31 Mar 2009

Why Liverpool FC should NOT sign Samuel Eto'o

According to numerous reports, Liverpool FC are interested in buying Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o. Capturing the Cameroon international would be a dream acquisition on a par with Fernando Torres, but in my view, bringing another top quality striker with a huge transfer fee to the club would be a recipe for disaster.

I know – it sounds ridiculous to suggest that Liverpool should not sign a striker of Eto’o’s calibre; however, once you think about it logically, and in the context of the recent Robbie Keane situation, I believe it becomes much clearer.

Quite simply, the Liverpool team is incapable of playing 4-4-2 successfully with Steven Gerrard in the centre, which is where he would need to be in that formation.

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?

Gerrard has proved that he cannot form a *consistently* successful midfield partnership with anyone, at club or country level.

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

As I see it, the main reasons for this are positional indiscipline and a rampaging 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. It’s just part of Gerrard’s all-action, gung ho approach to the game.

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, who now plays his best football in the free role just behind Torres.

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 from 4231 to 4-4-2.

As we saw with the Robbie Keane fiasco, it’s a mistake to change a winning system just to try and accommodate another striker. Keane just didn’t fit into Liverpool’s system and the team could not adapt to successfully playing 442.

It is no coincidence that as soon as Liverpool reverted to the 4231 formation, performances began to improve.

Bearing in mind how Robbie Keane – a striker of undoubted quality - was misused by Benitez and forced to play in unfamiliar positions/formations, what happens when Eto’o doesn’t fit in or doesn’t work with Torres in a 442?

Eto’o is not going be happy being played out of position or sitting on the bench waiting for Keane-like cameo roles. A player of that quality needs to play regularly and should play regularly, or what’s the point of spending all the money?

And what happens if both Eto’o and Torres stay fit for the whole season? Based on past experience, it’s almost a given that Benitez will stick with playing one up front, which means one of the two will :

1. Be played out of position, most likely on the wing

2. Spend lots of time on the bench

There’s no way Fernando Torres is going to be happy sitting on the bench regularly to accommodate 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 4231 is the preferred formation and Gerrard continues to excel in the link role behind the striker.

I raised this very same issue a year ago when Liverpool were linked with Keane and David Villa. I argued that if either one was bought, they would end up being wasted and misused. Of course, no one would have it, but look what happened.

As a historical analogy, consider the Ian Rush/John Aldridge situation from the late 80s. Two fantastic, top class strikers – surely a dream to have them both in the same team?


However, they rarely played together as a two man strike force; it was nothing to do with them – Liverpool’s system just wouldn’t allow it. Consequently, despite being an absolutely outstanding goal scorer for Liverpool, Aldridge had to go.

Man United have similar problems – look how hard it is for them to accommodate Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

Having said all that, let's excplore the issue a little. A team with a 4-4-2 formation with Eto’o and Torres together could line up like this (Using the current squad):

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

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

Kuyt ------ Gerrard ------ Mascherano ----- Riera

--------------- Eto’o------------- 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 could possibly work if the team lined up like this:

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

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

Gerrard ------ Alonso ------ Mascherano ----- Riera

------------------ Eto'o -------- Torres

Everybody with any objectivity and sense knows that the best position for Gerrard in a 4-4-2 is on the right, as this is of greatest benefit to the *team*. Gerrard has repeatedly made it clear that he does not like playing in that position, so that is also a non-starter.

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 5 years 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.

Liverpool *do* need another striker, but Benitez should someone in the £10m range – someone not on the same level as Torres but excellent in their own right, who will not expect to start every game.

After the failure of Fernando Morientes, the conversion fo Dirk Kuyt, the marginalisation of Peter Crouch and the mishandling of Robbie Keane, I just can’t bear to see another top quality striker fail at Anfield.


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  1. Speculation is just..... speculation.
    Nobody knows who Rafa is interested in for sure , apart from Rafa.
    You just wrote a lot covering a subject that might not even happen. How do you know Rafa is looking at another expensive forward? Because it says it in the papers? Please get a grip.

  2. Agree with everything you're are saying.

    I wish Crouch was content with staying on the bench sometimes. He was a quality back up.

  3. Anonymous - Eto'o himself started off the speculation with his recent comments. Anyway, 50% of being a football fan is sifting through speculation, so what is your point?

    The underlying point is not the signing of Eto'o, it is how Liverpool cannot accommodate another top quality striker. Recent history has proved this, and given the fact the club's most successfuly formation is 4231, I don't see how there is room for another top quality striker.

