Crouch will talk to Rafa then decide his future

When Rafael Benítez signed Peter Crouch three years ago it was a transfer that attracted criticism from some fans. Peter Crouch considers Anfield futureWhen Crouch went on a run of nineteen games without scoring his first Reds goal the criticism was coming mainly from the press, with the fans taking him under their wing and encouraging him more and more in every game.

When he did score, his goal was officially classed as an own goal by a PA reporter who, given his decision to rule another one out in a later game (against Newcastle in December), seemed to be enjoying Crouch’s drought. But by then fans had taken Crouch to their hearts, and were disputing the PA reporter’s resentful decision. He scored a second in the same game anyway, so one way or another he’d opened his Reds account. And the official panel who sit and look at such disputed goals ruled against the reporter, and Crouch’s first goal stood. As did the other disputed goal when the panel sat in judgement of that.

He ended the season with eight league goals, plus another three in the FA Cup including the one that knocked Manchester United out on the way to Cardiff, along with two in the World Club Championship in Japan.

He increased his total to 18 in all in his second season, last season, with seven of his goals coming in Europe. This season his total, with one game left and no guarantee he’ll play in it, is just eleven goals.

But his appearances have been restricted this season. Both of his first two seasons saw him play a total of 49 games, but this season he’s been restricted to just 36. In that first season he started 42 of his 49 games, the second season 30 of the 49 games, this season 21 of the 36 games.

He’s started just nine of the 21 league appearances he’s made this season.

But despite the press linking him with a move away from Anfield even last summer, never mind over the course of a season where he’s rarely been used, he’s never been one to go around complaining: “I’ve always got on with it and tried to keep my mouth shut and just play when called upon,” he said. “I know I’m not going to play every game at Liverpool, but the year before I had a good season. I played a lot more than this year and ended up scoring 18 goals. It’s got worse this year and that can be frustrating.”

He missed out on a chance of playing in what may be his last time as a member of a Champions League squad when Rafa chose Jermaine Pennant and Ryan Babel as replacements ahead of him in the recent semi-final. He found it difficult to sit there and not be able to help his team-mates: “When you’re losing a game and you’re on the bench, I always think I’m going to get on. Not getting on against Chelsea was frustrating and disappointing. It’s something I’ve had to cope with quite a bit this season.”

Understandably, Crouch now seems to have decided the time to keep his mouth shut is over. He’s got some thinking to do, if he’s not made his mind up already: “I want to play for Liverpool in the Champions League and win things, but am I really achieving these things if I’m missing out on these big games? You are part of the squad, but there are times when you feel like you’re not achieving that. Whether you want to win things like that or play football is for me to make the decision in the summer.”

And there’s no shortage of interest. Liverpool, it would seem, could prefer him to join his former club Aston Villa, because that could help them in their attempts to sign Gareth Barry, a deal that is currently relying on using Scott Carson as part of the offer. But another former club of Crouch’s, Portsmouth, seem to be favourites to sign him.

“It’s always nice to know that if things did go completely wrong for me at Liverpool,” he says, “I’d have options to go somewhere else and it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out for me there. I’ve not heard from Portsmouth whether they want me or not – certainly not contract talks. I’ve not spoken to them about any money.” Recent reports suggest Harry Redknapp is willing to offer Crouch £75,000 a week.

As Crouch says, it’s not the first time a club’s been linked to him: “All season there has been speculation I could be going to another club. I’ve just always got on with playing for Liverpool until told otherwise.”

Harry Redknapp helped to fuel the speculation last month when asked about his possible interest in Crouch: “There will be plenty of takers for Crouchie if he becomes available, he’s a good player. But I do like him. If Liverpool decided to sell him there would be plenty of clubs in for him.”

But Crouch’s four-year deal is about to go into its final year. Some reports have suggested that it’s been Crouch holding back from signing a new deal, but he denies this – there’s been no deal to sign: “There’s no contract on the table,” said Crouch. Maybe it’s waiting for someone to answer their phone: “I spoke to Rick Parry halfway through the season and that’s when there was all sorts going on with the owners and no-one knew who was going to own the club, let alone what my role at the club would be.”

Unfortunately that remains the same – nobody really knows who is going to own the club, or how long it’s going to take them to do so. No new money will be put into the club until the ownership situation is resolved, and that means budgets are tight. It still shouldn’t stop contract talks being held – as Sami Hyypia’s recent 12-month extension proves , but according to Crouch no talks have taken place: “They said they’d like to offer me one (new deal) and we said we’d love to talk. That was midway through the season and now we’re going to the end of the season, we will talk. It was just a five-minute chat. There was no money discussed or anything like that and everyone at Liverpool will tell you the same.”

