He doesnt play well with Lampard because they are the SAME type of player.

    So why couldn't he play
    Arbeloa Carra Agger Aurelio
    Kuyt Gerrard Babel
    Torres Villa

    Spain, Holland and Portugal have all played this formation.

  26. Anon - Thanks for your comments. Behind the striker may be Gerrard's best position in the current Liverpool set-up, but that is only because he hasn't made any other position his own. He can't play in a midfield two *consistently* with anyone; he won't play on the right without throwing a strop, thus behind the striker is the only position left.

    You call him an 'out and out attacking midfielder' but he does not have the creativity required of a second Striker. He doesn't have the guile of Beardsley or Dalglish, two players who excelled in that position. if Liverpool are going to employ the formation you suggest, then there are better players in the world available in that position, i.e. specialists with the creativity required of that role.

    As we saw last season, Gerrard will get lots of joy playing that role against inferior defences, ut when he comes up against top defenders, he disappears. Why? because, as I suggested abaove, he does not have the creativity and guile required for the role.

    If he was performing against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man U and the top European teams in that role then it would be a different story, but he isn't and has not done for years.

    In any event, the formation you suggest is really a 442 in disguise, isn't it? If Liverpool could play that formation successfully then why have they not been playing it? It's not like the club doesn't have the personnel.

    The truth is, Gerrard is not disciplined enough for that formation. He would be required to assist Mascherano in midfield at times, and he wouldn't consistently fulfil his responsibilities, as we have seen countless times.

    And Dirk Kuyt on the right...still? We need a speciality right winger, not toothless striker Rafa is trying to mould into a right midfielder. I don't care how well Kuyt plays in Euro 2008, Liverpool need a specialist right winger - someone like McManaman, who has never been replaced.

    And as for Gerrard's best position, that's easy - right back.

    He could be a world class right back; He's great defensively, he's athletic, he's a good passer of the ball (most of the time) and he'd be great marauding down the right.

    Right back, that's where Gerrard should play. Every other position in the team should be taken by a specialist, not a jack of all trades.

  27. With Villa I would play a 3 4 1 2 formation at home and against "lesser" sides away:




    Away, against the likes of ManU, Chelsea, Arsenal one could start with one or two full backs like Arbeloa and Dossena instead of Kuyt or/and Babel

  28. y nt just play 4-1-3-2 with mascha behind kuyt gerrard n babel in villa torres upfront!!! mascha i easily capable of doin the job that he did lastr year on is own with out the help of lucas or alonso and the defence will be stong enough with the lights of carra, skiertel n agger to choose from !!

  29. Steven Gerrard is the heartbeat of this current Liverpool squad. No matter how many paragraphs of negativity are wrote about him; that will not change.

    Has the fact been noted about the teams performance without him? We cannot play without him in the team. He is a central attacking midfielder.

    And the whole Ch£l$ski thing, he has been blown up because of his statud at the club. But he is still here and he is a hero to millions. Except, perhaps, you.

  30. P.S. Are you secretly in love with Gerrard? You have an awful lot of hatred towards him. Just wondering if it's some psychological thing.

  31. You make some valid points but it confuses me when you say -

    "For me, Gerrard conflicts with the whole Shankly ethos Liverpool is founded upon........
    The reason I love Liverpool FC is because of what the club stands for. It's not about winning trophies; it's about the philosophy of the club"

    If anyone had tried to tell Mr Shankly that the Liverpool philosophy was NOT about winning trophies he would have laughed. Is the great man not the one who said "winning the league is our bread and butter"?

    Everything Mr Shankly brought to Liverpool FC was about creating a winning dynasty that would last for years and years. Steven Gerrard is a winner so I think Mr Shankly would have approved of him so that is good enough for me.

    Also, if Steven Gerrard wanted to leave Liverpool for Chelsea why hasn't he done it? Why did he in fact wake up at two in the morning the day before the transfer prior to the 2004/2005 season to tell his agent he couldn't go through with leaving Liverpool? I think we might have won a small trophy called the Champions League that season so I think its fair to say that ultimate loyalty, inspirational leadership, extreme talent and a desire to win are qualities that Gerrard posseses. How very Shankly. How very Liverpool FC.

