Much has been made of Kenny Dalglish’s need to thin out a bloated midfield before the transfer window shuts but one fact of Liverpool’s midfield overhaul has been largely overlooked, whisper it – there is no room for Steven Gerrard.
Dalglish’s signing of Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing on top of the arrival of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll last winter show that in the new look Liverpool, Gerrard is out of style.
As seen from the end of last season Dalglish will set out a 4-4-2 with Suarez buzzing around Carroll and the role of the midfield will be to retain a good shape behind these two meaning that even when fit Gerrard will not be suited to the team.
The hero of Istanbul has been a guaranteed starter when fit since the 2001 season but age and tactical changes in recent years have exposed at club level the frailties that have always shown while on international duty.
Since the departure of Xabi Alonso and his patient, prudent passing Gerrard has frustrated with a hyperactive, everything and nothing at once style; neither a defensive or attacking force he has roamed aimlessly, misplacing passes and firing long range shots with little return.
This will not wash with Dalglish who needs a solid midfield to get the best out of his formation and new signings.
Never a particularly disciplined player, Gerrard was accommodated as a maverick in Rafa Benitez’s otherwise strict formation which worked well for Gerrard and Liverpool while he had the right players around him.
His inspirational role as an all-action hero under Benitez is now Gerrard’s undoing, as it stands he is a player without a position.
For each role in the centre of the park Dalglish recognises that the other midfielders at the club are better than Gerrard.
Lucas Leiva was derided as a failure upon his arrival at the club but with over 100 games under his belt in the league he has grown into the custodial ball-winning role in Liverpool’s midfield, a role Gerrard was never comfortable with.
Raul Meireles too was seen as a flop within a few games last season but the Portuguese player adapted so well that he was named the PFA’s Fan’s Player of the Year and even though he was often deployed in an unfamiliar wide position he shone as an attacking threat.
The signings of Adam and Henderson mean that Meireles will likely have to make do with fewer starts this season but it also puts Gerrard to the back of the queue of potential attacking options.
Having long lacked any width Stewart Downing will be a breathe of fresh air for the Anfield faithful if he can rise to the occasion, in any case he has a simple task of supplying Carroll with crosses, on the right-side Daglish will likely opt for Dirk Kuyt or Maxi Rodriguez.
Meireles may too be an option out wide though he failed to impress in that position under Roy Hodgson but hey, didn’t they all.
Kuyt who, often has been held up as a figure of ridicule, is unsurpassed in his tenacity and eagerness in both defensive and attacking play which may make him indispensable for Dalglish as he attempts to get the best out of his attacking central mids Adam, Meireles and Henderson.
Rodriguez grabbed headlines at the end of the season with a brace of hat tricks but other than that he had a quiet season and though not past it just yet he is unlikely to be relied upon.
With more than a dozen midfielders current on the books Dalglish will be working frantically to move on Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen and Alberto Aquilani before the transfer window closes while Johnjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing are likely to go out on loan.
But when Sunderland arrive at Anfield in two weeks time there may be another more familiar face who finds that he too has no place in the second Dalglish era.
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