Author Topic: This season’s Defence – an Attack  (Read 75756 times)

Offline SteQuinny

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #40 on: July 23, 2008, 01:04:20 pm »
A great post, well worth the read.

The concern I have is that Carragher is being underestimated somewhat, I know you have lauded his achievements and pointed out in a positive light his technique etc.

But what you have failed to mention is the organisational qualities Carra brings, playing alongside even the season Hyypia, it is still Carragher I hear barking out the instructions in that slighly bent over stance that we have become so familiar with.

Having a player with a football brain is far more important in my eyes than having a player who would finish a 100 metre dash quicker, they say the first five yards are in your head and Carragher is a quality reader of the game.

Carragher is a leader, and without him I think that Liverpool's defence lacks a solidarity mindset, uncertainty occurs when you are not sure when to do, When Carragher plays everyone know what to do, because he's usually fucking screaming it at them.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #41 on: July 23, 2008, 01:12:42 pm »
One part where I would disagree is on Carra though. I totally understand what you mean about him in possession, but there are some vital aspects to defending that you neglect to mention: Leadership and Organisation. Now, Carra will never be the best in possession, but my god has he learned how to organise our defence. He reminds me enourmously of Baresi back in the day, in his ability to keep that line straight and compact, in knowing exactly when to bring the line forward. As a student of the game he's second to none, and because of that I think our defence would suffer if too much is expected of Agger/Skrtel too soon.

This is a good point, and you're right, I glossed over it. The Baresi comparison is apt. Our back line is as brilliantly organised as the Baresi-Costacurta one and clearly (on the pitch at least) Carra is the man who does the organising. But I wouldn't underestimate what happens off the pitch. The system is Rafa's. It's the boss who taught us how to close down space as a unit and make life utterly miserable for the advanced forward. Plus now we have Pellegrino, as Corky pointed out. One thing's for sure. If Agger or Skrtel are natural leaders we will only find out once Carragher disappears.

Replacing Jamie is a risk. A 'gamble' as Raul said in his post. Rafa is, I'm sure, not predisposed to take that gamble. He seems a cautious bloke by nature. But, he's paid decent money for these two centre backs. He has, realistically, got a limited amount of time to get everything right. This is not a 4-year plan he's working on, much as we'd love it to be. I can see the squeeze being put on Jamie this season - sooner rather than later.

One final point about the 2 holding midfielders. Another thread perhaps, though not entirely since their status depends very much on the amount of attacking intent we have in our defence. I've never liked the term 'holding midfield' - it doesn't describe what Alonso (or Masch) does. But I can't agree that an Agger-Skrtel combo would make Alonso redundant. Quite the opposite if we have Arbeloa and Dossena moving into more advanced positions too. For if that happens we shall need two of our central midfielders to keep an eye out for the spaces behind them - both to receive a backward pass and to nip counter-attacks in the bud. That's maybe why Rafa is/was wanting Barry - a player with more experience of dealing with English wingers on the counter-attack. Naturally, I still hope he doesn't get him.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #42 on: July 23, 2008, 01:22:28 pm »
One final point about the 2 holding midfielders. Another thread perhaps, though not entirely since their status depends very much on the amount of attacking intent we have in our defence. I've never liked the term 'holding midfield' - it doesn't describe what Alonso (or Masch) does. But I can't agree that an Agger-Skrtel combo would make Alonso redundant. Quite the opposite if we have Arbeloa and Dossena moving into more advanced positions too. For if that happens we shall need two of our central midfielders to keep an eye out for the spaces behind them - both to receive a backward pass and to nip counter-attacks in the bud. That's maybe why Rafa is/was wanting Barry - a player with more experience of dealing with English wingers on the counter-attack. Naturally, I still hope he doesn't get him.
This is fun.

It would not make Alonso redundant, you are right in saying that.  But it would allow him to play further up the pitch and not as a holding midfielder! Which is what we would love. Imagine him passing the ball around 10 yards further up the pitch because the defence allows him to be there (I know, you have already imagined that).  Opposition defenders would have that much less time to react to try and telegraph the pass.  Masch and Alonso would have to swap around, both in the team and on the pitch in that scenario - Alonso perhaps as the middle of the 3 and Gerrard, well he could continue to run around being Gerrard.  You may be looking at something like this - narrow in theory but tasty enough on the flaks if the full backs turn out to be what we hope.

                          Torres           (Forward)
Babel                            Alonso                     Gerrard
                               Mascherano

Christmas tree or whatever.  Won't happen, I suspect.

Offline hesbighesred

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #43 on: July 23, 2008, 01:29:16 pm »
This is a good point, and you're right, I glossed over it. The Baresi comparison is apt. Our back line is as brilliantly organised as the Baresi-Costacurta one and clearly (on the pitch at least) Carra is the man who does the organising. But I wouldn't underestimate what happens off the pitch. The system is Rafa's. It's the boss who taught us how to close down space as a unit and make life utterly miserable for the advanced forward. Plus now we have Pellegrino, as Corky pointed out. One thing's for sure. If Agger or Skrtel are natural leaders we will only find out once Carragher disappears.

