FOLLOWING on from Liverpool’s 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa the lads squeezed around the microphones to get a few things off their chest. Neil Atkinson used up the last bits of his voice, joined this week by Rob Gutmann, Sean Rogers, Gareth Roberts and Alex Koschier.
Get issue 6 of TAW’s monthly digital mag free from iTunes for iOS devices or from app.theanfieldwrap.com for everything else.
DIRECT LINK TO PODCAST: OUT OF SHAPE
It’s very clear that there are a large section of “supporters” who will always look to criticize Rodgers regardless and they all come form a certain section.
A large section? Not sure about that. We’ve been competitive this season and it’s patently obvious Rodgers is a good man and manager. That said, everyone’s fallible and not playing Lucas to drop and go front and back with Benteke was mental and even Brendan knew he’d had a bit of a ‘mare after 45 seconds of play; he wasn’t going to make a show of either himself or say, Coutinho by subbing someone in the first half particularly over his selection mistake.
Lucas was my MoM by doing nothing but the types of things you’d expect him to do in any average game and that was just with a 20 minute cameo. I by no means think his injury this season will be the cataclysmic loss it ended up being in 2011/2012 where the league season goes off the rails (he hasn’t been brilliant as he was before his first big injury and Allen’s a better player to come in than Spearing), but a midfielder coming in this month is looking more and more of a necessity and less of a bonus by the game.
Meaning what? What section?
Most likely places are Budapest & Krakow as you’re not going east or north. If you’ve already been to Poland then it’s Hungary i’d guess.
why are sending all of these kids out on loan, when most of the first teamers should give up football and take up different occupations? oh yes, you wont win anything with kids………
I feel I need to apologise for always commenting and writing too much. This is the place I feel I wanna vent my angst / delirium though and today I have a lot of angst.
On Saturday night I was in the company of people who were happy to talk about the game till we got kicked out the pub in the early hours. It was heaven. Naturally, we all had to be separated as the Gerrard debate got too nasty. I’ve expressed my feelings on here a few times so I’ll just say I don’t think Gerrard HAS to start. I certainly don’t think we should be taking risks while we bed him into a position he may never be any good at, bearing in mind we’re aiming for the very top and should have one of the worlds best holding midfielders. This is what I said to my mates on Saturday – ‘listen you bunch of fuckin bellends, this isn’t about SG. This is about Luis Suarez. If we lose out on 4th place by 1 or 2 points (as is very possible) then we lose Luis Suarez. Yes, he’ll definitely stay if we get it but if we don’t then he won’t. If that’s a result of HAVING to play Gerrard, regardless of where it is then it’s heavy price to pay. The wheels of our current momentum come off and it’s back down to 7th. Are you ok with that as long as SG is happy? Right, well fuck off then’. I like what Allen and Henderson together give us.
I’m finished with Aly Cissokho now. I can accept players being wank but what I can’t accept is them being lazy. Truth is, I don’t actually know the answer to this but these wing backs – are they supposed to get back and cover the, say, left back position or do they stand on the half way line watching opposition attacks? Or is just that as Gareth (on the podcast) pointed out, he simply can’t run. Last time i saw a run like that was when I was in junior school and a lad shat himself and when everyone lashed him he ran home. Well anyway, he looked like Cissokho trying to get back to defend. The Tomkin Times said yesterday that we should give him time. Well, I’m sorry but I don’t have that kind of patience. I can accept it in Mignolets case as we’ve seen better. We’ve all seen wobbles before. It’s not always terminal. Though extremely worrying.
I know the selection of the team was odd on Saturday so as I think was mentioned it’s not wise to judge players too much on it but I’ve been advocating Toure starting for a while. Well never again. The signs have been there over his last few games but in my head I’ve dismissed them because I like him. I now only have faith in Sakho. I suppose as we haven’t seen Agger and Sakho as the back 2 then it’s worth having a look at when they return. My patience is at breaking point with Johnson too. It’s like the Reina case. Do you get rid of one of the elite of that position due to how stale they’ve become. I think it’s now time to consider it.
