Not being Barca

Posted by Vulmea on May 10, 2012, 02:12:41 PM

Let me get it out in the open to start with, Iíve never been in love with Barca. When I first started on this site, the auld level 3 thread taught me a lot about how people think about the game. Many of those I grew to respect, even if I didnít agree with them, thought about it a hell of a lot differently than me.  No less passionately but certainly differently and often more intellectually.

The game has certainly moved on in its sophistication and tactical interpretation. Bill recognised that as early as the sixties and itís continued to evolve, through the Dutch masters and Italian lock down through to the current tippy tappy keep ball we have now.

It will keep on evolving.  So I thought to myself where do Liverpool go next. There are many who are looking to emulate Barca, some who even see it as the final solution. Personally, I donít see how that can be our target. Itís limiting, itís following, and it lacks creativity and imagination. We are Liverpool Football Club, we do not copy, we do not conform, we lead and let others follow.

The Barca style suits Barcelona. Its culture, its people, its climate. It suits their Ďsophisticatedí European coffee shop crowd and it fits with their history. The overriding picture is of small dark haired Latino players, with a low centre of gravity, superb first touch and a high degree of tactical understanding, passing rings around big galouts like me and walking the ball into the net. Of its type it is brilliant, one question though is it a cockroach a dead end evolution? Another that constantly occurs is would it work in the Premier League?

Even a superficial look at the Premiership shows how it is already migrating towards the middle class European game. Less physical, more possession oriented, card happy refs and fake media outrage at any form of contact. Contact that is made to look far worse by the slow mo cameraís repeating the heinous offence of tackling over and over. It offends the TV audience sensibilities and worries the business men who run the game that their prize assets may be damaged.

Despite the insidious European migration however the Prem. is still a more direct and physical league than La Liga. It is still generally played at a quicker pace, more challenges do still seem to be allowed, more mistakes made, less intelligence displayed. Crowds at the game still appear to want more action, more chances and less waiting. And from my perspective all of those factors make it more competitive, it allows the bottom team to beat the top, it ensures most games canít be predicted, it is less of a procession even if you can predict who will finish at the top, how they get there is still up for grabs.

Then there are the differences between Liverpool and other English clubs. A club inextricably linked to the City that gave it birth.  A city that rejoices in its left wing socialist tendencies. That relishes its creativity and prides itself in its differences rather than its attempts to conform. If any crowd should be appreciative of possession football, it is the crowd at Anfield were team work, hard graft, the appreciation of the beautiful game and despite the insistence of the modern society, patience, have been long standing requirements.

So where does all this rambling lead to? Well a basic question about the style of play we are looking to create. The academy have opted for a compromise of 4231 although Segura and Borrel have stated theyíd have preferred 433 and as Rafa said those really are just starting positions. The first team have seemingly changed with the wind through a variety of styles.

Borrell has said he wants to build a Liverpool brand of football using the characteristics of a Liverpool player. What does it actually mean? What are those characteristics? Iím struggling to figure out what it means and I was hoping those who can look at this from a different angle can help decipher it.
Our lack of possession at youth and reserve level have been put down to inexperience or a lack of technique but what if we are genuinely looking to play a more direct style. Not the possession based game, not the sit back and counter írope a dopeí style, not the traditional 442, you attack, we attack, press when you need a goal, drop off when you donít style but our own brand of football. Rather a synthesis of styles to suit the English Premier League.  Borrel and Segura are certainly sharp enough to devise one, they have demonstrated their understanding of the nuances and subtleties of LFC, they are massively experienced moulding the youngsters. What would these two devise as a brand for Liverpool FC?

So what are we looking for, where and how does Big Andy fit in? Where does a battering ram of a centre forward fit into a brand of possession based football. Why retain Mukendi in the youth set up another big centre forward, who appears to lag behind his peers in technique and movement? Am I reading too much into things perhaps but at 35m and 6 feet 4 Andy is difficult to ignore going forward?

So is there a new way a playing, a more flexible way, a more direct way that perhaps combines the best of the rest and suits LFC? Are we looking at a style revolution or is it just circumstance and pragmatism?

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