This is not a 4-year plan he's working on, much as we'd love it to be. I can see the squeeze being put on Jamie this season - sooner rather than later.

But that system is implemented on the pitch, by the players. I don't think time on the training pitch does the job as quickly/well as actually on the pitch. After all, Pellegrino did actually play, he wasn't just on the sidelines. Hyppia then took over, then Carra next season.

You are right though, there will come a point where we have to find out who can take over, and that won't happen with Carra playing. I just can't see it happening this season without injuries or quite staggeringly brilliant performances from what are, after all, still two very young defenders.

I will hapilly concede that the idea of a fully functioning Agger/Skrtel combo makes the mouth water, though. I can't see any striker looking forward to facing them, given how efficiently both of them have dealt with monsters like Drogba in the past.

Quote
One final point about the 2 holding midfielders. Another thread perhaps, though not entirely since their status depends very much on the amount of attacking intent we have in our defence. I've never liked the term 'holding midfield' - it doesn't describe what Alonso (or Masch) does. But I can't agree that an Agger-Skrtel combo would make Alonso redundant.

Totally agree with that, I've never had a problem with two deeper midfielders. It's more stability in a 4-4-2, as long as the wingers are up to it, and is key to any 4-5-1, 4-3-3 formation. Some of the most glorious attacking sides we've seen have used similar midfield set-ups, Barca and the Arsenal of Vieira and Petit, for example.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #44 on: July 23, 2008, 01:38:14 pm »
Totally agree with that, I've never had a problem with two deeper midfielders. It's more stability in a 4-4-2, as long as the wingers are up to it, and is key to any 4-5-1, 4-3-3 formation. Some of the most glorious attacking sides we've seen have used similar midfield set-ups, Barca and the Arsenal of Vieira and Petit, for example.
True but the Barca midfielders you speak of and Viera and Petit would get forward when they had to.  The midfielders may well be deeper but they have to possess the ability and psyche to come forward and on top of that have to be given the freedom of doing so by their managers.  Which is something that Alonso and Mascherano have not done as much I would have liked when they have been playing together.  If one takes the ball off the defender while the other moves a few yards further up, great.  The system also requires a high level of productivity from your front players and the Barca and Arsenal teams you refer to had richer resouces up front than we have.  If Keane comes in and Babel matures, then we're talking.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #45 on: July 23, 2008, 01:42:11 pm »
Raul - we've talked about XA causing havoc higher up the pitch before. We'd love it of course. But I've changed my mind a bit. I wouldn't be without him in a deep role doing what he does best - pulling all the right strings and injecting PACE into our game. Masch has amazed me with his ability to carry the ball. He should play further up. Then there's Lucas. A young Prince when it comes to facing packed defences.....

I will hapilly concede that the idea of a fully functioning Agger/Skrtel combo makes the mouth water, though. I can't see any striker looking forward to facing them, given how efficiently both of them have dealt with monsters like Drogba in the past.

Yes mate. But it's not just how efficiently they can defend. It's how quickly they move the ball. If I were an attacker facing Liverpool, (apart from dying of a broken heart) I'd not be looking forward to closing down Agger + Skrtel when they've got the ball. You wouldn't be encouraged to give them ten yards to run into otherwise they're gonna damage you. But you wouldn't enjoy racing after them either 'cause that's too knackering.

The best single performance I've seen from an opposition defence v Liverpool in the last few years was Arsenal away two seasons ago. Gallas and Toure were absolutely incredible. Poor old Dirk Kuyt was shattered after 45 minutes and had to be withdrawn. He'd done that much closing down. And all to no avail. Those bastards kept coming at us. I think Toure ended up scoring from open play. (It helped them of course that they also had a progressisve Clichy and Eboue as full backs)

We should be able to do that. (And our midfield is better than theirs)
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Offline Canada Loves Anfield

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #46 on: July 23, 2008, 01:59:19 pm »
Absolutely fantastic piece mate - well worth me not doing any work this morning.

During the Rafa years I have become very aware of our inability to get forward from the back as if our defenders were too worried about crossing an imaginary line. It was up until THAT Agger goal that I even hesitated watching them push the ball closer to the 30 yard area. It was as if I had become so used to Rafa's precautions that I had a line where the centre backs COULD NOT cross.

As I said - great post and I would really love to see us take some chances getting forward. After Wes Brown scored the opener at the toilet (although extremely pissed off) I stopped for a second and wondered if any of our defenders would ever be in that position to get stuck in on a cross during a quick break. The answer was obviously NO
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #47 on: July 23, 2008, 02:07:32 pm »
I always enjoy what this man has to say. No change on this one.
I've recently been having an argument with 2 of my mates that I go the games with. Their point, it was players like Dalglish, Rush, Souness that made us great. That's true, but I also argued that it was having players like Hansen and Lawrenson behind them that made them so great. And I got laughed at for saying Skrtel and Agger could become as great as Jocky and Lawro and drive us right back up to the top for many years to come.
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Offline hesbighesred

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #48 on: July 23, 2008, 02:19:53 pm »
@ Raul:

Yes you are right, although Mash and Alonso are well capable of doing more going forward, as I'm sure you know anyway. From what I've seen Mash is as important a part of their attack as their defence, which leads to your next point Re Barca and Arsenal, where yes, you are right they had better options up front, which limits somewhat what Mash and Alonso can do.