As it was, he wouldn’t have signed a new deal even if it had been offered back then: “At the time I wasn’t playing so there was no way I could commit and no way they could ask me to.”

And according to Crouch it’s one of the few club issues not tied up with the difficulties caused by the arguments at the upper levels of the club: “It’s not really a question of who owns the club; it’s about me not having enough games this season and wanting to know what the plans are for next season.”

In the earlier part of the season Rafa seemed to prefer Torres and Kuyt as his strike options, persevering with Kuyt through a barren spell much like he’d done with Crouch in that barren spell of his own at the start of his Anfield career. By the end of the season Rafa had started to a use a new system, Torres up front alone, although not in any way isolated due to the back-up right behind him of three attacking players, usually Kuyt, Babel and Steven Gerrard. But that system really only suits Crouch in one of its positions – the one held by record-signing, new Kop hero, and most importantly 32-goal Fernando Torres. However you look at it, Crouch is going to find it hard to be a regular starter under Rafa Benitez next season and onwards.

That could impact his England career, which adds more weight to his thoughts of leaving Anfield: “I always feel when I’ve been in the squad I’ve done well for England, so hopefully that won’t change, but I do have to be playing for my club more than I have done this season. Any player with aspirations of playing for England needs to be playing regularly. The England manager wants players who are playing regular football and that’s what I want, too.”

So now it’s time for Crouch to speak to Rafa, if nothing else just for confirmation that his fears are justified: “What I must do is speak to the manager. When all is said and done, I don’t think I can have another season like this year where I’ve started nine Premier League games. Out of a 38-game league season, nine games is not the amount you want to be playing. I’ll have to speak to the manager and see what his plans are. I need to see him and sort things out.”

He missed out on a place in the 16-man squad for the Manchester City game, and chose not to even come to the game for the traditional end-of-season lap-of-honour, which usually sees all the squad take a bow, regardless of whether they played that last game.

When the Liverpool squad breaks up for the summer Crouch hopes to be involved in a couple of international friendlies, but wants to speak to the manager first: “I’ll continue to work hard and I’ve got two England games in the summer to concentrate on, but before then I do have to speak to the manager. I have to find out what he wants from me for next season and whether or not I can continue with that. In some ways I want to feel wanted. I’ve got a few questions I want to ask him, and I’m sure he has with me, too.”

It sounds like he’s still not quite made up his mind: “I’d like to speak to the manager and the club before I commit to anything and know whether or not I’ll be here next year.”

Crouch’s team-mate John Arne Riise got a clearer indication of his future when he found out Liverpool had included him as an option in their bid for Villa’s Barry. He says he’s no idea what the manager wants to do with him: “What the manager thinks, you never know” said the Norwegian international. “I feel that I could have heard something since I’ve been here for seven years, won everything we have won and played all the time.”

Riise’s frustration is understandable; he simply wants to know what’s going on.

Even more frustrated is Villa boss Martin O’Neill. His first disappointment came when Liverpool’s offer for Barry was revealed in a Liverpool Echo exclusive, making what had previously been just a rumour as far as the public were concerned into something official. Then ex-Red Patrik Berger rubbed salt into the wounds.

Berger is due to leave Villa in the summer anyway, the 34-year-old coming to the end of his contract and Villa having no intention of renewing it. He said to Barry, via the media rather than directly: “It is Liverpool, and if I was in Gareth’s position I would go there tomorrow. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. He is the heart of our team and it would be a massive challenge for him. It would be Champions League every year and he would be challenging to win trophies every year. It is some difference – and Liverpool doesn’t come after you every year.”

Villa manager O’Neill’s response to both the Liverpool bid and Berger’s advice is amusing – although perhaps not amusing to him or Villa’s fans. Berger won’t play again for Villa. O’Neill fumed: “The sad aspect of it is we’re paying Patrik’s wages for him to recommend one of our players to another football club – it’s ludicrous. I was really disappointed and surprised that Patrik, with all his experience, would make such an inappropriate comment.” O’Neill would probably also be disappointed and surprised to realise that Berger would have said much the same, in perhaps more detail, in private to Barry.

O’Neill’s reaction gives the impression of someone who might have players laughing at him behind his back if he isn’t careful: “I think Pat realises that now and he’s apologised. He said he didn’t mean a great deal of harm but the harm has been done he won’t be playing any from here on in.”