The final thing I wanted to comment on was the atmosphere Saturday. It’s something that interests me. I’ve speculated 101 reasons for the lack of atmosphere with mates and occasionally on here but I got a big clue to it on Saturday. I sit on my own (or without mates, at least) and I spent the first half in my customary pose similar to Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’. After the pen though, there was 10 mins when we were all up singing. My voice sounds like Neil’s (from the podcast). Every word I sang was aggressive and loud and probably a bit worrying for those around. After each line of the songs I punched the air with pure violence. What became apparent was the conditions that are required for a good atmosphere. It’s no good going 4-0 up within 10 minutes. it just becomes enjoyable then. The villa game had the hope / worry at the start, the absolute dejection when we realised the game was up and the sheer joy of getting back level with a whole half to play, in the knowledge we were probably gonna go on and win it. Villa’s heads went for 5 or 10 mins. They were shot. Spontaneously, every single person on that Kop wanted to sing and get behind the team. It was down to defiance and adversity though. I now think our singing is a result of defiance. I have it at important cup games too where I feel ‘they said we wouldn’t progress and now we’re going to’. That also brings it out in me. Anyway, I found it really enjoyable for 10 mins, especially after the Villa fans chant of ‘Is this a library’ (or was it mortuary?)
Why is it always about Gerrard? Is he not on FIFA Soccer Manager or Fantasy Football now or something?
Does age have something to do with it?Looking for the next 14 year old Zidane?
How come we single out Gerrard as the cause of any problems?
We drool over Pirlo,Maldini,Vigo and the rest playing well beyond their late 30’s and yet we can’t wait to slag Gerrard off.
I would bet anybody a pound to a penny that every Manager in the Prem tells his players “Make sure you close Gerrard down.Don’t give away free-kicks within 40 yards of our goal.Get close to him as soon as he gets possession.”
He’s finished?It’s one thing watching football;but have you ever played against a player like him?
It’s a f—ing nightmare! You finish up not knowing if you want a sh-t a shave or a haircut!
So switch off your FIFA Soccer Manager and your Fantasy League Teams and just have another look!
Brian, I consider putting him in my fantasy football team on a daily basis recently. I’m 2000th out of 3 and a half million globally and I have to have the highest point scorers in or I get edgy. Gerrard is one of them. Plenty of assists and a few goals now.
Joking aside mate, this isn’t some sort of vendetta against Gerrard. Far from it. Admittedly, when it comes to football I have a ruthless streak in pursuit of success but it doesn’t go that far to criticise Gerrard himself. In many ways, he’s still pulling a lot of the strings.
My issue is this attitude that he has to be in the team and possibly (we don’t know for sure yet) compromising more than he’s offering (be that alot if that does turn out to be the case). Jesus mate, in a few years you’ll be on Rodgers back telling him he needs to replace Mignolet with Gerrard. Where does it stop? Rodgers wants him to play regardless of where it is but this year in our most important in the last 20 years. We have to progress or we lose Suarez and possibly a lot of momentum. In that fight, every point is critically important. We simply don’t have the time or the luxury to be able for him to learn the role.
What’s more, evidence has shown we’re not as reliant on him as we maybe think are. You don’t have to win a match to see that. So, putting personalities aside, and concentrating purely on the progression of Liverpool Football Club, the choice seems to be squeeze the last (brilliant) drops out of Gerrard or concentrate on building for the future. The fact that I don’t think we lose much in the latter makes it a no brainer for me. We lost 2 crucial points on Saturday which has ended any aspirations of finishing in the top 3. We’re in the battle for 4th now. Saturday was that important. Did Gerrard get it wrong on Saturday – No. Did Rodgers? – Yes. Is that Gerrards fault – No. Is it Rodgers – Yes. Just play him in his position, if he’s not good enough for it then drop him, if someones doing a better job than him there then drop him. If he’s good enough there then keep him. I just wanna level playing field. As I’ve said, we don’t have time for these experiments. We just need to keep putting our best foot forward and Rodgers didn’t do that Saturday. If I feel that’s the case I’ll come right out and say it, regardless.
I’d like to know why Rodgers won’t play him out wide like Rafa or behind the front two where he is clearly his most effective. He doesn’t have to be box to box, just be available for a ball and try to open up chances.
