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Peter Crouch

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The fact that people constantly belittle the manager is a little grating. Ordinarily, I'd buy the idea that the word selection was wrong but you are one of the most eloquent, if not most eloquent people I converse with, you knew what you were writing. Perhaps my criticism was harsh and it wasn't exclusively directed at you, a number of people have used that description of him and a number of people continue to be unreasonably critical of him.

 

I think this is what's known as adding insult to injury. I'm now a liar, too. The apology for calling me a whopper and saying I had too much pride was glaring in its absense, by the way, Dave. And if you feel my criticisms of Rafa have been unreasonable, any chance you could directly address them, rather than me? Because I have consciously striven to be fair-minded in everything I've ever thought, said or written about him.

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That's how i've felt for quite a while now. You really can't say anything about Rafa without it being analysed semantically and then used as a stick to beat you with.

 

I think I was the first person to mention the word 'stumbled' when discussing the system we're currently using. I only remember that fact because I was slaughtered for it by the usual suspects.

 

The funny thing, is that it was only a throwaway comment and was used in a very loose way. I didn't (and don't) suggest that Rafa played 'pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey' to select the formation, but suggested that the fact we were forty odd games into the season quite possibly indicated that it wasn't a planned switch.

 

Rafa used the same style at Valencia with slightly different variations, but the evidence is undeniable that he didn't plan for this to be the shape at this point in the season. If that was the case, then we'd have seen a lot more of it over the years, rather than the odd game here and there which is the reality. There's been times when we've played with a similar formation, but the personnel selected has been wrong. It's only recently that Rafa has married the two together, and it's great to see because it suits the players at his disposal. If we'd started the season with it, then who knows where we'd be now?

 

Some people just refuse to hear anything other than eulogies towards Rafa.

 

I don't see how it's undeniable Brownie. Neither you or I know what he was planning to say whether it was his intention or not. I don't think it's beyond the grap of possibility that he bought Babel with this formation in mind and wasn't going to try it out until he thought it was ready. Maybe he knew at the start of the season that the players weren't ready or right for it and wanted to see how they got on? Or maybe he wasn't planning, just thought it was a good idea for one game and then stuck with it because it worked so well. Either way I think it's obvious to see that the word stumble makes him sound like he had little control over it and therefore people see it as a dig.

 

Personally, I think he would probably be looking to play the formation at some point and he thinks now is right. It is his preferred formation so it makes sense to think he'd be looking to put it into place at some point along the line when he had the players.

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Agree with that. I wouldn't be surprised to see 4-4-2 on Saturday because if he rests Torres we can't really play the current system.

 

And that would be entirely understandable in these circumstances. As would switching to other formations in future if he has the players to make them work. He still has to be funded for such acquistions, nevermind make them, though. As things stand right now, though, this system with these players is the best we've got and needs must.

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I don't see how it's undeniable Brownie. Neither you or I know what he was planning to say whether it was his intention or not. I don't think it's beyond the grap of possibility that he bought Babel with this formation in mind and wasn't going to try it out until he thought it was ready. Maybe he knew at the start of the season that the players weren't ready or right for it and wanted to see how they got on? Or maybe he wasn't planning, just thought it was a good idea for one game and then stuck with it because it worked so well. Either way I think it's obvious to see that the word stumble makes him sound like he had little control over it and therefore people see it as a dig.

 

Personally, I think he would probably be looking to play the formation at some point and he thinks now is right. It is his preferred formation so it makes sense to think he'd be looking to put it into place at some point along the line when he had the players.

 

Maybe he didn't think he had anybody suitable for the right side.

 

But once he tried Kuyt there and he did so well...

 

Maybe.

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Stu, I can sort of agree with all of that mate but are you saying that that he deliberatley set about using all these other formations in the past despite the bad results in the league knowing all along this formation was the best but he didn't have the players in place for it?

 

Being really honest I think he has settled for this formation to get all his best players on the pitch at the same time and it's worked a treat results wise. I also think if Gerrard was happy to play on the right, he would use 4-4-2.

 

The acid test is whether it lasts into next season and whether we can challenge United in the league using it.

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Well thanks for clarifying that, mate and I'm sorry for misinterpreting you and a little embarrassed, although hopefully you see why. I still think it's out of order to question someone's support because you don't agree with a particular argument. That is only deserved by those who make personal comments about players and managers. I've never lost my cool in all my years on this site, but then again, I've never been addressed as a whopper by someone I respect before or had my Red credentials questioned by the same.