  4. As you have stated Liverpool cant accomodate another top quality striker and they dont really need to. IF Gerrard and Torres stay fit there are no two other players in the world that I would want playing up front for us ( including Eto). So what is your point? That we have two "world class" players ,playing in a system that works for Liverpool but we cant fit in another one who we are more than likely not interested in and not going to buy anyway? I dont see the problem.

  5. Think 4-3-1-2 and it all becomes clear

  6. admitedly at this point in the season there is no point speculating. The lack of 'nado this season has hurt us, the lack of a quality right winger and the inconsistancy of riera has hurt us too. Riera against man u and aston villa was really good bordering on world class. However if Liverpool want to use the 4-2-3-1 formation then the wingers they have need to perform consistantly. We need a back up of reputeable quality. We need a back up that is nearlly as good as 'nando, as we have spearing in reserve for gerrard. eto would not be happy sitting on the bench so save your money Rafa, we lack top wingers, a striker that can sit on the bench would be good, and ultimately, and it hurts to say this carras' replacement as i do not think agger is good enough

  7. have you ever imagined if both torres and gerrard were injured. what quality backup does liverpool have? only ngog who is considered a striker and maybe babbel. but i doubt that etoo would be contented sitting on the bench though. anyway, these are just rumours, we should wait for more solid evidence before following up. this is just too early. for starters, why dont we just concentrate in winning the league. :)

  8. Did you really compare Keane to Villa? I think to accomodate more attacking flair we need players who are adaptable ala Villa, Silva possibly E'too. If you saw the Spain side then it's clear the two played every position across the frontline behind Torres. Gerrard is equally capable of inter linking in this way. He played on the left with England in a free role and was effective, we need more quality interchanging up front rather than limiting ourselves and hoping Gerrard and Torres stay fit for 60 game a year.

  9. More to the point, isn't Eto'o a bit of a egotistical nob anyway? Not exactly a team player nor a lad who will happily tow the line.

    Personally I was horrified when I saw the reports but within 3secs it dawned on me that papers are full of crap "exlusives" and I carried on eating my coco pops.

    Don't worry lads, it ain't gonna happen. The Spice Boys came and went and Rafa's not into Galacticos. Eto'o would probably be a target if Maureen (the One on the Special bus) ever got his grubby mitts on the Anfield reins.

    Slightly off topic but seeing that we're talking about mouthy types, Agger's going the right way about getting the boot along with defiant little Yossi!

  10. Uhhm.. how about a 4-3-3 with the fullback attacking a lot. We cannot rely on 4-2-3-1 the whole season coz its highly unlikely that Gerrard and Torres will stay fit and in tune for a whole season. And it seems our wing play in non-existent so why not kill it all together


    Arbeloa --- Carra -- Skrtel/Agger -- Aurelio

    Mascherano -- Alonso

    David Silva ---- Gerrard (C) ---- Eto'o


    I think Eto'o, Gerrard and Silva could interchange brilliantly

  11. I try and answer comments quickly but sometimes it's not possible. 433 is always an option, but it's a system with which the team is not familiar.

    Give me some examples where it has worked for Liverpool? I'm sure you'll be hard pressed to find ay.

    Furthermore, Eto'o is a striker - to get the best out of him he should be played as a striker, not on the right of an attacking three.

    I personally believe that *only* formation Liverpool can play effectively with the current personnel is 4231. It would be great to have interlinking players, but I don't think Gerrard is disciplined enough to make it fly. Just let him have a free role behind Torres and get the best wingers money can buy.

  12. 3412

    Three central defenders? Again, this would mean a massive change to what the team is used to. The bedding-in period would inevitably mean losing ground somewhere, probabl the league. If our players were more adaptable then maybe, but I can't see it.

  13. obviously this article is just a vield attack on Gerrard and the fact we play a certain formation.
    In an ideal world we would love to be able to sign eto and just have him sit on the bench, ready to play when Torres got injured. Crouch wouldnt even stay for that so why should anybody expect someone of etos quality to do the same.
    You came to the right conclusion but only after slagging off Gerrard - buy wingers and some cheaper striker that will be happy to play from the bench. Still easier said than done I`m afraid

  14. His hatred of Stevie borders on the pathological.

  15. Where have I slagged off Gerrard? Please extract the lines and post them in a comment. Since when has stating the truth been slagging someone off? Can Gerrard play successfully in midfield 2? Does the team function at it's most effective with Gerrard in the centre? I would argue no.