He’s probably all the more annoyed that despite his own comments last week, after admitting an offer had been made, Barry is said now to be personally set on a move to Anfield: “Gareth Barry still has two years of his contract left to run and from my two years’ experience of working with him, he’s not one who would be wanting to break contracts lightly.” O’Neill said last week.

“I don’t want to be in a position of letting really good players go. Gareth Barry is a really good player who still has two years left on his contract. I haven’t discussed these things with him yet. At some stage obviously I will do, but the day before probably our most important game of the season is not the time to be discussing it.” Villa blew that game, losing 2-0 at home to Wigan, but still have a hope of getting fifth place and a UEFA Cup spot on the last day of the season if Newcastle beat Everton and Villa beat West Ham. But even a chance of UEFA Cup football next season is unlikely to tempt Barry into signing a new deal with Villa over joining the next Liverpool quest for Champions League success.

80 thoughts on “Crouch will talk to Rafa then decide his future”

  1. I for one hope Crouch stays. He’s been a great servant. If he is used in exchange for Barry then we will still have no money to replace him with another striker. We need cover up top if, God forbid, anything happens to Torres. Crouch is a better striker than either Kuyt or Vorinin.

  2. Liverpool supporters will regret it if Crouch leaves LFC. You can not find a player so big and so skillful even in the whole world. If Crouch had played in in both legs of semifinal of the champions league Liverpool would have been in the final. Rafa is not always right. He sometimes makes strange decisions like some of his signings such as Josemi, Nunes, Reina Arbeloa, Voronin. Another strange decision was last year in the champions league final when liverpool trailing Rafa instead of sending in a forward or midfielder he sent in Arbeloa a defender. Liverpool must get rid of Reina, Arbeloa, Voronin, Kewell, Italdje, Riise. Liverpool should buy Wheater, Amorebieta, Diego Lopez, Kameny.

  3. I like Crouch and want him to stay but to do so he must be happy with cameo’s…

  4. Spot on Stephen….Crouch is better striker than Kuyt and Voronin combined. Limited appearance, but definitely great goal average. if he given more chances the last 2 seasons, Liverpool might have achieved more.

  5. I am one of those people who always stick up for Rafa when he makes some of his strange decisions. I do not know why Crouch has been left behind in the pecking order, especially when one of the players who is being chosen before him couldn’t score in a brothel that was holding a trolley dash. Crouch is a very tall lad but when Voronin is picked before him he must feel so incredibly small. If I was Crouch I would not blame him for walking, he is getting treated like shit by Rafa.

  6. Liverpool must get rid of Reina, Arbeloa,
    ———–
    I don’t agree with those names….

  7. Abdolhossain Hassanvand – Have you been smoking strange herbs when you say that Rafa should not have bought Reina? Or did you mean to say Vorinon twice as he’s pissed you off so much? Even Arbeloa has been a failry decent buy.

  8. @ Abdolhossain – Reina???? Well I suppose you are right …he has only won the golden glove in each of the seasons he has been playing in this country and due to win it again. Should be the first to be offloaded!

    I will be sad to see if Crouch goes because he is a genuine gentle giant. Rafa probably wants to keep him but external factors mean that he has to raise finances somehow to strengthen other areas. Hate to go off subject but that is a shocking indictment on our comical owners.

    Also funny to see O’Neill having the tantrums and teaching others about good manners…not so long ago he was crying like a little baby when the then Leicester Chairman refused to let him speak to other clubs about taking over as their new manager…he felt he should have been given the chance to sample life at better clubs (or words to that effect). certain words spring to mind.

    Folks, in the list of the damned, My big pony voronin’s name has not been mentioned. Perish the thought that he will be plying his trade (whatever that is-certainly not goal scoring) next season.

    Come on you Reds (in Reserves)!!!

  9. I don’t think that it’s as simple as Crouch being a better striker than Kuyt or Voronin.

    My question is, can he do a job for the team?
    I’m going to sit on the fence for this one though, but I definitely
    would have a preference for Kuyt over Crouch.

    For anyone that’s interested you can find his career stats here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_crouch

  10. If Voronin and Peter go and Torres gets injured who do we have to score goals?

    Kuyt? Don’t think so. Gerrard? Some but not many especially from midfield. Babel? Only a few as he’s still young.

