Sunday, February 16, 2014


Brendan Rodgers has put his faith in young English stars and I'd love to see his Liverpool side win the title (Ian Holloway, 2/16/14, Mirror)

[A] big part of the Liverpool success story this season has been made in Britain.

Steven Gerrard has continued to be inspirational, in a more withdrawn midfield role – his ball to send Daniel Sturridge free to score at Fulham in midweek was delivered with the kind of precision we normally only associate with ­pass-masters like Andrea Pirlo.

Sturridge has been as sensational as he once only threatened to be.

And the charge for the top has been made at a time when Glen Johnson has been injured.

All three of those players will be on the plane to Rio.

But the one thing that should warm every Englishman’s heart has been the form shown by unsung heroes like Jordan Henderson , Raheem ­Sterling and young Jon ­Flanagan.

Henderson’s rebirth  is a credit to him and his manager for not giving up on a player who had lost his way following a big-money transfer.

Sterling is out there terrorising seasoned ­international defenders.

Flanagan has played with an assuredness that is well beyond his 21 years.

These boys are the future of England – and let’s hope that future begins at the World Cup.

Rodgers is no different to any manager in that he is ­responsible only to the club that pays his wages.

But he is clearly committed to ­developing talent as much as recruiting through the transfer market. To give someone like Gerrard a new lease of life by employing his skills in a different role was an absolute masterstroke.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Liverpool's Jordan Henderson is better than you think - perhaps more effective than Jack Wilshere : Jordan Henderson's effectiveness has improved significantly during his short career, and he's the lynch pin in Liverpool's midfield (Ted Knutson, 2/14/14, Daily Mirror)

Speaking of potential England World Cup players, I would definitely have this kid on the flight. Even without Theo Walcott’s injury, Sterling would be my second choice for a right-sided attacker in either a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, because he and Daniel Sturridge are two of the few English players that can absolutely terrify defences right now with both blistering pace and quality technique.            

The thing about Sterling that you must keep in mind is that he’s only 19. This sort of production at the top level for players his age is truly outstanding, and it’s also likely to improve as he gets older.            

He’s already an outstanding dribbler, and he’s much better at not running in to dead ends than he was last season. Additionally, Opta data shows that his key passing numbers look good and he does a lot of work defensively for a player who is primarily an attacker.            

His end product is also far better than what Andros Townsend has produced in his two seasons at the Premier League level. Sterling isn’t much of a crosser, but unless Andy Carroll is in the side, England’s attack isn’t really built for that type of game either.            

Whether Hodgson plans to start him or use him as an impact sub, Sterling definitely deserves to be part of the action.


Liverpool’s Chihuahua is clawing its way into the title race with Gerrard in the holding role and Suarez out wide… but can they finally be top dogs? (CHARLIE SKILLEN, 15 February 2014, Daily Mail)

The England captain has reverted to being a holding midfielder, dictating Liverpool’s play from deep. Gerrard was a defensive midfielder for the early years of his career, before excelling in a more advanced, free role in his prime.
Now the legs have started to wear at 33, a shift back into a defensive position may prolong his career by years. Proof that you can teach an old dog – Chihuahua or otherwise – new tricks, Gerrard has become more disciplined in how he plays to the advantage of the team. 
Deep: Steven Gerrard (No 8) anchors Liverpool's midfield against Fulham
And again: Against Arsenal, Gerrard was almost as deep as the centre halves
Anchor man: Steven Gerrard (No 8) is shows as one of the deepest players on the pitch in the matches against Fulham (shown in the left position map) and Arsenal (right) 
Look at Liverpool’s average positions from their last two matches. Gerrard (8) is one of the deepest players in the whole side, and vital to each win. Against Arsenal, he’s just about level with centre-halves Martin Skrtel (37) and Daniel Agger (4). 
Rodgers uses two attacking full-backs in Aly Cissoko (20) and Jon Flanagan (38) so it has been imperative Gerrard curbs his attacking instincts, retaining his position and hence the shape of the team.
His primary job is to dictate play and start moves, feeding the two advanced central midfielders, Jordan Henderson (14) and Philippe Coutinho (10).