    Did I not also higlight how Gerrard plays his best football behind Torres? I suppose that's slagging him off in some twisted way too :-)

  16. You're certainly twisted.

  17. I got the point last year with David Villa...this is essentially the exact same article, same lines, words, etc. Like cut and paste same. At least don't pass it off as something new when you've changed names...you had a good point a year ago, you have a good point now. But using the "replace with" feature doesn't make it any better. Getting plenty of bump on LFCLive though!

  18. Django - Yes, I've used some stuff from the same article. Why not? It's the same issue. What am I being accused of here, plagiarising myself?! It's all about time - I wanted to raise the issue again and insteadf of just writing the same thing twice, I used the article as a template.

  19. Anonymous - the comment guidelines clearly state 'use a little imagination' when hurling insults. Cheers!

  20. Not really being accused of anything except banging the same drum with a different character over and over again...and something tells me seeing another striker fail at Anfield would be vindication for you. Read back through some of your articles--luckily you reference yourself plenty in each--and it's mostly I told you so's or laying the groundwork for later I told you so's. Which is fine, you're right about half the time, but I just wonder what exactly you'd do if the cast of villains was gone. You didn't link to that article in this one. Critical realism isn't necessarily critical realism when it's just critical for the sake of being critical. I'm not a big fan of Rafa, I think Gerrard dives too much, Torres probably goes down too easy, LFC have their share of problems, but I tend to like self-promotion less.

  21. Hi, I think the poster of this article is stupid.

    Firstly, no comparison can nor should be made to the Keane situation. Keane is miles off Eto's caliber, I mean seriously??? Keane who hits maybe 15 goals a season versus someone who has topped La Liga scoring charts for a few times already and still topping it this season.. Its no fight, no comparison, and if u had watched Eto play, hes very fast, very strong, very gd finisher. This means hes probably well suited to the English game. Whereas Keane is slow to say the least, and finishing wise is probably as good as a Ngog. (Pls think of all the square balls he missed by kicking the air, its RIDICULOUS. Not to mention fighting with Torres over a goal scoring chance and end up blocking Torres' goalbound shot.)

    Secondly, I agree that 4-5-1 is the best for LFC, with respect to Gerrard's best position as being in the hole. But come on, I think SG can play Centre Mid just as well, pls dont think too lowly of him, as someone who has absolutely no tactical sense and only relies on his "abandon position-rampaging hero complex". Thus, if someone of Eto's quality comes, I dont see why we cant play a 4-3-1-2 as someone mentioned. Remove the wings if u want, and put in Alonso, Mascherano, Barry if he comes. If not, stick with the wings, rotate Alonso or Mascherano depending on opposition. Dirk Kuyt's 90% a defender anyway, he can help cover when Gerrard goes on his "rampages".

    Lastly, it is not wise to say that we must NEVER change formations to the players we have. Its both ways, your formations must complement the players, and your players should be comfortable with the formation as well. Why limit the opportunity for a world class forward who I rate as highly as Torres to come to LFC?
    Are u saying the same thing should Aguero want to come to LFC? or Villa? So we should just pass on all these world class players because we dont have a formation?

    Lok at Man U, they have Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov who rotate in a 4-4-2. Certainly something can be worked out. Should Aguero/Villa/Eto come, I say THANK YOU VERY MUCH and build the team around these quality. Heck I'll play a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 if all of them come over.

    Again, most of your evidence and claims are backed up only by Robbie Keane, who is lousy in my opinion. He's a big fish in a small pond, but when he played with the big boys, he started getting shakey feet and chickened out. Hes good at what he does, being a flag bearer for a mediocre team and where hes a star player. But he cant face up to competition and handle pressure of being a real star, and Im sure Eto would not have any problems with that mental aspect given the quality of competition he receives at Barcelona. (Bojan, Henry, Messi) He actually thrives on it.

  22. Django - this is a personal site, not the BBC. of course I reference myself. I have to because everyone is always telling me how wrong I am!

    I don't lay the groundwork for anything - I just speak my mind, and if I end up being right about something somewhere down the line, then so be it.

    I don't think people really appreciate where I'm coming from: I hate modern football and it's creeping, insidious impact on Liverpool FC. I hate the fact that everything I love about the club is slowly being eroded. I hate the fact that the behaviour of certain players/managers/owners is incompatible with the best traditions and principles of LFC. I hate how certain LFC people subjugate the reputation and standing of the club to further their own (very public) personal agenda. These things make me angry, hence this site.

    People will say I'm living in the past, but I dispute that. I don't measure the current team against the success of the past; I measure the team/management against the *standards of personal conduct of the past and loyalty of the past*. I see these things as non-negotiable.

    Football has changed, yes, but some things do not have to change. Did Rafa *need* to wage war in public with the owners? Would Bob Paisley have done that? No. Why? Because he would put the standing of the club above his own selfish agenda. This is the difference, and his nothing to do with modern football and everything to do with the individual.

  23. For someone who hates modern football, you've certainly got a lot to say on the subject, including concerns about transfers, formations, etc. Seems odd that.

    No doubt modern football has its issues, but there are lot worse examples than LFC. Man Utd, for example, but you already know that, right, hence your personal crusade and desperation to undermine LFC.

  24. I said a vield attack because it is quite subtle, you said - the main reasons for this are positional indiscipline and a rampaging hero complex
    You then go on to say that Gerrards best position is behind Torres and still go on to critisize him for not being so effective in midfield. Would you critize Messi or Ronaldo for not being able to forge a *consistently* successful midfield partnership with anyone? No because you are asking them to play out of position.
    Its not until the last couple of seasons that Rafa has found Gerrards best position and he (Gerrard) is reaping the plaudits for it. Whos opinion of Gerrard should we believe, Zidane and a whole host of great players past and present, or..... drum roll please....Jaimie Kanwar?
    We all agree his best position is support striker so dont critisize him for not being quite so good in other positions. Thats what I mean about attacking Gerrard.

  25. doesn't eto play on the left side or up the middle in an interchanging front 3???? Would be a quality sign and you really don't know football.

  26. I hate the greed and superficiality of modern football, but I love LFC. The two are not mutually exclusive. And yes, I agree - the likes of Manu, Chelsea etc are worse than LFC, but I don't support those clubs, so I'm not really interested in their slide in soulless, money-obsessed, fan-alienating commercialism. I care about this all affects LFC, hence this site.

  27. Anonymous - I'm just a fan with an opinion like everyone else. I don't hold my views higher than anyone elses or do am I trying to change anyone's view. Are you able to appreciate that?

    And re Gerrard - his self-confessed best position is in the centre of midfield...until recently that is. When he says it himself, *demands* to play there and sulks when being played on the right (read his book), then he is open to criticism, especially which his selfishness - again self confessed - affects the team.

  28. rafa is on pursuit ..el kun is his name....

  29. yes his best position, until recently, was in the centre of midfield - because he had never been played in his now much better position! Is that so hard to understand? Any player would feel hard done by being played out of position. Who wouldnt? Keene certainly did.
    Re the fan with an opinion comment, why are you actually writting these articles?

  30. You're spot on. When we signed Keane I was under the assumption that a) it was with Gerrard's knowledge and blessing because b) he was going to move out to the right wing and allow Keane to play that second striker role to Fernando Torres. It absolutely killed our shape trying to fit both Keane and Gerrard in the middle when they want to play the same space.

    As it stands now though we have to be careful that we don't get too attached to one tactic or we might end up in a similar situation as this year where without Torres our attack has looked a little blunt.

    Eto'o is a brilliant striker, I personally don't think he's coming here and the whole thing is just a ploy to wring more money out of Barca. However, if he was it would perciptate us having to play him frequently and that would mean Gerrard would have to take a role out on the right.

    I personally don't mind Gerrard out on the wing, but if we were to do that we'd have to make sure that we had a right back who was willing to attack that space. Far too often this season we've been left playing too narrow against tight defensive teams which has made us easy to defend against.

    So yes, if the price is right (and 18 million when we have other needs is NOT right) then by all means bring in Samuel Eto'o. Along with that signing though we have to ensure that we adopt tactical flexibility and bring in the right personnel to make it work.

    Gerrard is a flexible enough guy that with the right tactic he can excel pretty much anywhere on the pitch.

  31. If Gerrard was as selfish and egotistical as your crude characerisation suggest then he wouldn't have any respect from a manager like Benitez or Capello, both of whom place team ethic over individual prowess every day of the week. He wouldn't have the huge respect he gets from the players around him. And he wouldn't get the almost unanimous adoration of the thousands of Liverpool supporters who watch him week in and week out selflessly running and tackling and driving the team forward.

    The 'Stevie Me' / Rampaging Hero characterisation is outdated by at least five years. But in reality was never the case anyway - just an easy bye-line for lazy journalists to find some flaw, in an otherwise flawless player. I realise that writing contentiously is part of the remit of this site - however, you also have a responsiblility to demonstrate objectivity.

  32. Just going to remind everybody that our owners are tight arses. People who think we will sign Eto'o,Silva,Auguro so on and so forth are clearly mistaken.
    Rough figures of 30million are said to be at his diposal.So its either 1 big player or 3 "alright" players. Personally i believe we need both a cover striker in price range of 10-15 and a winger, although I have always been impressed with Reira and Babel of late.
    I agree with Jaimie the writer with the 442 system,does has its flaws.
    There is no doubt we need both Masherano and Xabi and we need 4 backs so take it as
    4-2-3-1 maybe?