I am aware of the difference, but was more making the point that 2 deeper midfielders can be a very positive tactic. As it stands for us we lack certain players to fully exploit our abilities in midfield, but at the same time they don't just sit there doing nothing except killing attacks.

@Yorky:

Yes, you are absolutely right about the closing down aspect too, that is an important consideration that I don't underestimate...it's one of the major reasons I think Kuyt has a lot of value for us.  Again, if Skrtel and Agger do play more, whether it's through choice or down to Injury, and look as solid in defence, well, it'll be the end of an era and sad in a way, but we all know Agger/Skrtel is highly likely to be a better choice in the future anyway. If that happens sooner than I expect then it's all good for us, and I wouldn't be complaining having a class act like Carra as cover for the whole back line.

@Canada

I see what you're saying but I think that also has had a lot to do with the limitations of the players he's had to work with, and not just in defence either. I know it's only a pre-season, but one move toward the end of yesterday's game saw Dossena get on the end of a cross from Degen (I think it was him anyway). Might just see a bit more of that this season.

I'm pretty sure that his Valencia side had defenders who were all comfortable on the ball and contributed to the attack.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #49 on: July 23, 2008, 02:22:49 pm »
I always enjoy what this man has to say. No change on this one.
I've recently been having an argument with 2 of my mates that I go the games with. Their point, it was players like Dalglish, Rush, Souness that made us great. That's true, but I also argued that it was having players like Hansen and Lawrenson behind them that made them so great. And I got laughed at for saying Skrtel and Agger could become as great as Jocky and Lawro and drive us right back up to the top for many years to come.

Fats, you're right on this one. Your mates are wrong!

My dad was a student of the game, keen Town fan, but he took an interest in Liverpool 'cause of his son (plus he admired Shanks, as a former Town manager and a socialist). Anyway, I remember him distinctly telling me during the '74 season that Shankly had produced THE masterstroke by getting rid of Larry Lloyd as an out-and-out stopper and bringing in Thompson-Hughes, two ball-playing centre backs. He loved to see that. And, of course, he was right. The emphasis on skill and pace at the back became a distinctly Liverpool thing. You can't talk about all our trophies without talking about the importance of Hansen-Lawrenson and the like.

I believe Shanks made that original decision after we got out-played by a superb Red Star Belgrade team in the EC. Their mobility at the back was frightening. Our lads we're used to seeing centre-backs like Jeff Blockley and Bobby Moncur. Big slabs of concrete that moved slower than Alpine glaciers. RSB taught us another way.

For me, Agger-Skrtel is a partnership made in heaven. As close as we've got to Hansen-Lawrenson since 1990. 

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #50 on: July 23, 2008, 02:29:22 pm »
I always enjoy what this man has to say. No change on this one.
I've recently been having an argument with 2 of my mates that I go the games with. Their point, it was players like Dalglish, Rush, Souness that made us great. That's true, but I also argued that it was having players like Hansen and Lawrenson behind them that made them so great. And I got laughed at for saying Skrtel and Agger could become as great as Jocky and Lawro and drive us right back up to the top for many years to come.

Sadly those two were slightly before my time but Skrtel/Agger are the most talented CBs I've seen at the club since Mark Wright-IMO a very under-rated player who had horrible luck with injuries.

I do hope you're right.

Something else I like about Skrtel/Agger is that I don't think they will be as dependent on each other as some pairs. EG Rio and Vidic both seem to lose something without the other, Terry looks suspect without Carvalho.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2008, 02:34:47 pm by hesbighesred »
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #51 on: July 23, 2008, 02:29:34 pm »

It's a lot to sacrifice, but I think that Yorky's Crazy Horse comparison was apposite. The great Liverpool sides were cruel, you were replaced when seemingly at your peak. There was no room for declining powers.

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Offline Vinny1892

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #52 on: July 23, 2008, 02:30:34 pm »
Very good post. In my opinion though, Carra is still key to our defensive plans. I certainly wouldn't yet fancy tackling the big games without Carra in charge, barking orders.

Agger/Skrtel has the potential to be one of the great CB pairings, but ONLY if the full backs are good (and consistent) enough to do their bit.

Offline RedHandGang

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2008, 02:37:25 pm »
Carra will be there or there abouts as he has a couple of things the others don't have in spades.

Agression, Skrtl has some, but Sami and Agger are not really agressive players.
Reputation, Sami is lauded as a good header of the ball and reader of the game, as is Aggers ability with the ball but being a tough takling take no prisoners is what makes Carra stand out.
Passion Carra bar none.
Organisation, something Rafa has clearly had influence on. He once reckoned Carra akin to Ayala and in certain games may be indespensible. Sami acheives this out of deference to his experience rather than being voiciferous.