  32. Well you have your own opinion (I tend to think that Mancs were shit last year but the league tells a different story) but I do believe that the managers who praise him to the sky and above know a *little* bit more than you do. I believe you might say that he doesnt want to play in goal so we should sell him but then, that's not his best position. Roberto Carlos used to get forward all the time and used to score lots of goals but he wasnt a left footed striker was he? Ever considered the possibility that your opinion *might* just be wrong? I don't know. It may be possible.

  33. Jaimie,

    Like a lot of people I generally hold the opinion that Gerrard is indispensable, but I have to admit that you make a lot of good points.

    There is logic to what you say about Gerrard being a potentially excellent attacking right back. I think back to the brilliant job he did late in the game in Istanbul.

    I also agree that his personality dominates the other players and, as we have seen with Henry leaving Arsenal, this isn't always healthy.

    So, I say, move Gerrard to RB or perhaps RM/RW and bring in Villa for an awesome "made in Spain" attacking line!

    gerrard is an excellent player, but such a baby
    cant they do this?
    4 defenders

    3 Midfielders
    Xabi Alonso

    3 Forwards
    Fernando Torres
    David Villa
    Dirk Kuyt

  35. I believe that what you just said makes no sense at all if we are going to do 4-4-2 then change it to a 4-3-1-2 formation then it'll work live this


    Arbeloa Carraghe Agger Aurelio

    Babel Alonso Benyoun


    Villa Torres

    By doing this you enable the defence to do their thing, Babel and Benyoun to run up on the wing and go into the forward if they need to, Alonso to drop back and play a defensive-midfielder roll if need-be
    and Gerrard gets to play in the middle and push up if he has to. Torres and Villa are excelent together as we saw in Euro 08.
    Dirk Kuyt can also be put into this line up by maybe swaping him with torres or villa. Maybe Babel or Benyoun but anyway this formation would be a winning team. So if Villa comes to our team
    (Please God make it happen) We can make an exception

  36. Not so quick to deride Rafa after his signing of Keane, eh. Smacks of the hypocrisy that Mr Kanwar has exhibited time and again.

  37. Actually, no it's not hypocrisy at all. Signing Keane is also a mistake if Rafa is going to shunt him out to the right and try and convert him into a right midfielder cum forward. Plus, if Liverpool consistently play 1 up front like last season, then Keane's impact will be muted.

    Liverpool are going to struggle in the league this season because the creativity issue has still not been addressed. We have no proper wingers, no proper link men and no real creative midfield playmakers, apart from Gerrard, who in my view struggles creatively against the top premiership teams.

    4th place finish again this season. 3rd if we're lucky.

    And 20m for Keane? Ridiculous fee. We could have bid for Arshavin/Van Der Vaart/Nasri/Hleb etc with that kind of outlay.

  38. Well look what we have, Keane at a snip for over £20 million! I mean whats the world coming to, Tottenham must be laughing. I'm expecting something by the end of the day Jamie......

  39. Laughing? Liverpool have once again been completely mugged in the transfer market. 20m is ludicrous, especially since it'a almost a certainty that Rafa will not play 2 upfront consistently. And don't worry, I'll have an article very soon, hopefully by the end of the day. ;-)

  40. After reading some of your Article's I can't believe you call yourself a Liverpool Supporter. You basically moan and slag off everything to do with our Club.

    The way you talk about Gerrard is a disgrace and you really do have a bad chip on your shoulder. Stevie can say things I'm not too pleased with at times but you attack him for anything and everything.

    I also see that you have written off N'gog before the lad has really kicked a ball in anger. Rafa has spent £1.5m on a 19 year old many think is a massive talent.

    Jaimie, my advice to you would be to go and support your local club because you certainly don't show much support for my club.

  41. Fugitive - Change the record already. I've heard it all before...how I'm not a fan and blah blah blah. You just don't understand my POV as a fan. Just because I have different views to you doesn't make me any less of a fan. Steven Gerrard deserves all the criticism I give him, and I have explained many times why i feel the way I do.