 

However, I still think you and Dave are being over-sensitive about that word. Some of the greatest moments in history, nevermind sport, have come about through a fortuitous turn of events. It defies belief and indeed all the evidence that Rafa had planned to adopt this system with, crucially, Gerrard and Torres linking up so well. I'm absolutely delighted to see it happen (both for us and for Rafa) and I sincerely hope it's his intention to make it the basis of all his future plans. It is genius in its appropriateness for our players, but all the circumstantial evidence points to something akin to a last roll of the dice from Rafa. He was under huge pressure and his career was justifiably being questioned. He went for this and it paid off. That does not make it a master plan, but nor is it something to criticise him for. It's just great that it's happened.

 

No worries (c. D. Usher).

 

My sensitivity arises from the fact that careless use of words and language can (as you are aware) become quite damaging if repeated until they become accepted as truth.

 

Benitez has had a tough season (some of it his fault but a lot not) and I can accept the outside world not giving him credit when he gets something right but think we should try and give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

No problems at all about debating why he didn't do it sooner or whether he did it too late which is what you were trying to do.

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I don't see how it's undeniable Brownie. Neither you or I know what he was planning to say whether it was his intention or not. I don't think it's beyond the grap of possibility that he bought Babel with this formation in mind and wasn't going to try it out until he thought it was ready. Maybe he knew at the start of the season that the players weren't ready or right for it and wanted to see how they got on? Or maybe he wasn't planning, just thought it was a good idea for one game and then stuck with it because it worked so well. Either way I think it's obvious to see that the word stumble makes him sound like he had little control over it and therefore people see it as a dig.

 

Personally, I think he would probably be looking to play the formation at some point and he thinks now is right. It is his preferred formation so it makes sense to think he'd be looking to put it into place at some point along the line when he had the players.

 

The thing is though Stu, even if he did literally stumble upon this solution, I don't see it as a criticism. I don't think he did, though; as I said several pages ago in my first clarification, I think he stumbled upon the combination of players, rather than the formation. He'd been desperately trying to work out how to accomodate all his best and most dependable players all season and finally hit upon this when the chips were down and, happily, it clicked. To my mind, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I said, history is littered with similar examples. I just object to the idea that it was all in a detailed plan of the season.

 

Clearly, Rafa's a fan of the system and has used it before, but to go three and half seasons with constant changes to the team in a regular 442 system and then suddenly switch to 4231 with the most settled period of selections he's ever had suggests that he found something by chance and leaped at it. Fair play to him for sticking with a winning formula.

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This "can we challenge United next season" question rears its head again. If we do it will be a massive over-achievement. People who are expecting, or demanding, it are showing a real lack of awareness of the current situation of the two clubs.

 

It will take lots and lots of money or a good deal of time before a challenge can be demanded. I think with one of the two we can do it but with neither it is asking for a lot.

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I don't see how it's undeniable Brownie. Neither you or I know what he was planning to say whether it was his intention or not. I don't think it's beyond the grap of possibility that he bought Babel with this formation in mind and wasn't going to try it out until he thought it was ready. Maybe he knew at the start of the season that the players weren't ready or right for it and wanted to see how they got on? Or maybe he wasn't planning, just thought it was a good idea for one game and then stuck with it because it worked so well. Either way I think it's obvious to see that the word stumble makes him sound like he had little control over it and therefore people see it as a dig.

 

Personally, I think he would probably be looking to play the formation at some point and he thinks now is right. It is his preferred formation so it makes sense to think he'd be looking to put it into place at some point along the line when he had the players.

 

We've had players in place for this formation to be used in the past. Cisse and Baros could have been the lone striker, with Kewell and Garcia as the wide players - that's just one example.

 

I've seen the point made that it wasn't used because Rafa wanted a pacey, intelligent player to be the sole striker. Why was Crouch used in the role then for a run of games, with bad results back in '04/'05 (I think). Remember the Chelsea game, when we lost 4-1 at home? Crouch up top on his own, and around that time we were using a similar shape a fair bit until Rafa changed things back to 4-4-2 because of poor results.

 

That suggests that Rafa has always had the shape as an option, and that's something that i've never tried to deny. There is absolutely no way though, that forty games into the season, Rafa's plan was to use it.

 

He hasn't signed players specifically to be used in it either. It's just a case of people who refuse to accept that Rafa isn't 100% in control of everything he does, not wanting to admit that sometimes it is the case.

