Saturday, 8 January 2011

Steven Gerrard Is NOT A Central Midfielder: So Stop Playing Him There!!!!

For a long time, I've been wanting to do a piece about why I don't think Steven Gerrard should be playing for Liverpool (or England) as a central midfielder.  But I never got around to it.

Then I saw this piece on a message board on the main club website ( from a user called "woollie".  Essentially, he's written exactly what I intended to write and included anecdotes I didn't have access to (and likewise have no idea if they're true or not), so I thought I would copy & paste (spelling mistakes and all!) his wise words.  This is an outstanding post, but I would caution you, the reader, to discern for yourself the level of accuracy in woollies' stories etc.

In terms of his opinions on Gerrard's strengths and weaknesses, I agree with almost every word and would only consider playing Gerrard in a team as a roaming right midfielder, or off the main striker.  I certainly wouldn't have him anyway near the central midfield of a 4-4-2 formation, even if he begged me to play there!

Woollie has posted more of his thoughts on the same website and tends to provide, shall I say, quite a "full" description of his thoughts - once I've read more of them, I may give his ideas/anecdotes further exposure!

In a nutshell we have a manager who is now being bullied by our captain to play in CM. Gerrard is that poor a CM in a 442 formation that it leaves us exposed time and time again. 

I dont post often but only post when i get completely exasperated wilth the viewpoint of Liverpool fans who dont have the tools to make their own opinion and because they havent played the game to a decent level, let friends, media etc influence their standing.

Re Gerrard in a CM in a 442 , a 4231, a 442.

My closest friend is Assistant Manager at a Championship Club. He has all of his coaching badges and indeed was taught by Mr Hodgson on an EUFA course 5 years ago. He has 300 premiership games under his belt and has worked with several Premiership coaches/managers; Hence he knows what he is talking about. He is also a LFC fan with strong links with the club.

In May he told me about the fall out between Benitez/Gerrard and that it had broken down and was irrepairable. In other words one had to go. He said that due to the fact that Benitez was at fault for the departure of Alonso ( Benitezs' refusal to aplogise to Alonso and his wife after the Inter game in 2008 being the issue), the worry was that players who he had also fell out with, would leave. So Benitez left. 
We were on holiday in Spain (golf trip/ my stag do) when Benitez left ( early June) and we were given a masterclass in inside football talk from this friend, due to it ****ing down all day. My friends were then given a lecture with the aid of beer glasses, mats etc on how poor a CM player Gerrard is in a 442.
He relays 3 stories. One involving Benitez, one involving Stuart Pearce/Sven-Goran Erikson and another involving Whisky nose Ferguson, all relating to Gerrard.
First off . Benitez. My friend doesnt particularly like Rafa ( we disagreed big time over this), but his opinion is formed from a personality point of view. He was saying that he is referred to, within the game, as a tactical genius and accredited his 4231 system as the best system used today. He tells this story at meeting Benitez at a seminar and discussing Gerrards positional weaknesses in the CM position and finds it fascinating ( January 2005).
Secondly Stuart Pearce. My friend visited Anfield with Stuart Pearce in November 2006 for a Champions League game. This was due to Pearces Man City playing at Anfield on the Saturday after. I think the game was PSV. Anyway the day after my friend took a session with Pearce in the morning then went through videos of LFC with the players , showing LFCs weaknesses and strengths. There was 30 minutes on Gerrards weaknesses in a CM position. They knew he would be playing there due to injuries and suspensions. On the Fiday they then coached Joey Barton and Micah Richards on outplaying Gerrard, in a 5 man midfield
Any of you fellow anoraks out there this was one of Rafas few attempts to deploy a 352 sweeper system which he scrapped after 1minute 30 secs as he say City had come to play 451. Frustratingly for City , Gerrard scored the winner after Joey Barton stood and slipped on the ball and he side footed in from just outside the box. Gerrard had been outplayed all day by
Barton and Richards and had spent most of the game tracking back.

Lastly Ferguson. Although my friend had several run-ins with Ferguson in his playing days , it didnt stop him attending coaching clinics ran by Ferguson and even Brian Kidd. Ferguson was quoted as saying about Gerrard that he was the finest British attacking midfielder since Gascoine, at the same time as his defensive mentality was equally poor.
He went on to describe Gerrards poor defensive qualities down to his natural tendency to be forward thinking.
Two recent examples of this being G Barry goal at the Eastlands earlier this season where Gerrard made three positional mistakes in 25 seconds in the build up. 
In short Gerrard has and always will do as little as possible when we havent got the ball ( criminal in a 442, but ok in the middle of the 3 in a 4231 ( off Torres)). Look at the way he half looks at milner to his left , lets him half go as if thinking he wont pass it there, he wont pass it there, oh **** he has passed it there!! by the time he tracks Milner back he has passed it back to an unmarked Barry who slots home! Gerrard does this way to often and has done for years. Thars why you will see him making so many tracking back last ditch tackles!! The best CM players over the years are very rarely seen going to ground as there positional sense is that good that they squeeze the play into other areas and invariably backwards.
The last point my friend raises is a fascinating stat.
Steven Gerrard has played over 600 senior career games for both Liverpool and England. He has played considerably less than 200 of those games in his preferred CM position!! Hence at this moment , at the age of 30, he doesnt possess the wealth of experience that he should have or would have had if he had played all of his career there. He has played under 9 managers during his career and every manager bar Hodgson have preferred to play him anywhere but CM.
In conclusion Gerrard , in my opinion is the greatest liverpool player that I will ever see, but he aint a CM. He should be given the same licence that Messi, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have been given over the years and set free to do as much damage as possible. Free him of all defensive responsibilities and push him forward. Believe me , every premiership team would rather have Gerrard tracking back and defending throw-ins and corners rather than trying to stop him playing one-twos and give and gos around their penalty box!!!!

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