This is right. Pre-season lack of fitness aside our biggest problem was at the back where Skrtel, Carragher, Spearing and Jones (essentially the 'back 4' in a Rodgers system) were very slow on the ball. Their movement was either non-existent or cautious, they underhit passes to each other (on a poor pitch) and not one of them had the courage to go for the gaps that Gomel left for us.
Carragher, predictably, was the biggest culprit. He fulfilled his manager's instructions by taking up a left back position when Jones had the ball but because he can't move with the ball at his feet it meant that Liverpool's attacks, ironically, were starting deeper than ever. Everyone had to retreat 10 yards and Gerrard especially got sucked back as he is always prone to do anyway.
Gomel caught on to what was happening and in the second half their black forward began to stand on Carragher's 'right foot' and try and force him to move with the ball up the left flank. Had it been Agger in that situation he'd have stolen 20 yards in a blink of an eye but Carragher remained stuck in the porridge of his own making. He retreated even further back to his own goalline. He could no longer do his trademark trundling square passes to Skrtel (or, in this system, Spearing) and so sent the ball back to Jones every time for the hoof. Horrible to watch.
A word on Spearing in this system. It won't work. Leon Brittain made it work because he turns sharply, doesn't need as many touches as Spearing and genuinely shows for the ball from his full backs. Spearing turns slowly, needs too many touches, and hides from his full backs. We have Lucas so I'm not overly concerned about that.
But the player we really need is Agger. (And Pepe back) There'll be little improvement if Carragher and Skrtel are expected to start the ball rolling.
Couldn't disagree with a word of that Yorky.
There is no magic coaching that is going to suddenly change us into a team that can dominate possession you need to have the basics, good technique, confidence in your ability and a football brain but most of all you need the courage to accept that you are going to make mistakes occasionally. We have too many players whose game is all about minimising the chances of being caught in possession.
Agger players the game like a matador he shows the opposition the ball puffs out his chest and says I have total confidence in my ability so come and get it, before they know it he has feinted to pass it dropped his shoulder and is twenty yards up the pitch with their whole team back tracking, with midfield coming to challenge him and the numerical advantage the defending team has neutralised.
Lucas is the same if a pass is on he gives it hard and early and lets the ball do the work if not he holds onto the ball a split second longer than the likes of Spearing, Henderson and Gerrard and draws a player in before releasing the ball with pace and accuracy. it's all about playing at different tempos and dictating the tempo. English players want to play at the same tempo regardless of the situation, they need an extra touch, to get their head up have a look and then shift it slowly as soon as someone comes near them.
Last night was like watching an England team playing the passing wasn't quick enough to penetrate and we didn't look to tempt teams with the ball and draw people out of position. As a nation we simply do not produce players who can dictate the tempo of a game from the middle of the pitch, you look at the hundreds of millions that have gone into the English academies over the last decade and look at the the GB team at the Olympics with two welshmen Allen and Ramsey pulling the strings in midfield.