Just a quick PERSONAL OPINION on which players I believe will thrive and which will struggle if Brendan Rodgers is able fully implement his brand of football.
Pepe Reina – Thrive
The high line and pressing higher up the pitch will allow him to command his box more and be utilised as a sweeper keeper. Building from the back, he will be able to exploit his world class distribution.
Glen Johnson – Thrive
Johnson is a world class right back. In the last 2 seasons his defending ability has become stronger, while his attacking prowess wasn’t never in doubt. He’s comfortable with the ball and likes to be higher up the pitch.
Daniel Agger – Thrive
Agger, in my opinion, would be seen as one of the very best defenders in Europe if it wasn’t for injuries. He is a ball playing centre back, a very rare thing and as we saw with his fall out with Hodgson, he firmly believes in playing the ball. Agger, without a doubt, will thrive.
Martin Skrtel –Thrive
Skrtle was voted LFC player of the season last campaign. He is a champion League level centre back and together with Agger, formed an excellent partnership. He has the ball skill and pace to play a higher line and, like Agger, is comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Jamie Carragher – Struggle
Carragher has never been the quickest of players, but what he lacked in pace he made up in passion and determination. He is what you will call, the traditional English centre back, body on the line, clearing the lines, last ditch tackles and strong organisational skills. However, Carragher has never been comfortable on the ball, he prefers the “hoof” to a target man than the small, quick passes. His ever diminishing pace will have him struggle playing a high line, infact, what we have witnessed in the last couple of seasons is, due to his pace, he drops deeper and deeper, taking the defensive line with him. It invited pressure and made it near on impossible for Reina to command his box.
Sebastian Coates – Thrive
Coates in young, but he is a comfortable ball playing CB. He is more than able to pick the ball up from the back and bring it into midfield. I would say, that under Rodgers, Coates will probably be used more, ahead of Carragher, maybe in a back 3 or 1st choice behind Agger and Skrtle.
Martin Kelly – Thrive
Kelly is a centre back by trade. He has shown to be a great understudy for Glen Johnson at right back, demonstrating he is very comfortable on the ball with bags of pace. He will Liverpool future ball playing centre back, he will develop well under Rodgers.
Jose Enrique – Question mark
Enrique’s season fell away tremendously after Christmas. He has the pace, but lacks concentration. I also question is football brain, where he loses possession easily by choosing to make the more difficult pass or cross (poorly) and the wrong times.
Charlie Adam – Struggle
Adam is a great passer of the ball when he gets it right, but more often than not he gets it wrong. He looks for the Hollywood pass rather than the simple short pass, and very rarely switches play. Adam is also very poor at pressing, when we don’t have the ball, he looks lost, not sure whether to press or drop back into position (but its an argument that can be made against the mangers as much as to Adam), and when he does try to press, he fails and gives away free kicks.
Lucas – Thrive
Lucas is on the fringes of World Class. Rodgers style of football will suit him right to the ground, and maybe push to be seen as World Class. Lucas likes the short simple passes, he excellent at breaking up play, presses when he doesn’t have the ball and makes sure midfield is ticking over. He will become the conduit for the play.
Jordan Henderson – Thrive
I still have question marks whether Henderson was badly scouted and bought as right winger, which was the role he played at Sunderland. Henderson is not a winger, he is a centre midfielder, the role he occupies as captain of England U21. Henderson was utilised far too much as a winger for Liverpool, a position he was poor in. However, if Henderson is given more opportunity in the middle he will develop tremendously. If he able to be used in a short passing game, I think we will see Henderson come into his element.
Jonjo Shelvely - Thrive
Much like Henderson, he is a young, developing centre midfield player. He shone at Blackpool, playing the possession and passing game. His ability will fit into Rodgers system well, and like Henderson, is young enough not to have developed bad habits. He is one for the future.
Stewart Downing – Struggle
Downing has been major disappointment last season, 0 assists and 0 goals, but that’s not to say chances haven’t been created and due to Liverpool’s poor conversion rate, he looks poorer that he was. However, there are players that want to achieve, and there are players, like Adam and Downing, that they believe that they have achieved by playing for Liverpool. Downing passing has been poor, his crossing has been poor and his overall play has been poor. When you play a pressing and short passing game, every player needs to make them available. Downing, far too often, would hide. He would pass off the ball, and somehow place himself in a position that made him un-passable. Now, this maybe down to a lack of confidence, but my personal opinion is he, himself, found out that he struggles with higher expectations. Rodgers doesn’t utilise width and crosses, he uses wide men to stretch the back four, to make more space for the midfield and forwards. As Downing is a typical winger, I am not sure he is capable adapt his game to the style.
Joe Cole – Question mark
Cole has good feet and technical ability. However his life style (heavy smoker) doesn’t suit the modern game. I found, when he did play for Liverpool, that he slowed down the play. He uses his body to shield the ball, so when the team moved forward and Cole received the ball, the play ultimately came to halt, with opposition getting back into position, therefore starting play again to create space. Cole did well for Lille, in a league where the pace is so much slower than the Premier League, where he could play a slower game, it would be a struggle in the Premier League. Also, when we don’t have the ball, all players need to work hard to get it back. Can Cole do this, when usually, when we don’t have the ball, he has his hands on his hips and panting like a dog.
Alberto Aquilani – Question mark
We still don’t know whether Aqualani can cut it in the Premier League, He has shown for Juventus and AC Milan he is a good player, not a great player as both teams are unwilling to pay the very low fee to get him permanently. Maybe he will fit. I think we may never find out as it’s been no great secret he wants to stay in Italy and it is never good to keep hold of an unhappy player.
Jay Spearing – Struggle
Rafa Benitez once thought that Spearing is a Championship level player. Since then he has improved his overall game and passing ability. However, Spearing has mistakes in him; he makes the wrong pass, looses possession, ineffectively presses and struggles to win the ball back. I think he will look more out of his depth in a short passing, possession game.
Luis Suarez – Thrive
World class player, can play in any team, the short passes, the quick one twos, it will suit him perfectly.
Steven Gerrard – Thrive
Gerrard is world class and shouldn’t be a problem. Gerrard is at his best when he drives from midfield, playing as a false nine, very much how Messi plays at Barca. If Gerrard can do the same, he will look like he’s back to his peak.
Andy Carroll – Struggle
Carroll showed towards the end of last season he is a strong threat. We have constantly heard that f you play to his strengths then he will be great. However, playing Rodgers style is not playing to his strengths. Similar to how Ibrahimavic was unsuited to Guardiola’s Barcelona. If Rodgers plays to Carroll’s strengths, then it won’t be his vision and style of football, and arguably not playing to the strengths of the rest of the team. If you look at Barcelona when Ibrahimavic was there, would you want Xavi, Iniesta, Messi to play short passes around midfield, with Messi dropping deep, or have them switching it to the flanks as quick as possible to cross for Ibrahimavic to go for goal or knock down to Messi.