Why Gerrard misses pass master Alonso
YOU only need to look at Steven Gerrard’s body language.
Liverpool’s players are not happy about the absence of their quarterback. They used to call them playmakers when I was trying to be like the oldfashioned No 10, the player who excelled with the ball and ran the game at his pace. France had Michel Platini, Holland had Johan Cruyff, England had Glenn Hoddle.
Xabi Alonso is a deep-lying modern-day version who plays in the pocket and would pass the ball forwards, rarely sideways. He is a player capable of shifting the play, changing the point of attack. If Gerrard or Fernando Torres gambled on a run, they knew the ball would soon arrive.
Xabi has two great feet. When I played against him, you didn’t know which way he would go, left or right, and the game comes easily to him. Alonso had an appreciation of the weight of a pass; either a 50-yard ‘Hollywood delivery’ inside a full back... or a 10-yard straight ping in to feet... or into space to run on to. Anyone can hit safety-first balls but it was his key passes that made him stand out. Now he will be producing those passes for Real Madrid.
Javier Mascherano is a strong holding midfielder but lining up alongside Lucas, the pair are too similar. Each may require two or three touches when Alonso needed one pass.
This is stating the obvious but they lacked creativity at Tottenham. Their passing wasn’t crisp and, consequently, Gerrard didn’t get enough of the ball at the point of their midfield three. Compare his performance at Spurs to that of Cesc Fabregas at Everton, where he dominated the game.
This is not how Liverpool are going to win games.
Teams will sit in deep and demand they create an opening. Stoke are at Anfield tomorrow and they are disciplined and organised. It may be that Gerrard has to drop back into a deeper role, with Dirk Kuyt restored to the front line.
Alberto Aquilani, their £20million signing from Roma, may well be a very good purchase. We’ll see. What I know is that he’s out for six weeks and, by then, Liverpool may well have a lot of ground to recover in the title race.
Why did they sell Alonso? The manager fell out of love with him and the damage was done to their relationship last season.
Rafa Benitez thought Gareth Barry was a better player and was prepared to sell Alonso for £18m. Having failed to sign Barry from Aston Villa, he overlooked Alonso for his first line-up of the season. Instead, against Sunderland he picked Damien Plessis, who went on to make only two further appearances all season. Real Madrid had few such doubts. – Daily Mail