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Sunday, 15 March 2015
Carra hails Brendan, back three and Can
Three has certainly been the magic number for Liverpool in 2015.
Three at the back and three in attack, tested as early as October by
Brendan Rodgers and implemented fully two months later, restored the
Reds to a team regularly earning three points.
When the manager submitted his teamsheet at Old Trafford on December
14, an hour of pondering began. How would the side line up? Who would
Kick-off and the opening exchanges confirmed the system was now 3-4-3.
"I am an innovative coach and I needed to find a way to make us play
better," explained Rodgers. "I knew I had to do something fairly
A 3-0 reversal against Manchester United that day did not paint a full picture of how confidently Liverpool had performed at the home of one of their great rivals.
Composure in possession, energetic pressing, balance and belief had
returned. Hope sprung and they have never been the same since.
The Reds have not suffered a defeat in the 12 Barclays Premier League games that followed.
They have not conceded a goal away from home in the division since.
A season of frustration has been transformed into one of potential,
with Champions League qualification suddenly realistic with 10 matches
"Credit to the manager," Jamie Carragher, former Anfield centre-back and now television analyst, told Liverpoolfc.com this week.
"He changed it and came up with the system and the players within the system are playing really well.
"[Simon] Mignolet has had plenty of clean sheets, but he's not being
asked to do too much and that's the way it should be. You want to call
upon your 'keeper maybe two or three times a game.
"As I saw here in the Blackburn game, he wasn't called upon too much
but then he made a great save from a set-piece at the Kop end and kept
Liverpool in the cup.
"That's what you want from your 'keeper - you don't want him involved too much - and that's credit to the backline.
"Martin Skrtel has been fantastic in the middle of the back three as the leader.
"He's been there the longest now and is the most experienced player
at the club behind Steven Gerrard and Lucas [Leiva]. He's in great form.
He wanted to stay on against Blackburn and that's what you want to see.
"Credit to all of those players - [Mamadou] Sakho and [Dejan] Lovren coming in. They all deserve great credit."
After Carragher clocked up his 737th appearance for the club and
retired in 2013, his No.23 shirt was left vacant for the next campaign.
But when Emre Can sealed his switch to Merseyside last summer, the
versatile German's appreciation for the Scouser inspired him to take the
During the past three months, he has worn it with suitable distinction.
The midfielder was initially deployed in defence as a substitute at
Burnley on Boxing Day, taking to the position with stunning aplomb.
His technical ability is sound, his positioning is astute, his
decision-making is reliable and his sheer power an added bonus - all
without a hair out of place.
"I think he's done really well," continued Carragher. "Now and then
he's gone back into midfield, but he's looked more suited to playing at
the back now.
"He was bought as a midfield player who has moved to the back, but
the performances he is putting in, in that position, have you thinking
'Keep him there'.
"If he's playing well, let him carry on. He's still a young player
and he may go into midfield with Stevie moving on in the summer.
"But I think for this season he should stay there as he's been
outstanding. The defensive record has improved since he has been there.
"If you're playing well and the team is doing well, he should stay where he is.
"At the start of next season things may have changed - the formation
may have changed, there may have been players coming and going and the
manager may have to look at that.
"He just looks so suited to this back-three formation.
"It gives him time to step into midfield - even though we're saying
he's playing at the back, he's actually playing in midfield as well
because he can step in and add that extra man."