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Fast Becoming Redundant Within The Premier League
Footytubeblog (Blog) 3 years ago
When Claude Makelele arrived at Chelsea in 2003 the Premier League was in frenzy over the need to have a player designated to play the holding role.

The notion of having one player who can do all of the “dirty jobs” giving licence to the more attack minded players to cause havoc at the other end was highly appealing. Were we looking for a type of player that simply wasn’t there? Were we expecting too much?

It was a fashion statement for every top level side to have one, Manchester United went out and bought Owen Hargreaves, Manchester City likewise, as they bought Nigel De Jong. Those players have come and gone, as has the desire to sign players for this position. Times have changed and the Premier League has evolved. Does this leave space for the water carrier type role in the English top flight anymore?

The problem is that it takes a very special player to fulfil it every week and these are in short supply. To consistently carry out this position takes a discipline only few possess. The only players capable of carrying out such out tasks are often not available for transfer, footballers such as Sergio Busquets.

If a water carrier role is ever to be efficiently carried out it appears that those already with defence training combined with the tendency to go forward can achieve success. The likes of David Luiz and Jan Vertonghen are defenders would adequately fulfil the roles. They are suitable in a holding position though because they have the tackling ability as well as an awareness of the play going on around them.

Their managers though would question whether they can be better used elsewhere on the pitch and if they would be wasted in midfield. It is usually too much of a gamble to take, as you don’t want to put square pegs in round holes.

This leaves the boss to look to his midfield for a player to sweep up any potential dangers. I earlier mentioned Sergio Busquets as the ideal player for the holding role, but his game is by no means one-dimensional. The Spanish international is not successful just because he can see potential dangers before others. He has an eclectic range of skills. His passing is precise alongside his tackling ability as having someone who just hacks away at players isn’t good enough.

A tough tackling midfielder can always be an asset but there is a fine line between being rash and level headed when we discuss such footballers.

An example of this being Cheick Tiote at Newcastle. He was lauded last campaign for getting stuck in. There was an assumption that this was all he needed to his game and ludicrous figures around the £20 million region were slapped up on his head. When we roll on 10 months on the Ivorian’s deficiencies in the rest of his game have been exposed. It is ideal to have a player who can mop up all the problems at the back before it reaches the defence but they still essentially need to be midfielders. They are required to have an articulate range of passing and ability to turn on the offensive as soon as they receive the ball too. Tiote has held onto the ball for those extra few seconds. He also seems more often than not to get booked rather than executing the perfect challenge too. This has meant his performances have paid the price.

The Premier League is played at a faster pace than ever and the obsession now has moved onto finding playmakers with pace that can start counter attacking football. The Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard type players flourish from receiving quick ball.

Every club desires a playmaker that can cause havoc. If a defensive midfielder is tasked with stopping these lightening quick players they are on a hiding to nothing. One midfielder simply can’t be expected to stem the tide anymore. If a world-class side does not pierce you open through the middle they can slice through you effortlessly on the wings. It is a team’s responsibility to stop offensive moves from developing not just one magical genius.
When you bare in mind the different threats each sides possess from week to week, it shows how one player can’t expect to radically amend his game every time he steps onto the field.

Manchester United had a unique challenge of dealing with the threat of Xabi Alonso who is the fulcrum of a lot of the blistering play Real Madrid provide last Tuesday. On this occasion Danny Welbeck was given the responsibility of nullifying his threat. The only reason he was able to snuff out any potential dangers was because playing him there gave the Red Devils the element of surprise.

If Welbeck were to play a similar role away at Stoke this would be a waste of his talents. The Potters are used to playing a physical game and direct football and it takes midfielders with an intricate range of passing to break down such a side. He would be hassled and harried off the ball.

In a similar vein Arsenal would pass Welbeck to death should he feature in the midfield against them. The centre of the park needs to be fluid for any side because if one player is tasked with neutralising all dangers, they soon become a sitting duck and static for opposition attackers every week.

The astute tactics of the Premier League demands that the play becomes more intelligent year upon year which has meant that leaving one player to stop the floodgates opening upon their defence is fraught with far too much danger. This is why the holding role has started to be slowly ushered out.

Blog by Grant Miles

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
RedFace (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Another great blog. I think the 'Makelele' role still exists to some extent. The likes of lucas, obi mikel, tiote and barry provide this sort of option.

If I remember rightly, fergie said he would never sign a defensive midfielder. Hargreaves being a defensive midfielder is debatable. He played right back, right wing and could even score free-kicks. Something the likes of makelele/obi mikel could never do.

That's where carrick comes in. He sits deep in that area of the field, intercepts and breaks up play, but provides a lot more to the team. He is something similar to busquets for barcelona. Down on paper, there to play the defensive role but exceeds in providing much more.

The makelele role still exists. I think at most top clubs that position has evolved. The likes of carrick, busquets and yaya toure provide defensive cover with the addition of attacking intent

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