Wednesday, December 12, 2007
All Right on the Left
It does help, though, when he's deployed effectively; this morning, joy of joys, he occupied his ideal left-wing role. Fittingly, his two "assists", even if that description flatters his hopeful punt into the middle for Dirk Kuyt's goal, came from a position on the left flank.
Does Kewell, now 29 and as susceptible to injuries as ever, still have a role to play in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup? I think so. His quality, on the fleeting occasions when it shines through, is undeniable; at his best, there is no current Australian player as influential as Kewell.
But the lessons of his past failures and successes in an Australian shirt must be learned.
In the 2001 home playoff against Uruguay: anonymous in a central role, finally pushed out to the left with the arrival of Paul Agostino, and the Socceroos find their second wind. Kewell subsequently plays a crucial role in winning the penalty that sees Frank Farina's men take a 1-0 lead to Montevideo. Where Farina, incredibly, sacrifices him in a nebulous "roving" role once more...with predictable results.
In the 2005 tie, against the same opposition: ineffective on the right flank in the first leg in Montevideo, when his increasing tiredness (among other factors) led to Australia losing the initiative completely in the final half-hour. Yet when he came on as a substitute in Sydney, on the left, he caused the Uruguayans no end of problems.
Kewell did not, in fact, get many chances to shine this morning, seeing that Liverpool sat back completely after their second goal. Yet there was a moment to bring a smile to any Australian supporter in the 20th minute.
For once, Steven Gerrard managed to get the ball out to Kewell on the left. Faced by the Marseille right-back Laurent Bonnart, Kewell toyed with him for a moment before gliding effortlessly past him to the by-line, and delivering a deft cross to the head of Kuyt.
Naturally, you know, I catch all the Reds's games, and he has really filled an area that has been a problem for us this season.
Babel is still finding his feet, and prefers the middle, and Riise has been pretty average whenever he's been in the advanced role this year. Rafa has even had Voronin there, such has been the headache.
Harry just gives us natural balance, and rafa love him. Fingers crossed he can stay on the pitch.
We certainly missed him in the w-end loss to Reading where Liverpool played without a natural left sided attacking option and were far too narrow as a result. Steve Coppell simply stretched us and then utilised the space done the guts.
Once H came on he had a number of neat little flicks and started playing people in behind.
He is in Vintage form indeed.
He was one of the few players to shine in the Asian cup WHEN he came on as a sub.
Our left side looks fantastic now with Carle and Carney
He is one of our only (if not hte only) player who takes on their opposing man
Interesting to note his instant understanding with Torres - some players just have it with each other and early glances seem to indicate this is the case.
Rafa must be thankful he didn't take up that offer from Spurs...
He has his moments, but his time in the Liverpool '7' shirt has been 'disappointing' to say the least.
True to a not inconsiderable degree, but I still reckon his deployment away from the left wing half of the time he has played has been as important as his injuries and own inconsistency in making his Liverpool career a disappointment.
When he has played on the left wing, he has been good value by and large IMHO. But it (and his poor form when played up front or on the right) is something that seems to have always been easily glossed over by fans and pundits.
I remember watching a Liverpool Premiership game in early 2006, during probably Kewell's finest extended run in a Liverpool shirt (December 2005-April 2006). The second commentator for the game (I never was able to get his name) was trying to find a reason for Kewell's improved form, and eventually he came up with some vague praise of Benitez's man management and making Kewell hungry. But it was not coincidental IMHO that this period was also the only extended period at Liverpool in which Kewell was deployed on the left wing. He looked as natural and in the swing of things then as he has since his Leeds days.
Just on this Mikey, I still think we missed a great opportunity to go a long way towards winning the tie in that first leg.
Kewell did seriously trouble Uruguay in Sydney, but to be fair they were well protected down his flank. Right-back Diogo got a lot of defensive support from right winger Varela tracking back and right centre-back Lugano - fantastic that night - covering for him.
But back in the first leg, it was much different. Lugano was suspended, Uruguay were playing with four at the back (compared to five in Sydney) and there was hardly a midfield to defensively support the backline, particularly out wide. Colombia, two months prior, got back into their qualifier against Uruguay doing damage down Diogo's flank, and he was probably the weakest link in that backline (if not a weak link as such, but possibly vunerable if isolated).
Unfortunately it was only Archie Thompson (an out of position Archie at that) on the left wing. I reckon Cahill would've been really valuable in Montevideo as well. Might've been worth risking a suspension (he was on a card). For mine Uruguay were much more vulnerable in Montevideo than in Sydney, and their extra presence in attack didn't make up for it as it didn't become really effective until Estoyanoff came on in the last half hour to provide some genuine width. Unfortunately we were also about as worse in attack as Uruguay were more vulnerable in defence than in Sydney.