Seing myself as one of Djibril Cisse's leading defenders on here, and since every Cisse thread has been locked (and rightly so), I thought I would sum up my thoughts on Cisse, and a few words on what could happen next season if he's not sold (And no my freinds, that is no certainty)
Djibril Cisse is perhaps one of the players who produce most contrastful (black/white) opinions in todays squad. It often seems like he's either shit, or good. Of course there are many with opinions in between, but they are rarely as prominent as the "extremes". Some might think that I think Cisse is the best thing since sliced bread. Well I don't. In this post I'll try to sum up my feelings on one of the most special, frustrating, emotional and atypical players in LFC's recent history.
First of all...I agree he hasn't played well all the time. That goes for up front, or out wide. But he has had good and bad patches as every other player. Cisse has, opposite to what some on here say, been our MOM several times this season. In some games he really has showed that he is capable of being the difference. In others he's been poor. He's a bit of an enigma really. At his best he is almost unstoppable, but at his worst, he can be annoying. But who isn't? The thing with Cisse is that even on a bad day, his extreme abilities in his pace COULD lead to something, even if his touch and decisions have been poor or average for 80 minutes. And since he's kind of a hot/coldplayer, there is loads of his time on the pitch - where he does ok - that goes amiss. That goes for easy safe passes, that goes for link-up play, that goeas for positioning, that goes for tracking back, that goes for APPLAUDING his teammates (he does that you know) etc.
But first and foremost Cisse is a confidence player. The best way of gaining confidence for a striker in Cisse's mould, is by scoring goals. You increase your chances of getting goals by playing up front (and that is Cisse's best position). If Cisse has been poor in training, and if Rafa thinks he offers too little to our team in "his style of play", why hasn't he been given a run in the reserves or something? Let him gain his confidence there. But it never happens, as it seems like Rafa is cautious of giving regular first team members playing time in the reserves. But it could be a suggestion. I remember the likes of Baros got a few good reserveteam games under his belt to gain match fitness and confidence. The problem is most likely that Cisse is one of the best trained members of the squad, and since he offers an option to the team that we would sorely missed if he became injured again...it simply won't happen.
Then again Rafa has said himself in an attempt to defend Morientes that the only way of gaining confidence is by playing. So if we should believe that, then there's no reason at all why Cisse shouldn't be given the same opportunity? Or?
If I was Rafa I would continue to play possesion football, with a striker like Crouch or Morientes up front who could have the "meeting" role. I would put Cisse alongside them to give both the midfielders and supporting strikers another option. Most goals are scored from breakdowns..only seconds after a team retains possesion. That is a fact. And it's not regarded as counterattacks. In modern football the defense are so tight and good, that knocking the ball around 15-20 times rarely leads to goals. It's all about catching the opponent off balance. With pace up front you are able to use the space behind the defense as well as the space in front of it.
Having said that...link up play is Cisse's perhaps most underrated ability. And i said LINK-UP play...not hold-up play. There's a pretty obvious difference.
Where Crouch and Morientes often use several touches to hold up the ball, and get others into play, Cisse often lays the ball off directly, starting a new movement toward goal. It's more of a high-risk attempt than the hold-up play. but even if it fails more times than it succeeds, the chances created when it succeeds could easily be one on ones with the keeper.
And that takes me to another thing. Cisse has an image of often spoiling those opportunities. He "closes his eyes and blasts the ball straight at the keeper". Well...perhaps he does that from time to time. BUT...he also scores now and then. No striker always score when they are one on one. In fact it's far more difficult than it seems. (but that is another discussion). The "problem" is that Cisse is the only striker we have that gets to opportunities like that. Our other strikers are slow...VERY slow, and they never get to opportunities where they outruns the defense...having 3-4 seconds to decide what to do, with a big central defender ready to tackle you from behind. But as we don't ever see it, there's no reason to criticize now is there?
