Back Four Problems, and the Perils of Lallana at RWB

Back Four Problems, and the Perils of Lallana at RWB

Firstly let me say this isn’t a Lallana or Rodgers-agenda article. This isn’t a character assassination on the Liverpool number 20. This is just a fan who can’t fathom as to why Brendan Rodgers keeps trying to use Adam Lallana as a wing-back. Is the Reds’ manager afraid of reverting to a back 4?

Many of you will ask how Rodgers giving Lallana 30 minutes at RWB relates to a back 4, but I have my reasons.

Back Four Problems

Liverpool have been spoilt for wing-backs this season with Brendan Rodgers using Jordon Ibe, Raheem Sterling, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic to varying degrees of success. Of those mentioned they all seem to have one attribute in common; they’re all direct. The bluntness of these players is what makes them being played as a wing-back a thing of beauty. It’s as though they get the ball, look towards the goal and think ‘Stop me if you can’ before charging towards the oppositions goal like roadrunner. Alberto Moreno showed how direct he could be in the win earlier in the season against Spurs. Emre Can picks the ball up deep in his RCB position and tears through the opposition on a regular basis, often ending up in the final third.

Defences these days aren’t equipped for these players. Many are used to those that showboat, longer they take on the ball the easier it is to defend against, usually. Obviously this varies when you’re up against skilful yet pacey players but showboating isn’t necessary. Look at a certain mercurial Uruguayan who graced the Anfield turf last season, many a time his weapon of choice was a simple nutmeg. The beauty of it all was how simple it was, it left fans looking to the Gods in awe and had opponents on their knees praying for mercy (no pictures though during games, ey!)

The directness of the wing-backs deployed by Liverpool this season is what has made them as successful as they’ve been. Jordon Ibe destroyed Besiktas at Anfield by simply getting the ball near the half way line and running towards to their goal. Pace coupled with power and the Turks didn’t seem to know how to handle him.

Lazar Markovic against Sunderland had their left side on ice throughout the game and deservedly got a goal. His close control and burst of acceleration left them trailing in his wake. Both he and Ibe have been helped by the stellar performances of Alberto Moreno on the left side. The wing-back role is key to the current Liverpool system and helps towards potency.

Brendan Rodgers, in his innovative ways, has started to use Adam Lallana as a wing-back. In his short spell there against CIty he managed to put in a rash challenge and get booked but that didn’t put many people off and we got to see another glimpse of the floppy haired, whipsy bearded Englishman at RWB against Blackburn. This move, putting Lallana to RWB effectively nullified the right hand side of the Reds in this game.

Blackburn, who had been rigid and compact all game knew anything from the right was going to be a lofted cross into the area. Olsson did a good job at left-back for Blackburn and throughout the second half he made sure to keep Lallana on the outside, not enabling him to cut inside and knowing Lallana doesn’t have that burst of pace to leave him it was an easy task for the left-back.

Many times towards the end of the match you witness Lallana get wide and both Balotelli and Sturridge anticipated an early cross only for Lallana to fake it and pull it back onto his left side to then get back onto his right foot and cross it. The impetus of the attack had been lost with the first fake.

This is the sort of issue Liverpool could face if Lallana is played as a right wing-back for the foreseeable future, even if it’s just for 20 minute spells. If Liverpool are needing a goal then Lallana at RWB shouldn’t happen. Lallana as a RWB is one dimensional. Rodgers, as innovative as he is, is trying to stick a square peg into a round hole with this tweak. Not only this, but if the game plan was to get the ball into the box why wasn’t Rickie Lambert brought on? Likewise, why was Moreno a substitute, his delivery from outside has certainly caused problems for the opposition in some instances this season?

Injuries have played a massive part in this shuffle of players lately, there is no denying that, but you as a fan have to ask why certain formations are persisted with when the correct personnel aren’t available?  Dare I say it, but in the second half against Blackburn reverting to a back 4 wouldn’t have been a bad litmus test to Rodgers’ ability to coach a defence? Yes injuries had played a part, but was it really needed to play Lallana and Sterling as wing-backs? Surely they can contribute more centrally? Couldn’t Liverpool have played Johnson at right-back, Moreno at left-back with Kolo and Lovren central? That would’ve allowed a little more fluidity in the midfield and meant the players on the pitch had the best opportunity to influence the game?

This is where the back 4 conundrum comes into play.

Liverpool in recent weeks have been finding it difficult to get a foothold of the midfield battles, many will say this is a ploy and 541 formation we’ve seen in some games is used purposely to invite teams onto us knowing we’re difficult to break down. You’re just inviting trouble though, as seen as Besiktas. Liverpool in the second half of that game were under pressure throughout and faced wave after wave of Besiktas attacks. There were options to bring in an extra body in midfield which didn’t happen until the 82nd minute. There were players available to go to a back 4 if you really wanted to. Instead we struggled by with Manquillo playing in an unnatural role.