Because he isn’t the player he was when that was his best position, just like Giggs doesn’t play on the wing any more. Gerrard doesn’t have that 30-40 screamer in his locker these days, he just doesn’t. On the rare occasion he tries to hit one it tamely rolls towards the keeper. Not only does this rob him of his main goal threat it also means that defences aren’t that worried about him hovering outside the box any more and so won’t rush out and create space in behind them.
He also can’t recover from these positions to get back and help out the defence, or press the opposition in their half, which is a key part in Rodger’s philosophy. Furthermore, even in his prime he wouldn’t suit the way that Rodger’s wants to play because he doesn’t pull defences out of position with his movement and short passing in the way that Henderson and Allen have been doing lately. Most of the time he just trots over to stand next to someone and takes the ball off them.
The one world class attribute that he still posses in open play (granted free kicks and penalties are world class but I don’t think we would lose very much substituting in Suarez) is his vision with the ball at his feet and his ability to pick a pass, which is why Brendan is trying to find a role for him as ‘el quartro baco`. But I think we can all agree that at this stage it looks a bit of a stretch. I was actually very worried about this game precisely for this reason, because like it or not Gerrard is pretty much undroppable and at unless things pick up soon there isn’t really a position for him in this side.
Maybe this a sign of weakness of the manager but I think it is a bit of Rodger’s holistic approach. Not only is Gerrard’s leadership a very important factor for a fairly young team, but leaving him on the bench if he anxious about his world cup spot could severely disrupted the mentality of the “group”, which Rodgers has been carefully cultivating. But I think the biggest reason he doesn’t drop him is because of us fans.
Every time someone criticises Gerrard it is always followed by a sentence qualifying it so they don’t get jumped on. He can even play an absolutely horrible game and everyone is making excuses for him on the podcast. Do Johnson, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Agger or Skrtel get these kind of excuses? But that is okay because he is the epitome of a “Hero Hero”, he is the Hero’s Hero Hero. I love him, we all love him, and nothing will EVER come close to surpassing the heroics of 2004/2005, nothing. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t the reason why Brendan “midfield” Rodgers hasn’t been able to get a grip of games except when Gerrard has been injured.
I don’t know the answer, and don’t actually think there is an answer. I just think we will have to muddle through this year as best we can. Gerrard can captain England in the world cup and then we can phase him out gracefully in the year(s) following. However, I have been thinking lately that this title race is just crazy enough for Steven Gerrard to do something crazy, so who knows. I wouldn’t put it past him for us to prove us all wrong and surge us onwards to one last magical triumph :) YNWA
Well this is embarrassing, I feel like I have been outed. I was playing around with gravatar for my professional profile and was not expecting my mug shot to turn up here! Anyone know how to turn it off for particular websites (or better still only turn it on for particular websites)?
Neil so brilliantly articulated the frustration and anger I was feeling about this game. How can our undoubtedly excellent manager occasionally have a total brainfart and act like an 11 year old playing FIFA?
I think our strongest, most balanced team now is;
Mig; Johnson Skrtel Sakho Enrique; Lucas Hendo Allen; Sturridge Coutinho Suarez
If you’re gonna have Stevie in there then the most balanced front 6 to me would be; Allen Hendo Gerrard; Sterling Suarez Coutinho
Enjoyed the show, as always.
Perhaps, though, this group wasn’t the best to tackle The Gerrard Problem. Gutmann (who I generally find to be one of the best parts of the show), especially, always tries to frame this topic with the safest pair of kid gloves conceivable. The discussions that need to take place never really seem to get out in the open, always cut off at the pass. Gibbons is another one who does this with regard to Gerrard.
Andy Heaton, though he repeatedly states that he’d play Gerrard no matter what, at least will push the topic to where it exposes people’s biases. He’ll just outright ask “Why does Steven Gerrard need to play?” Not where, but why. He won’t say “He shouldn’t be playing in any CM role”, as he doesn’t agree with that point of view. And that’s perfectly fine, even if I would argue that he shouldn’t have ever sniffed a CM role after Alonso left. But at least he drags the discussion to where it should be. All of this tip-toeing around the topic leaves a mild frustration.
