11 Sept 2013

'He's a revelation' - Carra hails 'superb' €34m LFC trio. Impossible decision for BR...?

After a very productive transfer window, Liverpool now have a whole host of enticing defensive options, and Reds legend Jamie Carragher is convinced that Brendan Rodgers' astute work over the summer will be a huge benefit for the club. That may turn out to be the case, but there's still the thorny issue of FC's first choice defensive partnership, and it's vitally important than Rodgers gets it right.

Discussing Liverpool's defensive options today, Carra - who played alongside Mamadou Sakho in a charity match last year - was full of praise for the club's 'superb' defenders. He told the Liverpool Echo:

"He [Sakho] is at a great age, and physically he's ready for the Premier League.

"It will just be interesting to see where the manager brings him in. He's left-sided and there's competition for places everywhere now".

"Skrtel's done really well in the Manchester United game, while Toure's been a revelation. Competition's what you want, but you don't want your best players on the bench. I think the manager just has to juggle it round a little bit now and use the best two."

It's interesting to note that Carra namechecks three of Liverpool's senior defenders - including the much maligned Martin Skrtel - but makes no mention of Daniel Agger. Simple oversight, or Freudian omission...?

As Carra suggests, competition is king, but at this moment, what is Liverpool's 'best two' in defence? Brendan Rodgers has some tough decisions to make when everyone is fit and available:

* Agger is vice-captain, and the club rejected a £15m bid for him over the summer, so you'd expect the Dane to feature heavily in the team. However, he's injury prone, and Rodgers has a legitimate reason to play him in fewer games.

* Toure has taken Anfield by storm in his first three games, but the reality is that he is a free transfer, and was probably brought in for cover purposes.

* Sakho cost £17m (€20m), and you don't spend that amount of money on a defender to keep him on the bench. Additionally, he constantly complained about being sidelined at PSG, and that's one of the reasons he left the Ligue One club. With the World Cup on the horizon, he'll expect to play.

* €14m-rated Skrtel put in a man of the match performance against Manchester United, and arguably deserves to stay in the team on merit. Will Rodgers see it that way, though?

It's important that Liverpool build a stable defensive partnership, and with that in mind, I'd like to see Toure-Sakho given a run, with Agger and Skrtel used as back-up.

The Reds can't afford the same costly defensive mistakes as last season (Agger and Skrtel were the main offenders) and Toure-Sakho is (IMO) the most solid, defensively sound option.

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  1. You can't have too many good players, what nice change for the manager!!!

  2. J.K = worst plagiarist on the internet

    P.S - "trio" - think you mean four

  3. Having not seen Sakho play its hard for me to judge. So for the moment I prefer Agger and Toure. Both have great Premier League experience, and are both commanding figures.
    But in reality Toure isn't probably going to remain first choice for too long I don't think, and like you say, its unlikely the club would want to spend almost £20 mil for a bench player. So I think he will replace Agger, and the main partnership will be them.

  4. IMO Brandon Rodgers wants to make the team fully his, meaning out goes nearly all of Rafa's buys. He's already gotten rid of Reina.

    There are already takers for Agger and Skrtel for decent money. My guess is your suggestion of Toure/Sakho will be the permanent CBs by beginning of next season, with Ilori as backup or replacement for Toure. Maybe another purchase to partner Sakho, Kyriakos Papadopoulos perhaps.

    In another 2-3 years, if Rodgers is still manager, Gerrard would have retired, and the only ones left from Rafa's days would probably be Lucas and Johnson, if they have not been replaced by his own buys.

    I don't want to criticize Rodger's need to replace players with his own, as I thought Rafa's buys that made the first team were mostly great, however it is true that most managers would prefer their own team suited for their own tastes. So he's the manager, its his prorogative.

  5. All the better for getting rid of rafas players we've been below par for years with them playing time for new blood reina gone is a blessing skrtyl is a liability and one good game doesn't change that. I rate agger but as mentioned he injury prone.

  6. Atm probably toure/sakho partnership seems better in language communication wise but overall i see toure is the key to all partnership.

  7. Not sure what you're on about. Those who play well, will stay in the team. Even his 'favourite' player Joe Allen is now struggling to get on the bench, much less the first team.
    It is natural for any manager to go out and buy new players and they then get their chances. If he doesn't buy, fans complain, If he buys, fans do the same. Reina was constantly asking for Barcelona to come and get him, while hardly playing well enough and was fortunate that the 'competition' wasn't good enough to displace him. Mignolet is young, determined and good enough, and with Reina unlikely to want to be second choice, plus his willingness to leave, it was better for the club to make the first move.

  8. Not Toure/Skrtel or Agger/Sakho. It is kind of pointless pairing 2 right footers or 2 left footers. Toure/Skrtel/Ilori to be rotated on the right, Agger/Sakho to be rotated on the left.