Looks like Carra will be first choice until the others take a leaf out of his book, although Rafa must clearly love having options.
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Offline Canada Loves Anfield

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #54 on: July 23, 2008, 02:49:50 pm »
@Canada

I see what you're saying but I think that also has had a lot to do with the limitations of the players he's had to work with, and not just in defence either. I know it's only a pre-season, but one move toward the end of yesterday's game saw Dossena get on the end of a cross from Degen (I think it was him anyway). Might just see a bit more of that this season.

I hope so - I had the game recorded but can't get myself to watch a 0-0 pre-season match. But just the sound of a full back running on to a cross by another full back is heart warming
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #55 on: July 23, 2008, 03:05:53 pm »
I hope so - I had the game recorded but can't get myself to watch a 0-0 pre-season match. But just the sound of a full back running on to a cross by another full back is heart warming
 :P

Yeah don't watch it, it was possibly even more dull than it sounds, my 'entertainment' came from an Eastern European commentator who only appeared interested when Voro or Skrtel were involved.

Actually, the last 10-15mins were ok. You could watch that and pretend the whole match was similar.

It was a sweet move though.
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Offline nayia2002

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #56 on: July 23, 2008, 06:33:04 pm »
Great post Yorky. cheers!! :wave

My take on things is if we play some games in a 4-4-2 formation most likely we'll see Agger - Skretl at centre back.

e.g. 
                               Reina

Degen/Arbeloa         Agger       Skretl             Dossena

Babel                     Masch        Gerrard           Barry

                                   Keane       Torres

In a 4-2-3-1 formation it'll be Carra - Agger at the back if we need to be a bit more "defensive".

e.g.
                                       Reina

Degen                  Carra            Agger             Dossena

                             Masch          Barry

Keane                             Gerrard                  Babel

                                    Torres


Also by adding Keane and Barry(hopefully any time soon)  to the team, we'll be unplayable. People still dont realise how important these 2 players are to Rafa this coming season!!

Im very confident if Rafa gets the players he wants we'll be celebrating no: 19 in MAY 09!!  :champ
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Offline jamiehill

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2008, 06:40:20 pm »
It looks as though Skrtel will be Carra's understudy this season, learning his trade. When Rafa bought him, he described him as more like Carra than anyone else. He was a relatively expensive defender and he is for the future. The question is, where is he going to be brought in if the first choice central midfield is going to be Carra and Agger?

Carra's sheer presence on the pitch is important in some respects to the team. The 100% players like Carra give the rest of the team security as he's looking out for them. Skrtel is a very good player and he definately 'looks the part', but he doesn't yet have that 100% reputation that Carra has. He hasn't made the disasterous mistakes that Carra has, the ones that give you experience.

Defenders, as well as goalkeepers can get better with age. They can see patterns of play developing that they know are dangerous that a less experienced defender has not seen before. How does Sami always know where to be to head the ball? I doubt that Rafa will be cutting Carra's opportunities from the first team for a while yet.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2008, 08:13:58 pm »
I've never seen San Jose. Is he good? I hope he's better than Jack Hobbs who looked as nervous as a kitten on his one big chance and - worse - very slow.

some info on San Jose - he was a shining star from Athletic Bilbao's 'cantera', but he jumped at the chance to work with Rafa. he's tall and strong, and seems to have a great footballing brain, reading the game well, and reading the player he's marking. he also naturally brings the ball forward and has a cultured range of passing. i guess it's not on to put expectations on the kid, but he's got that 'quality' about him that sets him apart for me (as a former centre half i do like a good rolls royce in that position).

an interview
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=222079.0

the post-match plaudits after the reserve final v Villa (search for 'san jose' on each page and you find someone who reckons he shone)
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=219706.0
« Last Edit: July 23, 2008, 08:16:47 pm by royhendo »

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #59 on: July 24, 2008, 02:12:26 am »
This is a fantastic post! Thanks very much for sharing.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #60 on: July 24, 2008, 05:18:56 am »
AS mentioned by many, I too think that the partnership is the one for the future, however, against the big(ger) teams, perhaps Carra and Agger is a better bet simply for the fact that Carra gives you the "insurance" policy that Rafa clearly loves. While Skrtel is good, he still need to develop some of his positional sense. Don't get me wrong, Skrtel's positional sense is good, but not Carra good, this however is 'compensated' by his pace where he can get in and put a tackle in.

As mentioned too, at home against unambitious teams where they are more interested to get a point or stubborn teams who'd sit back (ie lesser teams) it's good to try out the Skrtel - Agger combo as they'd be able to help the defence and still have the surprise element. Heck, they could even join in the attack and have more bodies in the opposition half. One thing I notice is that we don't always attack in numbers, often with 3, 4 or maximum 5 running at perhaps 8, 9 or even 10 behind the ball.

This could all change with Agger and / or Skrtel both bringing the ball out of defence with one of the full backs (or Mascherano) covering behind against the lone striker. This might even open the game up as the opposition might be encouraged by this perceived "weaker" link with gaps at the back thus allowing us to attack. Which would be suicidal against bigger teams like the Mancs, Arse or the rent Boys or to a certain extend, Spurs.

Also, on the midfielders, it has been said too many times that Alonso should be playing further up the field and either combination, (Carra - Agger or Agger - Skrtel) allows that as there will be at least one who could bring the ball out of defence and start the attack.