Gerrard has never been a competent center midfield player. He is brilliant at certain aspects of the game, leading a team, crossing, passing, shooting (well used to be). When games open up he can be devastating with his attacking play. Now the bad side, to be a good center midfield player you need great ball control whilst under pressure. Gerrard does not posses this skill he could get away with it in his younger days but now its becoming more apparent the older he gets. As soon as I seen the center midfield of Gerrard and Henderson I knew we were in trouble. Lucas should start ahead of Gerrard if there is to be a two man midfield. Henderson should always start obviously. Now for the left back conundrum? simple start Agger there.
Italy play with that deep regista setup using Pirlo (Juve do it too to a certain extent) but Italy have 3 midfielders buzzing around Pirlo like bees doing an incredible amount of work – aswell as the defence line behind AP.
That means Pirlo always has several outlets and protection too. They never get outnumbered in midfield like Rodgers has regularly.
Add in the fact that Pirlo has always been a deep lying player, so he understands the defensive role (even if he doesn’t do any of the destroying) and positioning & discipline. It’s second nature to him.
Even with England Gerrard has 7 other players around him with Woy’s banks of 4 and a very defensively minded setup. Not a 2 man mid like against Villa.
Gerrard needs to be compared to players like Zidane. Didn’t move deeper as they got older, just played less, but still in dangerous positions without defensive responsibilities.
What’s amazing is Rodgers wanted us to be more attacking and to him Lucas isn’t dangerous enough in his game.
When we’re the 2nd top scorers in the league (top for 2013), and we regularly take teams apart at home especially, why in the hell do we need to be “more attacking” ???????
Especially as we struggle to keep a clean sheet and the experiment with Gerrard at Oldham and Stoke were abject failures in the deep lying experiment.
It seems to have completely escaped Rodgers notice that we were ineffective against Oldham up to the subs, and shipped 3 goals at Stoke which could easily have been 5 goals with Stoke walking through our midfield at will.
Did that not even register with Rodgers? He really doesn’t understand what a strong midfield is. He’s setup the strike force, he’s bought CBs while failing to really strengthen our FBs and tried to buy an AM.
But he doesn’t get that strength in midfield.
He seems to think that “pressing and possession” is our “defence” in midfield along with “get it forward”, not the structure or the right personnel (2 man midfield Brendan, really??).
Fine if you’re Barca. Not with our personnel or setup, and not in the EPL when Villa mugged us last year especially.
This is scary because have we just hit the limits of Rodgers capability? He is an inexperienced manager, especially in the EPL.
Early on, I thought his midfields were lightweight with no urgency to strengthen (eg why not buy Diame for £3.5m) and I predicted that would define his ceiling and cost him his job.
If he continues with this experiment and we drop a few points, we’ll be 6th before we know it and then we’ll be hit with the top 8 fixtures (every other game into the end of the season).
Should that happen, Rodgers should lose his job. Absolutely no doubt.
I don’t understand any of this.But if it means that Gerrard is still a great player the I’m with you?
Your wife told me you’re not too bright.
I don’t think you can say that Rodgers doesn’t respect a good midfield, he patently does. After all it was with “sterile midfield domination” that he made his name for himself at Swansea. Also, take gerrard out of the equation and we make some pretty decent midfielders look silly at white hart lane and push city onto the back foot at the etihad, something no one else has done this season. But with gerrard in the equation he has a very difficult riddle to solve and so is trying to be adventurous and back himself to come up with something. Who knows, he keeps coming back to this so maybe it works well in training but with the intensity and desire to win of the match gerrard loses his cool and gets himself out of position.
The point about pirlo having the instincts of a deep lying playmaker is a good one. Because when you are dealing with so many fast moving parts as you do in the midfield it is not possible to concentrate on one thing anymore and it becomes about feeling and instincts. No matter how smart gerrard is and how good his instructions are from Rodgers, without this feel for the game he is always going to be lost. Maybe he is starting to develop it now and was just focussing on things too much on the weekend and not trusting himself, but it does seem to be an awful risk at this point in this season for Rodgers to be taking.
But it’s not a strong midfield.
Possession and movement with some personnel but Lucas is the only real measure of resilience as we’ve known for a long time.
Allen does a reasonable job but he struggles to stay fit.