    Arbeloa Carra Skrkel Aureilo
    Kuyt Gerrard Reira

    We can compete in the League with that team,but the main issue is backup. We need a RB, Insua is good cover for Lb. Babel and Yossi are good cover, Lucas should be sold!

    My point is, you can create as many topics as you want,but all will fail unless you take into consideration the money we have. 30million max and that will even cut into the January Transfer aswel.

  33. Jamie,

    No offence, but, explain something -Why are you not 100% behind LFC now with 8 games to go?
    They way we have played in the last 3 games 4-0,4-1,5-0. Where were you? The whole of Europe trembles in the wake of our performance, the way it hasnt done since the days of Dalglish and Rush, And what do you do? Pour scorn on Rafa and our boys.In life and others, timing is important. Write something positive for once. Let the fans read it and go and bring the house down in craven cottage.

    Psst:Are you a RED, I mean RED DEVIL? Own up.

  34. Shawkat - Don't you think this 'you're a manc in disguise' nonsense is getting a little cliched and old?

    Are you suggesting that just because we've won the last 3 games that all critical analysis of the club should be put on hold? If so, why? It is entirely possible to look at things with a critical eye and *still* be behind the club.

    And I think you're (deliberately) over-dramatising things. How have I 'poured scorn on Rafa and the boys'?! The truth (as I perceive it of course) doesn't cease to be the truth just because we've had a good run.

    Anyway, if I altered my views just because of a couple of good games, that would make me fickle, would it not?

  35. I agree we don't need another quality striker in our ranks. The current 4-4-1-1 formation just works right for us.

  36. "Football has changed, yes, but some things do not have to change. Did Rafa *need* to wage war in public with the owners? Would Bob Paisley have done that? No. Why? Because he would put the standing of the club above his own selfish agenda. This is the difference, and his nothing to do with modern football and everything to do with the individual."

    - I disagree with this comment. I believe that Rafa went public with this war with the owners to protect/fight for the standing of the club. To go up against the very people who own the club is a bold move and could easily have seen Rafa sacked. I believe Rafa is just as frustrated with the yanks, their empty promises and clash of values with the LFC way as we are – he had to go public to highlight the issues he had to get them resolved. Paisley had a supporting chairman, a fan of the club – unfortunately Rafa doesn’t. Everyone knows how much this club means to Rafa – he could be earning more money elsewhere if he really was as selfish as your words suggest. Rafa knows what is needed to make Liverpool great again – if he needed to go public to achieve this and do what ultimately is in the best interest of LFC then good on him. Ideally these issues would all be resolved behind closed doors, but ideally the yanks wouldn’t be at the helm...

    I also agree that you can’t compare Keane with other (world) quality LFC targets as Keane isn’t (world) quality. I do agree that Liverpool’s best formation with the current personnel is 4-2-3-1. However I fundamentally disagree that LFC should only be looking to add average (and not world quality) players to the team to somehow “protect” this formation. If we had an additional two (perhaps even just one) quality forward players in the squad this season then I believe we’d be comfortably on top of the table (or at least not playing catch-up). We can all see that relying on the current squad with the average peripheral players to win us the league relies on a great deal of luck – yes, if the first 11 stay fit throughout the campaign we’d have no problem winning the league but when those players get injured... It’s also disrespectful to players of the quality of Torres and Gerrard (as well as a manager of Rafa’s calibre) to think that they could not adjust to other formations (442, 352 – YES we HAVE used this with success previously – 4213, 433, 4312...) if QUALITY additions were made...that’s not saying that I believe Stevie G’s best position isn’t in the free role just behind the striker(s) – in this role he is simply the best in the world...HOWEVER if requiring Gerrard, or any quality player, to take up other positions/play in different formations on occasion for the greater good of LFC (to achieve that ultimate goal of being the No. 1 contender, season after season once again) I don’t believe even Gerrard would have a problem with that...

  37. Mark J Davies - I completely disagree with you re Rafa going public. Furthermore, this type of view is the very reason Liverpool FC's proud standing in world football is going down the pan.

    The fact that fans *accept* this type of behaviour and make excuses for it really beggars belief. It's just as bad as fans being accepting of Gerrard's diving, and saying things like 'but he's a great player, so he's allowed to do it'.