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The thing is though, even if he did literally stumble upon this solution, I don't see it as a criticsm. I don't think he did, though; as I said several pages ago in my first clarification, I think he stumbled upon the combination of players. He'd been desperately trying to work out how to accomodate all his best and most dependable players all season and finally hit upon this when the chips were down and, happily, it clicked. To my mind, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I said, history is littered with similar examples. I just object to the idea that it was all in a detailed plan of the season.

 

Clearly, Rafa's a fan of the system and has used it before, but to go three and half seasons with constant changes to the team in a regular 442 system and then suddenly plan to go 4231 with the most settled period of selections he's ever had suggests that he found something by chance and leaped at it. Fair play to him for sticking with a winning formula.

 

That seems to suggest that we've played 4-4-2 more often than not (which I suppose we probably have) but we have played lots of different formations a plenty number of times including 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2, and my personal favourite 3-6-1 in the last 3-4 seasons.

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The thing is though, even if he did literally stumble upon this solution, I don't see it as a criticsm. I don't think he did, though; as I said several pages ago in my first clarification, I think he stumbled upon the combination of players. He'd been desperately trying to work out how to accomodate all his best and most dependable players all season and finally hit upon this when the chips were down and, happily, it clicked. To my mind, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I said, history is littered with similar examples. I just object to the idea that it was all in a detailed plan of the season.

 

Clearly, Rafa's a fan of the system and has used it before, but to go three and half seasons with constant changes to the team in a regular 442 system and then suddenly plan to go 4231 with the most settled period of selections he's ever had suggests that he found something by chance and leaped at it. Fair play to him for sticking with a winning formula.

 

 

I'd disagree on the idea that because he hasn't implemented it sooner it wasn't planned. If he was planning to use a system that is virtually unused in this country it was always going to be something introduced over a period of time. As a pragmatist he was always going to use other formations to achieve the best he could until he could use his favourite formation. I still don't think it wil be the only thing we'll see but now that Torres and Babel are in the squad it is playable and it will be used a lot more.

 

I'm not, by the way, suggesting he came in on his first day and wrote on in his diary: February 2008 - Start using 4-2-3-1. I do however think it would have always been something he was looking at doing.

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We've had players in place for this formation to be used in the past. Cisse and Baros could have been the lone striker, with Kewell and Garcia as the wide players - that's just one example.

 

I've seen the point made that it wasn't used because Rafa wanted a pacey, intelligent player to be the sole striker. Why was Crouch used in the role then for a run of games, with bad results back in '04/'05 (I think). Remember the Chelsea game, when we lost 4-1 at home? Crouch up top on his own, and around that time we were using a similar shape a fair bit until Rafa changed things back to 4-4-2 because of poor results.

 

That suggests that Rafa has always had the shape as an option, and that's something that i've never tried to deny. There is absolutely no way though, that forty games into the season, Rafa's plan was to use it.

 

He hasn't signed players specifically to be used in it either. It's just a case of people who refuse to accept that Rafa isn't 100% in control of everything he does, not wanting to admit that sometimes it is the case.

 

Neither could hold up the ball. Thats nonsense.

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We've had players in place for this formation to be used in the past. Cisse and Baros could have been the lone striker, with Kewell and Garcia as the wide players - that's just one example.

 

I've seen the point made that it wasn't used because Rafa wanted a pacey, intelligent player to be the sole striker. Why was Crouch used in the role then for a run of games, with bad results back in '04/'05 (I think). Remember the Chelsea game, when we lost 4-1 at home? Crouch up top on his own, and around that time we were using a similar shape a fair bit until Rafa changed things back to 4-4-2 because of poor results.

 

That suggests that Rafa has always had the shape as an option, and that's something that i've never tried to deny. There is absolutely no way though, that forty games into the season, Rafa's plan was to use it.

 

He hasn't signed players specifically to be used in it either. It's just a case of people who refuse to accept that Rafa isn't 100% in control of everything he does, not wanting to admit that sometimes it is the case.

 

I think it's more a case of objecting to the suggestion that Rafa's use of the system is not either a strategic plan or a deliberate adapting to circumstances or results but is the lucky off-shoot of him finding a winning formula by accident (i.e. stumbling).

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I think it's more a case of objecting to the suggestion that Rafa's use of the system is not either a strategic plan or a deliberate adapting to circumstances or results but is the lucky off-shoot of him finding a winning formula by accident (i.e. stumbling).

 

It would be nice to think that people who you've known for a long time, and had lots of discussions with about various different football issues, would accept that you're not suggesting something so drastic as that.

