Rebuilding Anfield: Loss of Suarez and Lucas Opens Gateway to Liverpool’s Future

The Football Association recently banned prized Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for eight matches on the grounds that he made derogatory comments toward Patrice Evra during the club’s fixture against Manchester United. While the Anfield outfit may appeal the ban, the Uruguayan’s lengthy suspension is all but a done deal especially after the FA released the evidence on which they based their decision. In addition, the Reds will have to cope with the loss of Lucas Leiva, who has been brilliant for the club in cohesion with Charlie Adam.

Liverpool Football Club is in a rebuilding stage. Manager Kenny Dalglish has a boatload of talent training at Melwood, which ranges from the experience of Steven Gerrard to the youth of Jonjo Shelvey, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll. Many predict that the Suarez’s ban will hex the club’s season as the Copa America hero has been the squad’s key source of goals and creativity.

However, the loss of two of the first team’s strongest players may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the red half of Merseyside because Dalglish is now free to tamper with Andy Carroll and his overstocked midfield.

Several questions have been asked of Andy Carroll, the target man signed by King Kenny nearly a year ago. Plagued by injury at first, the former Newcastle man put his left foot and ponytail-distinguished head on display with a brace against Manchester City, giving supporters reason to believe, singing “There’s only one Andy Carroll.” The £35 million pound signing has stuttered since with numerous appearances on the bench and many performances that have frustrated fans and the Englishman himself. Despite the criticisms Carroll has faced, few have been able to see how the youngster has helped the Reds succeed. Friday night’s 3-1 triumph over Newcastle United, in which the No. 9 featured as the loan attacker, showcased the physical threat incurred by those who must match up with him. In the Newcastle match, many balls were swung into the area for Carroll who was tightly marked by either Williamson or Coloccini, while against Blackburn the striker was matched up with Christopher Samba. The Liverpool man failed to finish against his former club, but he drew the two centre-backs away from the Reds’ midfielders. When Steven Gerrard marauded into the box to score, Captain Courageous got through easily as the backs were distracted by the threat of a cross to the towering forward. The focus defenders put on Carroll will spur Liverpool to goals, as he will either be free for a header or blanketed, opening up space for others to attain glory at Anfield.

With the absence of Suarez in the midst, it will be an important eight matches in which Kenny and his men must figure out how to use Carroll’s height and aerial ability to create scoring opportunities.

Kenny Dalglish will also have the luxury of throwing five in the midfield over the coming weeks. Jordan Henderson will be able to prove himself as either a winger or central midfielder and Stewart Downing can be tested on the left flank as well as the right (I would love to see him combine with Jose Enrique). Meanwhile, Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey would benefit from some quality time on the park with the assistance of seasoned captain Steven Gerrard.

The above midfielders need to find their identity and role in the club’s future. For example, will Jonjo Shelvey become a box-to-box midfielder or will he primarily assist in the Reds’ attack, as he did throughout the preseason? In the last few matches, Jay Spearing has played as a deep-lying midfielder. Yet last year, the prospect played in a traditional central midfield position.

Another important decision that must be made by the club is whether or not to treat this campaign as a chase for fourth, or one in which the lads will aim for the Champions League spot but use experimentation to produce a better side for the future.

The “instant gratification” temperament that has taken football by storm is one that is thoughtless and wasteful. Many Chelsea supporters are calling for Andre-Villas Boas’ head, but the tactician has had a mere half-season with the Blues in the world’s most difficult league. How can one expect a man to turn eighteen men into the invincibles within five months? It is simply not possible. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have been at their respective clubs for years and one must not overlook the success each has had. History shows that the longer a manager stays at a club, the better the side becomes, as that coach may bring in players to fit his preferred system, or they are able adapt to the system that best suits their current team (the past few Chelsea managers have all ended up at the 4-3-3).

The same goes for players, as they need time to gel and learn one another’s style of play. Dennis Bergkamp and Johan Cruyff have spoken of the importance of team chemistry, which of course comes with sticking together for a long period of time. Thus, Liverpool must commit to the future. Instead of looking for a title this season, which is obviously out of reach, the club must look two, three, or perhaps even four years down the road to gain silverware.

This squad is packed with talent and, next to Manchester City, is the best team on paper in the English Premier League.

During the transfer window and into February, Carroll must play and his abilities must be utilized. In addition, youth should not be ignored for success now, as it will only come back to bite the club in the future. If Shelvey, Spearing, and Henderson sit, the club will be right back where it was last year. To site Ferguson again, he has stated time and time again that he will not leave United without a strong youth base. It is not right to frustrate a young players by squandering their opportunities, for talent must be observed and put to use in the right way. The loss of Suarez and Lucas opens up spaces in the squad for experimentation, in which the right fit for the club’s youth may be found. Success never comes overnight and Rome was not built in one day, thus all Liverpool supporters must have patience, for greatness will return to Anfield with time.

17 thoughts on “Rebuilding Anfield: Loss of Suarez and Lucas Opens Gateway to Liverpool’s Future”

  1. This is way too premature to speculate on, as Suarez hasn’t started his ban yet, and the club is likely to appeal, meaning he’ll be available all through January at least.