  9. I would like to see Kolo Toure and Sakho as the first choice CB pairing and Agger as LB for a couple of games before Cissokho comes in and then we can have Ilori at RB. If Sakho has settled in then Agger Sakho can become a settled partnership in the centre with Ilori/GJ and Cissokho/Jose Enrique on the flank. Best combination would be Johnson-Toure-Sakho-Cissokho. But that could be seen in the latter part of the season. I would personally sell Agger for 20 million and buy Papadopoulus and a CDM like Bender for that price or 5-10 million more. this would make our defence solid for years to come.

  10. Agger-Sakho can be a good pair, both are intelligent defenders and can use the ball well. Being left footed should not be a problem. Top defenders can play both sides, Carles Puyol plays on the left when paired with Pique and on the right when paired with Mascherano.

  11. At least it's a problem we want to have

  12. A left-footed defender playing on the right has certain passes available to him which a right-footer doesn't, especially a weighted pass to the deep inside-right position which might prove a really useful ball into midfield when we are keeping possession. Does that make sense? You see right-footed players on the left side of a CB pair use that ball all the time.

  13. Get this Jaimie. Tommy Smyth on ESPNFC tipped Liverpool for the top 4...and Chelsea to miss the top 4. ???!!!!!

  14. United to miss top 4!

  15. I think it is more about moving under performers on. Especially those on big money. Thats why Reina went. He would have jumped at the chance to go to Barca and had a very low saving ratio for the league. Not to mention he made mistakes that directly lead to goals. For over a hundred grand a week you want more. I think those who can and do play well will be kept. Of course that is the only way that makes sense.

    I do like the sound of Pap and Sakho together though. Never again will we see strikers bullying the CB's.

  16. Ilori is a lefty too. He played on the right for Sporting at times though. He is comfortable on both.

  17. I haven't seen them play how can I vote? But I feel that skrtel should be given chances since he put in a good performance. If not players won't fight for places if they feel there is no chance to start at all. Also sakho might play right back with Johnson out so it will still be Agger / skrtel with toure still out.

  18. Its impossible to say whether Sahko should be selected prior to seeing how he copes in the premier league. Surely we should stick with a whats working and it would be unfair to drop Agger or Skrtel after their performances against Utd.
    If we change things and lose, fans will be blame it on the change?
    I thought you were of the same opinion Jamie, that its best to stick with a winning team when possible?

  19. I agree, stick with a winning team. I'm thinking more long-term. Having said that, whoever performs the best should be first choice, and if Agger and Skrtel perform amazingly well over the next few games then they should stay in the team.

    There are other things to consider though. If Skrtel, or indeed Agger, is likely to leave at some point over the next year, it's probably a good idea to get the preferred partnership bedded-in asap, even if it means dropping someone after they've played well (i.e. Skrtel)

  20. Agreed! It seems obvious that having spent so much on him Rodgers will be looking to bed Sakho in soon but I want to see players retaining their place when they have put in good performances. It would be potentially disheartening for a player dropped in such circumstances and may affect their motivation.

  21. carra choose agger alongside hyypia in his all time 11

  22. idk imo skrtel always leaves me worried in the back 4 and toure has been amazing the guy oozes passion and i love that in a player but again like u said sakho would not come to liverpool without the gaurantee of games so most likey agger/sakho or toure/sakho

  23. As much as I love Sakho and have pleaded for this move to happen for a little over 3 years now, I think the wise thing to do is play Agger/Skrtel in the next game (w/ Toure out injured).

    I have watched Sakho play and he's immense and, imo, will become a great player for us but the facts are he hasn't played consistant football for two years due to Ancellotti icing him out at PSG and that, in combination with having to adapt to a different style of football, might mean he's not quite ready yet.

    I say play our two fit, experienced defenders now, possibly put in Toure when he gets back, and play Sakho in the cup games and let him adapt to the english game and impress that way before coming into the first team starter fold.

  24. But a lot of top class defenders who play LCB are right footed because there aren't enough left footers around. However I have seen very few defenders who play both LCB and RCB both, but I guess if Agger - Sakho is a long term pairing then one of them can learn to play RCB and it should not be a problem. It can be a prob if you keep asking them to change sides or partners.

  25. I think we may see either Agger or Sakho being used in defensive midfield! At least it gives some options and a lot of depth/competition which can only bring the best out of the players!

  26. That is correct! Left footed centrebacks are rare! I'm not saying they can't do a job if their master foot is no the inside though, but it is an exploitable weakness. Learning a position is one thing, but certain instincts and natural traits make some positions easier or more effective, or a little trickier.

    It is great to have at least 2 sets of full complements of defenders though!

    Set 1:
    Johnson - Toure - Agger - Enrique

    Set 2:
    Kelly - Skrtel - Sakho - Cissokho


    Flanagan - Coates - Ilori - Robinson

    We're looking very good at the back!

  27. I kind of agree with that but I want Sakho to play regularly and not a big fan of Enrique myself, he wastes too many passes in possession.
    So i would like a first choice Back four to be


    With Agger coming in for Sakho and Skrtel for Toure. Strength in depth indeed!!
    But Johnson is out for a few weeks so that is a concern, but I am sure once he is back we will have a stable defence from November till the end of the season , so its upto Suarez and Sturridge from then on I say!!