An article on Liverpool from Michael Cox of Zonalmarking.net.
The original can be found at http://www.lifesapitch.co.uk/opinion...sed-liverpool/
It is just an article on tactics this season not making a judgement on signings.
I can't really say I disagree with anything in the article. I have often wondered what Dalglish was trying to build as the foundation of his side from a stylistic point of view, the one constant was an ever changing of systems and style.
Dalglish’s Muddled Tactics Have Confused Liverpool
The best tacticians leave the opposition guessing. Kenny Dalglish has certainly done that so far this season – the problem is, often his own players are as flummoxed as their opponents.
It’s odd that Dalglish has no consistent shape or strategy, because it appeared that his project at Liverpool was going to be based around cohesion. Before becoming manager for a second time, Dalglish had been working at the club’s youth academy, where there has been an attempt to replicate Barcelona’s development of youngsters.
In addition, the signings of Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing were interesting and hinted at a long-term approach. None are world-class players, none are ever likely to be. But the apparent idea was that the players would play alongside each other each week, and the resulting familiarity would have a multiplier effect upon the ability of each.
But it’s been difficult for anyone – youngster or new arrival – to adapt to this Liverpool side, because they’re not sure what they’re adapting to. Dalglish admitted earlier in the season that Downing’s struggles were, at least in part, because he had been used in so many different positions. Dalglish is astute enough to realise that (and admit his own errors), so he must also realise that Downing’s struggles are a microcosm of his team’s.
Versatility can be fantastic, but too much of it can lead to a manager chopping and changing every week. Craig Bellamy has been used on the right, the left and up front. Dirk Kuyt can be a right-winger or a forward. Luis Suarez is still trying to find his best position – up front or behind a central striker? And that’s just the forwards. Downing has been used on either flank, Maxi Rodriguez has played a variety of roles, Adam has been played in a two-man and three-man midfield with various partners – the same goes for Steven Gerrard – and Jordan Henderson is either on the right or through the middle. Tactically, flexible sides need these type of options – but they also need some level of structure, generally down the spine of the side.
The absence of Lucas Leiva has been punishing in so many ways, but perhaps the key was his simplicity. He was the one Liverpool player from who you knew what to expect. Deep in midfield every week, he was always available for a short pass, always on hand to break up an attack. He provided certainty in a team full of doubt.
An on-form Andy Carroll would also have helped – the importance of a static central target to an otherwise fluid team shouldn’t be underestimated. I recall another team who changed formation almost every week – Francesco Guidolin’s Bologna side of 10 seasons ago, who overachieved and nearly made it into the Champions League. They played 3-4-2-1, 4-3-2-1, 4-3-1-2, 3-4-1-2 – pretty much any combination of those four integers you care to create. It worked because of one constant: Julio Cruz, the lumbering tall forward upfront. Like a slip cordon depending upon the wicketkeeper, the rest of the side took their positioning from Cruz.
Managers are often brought in as a response to the failings of their predecessor, and therefore strategically play the opposite type of system. Roy Hodgson’s side played with far too much structure. Dalglish’s side doesn’t have enough of it. There’s a happy medium somewhere.
For now, Liverpool remain a reactive side. They can win one-off games (this season they’ve beaten six of the seven sides currently ahead of them in the table), which explains their cup runs, but they struggle when they’re favourites and have to win the game with their natural style. The reason is obvious – it’s not clear what Liverpool’s natural style is.