Former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman recently returned to Liverpool to help coaching youngsters at the Academy and he spoke exclusively to the Liverpool Echo to share his thoughts on Liverpool’s new summer signings and the 3-5-2 formation Brendan Rodgers is using.
McManaman said, “Brendan’s signings have really strengthened the team,” he said.
“Simon Mignolet has done really well, Mamadou Sakho has slotted in well at the back and to get Victor Moses on loan from Chelsea was a great piece of business.
“I love the way Brendan has got the team playing, and they’ve got the likes of Glen Johnson and Philippe Coutinho to come back into the team over the coming weeks.
“When everyone is back the manager has got real competition for places so it looks very promising.
“Going forward they’re such a threat. They always look like they are going to score goals.
“Having Luis Suarez back in the team has given them another dimension. Attacking players like Suarez, Sturridge, Coutinho, Moses and Sterling can change games.”
There is no doubt that Liverpool certainly bought well in the summer but the lack of midfield signings is a worry. The Reds lack depth especially in central midfield as Gerrard should not be asked to play the high number of games he is being asked to do so. It will only be a matter of time until he burns out or picks up an injury. With his age he needs to be used wisely and that means being rotated, but the unfortunate part of it all for Liverpool is that there is no one good enough for Rodgers to have faith in to replace Gerrard.
Looking at the current 3-5-2 formation Liverpool are playing, McManaman said, “Brendan has tinkered with the formation and it certainly suits the players he’s got,” McManaman said.
“To play that system you need players with bundles of energy as not only do your wing-backs need to get forward and provide attacking width but they also need to help out defensively.
“It’s a demanding role but in Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson he has got natural wing-backs.
“The system suits Glen to a tee and Coutinho is ideal for that advanced central role in midfield.
“The great thing is that Brendan has got options now. He can always go back to 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3.
“The players have shown they can adapt so he could even change the shape in the middle of a game.”
McManaman played in a similar 3-5-2 formation when he was still at Liverpool under Roy Evans so he should know what he is talking about. The one thing Macca is spot on about is how this formation will bring out the best in Glen Johnson. The England defender has been out with injury but should be back any game now to take up his role down the right which has been occupied by Jordan Henderson in his absence. Johnson is better going forward than defending and with this formation he will be doing a lot of attacking and have the luxury of knowing that Kolo Toure is behind him to cover in defence when need be.
It will be interesting to see if Liverpool persist with this 3-5-2 formation for the rest of the season. I do not see why they should stop using it as it is working well with the players that we have at our disposal.