    If Peter goes we MUST get a second top striker. Someone like Berbatov. It’s rumoured he’s chomping for CL footie and Man U will probably put a bid in as they’re lacking a traditional CF. But they already have three decent scorers and hardly need a fourth.

    There’s no point buying a single quality player (Torres) and then reverting to medium-class players. We have plenty of those – Pennant, Benayoun etc.

    Rafa – get Berbatov!! Barry is a quality player but you don’t score many goals as a defensive midfielder.

    Man U, assuming they win on Sunday, are just 1 behind us in title wins. We have to win the title next season! I couldn’t contemplate Ferguson overtaking our record but fear he will unless we continue acquiring top players.

  11. Ray Proudfoot – What you said about the mancs equalling our league titls is bad enough. What is more scary is if they win the Champions league they will only be 2 behind us there. They may even end up with 6 champions leaguesto our 5.

  12. Crouch is off, no doubt about that.

    Leaving him out of the squad against City was a statement of intent.

    I think it’s a shame because although this new formation seems to have worked, given our prospective budget it would make more sense to me to stick to a 4-4-2 and try and buy some wingers instead, or at least that’s what I would prefer anyway.

    The sad thing for me is that we’ve just finished a season where we are a level away from the top, yet it seems that whilst Chelsea, Man U, and Arsenal with their reported 70 million will be buying quality, all we’ll be doing is weakening our team by replacing Alonso with Barry.

    Anyway, all will hopefully be revealed soon. End of May approaches and clarity is nearer…

  13. Just quickly re: Barry- Does anyone really think he will make a difference to our title ambitions?!

  14. Martin – It has been said that Barry will be brought in to play on the wing, so there would be no need for Alonso to leave. I think that as for our title ambitions that depends on whether he players will have the excuse that the off field chaos is affecting their performance on it.

  15. Alonso has not also had the best of seasons, so if come next season he plays like he did this season it would probably not be that much of a loss.

  16. I’ll be really disappointed to see Crouch leave – for obvious reasons he lends an entirely new dimension to our attacking options. It seems that in the past couple of years (actually since the 2006 World Cup) Rafa has gone off him – there was speculation that Rafa thought Crouch had embraced the entitled-footballer-party-boy ethic a little too fervently and it had affected his work rate. His work rate sure doesn’t seem to be suffering though considering the number of goals he produces for his limited playing time on the pitch. I’m also a Kuyt fan, so I don’t buy into the one-or-the-other conumdrum – surely there’s room for both on the squad. Which leads back to raju’s point that maybe Crouch is being let go just for the money he’ll bring in.

    And a thought on the question of what position Barry will play in. If we tenaciously hold on to the belief that Xabi Alonso is going nowhere, and the rumours about Barry playing on the left side are true…could it be possible that in addition to Rafa’s current favourite 4-2-3-1 formation, he’s hatching up a 4-3-3 formation, with Barry, Mascherano and Alonso as DMs and Babel, Torres and Gerrard up front?

  17. Amendment to my post above: after a bit more thought, I realise the formation with Barry could be a 4-1-2-1-2 with the back line, then Mascherano, then Barry and Alonso, then Gerrard, then Babel/or Kuyt/or Crouch and Torres.

  18. Julie, am I right in assuming that you really do believe you can get into Rafa’s head when it comes to team selection? You’re even better than i thought 🙂

  19. midlands-red: oooh, there’s no end to my powers – while some may think it’s witchcraft, it’s really all down to a sneaky brew of one part speculation, one part delusion, one part wishful thinking, and one part gin.

  20. Anthony,

    Man U did nothing in Europe before SAF and they’ll do nothing after he leaves. Our record is safe I think.

    Do you remember Jock Stein? He sadly died because he stayed in charge too long. Had a heart attack during a game. If SAF isn’t careful he might go the same way. He’s not far off 70 and with the pressures of the modern game it could take its toll.

    But I think he wants to overtake our title record and won’t go before that. Alan Green (BBC Radio 5 Live) thought he might retire if he wins the CL in Moscow. I doubt it. I think he’s obsessed with overtaking us.

  21. Julie, you got me when you said ‘there’s no end to your powers’! 🙂

    Assuming this is the case, however, try and conjure up a billion for me to buy these jokers out of club please.

    PS Your formation sounds quite effective. I just wonder whether that first XI will win enough games against the powerhouses of Chelsea, the guile of Utd and the intricacies of Arsenal….but for sure they will put up a good show!