 

When Rafa went with the 4-3-2-1 at Chelsea, there's no doubt that he planned us to play in a certain way and prepared the team as thoroughly as he always does.

 

Ergo, he didn't find the formula by accident.

 

I do, however, refuse to believe that Rafa planned to start using the formation for that exact game and for the foreseeable future after that, when the majority of previous evidence suggested otherwise.

 

One of the definitions of the word 'stumble', is, 'to come upon accidently or unexpectedly'.

 

I'd lean towards 'unexpected'.

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He didn't play X, Y and Z because he didn't think it would work, I presume, and I'd be inclined to agree with him, but then again I wouldn't have been sure that it would work as well as it has done with Kuyt, Babel, Gerrard & Torres. Like Ian said, he has tried it out with different personnel before and not been impressed with the outcome, now I think he tried it again and it worked...so he kept it. I think it's Torres' quality that it the missing ingredient. The ability to both hold it up and go in behind makes it work well.

 

Edit - I don't get where you're coming from Ian? I think we're agreeing on pretty much everything apart from that you are saying that not deciding which game to start the formation means it wasn't planned. Surely if he goes into a season thinking "I'm going to try out that formation I fancy using again sometime this season" then it's planned? Nothing is an accident is it? You try it, it works, you use it: that's not an accident it's just management/coaching.

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I think it's more a case of objecting to the suggestion that Rafa's use of the system is not either a strategic plan or a deliberate adapting to circumstances or results but is the lucky off-shoot of him finding a winning formula by accident (i.e. stumbling).

 

For me, it's the combination of players that smacks of good fortune. He's been exceptionally loyal to Dirk, but with little reward and has spent his entire time here pondering how best to exploit Gerrard's attacking talent without upsetting him or adding fuel to the media flames that continually hover around the player. Also, Babel has been (correctly) handled carefully, but that hadn't reaped great dividends on the pitch (a price he'd be rightly prepared to pay for future blossoming, but not one he'd choose, surely).

 

This system accomodates Dirk and negates some of his weaknesses, it reduces the exposure on Babel and places him in a position that gets him slightly closer to goal and therefore better able to maximise his strengths, and it links Gerrard up with a player with whom - and no-one could possibly have known this in advance for certain - he has developed the best understanding he's ever had at the club. His link up with Crouch was good and the relationship he had with Owen far superior to that, but this quite obviously has the potential to be one of the great Liverpool partnerships - a Rush/Dalglish, Toshack/Keegan or Beardsley/Aldridge.

 

The reason I think he stumbled on this is that these were problems Rafa had been wrestling with all season and to no avail. It strikes me as something they suddenly thought of in training (the positions of the players in the system, not the use of the formation itself) and decided to try. It then - quite clearly, as results and performances have shown - clicked really well.

 

Phew, never before has one word been so over-analysed or over-justified.

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He didn't play X, Y and Z because he didn't think it would work, I presume, and I'd be inclined to agree with him, but then again I wouldn't have been sure that it would work as well as it has done with Kuyt, Babel, Gerrard & Torres. Like Ian said, he has tried it out with different personnel before and not been impressed with the outcome, now I think he tried it again and it worked...so he kept it. I think it's Torres' quality that it the missing ingredient. The ability to both hold it up and go in behind makes it work well.

 

Careful Stu, Rafa didn't just 'try' it, he planned it!

 

;-)

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He didn't play X, Y and Z because he didn't think it would work, I presume, and I'd be inclined to agree with him, but then again I wouldn't have been sure that it would work as well as it has done with Kuyt, Babel, Gerrard & Torres. Like Ian said, he has tried it out with different personnel before and not been impressed with the outcome, now I think he tried it again and it worked...so he kept it.

 

Yes. Me too. I said "stumbled" and I didn't mean it critically.

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This "can we challenge United next season" question rears its head again. If we do it will be a massive over-achievement. People who are expecting, or demanding, it are showing a real lack of awareness of the current situation of the two clubs.

 

It will take lots and lots of money or a good deal of time before a challenge can be demanded. I think with one of the two we can do it but with neither it is asking for a lot.

 

Winning the league is almost impossible next season, in my opinion (despite what Martin Samuel said the other day). I do think we can be credible challengers, though - and by that I mean in a position at this stage of the season similar to Arsenal's.

 

I made the money point you're making last summer and it still stands now: I reckon we'd need two new flanks of high impact players to be able to win the league next year (and that's without buying another striker) and that ain't going to happen, Arabs or no Arabs.

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