    And as for Ngog - LFC's track record of signing successful young talent is CRAP. How many under 20 players have been signed in the last 10 years and how many have actually turned out to be good enough to make the first team? Almost NONE. And sometimes their fault - many youngsters are just not given a chance by Rafa. In any event, 1 goal in 18 games for a supposed Striker is nothing to get excited about. Considering Liverpool seem to be struggling to raise the money for the Gareth Barry transfer, Perhaps Benitez should have used that 1.5m towards that, instead of wasting it on a player who will -in all probability - hardly feature in the first team, sink into the reserves then go on loan to the likes of Le Harve/Monace etc within a year.

    Liverpool FC are on a downward spiral on and off the pitch - Rafa is not the man to lead the club to the title and if you don't like that view, tough!

    Doesn't make me a non-fan though. Just someone who isn't a sheep and someone who has my own unique view instead of jumping on the countless bandwagons that are rolling around at the moment.

  42. In your esteemed view, then, who is the right man to lead us to a 19th league title? Do enlighten us.

  43. I don't profess to have greater knowledge than anyone else - far from it. I just have a different view, that's all. I've maintained from the day Rafa was appointed that he was the wrong man for a title push. For proof of this, chec out the boards on 'This is Anfield'. The day Rafa got the job I wrote a post saying it was the wrong appointment and explaining why.

    I argued that he would try and import his Valencia approach into the UK instead of truly trying to adapt to English football, and that is *exactly* what he has done. It's taken him 4 years to come up with a system that works in the league, and even that is not good enough to win us the league at this stage for various reasons.

    Rafa has systematically failed to buy established, match-winning creative players in wide areas/midfield and has instead spent too much time buying defensive, cautious players.

    He has also completely emasculated Xabi Alonso as a creative force and tried to change him into a defensive mid, which says everything about his managerial priorities.

    Anyway, as I argued in my post almost five years ago, Martin O Neill is the man Liverpool need. Proven in the premiership, a great motivator and *most importantly*, every team he has managed has played to their limit, i.e. the team has done their best and cannot possibly do any better given the players/finances.

    Leicester could not go any higher than O'neill took them. he did the business at Celtic; Given Villa's status, he has taken them almost as far as they can go given their playing staff.

    He would do the same at Liverpool - he would build his team and take the club as far as it is possible to go, i.e. winning the league.

    O'Neill works with players he has and buys players that fit the club he's at. If he came to Liverpool, he would be able to attract a better calibre of player and with his managerial skills, Liverpool would prosper.

    One of the major pluses for me is the fact that O Neill learned from one of the undisputed masters of the managerial art - Brian Clough, and Clough's genius has rubbed off on O'Neill.

    Having said all that, Liverpool's relationship with Villa has been soured over the Gareth Barry affair, and that is mostly down to Rafa's arrogance in my view. O'Neill has merely responded to what happened, yet Liverpool fans are so biased that they refuse to see the truth.

    Scoff all you like, but O'Neill is the man Liverpool need. Rafa will never win the league with the club, and his magic in the European Cup will wear thin soon enough as other teams figure Liverpool out.

    I will write articles very soon outlining i detail why I believe O'Neill is the man.

    This has nothing to do me being anti-Rafa, as some people will inevitably argue. Sometimes, you just have to look at the writing on the wall and accept the truth.

    Rafa is undoubtedly a superb manager, but he belongs in a European League. He has one eye on the Real Madrid job anyway, which is why he priorities the CL over the league.

    Winning the CL carries more prestige in Europe, so to potential suitors in the future, if Rafa wins 3 European Cups, the fact he never won the league will not matter.

    Anyway, more of that another time.