    Plus, Lucas Leiva was injured on December 1st, so we’ve been coping without him already for a month

    1. Liverpool has announced that they will not appeal the ban, and that Suarez will begin serving his suspension today by sitting out of the game against Manchester City.

      The Gaffer

  2. I think you make some good points. If only the LFC management would explain to the fans thats we need to experiment and to be patient, I think most fans would understand. But LFC being such a big club, the expectations are so high that they fear loosing some fanbase if they don’t finish top 4. I think Dalglish is trying to play the youth as much as possible restricting the play of Kuyt, Bellamy and Maxi for this reason, but he also wants results as I expect the new owner see it more as a usiness.

  3. Sorry but Carroll is too slow, has poor movement and tries to dribble when he hasn’t the skill to do it to be a success at Anfield. His off-field behaviour is also a problem and I wouldn’t be surprised if Liverpool sent him out on loan (back to Newcastle it has been rumoured) and brought in another striker to partner/replace Suarez. Darren Bent seems to be the one the papers are talking about.

  4. Building a team around a big man, especially one with as few footballing skills as Andy Carroll, is pure folly. The modern game has moved on from a big target man to a striker with good movement, a good first touch and an eye for goal. Carroll is good to have coming off the bench late in a game when you are trying to chase the game so you can pump the ball into the penalty area and hope his presence in the box will get you a goal.

    1. Could not agree more. Liverpool have shown time and time again that when they try to cater to his skills the whole team becomes worse.

  5. Don’t mean to derail but, as to “the Uruguayan’s lengthy suspension is all but a done deal especially after the FA released the evidence on which they based their decision”

    I just read through excerpts from the FA here

    I was wondering if there was any additional information that pointed to Suarez being guilty. Having read the transcript, it reads like a misunderstanding. Oddly enough, Evra seems to be as guilty of whatever crime as Suarez. Apparently you can derogatorily refer to someone being from South America, but saying someone is black is wrong.

    1. I’ve read through the report twice now, and I still am looking for the FA’s actual evidence. They believe Evra is credible and Suarez isn’t. That’s their story. I agree, it sounds more like Evra misunderstands the Spanish that he thinks he knows. But the FA isn’t going to go back on its decision. LFC needs to move on starting today.

  6. LFC has a legitimate chance at a top 4 finish this season, and how can that not be the priority? But Henderson, Carroll, Shelvey and Spearing are not among the team’s best XI. I’ve got no problems with them getting time on the pitch but not at the expense of playing better players. Spearing, perhaps, makes the most sense for my time given Lucas’ absence, but I’m still trying to figure how Henderson can be viewed as more of an impact player than Kuyt, Maxi, or Bellamy.

  7. Liverpool’s loss to Manchester City showed clearly why Liverpool’s buy-British policy has been so disastrous. Henderson looked like a lost child, Downing has no end product, Adam makes terrible decisions and Carroll has little talent to be considered anything more than average.

    1. I don’t think it has anything to do with a buy-British policy being the reason why Liverpool lost today. If you look at Manchester City, you could argue that their British players of Joe Hart, Gareth Barry and James Milner have been three of the key reasons why City are flying high.

      To be fair to Carroll, he had no service from his Liverpool teammates today, so you can’t expect him to create something out of nothing.

      The Gaffer

      1. True, he got no service, but a lone striker must make his own service at times. Tevez and Van Persie, are just two lone strikers I can remember in the past couple years that didn’t just wait for service, but went out and won the ball or found their own space on teams that were in transitions/termoil in terms of what systems they were going to play and what personel were even the right fit. Carroll just stood in 18-yard box and waited for crosses all day.

        And let us not forget Micha Richards, Joleon Lescott, and Adam Johnson(not a starter, but he has featured in a a large amount of games) as key members of City’s English contingent. England played with six City players on the pitch at one point in late 2010.

        1. Have to disagree with this buy-British thing. Jose Enrique isnt from the uk obviously and he has been liverpools most consistent player do far and has had more influence on the matches than anyone in the pitch. While I do think Carrolls skill is lackluster that’s not the whole part of a forwards game. A majority of a strikers game is spent receiving balls from the midfield to allow them to create opportunities. Also he is very effective when he can rise above a defender and nod the ball down to a teammate, which he did with kuyt in the match today. With such a strong possession team idk why they continually cross it into Carroll when he would be more effective laying the ball off and using his body to create space while heading in the occasional swung in ball. The kid was signed for £35 million for a reason

          1. I’m still waiting on that reason. He doesn’t move at all for the ball and was easily outmuscled over and over again yesterday. I realize it was Kompany, who is excellent, but still he did nothing to change my opinion. He can’t create any chances for himself either. What a disastrous purchase.

            And how on earth is Henderson a starting and 90-minute player? One decent pass and a lot of awful ones and a shot way off target. We’ve seen it over and over again this year.

      2. Relative to the price we (as if somehow I was involved? :D) paid for Carroll verses Suarez, he darn well better create something from nothing. Torres could, Suarez could, even Gerrard can, Carroll can’t… at least not yet.

  8. By paying as much as they did for their British buys Liverpool made it look like they were buying top talent. They are all average to mediocre players. It shows. None of Adam, Henderson, Downing or Carroll would make it into the starting lineup of City, United, Spurs, Chelsea or Arsenal. That says a lot.

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