Just me 2 cents...


By the way, great read and can I take the original article and put it at our site? It's www.my-rawk.blogspot.com, it's a site with lots of Malaysian RAWKites.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #61 on: July 24, 2008, 05:57:53 am »
Another thing working in Carra's favour this year is the need to integrate Dossena and especially Degen in the back four.  Degen in particular seems not to be too defensively-minded and thus will need guidance and shepherding when he plays for our backline.  I can see Carra's prowess in marshaling our defense becoming even more important at the start of the season which mitigates against seeing an immediate Skrtel-Agger combination.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #62 on: July 24, 2008, 09:57:01 am »
Jonno - yes, use it for your site, no problems.

Royhendo - thanks for posting the stuff on San Jose. Sounds like a fine prospect, but you never know till they come up against a 'Kevin Davies' type. It can happen to the most cultured centre backs. They can do everything except deal with an old-fashioned bullying English centre forward, of which there are still a few in the Premier league. Ask Glen Hysen! What I liked about that article though was the sheer secretiveness of Liverpool's scouting network. Fantastic. Like a den of spies out there.

Mark Wright-IMO a very under-rated player who had horrible luck with injuries.

Yes, I forgot to mention him. Wright's problem at Anfield was that Souness was an awful coach. For some reason he did not understand defence. I think he recognised Wright's ability on the ball and wanted him to play a sweeper-type role. That's fine, but Souness had no idea how to do it and consequently Wright would often be ten yards behind Ruddock when the opposition were carrying the ball to us! There was so much space for their forwards to run into and no one was ever offside. Even Cisse would have managed to keep in play.

I'm a bit surprised no one's mentioned that other great distributor of the ball at the back. A player who certainly never dawdles on the ball - Pepe Reina. That fella absolutely gets the importance of releasing the ball quickly. Everytime he collects he bombs to the edge of his box to see what's on (often passing, and taking out, 3 or 4 opponents if there's just been a corner). If there is something on then his passing is super-quick - either with his arm or, more often, with that weird lateral kick he's developed that sends the ball flat and hard. Everything honed to save time. He got at least one 'assist' (to Torres) doing this last year. I still seethe at that calamitous decision made at Bolton two seasons ago when Pepe's technique meant he (legitimately) kicked the ball outside the penalty area. The linesman hadn't seen anything like it before and signalled a hand ball. 1-0 to Bolton.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #63 on: July 24, 2008, 11:28:48 am »
I agree whole-heartedly with the main thrust of your submission. My only concern about why we wont be able to fully realise the goal of creating attacking situations as we move out of defence is that it relies in some measure on the quality of the full-backs. Obviously Aggers return will enable a high line and will improve our distribution out of the centre of defence ten-fold. But Rafa has made it clear we cant afford quality attacking wide players so the full-backs are slated to provide the width. According to posters who have regularly watched Degan and Dossena they arent up it. Ashley Cole and Bosingwa vs Dossena and Degan.
I agree we will certainly improve as a side, and specifically with moving out of defence this season as Rafa has accomplished each season in charge, but we still dont have the quality to push on and put a title challenge in whilst relying on full-backs of the middling kind.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #64 on: July 24, 2008, 11:29:42 am »
Royhendo - thanks for posting the stuff on San Jose. Sounds like a fine prospect, but you never know till they come up against a 'Kevin Davies' type. It can happen to the most cultured centre backs. They can do everything except deal with an old-fashioned bullying English centre forward, of which there are still a few in the Premier league. Ask Glen Hysen! What I liked about that article though was the sheer secretiveness of Liverpool's scouting network. Fantastic. Like a den of spies out there.

no worries yorky... one thing - having seen San Jose deal comfortably with Marlon Harewood during the reserve final, it's highly reassuring on this front. clearly he's still developing physically and Rafa's point in the interview that he has to stop 'playing like a big girl' has clearly hit home with him. i honestly feel he's in the best possible hands on that front. i remember question marks being cast over Agger's ability to deal with Drogba during the 2006 semi final, for example, but he grew with coaching and experience. i think that same 'insight' is being coached into San Jose, and on the basis of his handling of a much physically bigger man in Harewood, he's taking it in beautifully.

Sorry - the direct quote's here: http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=222079.0