    It doesn't matter how frustrated Rafa was with the owners, that is no excuse to drag the club's battles into the public domain, allowing the media to ridicule Liverpool for weeks on end.

    It's not the Liverpool way of doing things and nor should it be.

    Rafa's repeated spats with the owners were NOT in the best interests of the club. If they were, please explain how?

    And I love the way you exonerate Rafa for his part the whole fiasco - the fact is, *he* was the one who kicked everything off with his petulant press conference, not Hicks and Gillett.

    There is never any excuse for washing diry laundry in public; the fact that it's happened so frequently during Rafa's reign to the extent that fans delude themselves into thinking it's acceptable (!) is just indicative of how far standards have fallen.

    Benitez was putting himself above the club. End of story. The idea that he was 'doing it for the good of the club' is something Benitez manipulated the fans into thinking.

    How can anything that brings ridicule and condemnation onto the club be a good thing?

    Even *if* Bob Paisley had an unsupportive Chairman, he would still never act in such a way. Again, he was a man the always put the good of the club before his own personal standing, and did business in the right way.

    Then we have Benitez - whenever he doesn't get his own way, he goes running to the press and mouths off, then spins everything to make it sound lke he's doing it for the fans.

    Well, that is not my view of how a Liverpool manager should behave. Sadly, it appears I am in the increasing minority on this issue.

  38. "Furthermore, this type of view is the very reason Liverpool FC's proud standing in world football is going down the pan."

    i actually don't believe there has been a better time to be a Liverpool supporter – certainly not in the last 20 or so years, we’re on the march up a mountain that Man U have been at the top of for far too long...

    Teams across Europe are fearful of us and players like Zidane are claiming that we have the best player in the world in our side, as well as our manger being voted the best in the world by supporters across Europe.

    If you're too busy reading the trash that is The Sun and worrying what it's saying about the team you should be supporting with your own eye's, ears and brain(?) then more fool you.

    "Rafa's repeated spats with the owners were NOT in the best interests of the club. If they were, please explain how?"

    Rafa highlighting issues to the biggest stakeholders in LFC (THE FANS) has meant:

    * The owners have backed him in the transfer market to buy Torres and Mascherano

    *(not as a direct result but...) Rick Parry has resigned – what commercially has Rick Parry achieved for LFC? I'm not passionate about this side of football either but you have to at least appreciate we have to improve commercially if we are going to suceed (or survive even).

    * Hopefully now that Rafa is in control of identifying players that he wishes to purchase we won’t see players like Robbie Keane at the club – of which the purchase of and selling back to his former club within months I find far more embarrassing than any of Rafa’s “spats”.

    How many times have you heard G&H say that they are in communications with Rafa “by email” – THATS NOT THE WAY TO DO BUSINESS. Perhaps raising the issues he was having at press conferences is the only way Rafa had of highlighting issues. Don’t get me wrong, and I believe I have stated this previously, it’s no way ideal and not the LFC way but if the ultimate goal is the success of LFC (which I STRONGLY believe drives Rafa and is core to everything the man thinks and does) then it’s obvious he needed to be heard.

    I’m a manager myself and we’re all too easy to pin the blame on. At the end of the day a manager sets out his stall for success – he informs his backers what he needs to succeed and then he is judged. If a manager’s opinions aren’t being heard then he should either resign or shout about the issues he is having (not via email)...either that or fail and then everyone point the finger at him for the poor job he has done.

    Earlier you made the comment:

    “Anonymous - I'm just a fan with an opinion like everyone else. I don't hold my views higher than anyone elses or do am I trying to change anyone's view. Are you able to appreciate that?”

    ....hhhhmmmm, doesn’t really fit with this “toy out of pram” remark:

    “Well, that is not my view of how a Liverpool manager should behave. Sadly, it appears I am in the increasing minority on this issue.”

    You seem to be a minority on a number of issues you raise – talking negatively about Gerrard who is arguably the best player in the world right now (and NO that doesn’t mean he has the right to dive/go down too easily for penalties – can you provide a quote of someone saying that it is OK for Stevie G to do so?), your comments on Rafa who has turned us into a true force in Europe again, the team only being able to play one formation (I’m sorry?), LFC’s proud standing in world football going down the pan(!!!), ...

    ...honestly, on this basis I have to also question if you are a true RED (and that’s Liverpool red not Man U). At least Rafa deals with facts, where are your facts fake Jaimie?

  39. liverpool dont need to spend huge to sign him. His contract runs out this summer which mean lpool could get him on a free transfer. Get the facts right first!

  40. I hate to say this, but I actually agree with you, Jaimie Kanwar. I don't think we need another striker. If Torres is injured, we should start either Babel, Eggnog, or Kuyt. I also think that Rafa should go for wingers like Robben or Silva. I think anything that upsets the fantastic chemistry that Gerrard and Torres have will be bad for the team. The only way I can see a second striker is if Rafa goes to a 3-5-2 formation with Carra-Skrtel-Agger as the three centre halves, who will be helped by Masch in defensive cover, but I think this 4231 that we have going on for us is perfect.

  41. I agree, I think Rafa should have more faith in using Kuyt in the strikers role when Torres is injured.

    The problem that Liverpool have at the moment is they don’t have a young, prolific striker coming through the ranks...I’m thinking rush-fowler, even Owen-fowler (-Heskey)...

    Babel needs more confidence but competing for a strikers position is certainly a role I think we'd all like him to grow into (...if he shows himself to be good enough).

    A fact is Gerrard and Torres have only played together 15 times this season - if this is our winning formula then that's not nearly enough. When they are both available there is no doubt what formation works...

    However, to improve our chances of success I think we need another striker. If we'd bought Henry last season that would have been perfect - outspoken admiration for Liverpool and old enough to not mind not playing in every game. For next season...he's probably getting on a bit...

    So either someone young, confident and prolific (sounds like what we all want Babel to be if only he took his opportunities and was given enough confidence to show us if he could be prolific or not...)

    OR we need a striker/winger - someone who can cope in both roles.

    Eto'o? I question his LFC fit from what I've seen of him...but I’m happy to be convinced otherwise...

    As an outside bet I wouldn't rule out Crouch returning - since Harry left Portsmouth he doesn't look too happy...you never know...the only problem with Crouch is that he is only a striker - if Rafa only wants to play one up front and Torres is fit you know Crouch is going to be left to warm the bench.

    I’d like us to aim for the days when we had the forward quality of Rush, Aldridge, Kenny, Barnes, Beardsley in the team...ok Kenny was at the end of his career but you get what I mean. Can anyone remember the 9-0 demolition of Crystal Palace and the number of names on the scoresheet that day? Quality. OK some of those names weren't happy their bit part and moved on eventually but thats the evolution of footabll teams for you...

    ALL THAT SAID...what a fantasic season it's been so far given the inferior resources to Man U and Chelsea. Fingers crossed for Gerrard and Torres to remian fit and fire us to prem glory! COME ON LIVERPOOL!!!!

  42. Liverpool can play a 3-2-3-2 formation to accomodate Eto'o but if him or Torres gets injured Liverpool can revert back to 4-2-3-1

  43. We should definitely go for Eto'o if we could land him for a reasonable price(£10m-£15m). Then we should use the rest of our transfer money to bribe the FA into letting us play 4-2-3-2...

  44. Good article, followed by good debate. Many strong opinions. My point... well, I suppose nothing really.

    Carry on...

  45. There are over 60 games in a season, and I'm sure Torres can benefit from not playing in every game, and not been rushed back from injuries. In Gerrard and Torres, Liverpool have 2 World Class match winners, add Eto'o to that, and I believe Rafa can rotate all 3 them to devastating effect. Regardless of the formation, he can pick 1, 2, or all 3. For £18m, I'd say buy him.

  46. Eto'o is not a player who should be rotated. Like Torres and like Gerrard, he is a player you play every single game if possible. Of course, you rest them, but only occasionally.

    Rafa has proved with Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch that he *cannot* manage top class strikers properly. Keane was on the bench/subbed in 28 of his 33 games. Crouch was also similarly messed around, despite being Liverpools topn scorer in both the league AND Champions League!

    Having Eto'o and Torres would not work. There is no evidence to suggest it would and plenty of evidence to suggest it wouldn't.

    if both players remained fit for the whole season, what happens then? Eto' plays upfront sometimes and Torres is moved to the wing and vice-versa?

    Or doe we revert to 442, break up the Gerrard/Torres partnership and change the balance of a team that is finally clicking after so long?

    If our players were more adaptable, it would be a different story, but the truth is, Gerrard in the centre as part of a 442 is not the best way for the team to be set up *in order to get the best out of Gerrard*.

  47. Jamie, I normally want to hunt you down and, well..beat you with a big stick!
    Whilst I disagree with your constant abuse of Stevie, I agree about the striker situation.
    There are lots of other top quality players who can score goals from behind the striker (in the 3)
    I like Riera and Dirk, but if Liverpool had unlimited money to spend, I would still agree with keeping this formation and buying Ronaldo and Messi to play in the Riera and kuyt roles. and NO I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT IS POSSIBLE. Merely agreeing that I would keep the current formation but add more flair to the area between Mascherano and Torres.
    Another thing that annoys me is the was things are taken in different ways by the press.

