Liverpool FC: 4 Players Who Could Change Position
Throughout the early days of his Liverpool career, Brendan Rodgers has made some radical decisions.
Putting Raheem Sterling into the starting XI, not signing a striker while loaning Andy Carroll out and playing Luis Suarez as an out-and-out frontman are among them.
It wouldn't be surprising to see him make more in the coming weeks.
Changing player positions takes time, but if executed correctly, can drastically improve the players' individual impacts and the team as a whole.
Here are four player-position changes that Brendan Rodgers could and should consider.
4. Joe Cole
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Currently plays: Attacking Midfielder/Winger
Could play: Central Midfielder
Since arriving from Chelsea in July 2010 with 53 goals and 61 assists in 431 career appearances, 56 England caps and £90,000-a-week wages, 30-year-old winger Joe Cole has been nothing but disappointing in a Liverpool shirt.
He was been done nothing to earn his high wages, and, though he did play well in 42 games on loan with Ligue 1 Lille last season, has had Reds fans clamouring for his sale.
Cole was promised a lifeline under Brendan Rodgers, and though he was often out of position and out of shape in his return from injury against Stoke, he was effective when he dropped into central positions.
In his prime, Cole was very much a Rodgers-type player—creative, technically gifted, good on the ball and a good passer. He is too slow to play on the wing. Central midfielders are central to the identity of the new Liverpool team, and Joe Cole could well fit the bill.
3. Stewart Downing
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Currently plays: Winger
Could play: Left-back
Another man who, like Joe Cole, is looking to resurrect his Anfield career, Downing has been criticized for being uncommitted and lazy.
His lifeline with Liverpool comes in the form of a proposed move that would see him leave his role as a left-sided midfielder to play on the left side of defense. Downing would have more offensive potential than most, and should he improve the defensive side of his game, the move could well work out for him.
With Jose Enrique struggling, Martin Kelly out for the season and Glen Johnson playing on his non-natural left side, there may be a spot open for Downing.
Rodgers should follow through with his idea. There is no risk, but potentially high reward.
2. Jonjo Shelvey
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Currently plays: Central Midfielder
Could play: Forward
Before his three-game suspension for a straight red card against Manchester United, Jonjo Shelvey was very much establishing himself as a key midfielder in the Liverpool first-team.
The 20-year-old, who has been called up to the senior England team, has scored three goals in nine games for Brendan Rodgers' squad and might—with the exception of Nuri Sahin—be Liverpool's most offensively potent midfielder, and for a team needing goal scorers, his quality is invaluable.
Unfortunately, with the likes of Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Sahin likely ahead of Shelvey in the depth chart, opportunities as a starter might be limited.
It might be worth Rodgers' time to give Shelvey the opportunity to move into a more advanced position, backing up one of the club's strikers. He'd have more opportunities to be an offensive contributor, but would also have less challengers to get into the first XI.
It's worth a try!
1. Luis Suarez
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Currently plays: Striker
Could play: Attacking Midfielder/Winger
When Groningen signed a relatively unknown 19-year-old from Uruguayan club Nacional in 2006, they knew they were getting one of the most exciting and promising wingers in the world.
It was only in his later years with his next club, Ajax, that Suarez started playing in more central positions as a forward, and only in his time with Liverpool has he been playing in a striker role.
Sure, Suarez was Liverpool's top scorer last season, and already has seven goals in 10 games this year, but it is hard to argue that he is more effective in an isolated attacking position. Suarez's finishing, for example, is at times dreadful (four of his five Premier League goals this season and five of seven total goals have come from outside the box), and he is far more effective in open play. A more withdrawn role will see him running at defenders rather than close to the goal, where he might be inclined to take a tumble in an attempt to win a penalty.
If, and only if, Brendan Rodgers manages to find a new, goal-poaching striker in January—putting Suarez in a more withdrawn, attacking midfield role in which he is more of a producer than finisher, but can still be an offensive catalyst—it might be a season-defining change.
If not, he should be on the wing in a 4-3-3.