I don’t see Rodgers making the midfield more resilient.
I think he’ll look for an AM / creative guy rather than someone to sit alongside or instead of Lucas.
By strong midfield do you mean a Benitez or Mourinho midfield style with a Mascherano/Makelele type player? If so then, no, that is not what Rodgers is going for. To be honest I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of depth in this area especially with the concerns over Lucas’s knees, and also to give us the option to shut up shop if we needed to.
But to be fair to Rodgers, he has said from the start that we are setting out to play with a similar philosophy Barcelona and defend with the ball. I’ve heard a lot of people say that such a system would only work with players of the quality of Iniesta and Xavi but to my knowledge no one else has really tried it so I don’t what that is based on. The closest examples are probably Brendan’s Swansea and now us when Gerrard isn’t playing, and in my opinion it has worked very well considering the overall depth of those teams. Although Lucas is really the perfect player for this system as he can do both the breaking up and the short-passing and movement that is required.
In a perfect world I am sure that Rodgers wouldn’t mind some more cover in this area, but obviously he is not happy with the threat posed from midfield and so was looking to address this first. We might be fine when Suarez and Sturridge are in the forms of their careers but given the positions that Henderson, Coutinho and Sterling have found themselves in this year, replacing them with players with better finishing ability and we could easily have had another 10 goals this season. I not knocking them as they are young, think they have been playing really well and will get there in the end, but having three inexperienced players in those positions at the same time isn’t helping us.
well, yes, I think we’re on the same page in understanding it. As I said, he believes in pressing and possession as “the defensive” midfield rather than a pure DM ala Lucas.
But he’ll need 6 competent high energy mids for that to cover for absences and he’s a long way from that position. buying Salah isn’t about that.
Ironically, he acknowledges Lucas’ crucial role while at the same time indicating that it’s not attacking enough despite the safe passing being integral to that role.
Add to that, he wants these omnipotent buzzing midfielders while at the same time wants to use the immobile Steven Gerrard for his high risk high turnover rate passes.
The finishing deficiency of the young Coutinho and Sterling has cost us as it has with Hendo (who isn’t inexperienced), and perhaps Salah is designed to help with that.
But I maintain, unless he builds a strong Rafa /Mou type midfield of players whose mindset is to defend, we’ll concede much too often. His vision is so far away it’s not funny.
So how will he get there? I say he won’t. I find it incredible that he thinks Lucas could be ” out for a few months” but doesn’t feel he needs to buy a DM. Or a better option for LB.
I don’t honestly believe he’s serious about the top 4 this season. Him and FSG each have their own game plan and not making top 4 this season is just fine with them.
Please keep the podcast like this in MP3 format so I can listen to it whilst out on my paper round! Thanks
As soon as I saw the lineup I knew we were toast. If ever proof was needed that a manager can lose a game before the players have crossed the line then this was it. Fortunately a bit of magic at the end of the first half, 20 minutes of Lucas, and Agbonlahor’s injury spared our blushes. I love TAW, but I wish the guys would stop sitting on the fence. Gerrard is no longer worth his place in the starting lineup when Allen, Henderson and Lucas are fit. We cannot control games against strong opposition with Stevie in our team. He just gets bypassed because he hasn’t got the legs anymore. He never did have the discipline to play a defensive role (ok, maybe when he was very young). We don’t need to feel bad about acknowledging this, it’s not his fault, it just happens when you get older. Anyone whose played the game knows that once an opponent has cottoned on to the fact that you can’t run anymore, they’ll press and press mercilessly. It’s schoolboy stuff. And that’s what’s happened to Stevie. I’ve lost count of the times he’s been robbed in the middle of the park over the last two years, the poor bugger looks like an old man sometimes: this never happened during his peak years.
Rodgers has created a real problem for himself, and it really wasn’t necessary. The time to experiment with re-modelling a player’s game isn’t halfway through a top four challenge but in the close season. It now looks like Lucas is out for two months, arguably another result of Brendan’s brainfart over the weekend as he was unlikely to be able to adjust to such a high tempo game form the bench given his recent injury history. Let’s hope he signs a DM in the window, I don’t fancy Stevie’s chances against Arsenal, City or Chelsea.