Quote
Benitez never rests.  Every time they cross paths, he has some words for SJ.  He insists that Mikel has a weakness that, if corrected, will help unleash all his potential.  “He tells me that I need to be more aggressive, that if I am to play with the first team I can’t be defending like a little girl”.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #65 on: July 24, 2008, 11:59:09 am »
I agree whole-heartedly with the main thrust of your submission. My only concern about why we wont be able to fully realise the goal of creating attacking situations as we move out of defence is that it relies in some measure on the quality of the full-backs. Obviously Aggers return will enable a high line and will improve our distribution out of the centre of defence ten-fold. But Rafa has made it clear we cant afford quality attacking wide players so the full-backs are slated to provide the width. According to posters who have regularly watched Degan and Dossena they arent up it. Ashley Cole and Bosingwa vs Dossena and Degan.
I agree we will certainly improve as a side, and specifically with moving out of defence this season as Rafa has accomplished each season in charge, but we still dont have the quality to push on and put a title challenge in whilst relying on full-backs of the middling kind.
I imagine we will be more likely to use an Arbeloa-Aurelio combination for the (particularly away) games in which we come across attacking full backs of the class you mention (Bosingwa does have to prove himself mind).  Or even a Carragher-Arbeloa pairing, if we want to go ultra defensive.  Given the number of points we dropped against mid table and relegation fodder last season, the Degan-Dossena options would be more usefully employed in those situations.  I think if we drew all our games against the other teams in the top 4 and won more against the lesser sides, we would be in the mix in May.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #66 on: July 24, 2008, 12:27:35 pm »
First of all what an excellent post and thread by the way.  In my opinion I can see Carra starting with Agger to help bring along Danny's organisational skills, if it works then it's frightening to think of how good the lad will be with that added to his game.  I think he can go on to be one of the all time great centre backs in the game, not just for Liverpool.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #67 on: July 24, 2008, 12:31:30 pm »
I hope we never go "ultra defensive" Raul. Especially at Anfield where I want us to pose more questions than we normally do when facing Man Utd and the rest of the big 'uns. Bosingwa does indeed have to prove himself, although from the little I've seen I'd say he's a terrific prospect for them. The best way of stopping him attacking us? Attack him! Make him do something he doesn't want to do. That's to say keep him in his own half without the ball and make make him sick with the lack of possession.

On that note I'd say I've never fully understood the idea that the best form of defence is to close ranks and let the opposition come at you. It's to defend as a team, for sure, but that means the onus is on Torres and Gerrard as much as Carragher (remember what a shock it was for Puyol at Anfield to come up against a team that harried from the front. He lost his 'memory' of how to play). But by the same token, you have to attack as a team- something we're not so good at. Keep the ball, get enough men forward to support the player on it. That's the best form of defence there is.  You have to be fucking good to do it. But we are, aren't we?

Royhendo - yeah, that's a great quote from Rafa, and it's even better that the young lad wanted it circulated. He's set himself up for a pratfall of course, but it speaks volumes about his confidence. I like that. The Drogba v Agger duel was a revelation. Drogba mastered him at the Bridge of course. It was really tough for our lad and I thought it might set him back a few months (Arbeloa was traumatised in the same game and it took him ages to recover - missing the Final when he had no right to on his previous form). But Agger came back instantly. His performance in the return leg was sensational. Drogba beat him just once. And of course Agger scored our goal. That was a rite of passage, "for sure".
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #68 on: July 24, 2008, 12:34:16 pm »
The Drogba v Agger duel was a revelation. Drogba mastered him at the Bridge of course. It was really tough for our lad and I thought it might set him back a few months (Arbeloa was traumatised in the same game and it took him ages to recover - missing the Final when he had no right to on his previous form). But Agger came back instantly. His performance in the return leg was sensational. Drogba beat him just once. And of course Agger scored our goal. That was a rite of passage, "for sure".

True. I was very worried for Agger after the first leg, but he bounced back, which showed real character.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #69 on: July 24, 2008, 12:37:00 pm »
True. I was very worried for Agger after the first leg, but he bounced back, which showed real character.
His performance that night was absolutely fantastic, remember reading an article beforehand with Carra saying don't worry about Agger up against Drogba for the second leg. Made of stern stuff our Danny.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #70 on: July 24, 2008, 02:22:36 pm »
Damn this is a fine thread. So many good points on here:

Another thing working in Carra's favour this year is the need to integrate Dossena and especially Degen in the back four.  Degen in particular seems not to be too defensively-minded and thus will need guidance and shepherding when he plays for our backline.  I can see Carra's prowess in marshaling our defense becoming even more important at the start of the season which mitigates against seeing an immediate Skrtel-Agger combination.

Is a great point. Full backs aren't quite as key as centre backs, but I felt last season one of the main reasons Carra wound up as right back was not as a serious solution to the role, but to allow Skrtel to be eased into the role, with Carra then able to cover if his positional sense was off.

Pre-season is important for this too, I remember how much better Agger looked after the summer break, for example. I totally agree also with that Drogba double act. That second game...just wow. As has been said in the Reina thread coming back from adversity is one of the things that seperates the good from the very good and the very good from the great. I was confident just watching him step onto the pitch...I seem to remember he'd suddenly changed his appearance...he looked HARD, and he was just immense, even apart from the goal.

Compare and contrast with Senderos, who has never recovered from the Drogba treatment, and never, for me, looked the same player for Arsenal since they first met.

Re: Reina.

I didn't mention him because I was only thinking about the defensive line, but it's totally true about his distribution. It's not just that he's good, he's also creative with it, and that he's about the only keeper I've watched where I have total confidence in him when he strays off his line or offers another passing option to the back four. Yes that Bolton free kick still irritates...an absurd decision.