  22. Ray Proudfoot – I’ve seen when his blood pressure rises his face goes red. If we could get them in a situation where we have run away with the league and were playing them in the champions leaue final, if we were to go onto win that game his face would turn purple and he would die. He hates LFC that’s what drives him on, and that is why we cant let him over take us.

  23. midlands-red: I’m puzzling away here at just the right formula to get you that billion quid – I may have to place an order online for some extra quantities of Delusion as thus far it’s calling for more than even I have on hand. In exchange for giving you all the power of Anfield, I hope I’ll get adequate compensation. I hear Liverpool mugs are a hot item these days…

  24. m-r (part II): I think that starting XI could be very effective, if only in eliminating 90 minutes of long-ball plays: Reina to Carragher, Carragher to Mascherano, Mascherano to Barry, Barry to Gerrard, Gerrard to Torres, Torres in the back of the goal! Surely it’s that easy, isn’t it?

  25. If you get that billion – I might even fly you in for a few games. So get working on it, please!!!!

    I like the team. Just wonder whether Barry gives us that change in gear that we’ll need against Essien, Anderson and whoever Wenger gets to replace Flamini (although Song, Rigobert’s nephew might be his solution).

    PS The hottest mug in town is the one with Moores face on it. How could have got such a bad deal for the club, himself and his family’s history??

  26. Anthony: I’m not entirely sure I can give a reasonable answer to that question. Many of my friends and fellow Toronto Reds have asked me the same question and my reply always ends up sounding something along the lines of red fairy dust descending from the heavens and bewitching me. There are a lot of Liverpool supporters in Toronto – I think we have the largest supporters group in North America. I was in my local pharmacy a couple of weeks ago and there was a guy with an Anfield shirt on. Then a few days later I was in my local paint store and found out the woman who runs it and her partner are both hard-core fans. It certainly bears out the belief that as a Liverpool supporter, you’ll never walk alone.

  27. So your not from Liverpool and you have no links to the city? So I presume you just support LFC because you have good expensive taste, well done!

  28. midlands-red: as an aside, I think Wenger will be really hard pressed to find a decent replacement for Flamini and it’ll get even worse if Hleb leaves (as he’s expected to do).

    Personally, though I like Barry and think he could have a really fine intuitive partnership with Gerrard, I’m mystified as to why he’s such a priority (unless, of course, Gerrard has made Barry’s inclusion into the squad a condition of his agreement not to request a transfer to Chelsea or elsewhere). I have a dent in my wall from banging my head during matches at our repeated lack of width and pace on the sides of the midfield, so it would do my bruised forehead a lot of good to see a couple of speedy wingers brought on board, especially if Babel will be moving up front to a more conventional striker position.

  29. I think that the value of Barry is evident in the increasingly desperate attempts that Martin O’Neill is making to hold on to him.

  30. Edward: I’m not saying Barry isn’t valuable, especially to the Villa set-up, I’m just curious why he’s a priority for the Liverpool squad as it now stands.

  31. Of course, Julie, I’m not responding to your post. It just popped into my head! Currently, I’m monitoring the reserves progress via the Villa website so all things Villa were on my mind. BTW we’re winning 3-0!

  32. Fantastic news. Thank god for LFC TV, seen some good games and performances from the reserves this year, and it’s nice to have finally seen some glory this season!

  33. Sounds dumb,
    but I feel that if Rafa thinks that one of those forwards from the reserves can break-through into the first team next season then it certainly gives him an option on cashing in on Crouch.

    So, to add to my point from earlier, I think that solely in monetary terms Crouch is certainly, currently, our 2nd most valuable striker.

  34. @ Julie – Flamini was a surprising bonus for Wenger this season and I think he has hopes for Song – who had a fantastic African Nations Cup. Before, anyone thinks this is a Arsenal site, I best move on……..

    @ Liverpool reserves – Rafa is certainly proving a point here. But I want to see some of those get a chance in the first team squad sooner or later. Nemeth sounds like an exciting prospect. Does he run the line like Torres or does he need to play in a 4 – 4 – 2? Others we’ve seen but are they ready to occupy the bench on a regular basis? I really like what I saw of Insua the other day.

    @Crouch – he’s too good for the bench but not good enough for the first team if we play our best 11. Crouch’s problem is this – who else out of the top teams in this country or elsewhere would have him as 1st choice for their 1st team. I’d say none. So while he’s a good alternative – for England as well as us – he’s not top draw. And he’s unlikely to win us the league, although he has a good to very good goal-scoring record. Would like him to stay – but like Carson – I can’t see it. We need the cash anyway!

