I've been thinking lately about the things that are preventing us making the step up to title challengers. In my opinion, it appears that the current team and philosophy can go one of two ways. Both differing in their culture and influence. In a way it is fitting that Rafa having studied in Italy under Saachi may not even be aware of what progression will be because of tunnel vision. Many credit Saachi with the downfall of the 'libero', when he introduced a ball playing CD into a back four coupled with zonal marking.
Originally Posted by Arrigo Saachi
Now a libero would have no place in such a controlled and disciplined unit, so thus, the deep lying midfield playmaker was born, at the sacrifice of a true midfield player, and so began the death of the 5-3-2 *** 2-3-5 system.
The main thing about having a libero in your team is the great amount of concentration you have to have and the ability to know when to stay and when to go. The offside rule was mastered in the hands of a great, having just one person to step up and step back in demanded great reading of the game.
When quizzed about the progression of the tactical side of the game, Rafa said this:
Originally Posted by Rafa Benitez
There are certain things that thrust themselves to the forefront of my mind when thinking about employing a libero in our own system. That is, we have a ready made one in Agger, who is wasted just putting his head on things and tackling.
Second, we have three class centre backs in Skrtel, Carragher and Agger, and we should look to play to their strengths. Kuyt and Riera are both hard working players if unspectacular, who could provide good wing back support, and this would quantify their lack of influence in the final third.
The last thing is I feel the game has changed a lot since this inception, indeed Rafa even said:
The offside rule is no longer reliable and is prone more than ever to the whim of an official, so I believe the ability to control the offside mechanism is now largely out of the hands of the managers and players. I couple this with the ever increasing late support to a lone forward as Rafa mentions, and the interoperability of forward lines like Arsenal, Barcelona, United, even Villa and City, Sampdoria and Napoli (to illustrate it's not just big teams) are becoming more and more common.Originally Posted by Rafa Benitez
For me, this is an upheaval of certain styles of our play, but combines tough rigidness and defensive solidity with the ability to quickly launch counter attacks or build up a sudden five man rapier like thrust forward with the confidence of enough players back to cover.
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The other way I see us going, which is my preffered method is the 'desequilibrante', basically an Aimar or Riquelme type player.
I don't see Gerrard as that player before you ask nor did I ever see Robbie Keane as that player, I also believe it is the riskiest thing to try as it involves putting all our eggs in one basket with the most brilliant and unpredictable type of player available.
Maradonna has shown the influence and impact such a player can have on what is a semi-decent side.
We have the stones in place here, such a team as ours which unifies its strength on the sum of its pieces, needs that typoe of player; indeed it is one of the few setups that will ever allow a player like that to become great.
For me, this current set of players cannot get any better defensively than we are, apart from set pieces. In open play we are as good as we can be shown by our records, it is time to make the transition we are all waiting for, and hopefully a new arrival in the summer will be a catalyst for a sudden change and fortunes in our forward line.