With the organized defenses in top football today, you rarely get to one on ones. But even if...we have pretty many examples of Cisse getting to those chances from a well timed run and pass. Yes he's offside now and then. But players who go for that space ALWAYS gets more into offside positions. I'm not saying Cisse can't improve there. But if you think he is annoying, then you would have HATED Inzaghi. He is offside 9 times out of 10, but he always gets through once or twice...and then it often results in a goal as well.
And guess what...based on minutes played this season Cisse has a goalscoringaverage of a goal in every about 170-180 minutes. That means a goal every second match (given that he'd play full 90 minutes every time), and we all know that he's spent much time as a wide midfielder. So it's not so bad is it?
So to me it's not a problem at all to have Cisse (or any other quick striker up front) alongside another type of players. In fact I thing the team come out both stronger and more flexible if we have other options in our attacking play. Pace is definitely an attacking option no matter what system you play.
So it's important not to compare Cisse and Crouch directly. They are totally different players, and their major roles are very different. But they both are strikers, and many of their "other" tasks overlaps each other (like positioning in the box, finishing technique when in scoring positions, setting up others etc etc)
But no matter how you're built, and no matter what system you play. Scoring goals will never...and I repeat NEVER...get out of fashion. It's the main job for the striker. Strikers are developing their game to get into scoring positions as many times as possible. And the way they achieve that is very different from player to player.
One of the reason I really like Cisse is because there is always happening something when he plays. He's always involved, and he never hides. And yes...he miss a lot, but he normally gets to that many chances (not only by his pace of course) that there is a good chance he'll put one in the net as well. And putting the ball in the back of the net often comes along with confidence. And to me Cisse's not been given a proper chance to get that confidence, by getting a run in his favorite position. Yes he's been given chances, and he hasn't always taken them like he should, but he's neither better nor worse than any other of our strikers this season. Based on time on the pitch he is perhaps the most effective goalscorer we have. But then again he was always gonna be that since he's our only natural goalscorer(apart from a bit part Fowler who might have found his scoringboots again).
So to sum it up. I rate Cisse as a goalscorer, a role i think every team can afford to have. I feel many of his critics use abilities Cisse's never had against him to end up with the conclusion that he's a poor player. As someone said, he does exactly what it says on the tin.
So what about the future. Has Cisse a future at Liverpool?
Many claim that he's a gonner already. He doesn't fit in, he's not in Rafa's plans, his attitude is wrong and so on and so on. Welll I must disagree.
We all know Rafa talks about possibilities. Cisse gives us an option both up front, and out wide that we're not having at the moment. We all know that Gonzales will give us some pace out left next season, meaning perhaps Kewell shifting to the right, or perhaps we bring in a natural right winger. But Cisse has showed us he can play there. His crossing is improving, and even if he's not in Figo's mould when it comes to tricks to beat defenders, he still gets past leftbacks often enough. The only thing he need in my opinion is to consider cutting inside now and than, so the fullback doesn't know that he's trying to beat him on the outside every time. (It's much BETTER to beat a fullback on the outside of course, because it is much easier to get at the end of crosses, and it much more difficult to defend crosses between the defense and the goalkeeper).
But is it enough for a 24-year old, former topscorer and starplayer, to be a bitpart player for a big club? We know Cisse WANT'S to play for L'pool. We know that he has feelings for this club and it's fans. Just take a look at him when he scores, or when WE score. There is passion all over him. He doesn't always have a smile on his face when playing, but personally I'm glad he hasn't. He wants to win. That is allowed.
The final thing is of course the money. We payed a lot of money for Cisse (£14M?), and we don't want to give him away for a small fee. Why should we anyway? As I said, he brings special options to our team, and they are difficult and EXPENSIVE to replace. I can't see us selling Cisse for anything beneath £7M, and a loan-deal is most likely not an option either.
So what will Rafa do?
No one knows of course, but I hope he stays. I like him, and I like the potential he has. Players like Cisse don't come around often, and if he can be better at fulfilling his strengths in our style of play I firmly believe he will give us much joy (and some frustration) in the coming seasons.
I, for one, hope he stays.