The defensive side of the team drastically needs improving as we followed up the 51 goals last season with another 48 this season and 43 in Rodgers’ first season in charge. So that’s 142 goals conceded in 3 seasons, then you consider in those 3 seasons we’ve kept 39 clean sheets that means we’ve conceded those 142 goals in 75 games.
I’m not a fan of Dejan Lovren but he spoke of it earlier this season how the centre midfield offer him no protection and he does have a point.Many people who don’t accept the need for a defensive midfielder are the ones that have a very stereotypical image of them. They’re players who break up play and pass to the better players in the team. Except they aren’t anymore.
Football manager has given them a variety of different names. These range from a ball winning midfielder to a half back to a deep lying playmaker. All of which are stationed in the position infront of the defence. This isn’t a limited position anymore and people belittling it may not understand how important this role is to the whole team.
Ball winning midfielder. This is probably the more stereotypical defensive midfielder than people envisage when talking about this position. Their primary role is to do what the name states. Win the ball off the opposition before they get at your defence. This doesn’t mean you run around chasing the opponents like Mascherano used to do. It could be you’re positionally switched on and you cover the spaces and angles therefore winning the ball with interceptions or by pushing the opponents into spaces you want them in. If you were to associate it with a player it’d be Morgan Schnierderlin or Sergio Busquets.
Deep lying playmaker. The position Pirlo seemed to bring to the masses. It’s been around for a long time and once again is pretty straight forward. Some analysts call it the quarterback role, as this is the player that keeps the team ticking over. Defensive duties here are at a minimum but there are a new breed of defensive midfielders that merge this position and the one previously mentioned. The likes of Lucas Romero for example. He has the passing range of a deep lying play maker but the defensive midfielder abilities of Javier Mascherano.
Defensive midfielder. This is probably a little harder to explain. It’s a player with limited responsibilities other than to shield the defence. He won’t roam from position like a ball winning midfielder and often sits infront of the centre backs or occasionally drops in between them to give them added numbers in that area. This is more of a Victor Wanyama type midfielder if you were to associate it with a player.
Box to Box midfielder. Now you may think this shouldn’t be here. We have a box to box midfielder in Jordan Henderson and Emre Can. However, it is of my opinion these players are more attack minded. You can get box to box midfielders that are defensively minded. Just look at the likes of Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi. If you watch their early games they were brilliant defensively and adapted in attack. Blaise Matuidi is brilliant for France in this position. They do the roles of a box to box midfielder with the added bonus of being superb defensively. So you could in theory play two box to box midfielders if they had different strengths.
All of the different positions mentioned above would improve the side, not only defensively but in an attacking sense. A more secure base would enable the rest of the team, whether it be fullbacks/wingbacks or midfielders, to attack with a little more freedom. If it were me dealing with incomings for Liverpool I’d be looking at either a box to box midfielder, a deep lying playrmaker or a ball winning midfielder. I do like an out and out defensive midfielder but they can sometimes be too limited and in an ever changing modern game in which versatility, and use of the ball is vital, you want a player that can adapt. You very rarely see a top team in Europe with a specialist defensive midfielder as they all like players comfortable on the ball. It’s no coincidence Chelsea look poorer with Mikel playing that role when you compare him to Matic, who originally began life as an attacking midfielder. You can really tell the difference in terms of quality on the ball.
If Liverpool were to sign say Mateo Kovacic this summer he’d he some coup. He’d be used a deep lying playmaker but make no mistake, he’d improve our side defensively.