  35. We can use 7 subs next year so I’m hopeful we’ll see more youngsters included in the match-day squads, and then used if we’ve sewn the game up early enough.

    I actually think the idea of playing our reserves in a lower division should be reconsidered too. It’s got to be better than sending them out on loan.

  36. Hell, get the reserves in the PL. There’s 6 points they can ‘gift’ us already!

  37. Barry on the wing would be a joke. yet another player being played out of position. Rafa my friend, im beginning to get slightly pissed off at you, just buy players who play in their god damn natural roles, you really arent as clever as you think you are!
    Barry from central would add to the team, even on the wing i guess, as he can take a free kick and definately a corner unlike anybody in our entire first team, our set pieces are a disgrace.
    getting rid of crouch is a joke aswell, as we all know he will come back to Anfield and make Rafa lok a mug for ditching.
    I know the two assholes in charge have ruined this season, but i have to wonder about Rafa in the longterm, he seem to be just a touch too arrogant, a touch too big for his own boots,makign completely ridiculous decisions in big games.We won the Champions League in his first season, FA Cup his second,nothing in the following two even though we apparently have a far better sqaud of players. how can we be getting shitter with better players?
    Must be the man in charge

  38. Midlands – Good points!

    Robb,
    I like the idea of having flexible players! Not all over the park ‘cos you do need some specialists. But if Babel can play on the left or striker and Barry can play in the centre or on the left, then it gives us options.

    Without options the formation can become either stable or predictable (depending on your point of view!). Flexibility is also key when it comes to mitigating disruptions caused by injuries.

  39. Crouch is a good player but I don’t think he’s quite good enough to be a first team regular. He’s good with the ball at his feet as long as he has a bit of time. But he’s not outstanding in the air, despite his height. He doesn’t strike me as having enough courage to match his skill. He tends to be a weak presence in the box, he doesn’t attack the ball enough for me, and he tends to give away a lot of free kicks. (I haven’t seen any stats on the free-kicks so that might be unfair – he could also suffer from being picked on by refs a bit because of his awkwardness). I think Crouch is a brilliant tactical option to have available which is why I’m sure Rafa would love to keep him. But I can’t see him playing too many games in place of Torres, or even alongside him. I don’t think he’s better than Kuyt, nowhere near as versatile for a start, or as hard-working. Wouldn’t surprise me if his goals record was better though, but even if it was I doubt he’d score as many from the wing as Kuyt does (without even beginning to assess the other requirements of that position).

    I also think Barry would be a great signing. In the short term he would provide cover while Masch and Lucas do the Olympic thing. But apart from that he’s very versatile, an attractive trait for a tactician like Rafa. I can’t see him being signed for any position but centre midfield, even if he does get used in other positions from time to time. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa cashed in on Xabi if the right offer came along.

  40. Great stuff Hop.
    Not sure about the Xabi stuff though (I’m a fan of Xabis). It will certainly be interesting to see how our lads do at Euro 2008 and if/how that affects the managers’ decisions and any transfer activity.

  41. I personally think that Crouch is a fairly limited player who doesn’t really add much to our overal play.
    He has a decent knack of scoring goals but it usually through good team play (the type of goals any decent finisher should put away).
    With him in the team in stagnates a bit and players start to use the easy option of the long ball which only Crouch is well suited to a more technically infererior ‘english’ team that likes to lump the ball forward and paly very directly.
    Rafa clearly likes his team to play flexibly and not in a conventional 4-4-2… even when we line up as a 4-4-2 I dont think we ever really play that way. Its not really a system that works in Europe as its a bit predictable. None of the Champions League semi-finalists play a conventional 4-4-2. Neither do quality international teams.
    Barry could probably fit into the team because he is a midfielder who can play the ball. Its not all about having players who have ability to run past other players. You have to be able to play the team into positions where you can take advantage of situations ie by controlling possession.
    The position that is lacking is the full backs. With two ‘holding midfielders’ the full backs must have the ability to play like wing-backs… creating extra players through the midfield and allowing the two wide players of the front 3 to cut in and disrupt the opposition defence. If we get both sides sorted the team will have the ability to create more chances and hopefully more goals.

  42. Jim, is there an article on its way in respect of the magnificient reserves? I am so proud of the team…well done! Hopefully, in 2/3 years time many of these players will be gracing the first team. great stuff.

    Who else enjoyed sideshow O’Neill’s desperate attempts to manage the reserves on the touchline yesterday?

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