If you’re prepared to let Lallana play RWB for 20/30 minutes, why not play a back 4 for that time and get certain players used to that system once again?

by

*Insert picture of Gerrard kissing the camera at Old Trafford here*

Comments

12 responses to “Back Four Problems, and the Perils of Lallana at RWB”

  1. Chez Koopman says:

    I think BR tries to be too innovative at times. Markovic isn’t a wing-back and I don’t see him becoming a hit there. At times he looks lost position wise, “should I scramble back or hang forward for a blitz counter?”. Lallana was frustrating on sunday. Balo n Studge were begging for first time crosses and he tries being fancy. For what? We’re not FC Barca, sometimes being direct is the only way.

  2. phil gill24 says:

    rodgers ain’t gonna make his team play too direct and that is good thing.Persistence,hard-working and in-game intelligence is needed to be success in modern football.rodgers has to be appreciate that he showed balls to persist with his ethos and has never revert to long balls.I wonder you wasted about 40 minutes writing and another 40 to draft this idea and you never tried for once to think why rodgers did it.I think persisting with a formation that made liverpool most in form team of england is natural and more logical than changing player in one position(he did that to give rest to certain players and also skrtel,-lovren and skrtel-toure don’t have what it takes to play the way rodgers want).if we had concede a goal in that match you would have written an article dishing rodgers explaining how technically naive he is.

    • Sam McGuire says:

      Hello, firstly may I say thanks for reading.
      Now, Rodgers has never reverted to long balls from the back, however his sides do tend to try crosses when teams are compact as shown against Blackburn.
      I didnt spend 40 mins writing this, nor did I spend anywhere near that long drafting it. You probably spent more time drafting your comment.
      What made Liverpool successful was Rodgers being innovative with the formation, sticking with one is what had us stagnate earlier in the season. A good manager reacts to what is infront of him, id like Rodgers to add this to his game. Pep on Saturday took a CB off for a forward, and they ended up coming from behind to win a game. Rodgers shouldn’t be too cautious.

    • j gonzalez says:

      Odd to change a system without practicing it, no? Just suffer with a player out of position against weaker competition and hope for a lucky goal. Same action with the Skrtel replacement. Should’ve moved johnson to left, lovren to middle, and toure to right. But just keeping their plan for side players and having toure try to execute the central position keeps two of three settled.

    • Sam McGuire says:

      How is it a system we haven’t practiced? All of the players there have at some stage in their life played a back 4, in fact 99% of their time was spent within a back 4. Changing for a 20 minute spell is hardly going to be detrimental to the system in the long run, no?

    • John says:

      If you want your future articles to be taken seriously, you should consider spending at least 40 minutes working on your material. Right now its coming across more of a thoughtless discussion forum rant that took you 5minutes than a proper article. Waste of time.

  3. Why mess with a system that has brought clean sheets where there were none before? No, the 3 back has helped turn the club around, it would be folly to go back to 4. IF any change should be made , it’s at the other end . Sterling did fine up top by himself, but Sturride works best with another running mate and Sterling is wasted at wingback. Invert the 2-1 to a 1-2 with Coutinho more central and the new S and S running rampant onto those sublime passes. If Lallana can’t play wingback , he can supply depth at other positions.

    • Antoine G Delph says:

      aha aha aah – after reading all the comments I feel kind of famished. Only Alan Goldstein appears to have put his finger on the pulse. We all know the saying” if it ain’t broke, why change it”. The three at the back with two wing backs have worked so well which has seen recent wins over Man City, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and so on. Now, just because Blackburn plays a 9 -10 man defence and hoping to sneak a goal on the break or at corners (which they almost did)we want to change. why? what for? Because it didn’t work?you make me laugh. Bolton tried it, Palace tried it, Wimbledon tried it and so has Blackburn. Liverpool is still in this competition.Be faithful to your Manager and your team. He’s done it before and it will be done again. A little Patience. No need to panic. Just join me now in singing our favourite song of all time… YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE

    • Sam McGuire says:

      If it isn’t broke then don’t fix it, but the personnel is what made it a success, not the system.
      Using Can and Sakho as CB’s means we have an extra body in midfield because Can pushes into midfield. It’s what we lacked. That’s my original point though, with the starting XI we can keep it but when changes occur we should perhaps look at changing the system for 20 minutes.

    • Sam McGuire says:

      We’re messing with the system by playing Lallana as a wing back though aren’t we? Same with Johnson coming into the back 3. The unit we seen against Blackburn wasn’t that that’s brought us success in the past few months.
      Lallana can’t do what Ibe/Lazar does. Johnson can’t replicate what Emre Can does at RCB. If we’re forcing player to play in unnatural positions wouldnt it be easier to tweak a formation to play them in natural positions?
      Serious question as I appreciate your comment.

    • cho says:

      The back three formation works. It’s shown to be less effective against sides who do well in the air such as lower league oppositions, but I think in general, it’s fine. We still manage to grind out wins regardless of the narrow margins. In my opinion, Rogers has a bigger problem fitting Daniel Sturridge into the team than any other position. His inability to press from the front allows opposition teams to have more space to build from the back. It was more evident when pairing him and the laziest player of all time (sorry balotelli) against Besiktas. Raheem has shown incewdible stamina and pace when played up front. His lack of finishing ia the obvious reason for Daniels preference upfront. I feel 3 at the back is the way to go provided some loopholes can be fixed. And if we are gonna return to the four at the back, then the preseason will give us enough time to prepare.

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2015-03-11 08:36:00
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