Secret to Liverpool’s title charge is Brendan Rodgers’ ability to keep changing formation – and Raheem Sterling’s gift of adapting to his manager’s wishes (JACK PITT-BROOKE, 19 April 2014, Independent)
Liverpool’s march towards the title takes them to Norwich tomorrow, a different challenge from that posed by Manchester City last weekend, requiring a different approach, especially with Jordan Henderson suspended and Daniel Sturridge a doubt.
Brendan Rodgers will probably revert to the 4-3-3 system, which served Liverpool so well earlier in the season. This would mean a move for Raheem Sterling from his recent role behind the strikers back on to the wing.
For some youngsters, such versatility might be a curse, as they are moved around at their manager’s convenience. Sterling has confounded that and achieved something special. He has not only found his voice as a Liverpool player but done so in different positions, on either wing or at the tip of a midfield diamond. At 19 years old, he has become an indispensable man for the best team in the country.
That flexibility owes to a taught tactical intelligence that is vital for anyone who wants to play for Rodgers’ Liverpool. This season’s success has been based on the use of different systems – a 4-2-3-1, a 3-5-2, a 4-3-3 and more than one form of 4-4-2 – chosen to fit the opposition and the available players.
The philosophy and the style of play do not change, but the systems do. Staff at Liverpool speak enthusiastically about Rodgers’ hard work on the training ground and in meetings, instilling the players with the tactical intelligence and the knowledge of different roles. One of the benefits of no European football, as Rodgers admitted this week, is that he has more “coaching time” than expected, leaving him “able to get a few ideas into the players”. This helps them to respond to his tweaks between and during games.