The Unreliable Rumours Discussion Thread (Part 3)

I’m not a fully paid up member of his fan club or anything but I do think a big part of our problems at the end of the season has been that Jones and Szoboszlai have been poor since returning from injury, Mac Allister looks knackered and Elliott hasn’t really nailed down exactly what he is yet - not quite an 8, not really a wide player, excellent passer, terrible positional awareness etc. Gravenberch has been better than most give him credit for but clearly hasn’t made a good enough case to be a reliable starter. Thuram follows a similar pattern to Jones/Gravenberch and Szoboszlai in his ball carrying ability, as all of them are excellent at it too (though Thuram is much better at take-ons than these three, but in total they are all progressive ball carriers).

So I do think there is scope to add one more with Thiago’s departure. Not a priority for the summer but something to keep an eye on if it can be done easily/cheaply.


DMs are really tough to analyse with stats, for similar reasons to CBs in that a lot of their actions don’t show up well in basic stats but it’s possible to narrow it down so I’ll try.


Thuram at the rumoured 13M is a bargain. However, we have to think about our needs. We seem stocked in midfield, and if there is room for a signing, it surely has to be a defensive midfielder, ideally someone to go right to the top of the class and be a mainstay in the side.

We can do better at protecting the defence with our positioning, being switched on, and taking care of the ball better. There are system things to improve.

But the biggest improvement in protecting the defence is personnel. I think we need an elite defensive midfielder.

If I look at the two teams ahead of us that we want to overhaul, they have Rice and Rodri. I think our current midfield balance is off, and we need someone like that in there.


I agree there are much bigger priorities. If its something that can get done without much difficulty I can see a reason to move for another CM to add into the rotation but it can’t take away from the need to get the more important signings in as well.

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Inspired by TAW, I checked Transfermarkt for DMs and it’s a surprisingly short and uninspiring list for players >50M.

I don’t think it is down to just personnel, I think there is a coaching element to it and a mindset change that maybe needed.

Absolutely. Hopefully I said as much here,

Beyond that, I do see a gap between us and what the top two teams have in their sides, and it is an elite defensive midfielder.

Arguably Slot might solve it with what is already here, and perhaps the thinking is that Bajcetic is going to be so good that he is worth waiting for. But to my mind, we probably need to sign someone to go straight to the top of the class now. Everything behind that man, and in front for that matter, will have permission to improve as the balance will be corrected.


I’ve been coaching junior teams for nearly 40 years and I have a term I use. I call certain players migrating ducks. That is because no matter where you play them on the park, they always end up in their same natural position. They always seem to come from two positions. CB and DM. They either are those players or they are not. Very specialised positions.


Yeah, I think there’s too much expectation on Bajcetic. He needs to develop at his own pace and not be thrust into the glare of being first choice DM for a title chasing team.
He may, or may not be a great player for us, but it’s certainly too early to say, especially after such a long injury break.
Same goes for Doak and Gordon btw.


Rice has played probably half his games this season as an 8 with a non-elite “DM” backing him up.

The hill I will happily die on is that lots of fans use the “our DM isnt good enough” as a crutch when things aren’t going as hoped, especially because the player they have in mind, who can tackle like Masch and use the ball like Xabi, doesnt exist.


If we’re looking at Slot potentially using a 4231 system here, I’d actually be happy with the double-pivot being a defensively sound but mainly energetic Mac and a strong ball-carrier guy like Thuram - in this scenario I’m assuming Dom is acting as the no10 ahead of them…

Yeah. Also worth noting how poised and responsible Jones was in the role in the Euros for England last summer. I know even top level U21 international football is not the Prem, but it’s still a decent marker. I also think there is a general tendency among fans to overlook the defensive contributions of players in direct proportion to how creative they are. While we definitely had holes this season, the individual defensive statistics of players like Dom and Mac were actually incredibly good. Our issues werent because we “need a bit of steel, someone who can put their foot in”. It was coordination of our defensive effort.


It’s a good hill to be fair.

Relatively frequently this season I’ve thought that it’s not prime Fab’s qualities we’ve missed, it’s prime Hendo’s. Someone just really alert to the fact that they’re a midfielder but they’re gonna need to do loads of covering for the right back.
There was one monent in the Villa game where I watched Endo take about three seconds to realise he was gonna need to be the one to cover in that channel. Mac Allister for all his good work this season never quite had that figured out whether he played 6 or right sided 8.

I’m adamant that training and tactics is what fixes that though rather than signing the fifth most valuable DM on the market, who actually isn’t really a needle mover.


I hear you. He has had Partey or Jorginho behind him to allow him to use his (legitimate?) stamina and get forward more. We’ve seen plenty of that too.

I am definitely saying we can tighten up the shop with the existing personnel. Perhaps that is what Slot will do. I think we also need to add a defensive midfielder.

I see the need for a central defender, a winger, a defensive midfielder and possibly a left back, although I’m not sure how good Owen Beck is. If he is another Bradley-level player, I’d rather he got his chance to see if he could be the solution after Robbo.

When I say defensive midfielder, I definitely don’t mean some limited grock who can only put his foot in. If anyone wants to get near this Liverpool team, they need to be a good player, first and foremost.


If we are considering a new DM, we need one with good recovery speed as well as what we have already mentioned but I it is the coaching and defensive shape and attitude that needs the most attention.

Another good deep dive from Redmen TV in the link below

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The insight on the impact of our defensive changes was fascinating. I dont think anyone would have thought those players, specifically Tsimi, would make up our best line up and so you have to put a lot of weight on the idea of consistency/familiarity

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If I were going to make any changes, it would be to ditch that high press in the opponent third after the first burst. get your butt back into position and try to read the play instead of reacting to it.

We got lit up so many times because our midfielders were ball-chasing like dogs instead of using tactical nous…

In a high press you are only chasing the ball if you are late. A well executed high press is proactive. It’s about closing off all the good passes for the man on the ball so there are only bad ones left that sooner than later result in them giving it back to you. The problem is not with the strategy but the execution


The deep dives do provide some great insight into what the stats actually mean

A few teams start with a high press but then drop into a 5 4 1

Thats what Xabi’s Leverkusen does