Connect with us


Rafael Benitez Shows How To Properly Use A Striker

Mar. 31, 2010 - Lisbon, Portugal - epa02100024 Liverpool head coach Rafael Benitez smiles during a press conference at a Lisbon hotel prior the Europa League soccer match with Benfica to be held on 01 April in Lisbon, Portugal, 31 March 2010.

Insert something about milk or facts here

Tottenham went to the San Siro today, and were trounced. The scoreline may read 4-3, but Spurs were never in it, three highly difficult individual goals, and three very difficult finishes against a team that had obviously stopped caring gave the end result some respectability. (The British media will go on and on about how Spurs showed heart and grit, etc etc, real contenders for Premiership and can make noise in Europe etc etc, believe none of it, Spurs are an above average side that play attractive football, nothing more nothing less.)

To get to the point of the article, the fact that Tottenham were out of the game at the end of the first half was largely due to one man, Samuel Eto’o. He had a part in all four goals, setting up Zanetti, playing a one-two with Stankovic, and scoring twice, winning the penalty as well. Eto’o is having a resurgent season under Benitez and nobody should be surprised.

It’s fair to say that Liverpool have looked impotent offensively this season, but under Benitez they always had at least one man who looked like scoring every game. That man, Fernando Torres, has been awful this season, and it all can’t be due to his own poor form. If he was getting chances and missing them, then he can be blamed, but blaming him for not scoring when he gets two or three shots a game is just wrong. Under Benitez, Torres finished with 33, 17 and 22 goals, in often injury-hit seasons. What last season proved was that Liverpool don’t have a deep squad, but their first team is still relatively strong when used properly. If Torres had played the same amount of games as Rooney, (32 for Rooney to just 22 in the league for Torres), then Liverpool would have surely finished higher than seventh. The way Eto’o is going, he is going to put up great numbers this year as well, so perhaps Roy Hodgson should make a phone call and ask how to utilize star strikers.

Eto’o and Torres are similar players, great finishers, good pace, good at distributing the ball to players who make runs around them. They are strong, but differently to players like Heskey and Zamora. Neither can hold up play that effectively, but can beat defenders in the air and perhaps shrug off a challenge or two when latching onto a ball. The way Benitez played them utilized their attributes, having them in the middle of the center backs, making runs of their backs for balls played into space. Occasionally they drifted wide for players like Gerrard to steamroll through vacant areas, but mostly the finishing of moves flowed through them. Now, Torres is coming towards the midfield to receive the ball, instead of the other way around, so more players can load up on him, stalling the offense. When he isn’t doing that, he seems to make more runs off the full backs, especially noticeable against Manchester United when he was dragging O’Shea out of position. All of this takes him away from goal, when he is really only useful to a team running towards goal.

As the major leagues evolve and slowly start to phase out one-dimensional players, Fowler, Owen etc, it becomes imperative that you handle the ones good enough to survive as well as possible. Eto’o and Torres are some of the last pure strikers out there, along with players like Klose and Raul. Eto’o can play in a wide position of the front three, but his quality is sharply reduced. The rest are not good at tracking back or tackling, cannot play as false nines, can’t be target men, if they’re not going to be used properly they’re a liability.

All managers make mistakes on the job, that doesn’t mean they should be sacked. The important thing is that they assess why their teams have underperformed and make it right. If after 8 league games your approach hasn’t worked it’s time to try another one.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. Vious

    October 22, 2010 at 11:57 am

    The game really showed what a mess Rafa’s teams are….they score yet give up just as many….they are as inconsistent as can be

    He won’t stand a chance of repeating Jose’s success

  2. sultan stanley, USA

    October 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    i think he only misspoke about the Biabiany,s foul. eto did not cause the penalty, he scored the penalty. the truth of the matter is that eto was the masterminder of all the four goals.

  3. Colin

    October 21, 2010 at 10:58 am

    As was already pointed out, Eto’o didn’t win the penalty; Biabiany did. That calls into question how closely Sameer was watching the match, and whether the following comment–“The British media will go on and on about how Spurs showed heart and grit, etc etc, real contenders for Premiership and can make noise in Europe etc etc, believe none of it, Spurs are an above average side that play attractive football, nothing more nothing less.”–is based in an actual objective judgment of a football match or is simply the mutterings of a rival fan who is looking to knock a club he doesn’t like.

    I generally love the writing on this site, largely because most posters are open about their biases and don’t try to hide subjective opinions behind the guise of objective commentary, but this was a very, very poor piece.

  4. Ringo

    October 21, 2010 at 10:05 am

    What will your headline be after Spurs (with Van der Vaart and hopefully 11 men) beat Inter at WHL 3-2???

  5. Terry

    October 21, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Sameer, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Benitez for all his faults knows how to get the most out of his players and is tactically very astute. Hodgson on the other hand seems clueless about how to utilize his players and one cannot see any signs of progress with the Liverpool team. It is not just Torres he hasn’t been able to utilize properly but the defence is extremely poor. One cannot imagine a Benitez team leaking goals game after game. Hodgson is too old to change so I wouldn’t put any money on him calling Benitez for advice.

  6. Andrei

    October 21, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Benitez shows how to properly use a striker … and how not to play defense. I cannot image Inter loosing concentration like this under Mourinho…

    • Attaturk

      October 21, 2010 at 5:30 am

      That’s true…although I cannot imagine a Mourinho side scoring 4 goals in one-half either. 😉

  7. Matthew N

    October 21, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Thank you for the brief lesson on tactics. I was unaware of what a “false nine” was when reading this article. A few Google searches provided me with a few wonderful articles on tactics and I think my football IQ just rose a few points. Cheers.

  8. bob

    October 20, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    It’s really funny how the misuse of Torres talk is to the point of beating a dead horse. What i mean by that is, how can Roy not see what he is doing wrong with Fernando yet every other football fan, analyst, and coach can, and have for weeks now. This is the most frustrating part. Make a change before its too late!

  9. Joe Chen

    October 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Those goals are still count for the table, nothing meaningless about them when they could very well be the difference between Europa League and the round of sixteen.

  10. BrickThrower

    October 20, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    I believe Biabiany drew the foul. He and Coutinho were creating tons of problems all game. I agree about the scoreline being misleading. Inter looked like they were already thinking of Sampdoria on Sunday in the last 10 minutes. Take nothing away from Bale.

    The Eto’o and Torres comparison is a little much for me. I don’t think they are all that similar. Both are unselfish but I’d rather compare Eto’o to an Henry type of player. Torres is better with his back to goal and holding up play, Eto’o is better at getting in behind defenders.

    • Edgar

      October 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      I also don’t think they’re similar but Torres is clearly worst (not best) with his back to goal. That’s how he’s spent most of this season and look at how many goals he’s scored.

      To be honest, first time I saw him I immediately thought of Henry. I think he’s best when he has the ball at his feet running right at defenders (like his hat trick vs derby his first year).

      Eto’o is similar in that he knows how to make full use of his pace by finding the space in and around defenders; he’s also a nightmare for defenders when running at them (like vs Juve).

      IMO, his best quality is he can take lethal shots in extremely tight spaces and with little or no run-up. He always did this at Barca, and his goal vs Cagliari this past weekend is a perfect example of this. The power he generates on his instep is phenomenal.

  11. PLFantasy

    October 20, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    “The British media will go on and on about how Spurs showed heart and grit, etc etc”
    EPL Talk – “Bale shines as Tottenham show heart”: “typical of the spirit that Harry Redknapp has instilled in the squad since his arrival in 2008, Spurs rallied in the second half”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »