Midfielders in Defence: For how much longer?

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As Liverpool suffered yet another calamitous defeat, the repetitive thought was how much longer could Liverpool afford to deploy this make-shift back line?

James Milner

When Milner was touted to be the first choice left-back in August, there was a mixture of amazement and worry at the decision. His initial performances seemed to be meeting the need of the hour, though he was consistently beaten down his side.

But as the games passed, teams were more than happy to let Milner have the ball, considering the fact that his deliveries from the left are abysmally poor. With Milner and Coutinho playing on the same side of the pitch, Liverpool suffered a lack of natural width due to both players preferring to cut in onto their stronger right foot. This led to a compression of play in an already congested central area of the pitch. Teams have been more than happy to defend the width of their own box and have conveniently snuffed out any threats.

On the defensive side, each passing game is an examination of his abilities to handle outright pace and it is quite clear teams have preferred to attack his side of the pitch. Maybe the novelty has worn off indeed.

Lucas Leiva

Lucas Leiva has transformed into a backup centre-back this season, and performances on a large scale seem to indicate that this role doesn’t seem to suit him. Klopp has preferred to use him as a progressive centre-back who is a useful passing option from the back. What we have come to experience is something most fans were expecting; he gets exposed brutally on swift counter-attacks. Every single striker has preferred to attack the side on which Lucas has been stationed. He had a great game against Spurs, bu,t such a performance seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Lack of positional competence coupled with limited pace, means this might indeed be his last season at Liverpool.

So where does this leave us?

Joe Gomez

Joe Gomez has had a couple of opportunities in the cup games, but if he is indeed the long-term option, as it’s being touted, then this is the time to play him; it definitely cannot get worse. He would make mistakes, but that is something we need to absorb and move on from like we do when Lucas plays.

Alberto Moreno

Moreno has been a player who divides opinion aplenty amongst the fan base, but attributes we are missing are width and direct play. Above all, though, what he provides is a degree of unpredictability, a complete contrast to Milner.

We have seen what Milner can provide, maybe if Moreno can shore up his defensive frailties to a certain degree then it might be his time in the spotlight. He had a solid cameo against Leicester tonight as a wing-back; a position which might suit him in the future.

Liverpool is at a stage where changes need to be made to wake them up from this stupor. Maybe playing defenders in defence might be the first step.

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  1. The manager has had three transfer windows – and a lot of money in the kitty – yet we have potentially the worst defence in the history of the club. It is truly offensive to see Lucas, slow and short, up against Vardy and with half the field for Vardy to sprint into with Lucas and Milner unable to keep up.
    Sorry, if this is Mr Klopp’s idea of football it certainly isn’t mine. Where was the leadership? Who grabbed the players by the wotsits, as Gerrard or Souness would have done? Lallana, Coutinho, Mane and Firmino were all invisible in our worst display of the year.
    We’ll be overtaken by United this weekend, they are playing well, we’ll remain behind the top four so it looks as if sixth is the best we can hope for. Form can’t be turned on and off so we ain’t gonna improve much, if any, in the short term and, if we do, United and the others will be over the hill and long gone by then.
    I blame Klopp for not having the sense to buy when we had the opportunities. Firmino is saying he bitterly regrets not having European football. He won’t have it next year either so we can expect both him and Coutinho to push for moves.

  2. Mids in defense is not a new approach. Our own Mascherano has played the back line late in his career amongst others. However, you need to have a defensive mind, some pace, and capable players around you. Lucas and Milner have no pace against runners on such a high line. I railed against Rodgers playing favorites and it pains me to see Lucas pop up again. He should be there to play out his last year and be professional, not a mainstay due to a single injury. Sadly, Milner will be slid into this old man role next year. Some blame for the losses goes to the offense not converting chances early in games. Rodgers thought he was smarter than 95% of the fans but 100% could see his errors, now Klopp needs to step back and check himself.

  3. All our on pitch problem had come from one man, Juergen Klopp. I think the biggest mistake here is that FSG offered him a long term contract without him having won anything with us, not even a league cup. This had Juergen so full of himself and he starts taking the fans for granted, completely forgetting that he was brought here to bring us success, not stupid experiments and just playing ” heavy metal” football. Our problems from the keepers all the way to our strikers and mind you we have issues in every single dept, can be traced to him. Oh did i mention he works with only one strategy?

    After 55 games he is actually worse off than one BR, this is very telling isn’t it ? Just another German version of that sorry excuse for a manager.

    Top managers like Jose, Conte and our beloved former gaffer Rafa understands one thing, if you have a strong back line and dont concede, you have a chance of winning. Lucas was Rafa’s signing, did any one of us saw him play Lucas regularly as a CB?

    Yes, we would, ONCE again under achived, not because our opponents are great but we get f****d by our own manager. Been going on since Rafa left.


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