Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How Will Liverpool Line Up Next Season?

Photo: David Rawcliffe
The warning signs are there in the title to this article- the following piece of writing will contain no solid fact whatsoever. It will be almost entirely speculation on my part, and will, in all probability, turn out to be totally wrong. I am not blessed with the footballing brain of Brendan Rodgers, and as such my ideas of how Liverpool should play their football next season may not exactly tally up with his! Still, I’ll give it a shot.

One of the reasons it is so hard to determine exactly how Liverpool will look to play in the coming season is because the exact personnel of our starting eleven is unknown. It is a fair assumption that our midfield will be subject to a lot of rotation; we have more games this season due to being back in the Champions League (yay!), and Sterling, Markovic, Coutinho, Lallana, Ibe, Suso and Texeira are all capable of stepping up to the plate. All of these players can ply their trade in the number 10 role or in a wider position-this gives the side a huge amount of versatility. In some games we could opt for the raw pace of Sterling, Ibe and Markovic- this would lead to a deadly counter-attacking style. In other fixtures we could go down the route of sheer technical ability as opposed to pure pace; Coutinho, Lallana, Suso and Texeira are all extremely gifted on the ball. A combination such as this would lead to a shift towards the ‘total football’ style so widely discussed when Brendan Rodgers first took the reigns at LFC, as all of these players have exceptional passing ability. This ability to mix things up not only from game to game, but also within games, gives us a huge adaptability. This was something we were, to an extent, lacking last season.

All of this goes on the assumption that we will be playing three attacking players behind a lone striker- it is feasible that this might not be the case. The signing of Loic Remy from QPR looks imminent, and he is undoubtedly a talented player. It is inconceivable that he should push Daniel Sturridge out of the side, so perhaps Rodgers is planning on playing two up front. Of course, it could just be that Remy is being brought in to strengthen the squad, and is only being purchased as back-up, but the possibility of a two-man front line has to be considered.  With Remy out of the equation, a 4-2-3-1 would make the most sense: two of Can, Henderson, Gerrard and Allen could occupy the deeper roles, with a combination of the aforementioned midfielders in the three and Sturridge up front on his own. Once Remy is factored in, it becomes harder to predict what Rodgers might do. It is possible that he could revert to a formation he used at times last season- the formation he dubs ‘the 4-4-2 diamond’. Better known to some as the 4-1-2-1-2, this features one holding midfielder, two central midfielders and one out-and-out attacking midfielder playing behind two strikers. This was utilised sometimes last season to allow the SAS partnership to thrive; there is no reason to suggest that it might not be used once more to make full use of the SAR partnership (admittedly not quite as catchy). Though this could be deemed the most beneficial for Sturridge and Remy, it means there is only one attacking midfielder in the line-up, meaning multiple attacking midfielders would have to be played out of position. The signings of Lallana and Markovic this transfer window suggests to me that Rodgers is not looking to regularly go for the 4-4-2 diamond, and his preference is to opt for something closer to the 4-2-3-1 in order to make full use of our massive amounts of quality in the attacking midfield area.

The question many fans are most eager to find the answer to is whether Liverpool will play more defensively next season. Our one obvious shortcoming last season, the flaw in the team that ultimately cost us the title, was clearly our defence. As such, it would be ludicrous to suggest that Rodgers will not look to strengthen the team’s defensive qualities in one way or another. However, I don’t think he will look to address the defensive frailties by lining up in a more defensive manner. Liverpool’s main asset is their great attacking football, so to compromise that by committing fewer men forward would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot. Instead, I think it likely that our defence will be strengthened by means of new acquisitions in the transfer market. We have been persistently linked with Dejan Lovren since before the window opened, and he would not be a bad signing. The fees being bandied about are ridiculous, and I certainly don’t think he is worth the £20 million figure being cited, but he seems to be a solid centre-back. Other than Sakho we have no defenders who are good enough to be regular starters if we want to mount another serious title challenge, so the signing of Lovren (or similar) and at least one new full back is imperative. If we manage to bring in the right players, we won’t need to play in a manner any less attack-minded than last season, as we will have a defence which can be relied upon.

To sum up, there is no way of knowing for sure exactly what we’ll be seeing from Liverpool next season, but that’s all part of the excitement. On August 17th the plans of Brendan Rodgers will start to be revealed, and we can begin to see for ourselves what Liverpool have in store for us in 2014/15. All we can do until then is hugely over-analyse pre-season games, get whipped up into frenzies about made-up transfer targets and altogether get carried away by the whirlwind of madness that is the close season. The only certainty is that, come what may next season, we will be behind the club with the huge support that can only be given by the best fans in the world.
 -James Martin

Follow me on Twitter @JamesMartin013


  1. good article.
    think sterling/markovic have a better shot of playing up top with studge as opposed to remy, especially at this point in pre-season. that would free up lallana or coutinho in the mid. eithier way there will be a very exciting and interchangeable XI in every liverpool game this season! and the buying isn't finished yet!

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback. I haven't seen anywhere near enough of Markovic to know whether he'd be good up top, but the idea of playing Sterling as a striker is certainly an interesting one. I can see BR potentially experimenting with that.