Central Defenders...how much does the system hide the player?
Is too much being asked of the defence in today’s football, with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher both saying they’d prefer to play in a Man Utd system with Mourinho than a Man City with Guardiola are defenders required to do more than they was asked to do a generation ago in the new attacking style teams that we see in world football.
Before 2010 Central defenders used to be big and powerful defenders with poor technical ability and no mobility and speed but with managers like kloop and guardiola, more and more defenders are asked to be distributors from the back as well as have a turn of pace to cover the full backs sufficiently. This is leaving more old fashion style defenders out in the cold as players like Per Mertasacker retiring after a few dreadful seasons at the end of his career as well as defenders being heavily criticised when playing in progressive systems such as Stones and Louvren.
The question are they being asked to do so much they end up not being able to fulfil their basic duties or is this just the way football is going and the best of best can adapt like Varane and Ramos who are constantly left exposed by their full backs at Madrid.
As we’ve seen with Keane and Tarkowski who seemed extremely composed and complete defenders in a park the bus system at Burnley but struggled when representing their country or playing for a better side. Smalling was recently left out of the England provisional squad because he lacked the ability to play out the back, he’s also lost his starting place at United to a more complete defender in Bailly.
So is the game changing and players need to adapt or be dropped or should we cut defenders some slack for the odd mistake because there is so much pressure being placed on them?