Why attack can be the best form of defence for Liverpool next season

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Where do Liverpool need to strengthen this summer? Brendan Rodgers has indicated he wants more attack minded players and Mark Pearson agrees.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 6, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premiership match against West Ham United at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Attack is the secret of defence; defence is the planning of an attack.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

At the time of writing this I am acutely aware that Liverpool have already been described as leading a race to sign 14 players all costing in the region of £20 million. Although I can’t conclusively deny we are not going to sign each of them, I suspect we are not going to spend £280 million to acquire them all. It’s just a hunch of mine…

I ignore 98% of these tabloid murmurings around “leading the race”, “favourites to sign” and “preparing a bid” articles. It makes all transfers sound like The Grand National, with teams all in a line until a starting pistol sounds before racing to the nearest telephone or airport to talk with players, clubs and agents. These articles rarely, if ever, contain direct quotes from anybody at Liverpool Football Club and often simply fictitious, designed to sell papers until the action gets underway in August.

A large proportion of the stories appearing from day to day are simply an opinion of the journalist, trying to second guess what the club are thinking and lining up a player accordingly. In this article I’m not going to play that game, I’m simply going to provide my opinion, which will divide you, because after all that’s the beauty of football, no other sport stirs the emotions quite like this one. My opinion will be on what type of player I believe we should be looking for this summer.

Defence

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 30, 2014: Liverpool's Martin Skrtel celebrates his side's 4-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hand in hand with the praise that has been bestowed upon the team since the turn of 2014 from all corners of the media has been the gripe with respects to our defensive record. Many blame the fact that Liverpool failed to win the league because we conceded 50 goals. No team could ever win the league by shipping in that many. That our back four need replacing, that we are desperate for a defensive midfielder. I don’t buy into that. I can hear you groan, but it’s true. I do not believe that. Whilst I agree that Liverpool really do need to put an end to this long and so far fruitless search for a left back (no disrespect to Flanno) and an able deputy for Gerrard is also required, I don’t believe that these players are the priority.

Let me put forward a case of defending the attack. In my humble opinion Liverpool need more attacking players. We need more creativity; we need more goal scorers for next season. More assist makers, more pace and more flair. Stay with me here. I am fully aware that Liverpool scored 101 league goals. But I would be very surprised if we did the same next season. Why? Well let me explain my thoughts.

Buses

To a large extent Liverpool crept up under the radar for 80% of the season. Teams attacked us away from home and were willing to be open against us at Anfield. Then the penny dropped that actually that’s not a great thing for an opposition team to do against Liverpool. That by playing a high line and having a go at us usually ended up with an absolute tonking for them. Think for a moment of the more difficult games we played towards the latter end of the season.

Sunderland, Chelsea and Newcastle at home. West Ham away. Now, we squeezed over the line in all but the Chelsea match but each win could easily have turned to draws or even defeats. The common denominator in all those games? Teams sat back and defended deep, looked to stop us through denying any space between the midfield and defence. By retreating to the edge of their own penalty area. By parking the bus.

Next season you can be sure that 90% of the teams we play will do the exact same thing, both domestically and in the Champions League. We’ve lost the ability to surprise a team, to sneak up on them and whack them with the pace and speed of our play. Now, everybody can see the tornado coming, and guess what? They will all batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to blow itself out.

I don’t believe we can ask the same attack of this season to find ways around these walls game after game, twice a week come the 2014-2015 season, I think they will need help.

Attack

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 20, 2014: Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the second goal against Norwich City with team-mates Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho Correia during the Premiership match at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For me I believe we need another striker, capable of scoring 15 goals a season I think we need a more creative midfielder for the left side of a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 diamond, so I can see why Lallana could be a transfer target. I believe we have a need for another player with the pace and trickery of Sterling and that these are the priority signings that will help us most next season.

If more and more teams are going to sit back and be happy to give us the ball in the knowledge they have no intention of moving too far forward then surely we will be asked to defend less?

So address the left back position and an able deep lying playmaker to cover Gerrard, but don’t make it the priority, as the mighty Sun Tzu advises…

Attack IS the best form of defence.

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