I mentioned in the Reina thread as well how vital he is to our high line...he closes down so quickly, and is a perfectly capable defender when out of the box (IE he tends to stay on his feet, if dragged out wide he won't dive in, but prevents and blocks the cross/run allowing his defence to cover him etc) that actually it's true, any discussion of our back 4 should include him, because really it's a back 5, rather than the standard back 4 plus keeper.

I loved the look of Gulasci in the u19's as well, he looked a class apart for keepers of that age group, and showed many of the traits I love in Reina, plus pulling off a couple of simply outrageous saves. Poor finishes admittedly, but still they were saves no keeper (especially of his size) had ANY right to change. Based on those performances I wouldn't worry if the lad were needed in the first team now.

Re: Wright.

Yes, poor guy suffered from Souness and the players around him. I think he's also gone on record saying how much James' moments of madness cost us too. Probably fairer to look how well he did for England when he had the chance, a much better defence, organised properly, where he still stood out. So unlucky in ability to play his way back into the side, then inevitably get injured just as a big tournament arrived. Coming to think of it, along with Baresi and Maldini he would be a player hugely responsible for teaching me that defense, and defensive football, is also an art that can be appreciated every bit as much as passing or dribbling or shooting.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #71 on: July 24, 2008, 02:25:29 pm »
True. I was very worried for Agger after the first leg, but he bounced back, which showed real character.

It occurs as well that 'bouncing back' doesn't do it justice really. He didn't so much 'bounce back' as drag himself up, Rocky-style, on the count of 8 or 9, with eye of the tiger suddenly playing in his mind, to deliver a glorious upper-cut which knocked a hitherto untouched Apollo Drogba out cold.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #72 on: July 24, 2008, 04:02:07 pm »
Quality post including one popular myth:

He took an inadequate full-back and made the best centre-back stopper in the world out of Carragher. 

Actually it was Houllier who, in the latter part of 2003-04 season, put Carra in the middle. It was an instant success.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #73 on: July 24, 2008, 07:18:47 pm »
Top quality thread this, well done.  Some excellent points made, too many to go into individually...
I do agree with Yorky about Hyppia being already the definite 4th CB, and I agree Carra is the man to be demoted in favour of the pacier, more attacking and more technically adept Agger - Skrtel combination. 

I just can't see it happening before the mid-point of the season, however, even with the most ambitious timescale.  there are just so many factors to consider in selecting the CB pairing:


Form (both individual performance and defensive-unit performance)

Opposition (1 vs. 2 strikers; pace; dead-ball ability; skill level; sheer awkwardness; numbers of attackers; attacking intent, etc...)

Competition (League vs. Cup tie vs. Champions league; keeping one eye on the forthcoming matches, etc.)

Need to bed in new players  - With Riise gone, and Dossena & Degen to begin bedding in, and Skrtel to continue doing so, and everyone to get used to each other and the team needs, Carra  (and Sami) will be needed to maintain organisation and discipline.  Certainly if both Dossena and Degen play at the same time, Carra will play too initially.

Rotation of full backs, requiring stability at CB - each FB position will also be rotated.  As the degree of familiarity with the new guys increases, the need to have Carra playing to compensate for their inexperience in the team will decrease.

Rotation of CB pairing , while needing to ensure experience / organisation / pace / stability etc. are maintained

Formation changes (3 CBs / 4-4-2 / 4-5-1, etc)

Injuries & suspensions.


I know I'm glossing over these points, but I'm sure you'll be able to interpret what I mean, and flesh them out for yourselves better than I can.  If I went into them in depth, I'd be all day at it!  ;)

Also there's another point nobody has gone into much as yet.  When playing the other "Big Three", home or away, we'll definitely play somewhat differently to playing any other teams - there'll be more outright defensive work to be done.   Against everyone else, there's be varying degrees of attacking / defending to do, depending on whether the game is at Anfield or not, and who the opposition is.  The likes of Stoke and co will look to defend all-out home or away, while Spurs and others (who?) will pose more of an attacking threat.  I'll expect Rafa to rotate the pairings with this just one of the factors he consideres.  He probably has a mainframe trying to work out the permutations!!!

All in all, I think carra and Agger - assuming Agger is fully fit and well - will probably be the starting pairing, until Rafa is happy that Agger is back to 100% fitness, and fully re-integrated into the team.  If Agger is off the boil for any reason, then it'll be Skrtel instead. 

Over time, I expect Carra will be phased gently out, but certainly not before the 2nd half of the season.  Of course injuries or loss of form may completely alter that timescale.  But if Carra is back to the best of his form, he may still be CB #1 right up to next season.  Watch this space... 
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #74 on: July 25, 2008, 12:44:32 am »
What are the odds of Rafa rotating the central 2 together? First choice pairing of Skytel and Agger in the league, barring injuries and suspensions, and then come semi-easy Cup game at home - and it's a seasoned Hyypia paired with a Carra who's defended more times for Liverpool than anyone in a long time.