    Take Keane. He cost loads and only scored the same amount of goals as Vorinin, in the same games. (vorinin played less minutes)

    Rafa sells Keane and is slated as the press thought it was good enough from Keane.... Vorinin cost nothing and Rafa was still slated for a poor buy. Which is it? Also Vorinin might get us £4m back this summer.

    Seems Rafa can do no right in the press..

  48. Quick test, if you answer NO to the following questions then Liverpool need another quality striker or versatile winger/forward with a proven record of scoring goals:

    1) Is it true that IF Torres was injured and would now be out for the remainder of the season that our chances of beating Man U to the prem title WOULDN'T be harmed?
    2) Do you believe that Torres will remain fit and available throughout the 2009/2010 season?
    3) Do you believe that any of the following could be prolific in front of goal if Torres is not available for selection:
    * Kuyt (appreciating the void left - given the current squad - this will have to the right of midfield...which SG could fill IF you wanted him to...)
    * Babel
    * N’Gog

    4) Have Liverpool ever, or for that matter has any successful team relied solely on one striker, regardless of formation?

    ...4 no's for me (although I hesitated with Kuyt up front)

  49. 1. No
    2. Yes
    3. No

    But Mark, I don't see what your point is here. I'm not saying LFC shouldn't buy a striker; I'm saying that LFC shouldn't buy a an expensive, top class striker who is used to playing in the first team week in week out, i.e. someone like Eto'o.

    With playing one up front, you cannot keep two Strikers of Torres and Eto's quality happy. Both will want to play every game; both will *expect* to play every game in the natural positons. And why not, they're two of the top strikers on the planet.

    Buying someone of Eto's class just to fill in for Torres when he's injured and/or play out of position just to fit the team is a mistake, and Liverpool's recent history overwhelmingly proves that.

    Furthermore, buying someone of Eto's class would mean unnecessary rotation, with Rafa resting each of them regularly just to keep each player happy.

    We don't want or need that. I want Torres to play every single game as a striker. I want Eto'o to play every single game as a striker. I don't want these players rested unnecessarily, and we all know that Rafa *has* rested Torres at times when he blatantly didn't need to.

    This is why I believe it is a far better idea to buy a mid-level striker; someone who will accept he is not no 1 and will be fine with playing far less games than Torres every season.

    Where we make up for the lack of another top class striker is buying the best, most creative midfielders/wide players as the budget allows.

  50. I don't completely disagree with you - I think we're on the same wavelength (somebody shoot me...quick!).

    However you do go and spoil it with your typical tabloid quote:

    "I don't want these players rested unnecessarily, and we all know that Rafa *has* rested Torres at times when he blatantly didn't need to."

    I think when you look at the facts, League Cup and when he's coming back from injury aside, Rafa hasn't rested Torres when he hasn't needed to.

  51. ok whats wrong with a 4312 like acmilan are using now? gerrard can dominate possession, and e'to and torres can finish. what is wrong with that?
    back four

  52. God help anyone who wants to change the 4-2-3-1 that has crushed Real and Man u home and away, scoring 12 goals in the process...a new striker would effectively be replacing Stevie or Nando...and that is INSANE...!!!!!
    Zoe...South Africa

  53. Rafa doesn't need to BUY a great back up striker, bring back MICHAEL OWEN for FREE. He is an awesome alternative from the bench. I think Arjen Robben would be the best signing Rafa could make, and if as rumoured Barry is available for 8m get him in and get Lucas out

  54. eto'o is one the top 5 strikers/goal scorers in the world, he is world class and would only help liverpool. Gerrard and Alonso thrive off of fast forwards as seen with the world class Torres, even back with the speedy Cisse and Owen. Gerrards abundant probing through balls would be dream for eto'o to run onto, not to mention he's a proven better finisher than Torres. Sure the combo of Torres and Eto'o simultainously might be a mistake but as seen with barca eto'o performs out wide pretty damn well. ADD SAMUEL ETO'O TO NE TEAM IN THE WORLD AND HE STARTS AND THEY BECOME BETTER, SIMPLE AS THAT.

  55. he wouldnt effing recieve cameo roles by benitez dummy, i think you are mistaken making comparisons to the forwards of liverpools past, who simply aren't remotely as good as eto'o, proclaimed by many as the best striker in the world the past 4 years, put on the liverpool squad in 2009/2010 he would most defintely be a top 3 scorer in the premiership and vie for UCL title.

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