Why Ger­rard misses pass mas­ter Alonso

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

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

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