Seems to me you could get more miles out the old Rolls if you went to work in the M3  ;D

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #75 on: July 26, 2008, 09:28:35 am »
enjoyable discussion...seems to me that Carra has much more top class "mileage" and in the opening piece U mentioned that our full-backs previously won european cups...then the message possibly overlooked in that is that Tommy SMITH was virtually written off at the beginning of the 73/74 season, and yet after switching to right back become an attacking support full-back (last goal v the gordies at wembly 74?) and again when Thommo was injured became a star AGAIN in 76/77 and at the end in fact scored the winner for the FIRST european cup in Rome ...

i dont see an "outstanding" full bck in Deggen, Darby or Arbeloa (YET!) to replace Finnan ...all have "something" Finnan is still a good player - and Arbeloa is a sort of "utility" player who can play in several positions ...

as far as the team / defence/midfield/attack selections go RAFA will surely remind us that he wants to win ALL the games, and whilst having a "first choice" will alternate players still especially if we "go for it" ...with both CL & PL games being priority , he won la liga & uefa cup with virtually 2 seperate selections..

Rafa wont be as "fixed"as we are , and I dont think is so committed to a formation (even a defensive pairing) ...so WILL "rotate" ...I believe if DAgger had been fit all season we WOULD have won possible BOTH PL & CL last season, and even without barry & villa COULD do that this season...bit of luck, no major injuries (insha'allah) and good karma and we will be smiling come the end of may (is it too much of a co-incidence that the Cl final is in Rome?) ...

anyways...speaking as an "oldie" i favour keeping older defenders...experience counts for much more than the "young modern game" want to acknowledge..and I am sure RAFA will ease changes when necessary as his first priority is the team and LFC!

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #76 on: July 28, 2008, 06:13:11 pm »
I think it's a self indulgent, speculative piece based on nothing more than message board hearsay and total football romanticism, and shows an alarming lack of respect for a truly great defender and club legend who is at the peak of his powers.

To say he relies only on last ditch tackles just shows a lack of basic football knowledge. His improvement over the past few seasons has been down to him maturing as a player and his superb football brain, which enables him to see things and cut out danger before they even happen.

He's the heart and soul of the team and our leader on the pitch. If you want to forsake that for some pretty passing and a slightly more adventurous approach from the back, then more fool you, and I'm sure the manager will agree with me.

Skittle and Agger haven't even played together yet and they're already being heralded as the new Lawrenson and Hansen, and the missing piece of the title jigsaw, with Jamie put out to pasture. Crazy.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #77 on: July 28, 2008, 06:14:31 pm »
I think it's a self indulgent, speculative piece based on nothing more than message board hearsay and total football romanticism, and shows an alarming lack of respect for a truly great defender and club legend who is at the peak of his powers.

To say he relies only on last ditch tackles just shows a lack of basic football knowledge. His improvement over the past few seasons has been down to him maturing as a player and his superb football brain, which enables him to see things and cut out danger before they even happen.

He's the heart and soul of the team and our leader on the pitch. If you want to forsake that for some pretty passing and a slightly more adventurous approach from the back, then more fool you, and I'm sure the manager will agree with me.

Skittle and Agger haven't even played together yet and they're already being heralded as the new Lawrenson and Hansen, and the missing piece of the title jigsaw, with Jamie put out to pasture. Crazy.
Read it again.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #78 on: July 30, 2008, 12:34:37 am »
Cracking post. I really miss pieces being produced on this site with regularity. Anywho.

One thing I couldn't help but think about two things. Both will automatically have people rolling their eyes, but I can't help but wonder how Benitez enjoyed the success he did at Valencia with what appears on the face of it a very one-dimensional defence. Curro Torres is capable of getting forward and supporting attacks, but more in a Steve Finnan, rather than Cafu, kind of way. Carboni simply didn't have the legs to do it and while Pellegrino and Ayala were both fairly assured in possession, neither are particularly comfortable when crossing the half-way line.

It just goes to show how much Rafa has had to develop his philosophies. If you cast your mind back to the 2005/2006 season and think of the defence we had, I'd say Benitez was exceptionally happy with his options. I don't think for one second Benitez has ever tried to replicate every last detail of what he had at the Mestalla, but a manager has his ideals and I can't see where having a Pasarella-esque centre-half entered his mind. I recall us being linked with the likes of Coloccini and Milito - both good players in their own right, but neither are going to maraud forward menacingly.

Agger and Aurelio are two players that have helped shape the revolution Benitez wants to stamp on this club and I'm thankful for them. While I don't doubt Benitez is as stubborn as they come, it takes someone with a great degree of intelligence to alter their thoughts in view of a long-term gain. Perhaps it was the shock of having players come to Anfield without any attacking intentions that changed his mind. You rarely get that in La Liga. If the equivelant of a Middlesbrough or Bolton went to Barcelona or Real Madrid over in Spain, they go out and have a go. As we all know, we regularly face opposition that are happy to sit back and aim to frustrate, which means the defence have more time on the ball. Better quality in a deeper position means that we start off from a positive platform. People underestimate the importance of what you have put across. Had Arsenal had Danny Mills and Ben Thatcher, they wouldn't have been in the hunt for the league at all last season.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #79 on: July 30, 2008, 01:58:24 pm »
Deppending on what formation rafa decides to use this season.
i think the best would be 4-4-2

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Carra..agger..skretl...aurelio
pennant..mascherano.gerrard..babel
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