Emre Can’t Protect Pool Defence. Milner Can.
Some people will look at the re-introduction of Saido Mane and his two goals at the weekend and say, “There you go Collymore, all we needed was our top man back” as proof that the quality is there when everyone is fit and available to win the title or more realistically, get into the Top 4.
Back To The Drawing Board
I’d look at it slightly differently though I’m afraid.
The midfield, the much vaunted midfield of Can, Wijnaldum and Henderson needs to be organised better, and a player that I rate highly, Emre Can, needs to go back to the drawing board, as he’s not delivering the awesome physical power, in game reading and dynamism that he undoubtedly has.
Maybe it’s the system, maybe he just hasn’t come to terms yet with the fact he is following in the footsteps of Souness, Gerrard and Co. but he needs to find himself quickly or I worry he may end up surplus to requirements.
As I’ve written before, there is no argument from me or anyone else that Liverpool’s front men, when fit and available, will always have something to get you a goal. They will produce a trick, a great piece of skill, pace and power to make teams buckle under the pressure, particularly at Anfield, but I have serious concerns about the Liverpool midfield, so let’s look at possible solutions.
Firstly, 4-3-3 in England is a system used by few teams. 4-4-2, and especially 4-2-3-1 or a system that has a designated holding player, (Why? to protect a growing pool of poor defenders), is mostly used because combat rather than technical domination is needed over the 38 games to achieve aims and ambitions.
In short, Liverpool are too open, and too open with a shoddy back four,
who even in victory against Spurs, had two midfielders and a less than competent goalkeeper to guard the goal.
So for me, moving forward, Liverpool need to address their lack of clean sheets this season and give their special forwards a really solid platform to grow from. So whether Henderson is the holder, Milner, who certainly has the experience to play there in his advancing years, or Can, someone needs to be told, “You protect our house, you protect our back two central defenders”.
At the moment, because 4-3-3 is a system which encourages open, attacking intentions, I’m pretty sure Hendo and Can and maybe even Gini are told, “Go and express yourselves but make sure you get back too”. That’s not good enough, more attention to detail is needed and if I need proof to back up my point, then look no further than N’Golo Kante. He is a specialist holder who is there to do the dirty work, intercept, destroy then pass the baton to better players than him. It’s really that simple.
Milner Is The Specialist Holder
In Liverpool’s case I think it should be Milner personally.
He is defensively solid as proven at left-back this season, a winner,
and still has legs, even for another season or two to be that specialist, that comfort blanket, allowing a fluid five in front of him to offer support, carrying the ball deep into the opponent’s half while keeping an eye out for danger.
I just don’t feel though that Jurgen has yet grasped that it’s not going to be blowing teams out of the water with gegenpressing that wins a title, it will be a solid, protected back four which does.
This brings me to Can, Hendo and Gini who are all better driving forward than driving back, so let them off the leash, let them play 20 or 30 yards further forward and grow as orthodox midfielders rather than have a situation which is currently making them a jack of all trades but master of none.
If Jurgen can see this, then I think we’ll see the best of Can in particular. He has everything to be a huge force in the opponent’s half, but at the moment he’s just not cutting it, so cut him loose, let a specialist play behind him and I know we’ll see, in my opinion, a special player fly.