  44. i agree and disagree bcoz there are def ways of putting 3 top forwards like gerrard, torres and villa in a team, but more spending would have to happen,
    maybe 4-3-1-2

    no wingers, since liverpools main aim is to go through the middle anyway i dnt think it would be a problem to sacrifice wide men, and they have 2 very well organised full backs who can also play as wing backs in aurelio and arbeloa,


    Carragher Skrtl
    Arbeloa Aurelio

    Gareth Barry Alonso


    torres Villa

    with the diamond midfield i think it could work, gareth barry is a target for liverpool and can be disaplined to stay in a right midfield role, (not right wing) and alonso the same on the left, and then they both can also pull back to give extra cover if needed, so i think it could work, so many teams can use wing backs successfully, e.g chelsea, utd, ac milan,

  45. for the above comment the team mshould actually look like this, sorry








  46. _______________________REINA







    sell off agger he clearly doesnt want to stay with liverpool buy a creative midfielder to help out with alonso and a left wing back for example someone like lahm

    ALSO gerrard is a legend he is a top class player and has shown he is capable of playing almost anywhere he is probly one of the best all round players he cant tackle pass shoot what else do you want

  47. he can tackle pass shoot***

  48. I think signing Villa is a great idea, but if we do get barry it wouldn't be so good, because we will have to put alonso or macherano on the bench, and we wouldn't want that, plus we shouldn't blame gerrard, he is one of the best players anfield ever had, do you actually think rafa's going to sell him, and if we do get villa, that would give us a more attacking squad, because gerrard, alonso, kuyt, babel could all play in midfield and also in strike.
    Arbeloa Carra Agger Aurelio

    Alonso Kuyt Macherano

    Gerrard Villa

    There, just swap Villa to centre if Torres is ever injured and put Kuyt on to Left and put on Babel to centre, easy, if only rafa thought so!

  49. ---------------reina---------------

  50. ----------reina----------
    (or kuyt)------------------

    sub.. reira, ben/kuyt, aurelio.. barry.. if affordable

  51. well their may be a problem in midfield, but i think by geting villa liverpool gerrard can develop a new partnership with both villa and torres and have threesome partnership, problem however is liveprool seem to be best with their new 4-5-1 formation, so how can we deal with this sudden 442, cause it would either have to be from right to left, kuyt gerrard alonso reira/babel or in alonsos place it has to be mascherano, alonso and mashcerano are both needed so best would be to simply get silva and stick with 4-5-1

  52. Well, looking back at this artcile a year later is really very interesting, despite liverpool not signing David Villa they did sign a certain Irish forward of very similar qualities to Villa, and as the article suggested this did not work!!!!!

    However I would have to argue that Gerrard did function in a central role with Robbie Keane supporting Torres, however Keane himself could not adapt to playing alongside Torres.

    I for one would love to see David Villa come to Liverpool as he would certaionly bring goals with him however would it be worth a fee in excess of £30m for a player who may not fit the jigsaw? Perhaps it would be wiser to turn our attentions to a right or left sided midfield player with enough attacking prowess to tick all the needed boxes, i suggest David Silva (even though he is the obvviouse choice).

  53. This is ridiculous, every liverpool fan should encourage the move of Villa to Liverpool. and who says you can't play 3 up front? a 4-3-3 would devastate any opposing team in the Premier league, with Gerrard playing in the hole between the Midfield and the Front Line.

  54. 4-1-2-1-2 arbeloa cara agger aurelio
    ----------------villa torres

  55. with glen jonhson the right side is more attacking and the left is grand with aurilio all we need is 1 more top class striker (david villa,david silva or saviola them 18 tittles wil become 1 Riena
    (johnson carragher agger aurilio) (kuyt gerrard masca riera) torres .....?

  56. i hear from every website tat moving gerrard back to midfield s a tactical error given his hero complexion and positional indiscipline !!!
    BUT HEY give it a shot rafa.. He s a far more better proffesional player !!!
    stop looking at wats good for gerrard and wats good for team !!
    STEVE G will produce his best form even as an attacking midfielder !!!

  57. i say play in the 4-1-3-2
    its simple


    this way gerrard still sits behind the stikers and isnt wasted this will adapt to the loss of alonso

  58. i think if liverpool does sign david villa, then they should have a 4-1-2-1-2 formation. It would have a CDM, RM, LM, CAM and putting gerrard at the CAM puts him in his attacking like style and behind the strikers allowing liverpool to win many championships

  59. Oh my god Gerrard, you´re destroying big parts of playing.
    LET VILLA IN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -.-

  60. um....sorry but this may be a tad late bu has anyone heard of 4-1-3-2
    Johnson        Carragher         Agger            Insua
    Kuyt                          Gerrard                     ????
                    Torres                         VillA