Whilst much of the podcast focussed on Gerrard we should acknowledge that our defence was shite once again. That second goal was an abomination.
Neil suggesting that the team may be somehow psychologically dependent on Gerrard…would this be the same team that immediately went out and won 0-5 at Spurs?
For one thing, the likes of Lucas, Suarez, Agger and Sturridge are all high class professionals in their own right who are perfectly capable of taking control of a football pitch themselves, realistically no less important to the team than Gerrard.
Secondly, younger players like Sterling and Henderson actually went up a level without Gerrard in the team.
Can we just call it like it is; Gerrard is now just one of a group of 12/13 very good players currently at the club. No more, no less.
Guys, great podcasts – but have noticed podcast starting to sound like ranty bar talk; can we get you guys back to doing this when you havent had a skinful of drink?
Lambert’s game plan – took about 30 secs to write down.
1. Sturridge is back and will be played, so they will be lighter in midfield.
2. we terrorised them last year and their defence is a bit rubbish. I’ll add Gabby to the midfield and we’ll go at them again.
3. Rodgers has been prattling on about playing Gerrard deep like a Pirlo. Great, he can’t hurt us from there and he can’t run anymore.
How did he know it was going to work?
A. Stoke the previous week. They scored 3, could have been 5. Walked through the midfield all game long.
This management lark is easy. Well, against Rodgers anyhow. We just showed 17 other PL managers how to do it against us.
Stephen Gerrard is, in my opinion, the greatest ever Liverpool player, certainly since I first watched the team in 1953. But the bullet needs to be bitten. Henderson was terrific in Stevie’s absence, and quite ineffectual in his presence.
I don’t know what I would do as a manager, to be honest. Maybe it will take Gerrard to answer the problem himself. But he has made some really bad mistakes in the last few months and could be held culpable for quite a few goals conceded. It seems We DARE NOT drop him, but this season it could be the difference between top 4 and bye-bye Suarez.
Kenny knew to drop himself to the bench when he was player/manager. I can’t see Gerrard ever seeing himself as an impact player, and I won’t be surprised if he outlasts Rodgers.
and the crazy thing is SG would be the ultimate impact player.
30 mins to go. Instant fear from the opponents and balls coming in left right and centre to the forwards with Hendo running in to support.
Bringing him on when a game is in the balance will have the opposition worried providing he’s sent on as an attacking midfielder. They’ll have to close him down because he’ll pick out passes with ease in dangerous areas. That will mean more space for the nimble players. Having him at the back is a complete waste of the man’s best attributes. Plus players will still be worried about his screamers, even if we fans know he appears to have lost that part of his game.
I hope we start with Sturridge and Aspas in the cup, with Suarez to come on with 30 to go if the game isn’t wrapped up. Just having him on the bench will shit up Bournemouth.
It’s a pity FSG appear to be content with 5-7th while they find a buyer for the club. They obviously have no idea what a godsend we have with the mancs and spuds turmoil.
Sorry, little rant in the wrong place.
Does anyone think SG would make a great fight back? and then maybe push GJ ahead of him.
No, Finky, it wouldn’t work with him at this age. He’s no longer mobile enough. Johnson is out with some strange unknown injury or three and some mental issue (if you read between the lines). I would have liked to see GJ as a wide right midfielder, but there must be some reason why 4 managers never tried it.
You just seem to be over complicating things here instead of just seeing things for what they are and getting on with it.
Your Wife told me that as she patted me on the head!
Don’t be a knob!Just let’s’ all be friends eh?
This podcast failed miserably to address the weakness of Glen Johnson. Someone even suggesting playing him at left back! There appears a slight love-in on the show about him.
Subsequent events have emerged and basically Glen Johnson has been sacked for a dreadful attitude and will never play for Liverpool again.
This podcast needs to bring in people who understand about football rather than people who speak eloquently (broadcast well) and are in the clique.
The official story as I read it was he was carrying too many knocks to play effectively, which to my mind is the only reasonable explanation for his dire form of late (players don’t forget to play football overnight and I don’t think his attitude would ever be that bad). Why not it take it at face value and give him the benefit of the doubt instead looking for scapegoats?