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18 Jan 2020 11:18:26
Interesting question I saw this morning. Which midfield is better?

1. Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard
2. Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum

Now for me this isn't a straight comparison because the systems were poles apart. Benitez played with two holding and Gerrard behind the striker with no defensive responsibilities. Meanwhile Klopp plays a much more complete style where everyone is responsible for attack and defence.

As much and Xabi and Masch were great for Liverpool, I think it's fair to say they never peaked at Liverpool. Xabi peaked at Madrid and Masch peaked at Barca. Fabinho does the job they did as a pair pretty much on his own, however Hendo and Gini protect him much better than Gerrard ever protected Xabi and Masch. So it's a tough call to make. I personally think that Fab can defend much better than Masch and is nearly as good as Xabi as a deep lying playmaker though. So I'd say he probably edges this area.

The harder comparison is Hendo and Gini with Gerrard. Gerrard was a phenom. He could do things on the ball almost no other player could. But out of possession he was pretty much a passenger. If he ever did get stuck in he'd usually mistime tackles and get booked or worse. On that front Hendo and Gini are far more intelligent and composed players. Their game management is better than any I've seen across Europe right now. They control the tempo, they drop when we are struggling, they press when we are on the front foot, they keep it simple under pressure, and pick out the Hollywood passes if they've got time and willing runners.

Gerrard always seemed to want to force things to happen on his own. Let's be honest here, he was so good it came off half the time! So how do you split these midfield threes?

On paper I don't think you can.

In a counter attacking machine under Rafa, Masch was a solid terrier to win the ball (though clearly the weakest link), and Alonso was the perfect passer to launch attacks from inside his own 3rd. Gerrard was the ultimate driving force who could carry two average wingers and even an average striker if Torres wasn't playing. They were nearly perfect for their team and their manager.

In a high pressing team of mentality monsters, I really don't think we could do much better than Fabinho as the anchor and Henderson as the enabler. They are both the best in the world at what they do and the fact we are where we are supports that. Wijnaldum is a superb player. He keeps possession and basically fills in gaps. His reading of the game is brilliant. He is probably the weakest link but it's more because the other two are so good than because he is limited as a player like in Mascherano's case.

I think overall there is only one way to make the choice and it is perhaps a little unfair. Rafa's trio had 3 years playing together and they won absolutely nothing. Klopps trio have had about 18 months and they have 3 trophies and arguably are on course for a league title inside 2 years together.

Maybe that's a harsh way to split them because trophies aren't won solely in midfield. As well as that, individually Gerrard is obviously the pick of the bunch. Alonso also went on elsewhere to be the best midfielder in Europe for a time, in my opinion. However, for what they achieved as a unit in the Red of Liverpool I think you have to say that the trio of 2019 have clearly surpassed the trio of 2008.

I'll leave you with a quote that perhaps sums up how the current trio have achieved more than Gerrard and Alonso, and in a more competitive era.

"Choose the best player for every position, and you'll end up not with a strong XI, but with 11 strong 1's. " - Johan Cruyff.

Agree8 Disagree0

18 Jan 2020 12:11:33
Plain Bread, I love your post. IMO, both midfield's are set up differently and are set up to achieve different objectives based on the ethos of both managers which dictate the systems they play.

I will say that I doubt apart from maybe Xabi in the DM/ DLP role, either Masche or SG could play in this midfield cos I doubt they would have the legs for it. IMO, the current trio are way more physical and are much better athletes than Rafa's midfield were hence, would not hack it in a high-energy Klopp system in or out of possession. Another system? Definitely they would be great. Just my opinion.

18 Jan 2020 12:19:03
If I had a gun 2 my head I'd take Gerrard, Masch and Alonso. but only just. if that midfield had our present day defence and Mo, Bobby and Sadio ahead of them they would be lethal.

18 Jan 2020 12:51:38
might be bending the rules here, but id take xabi all day and every day and put him in our current midfield! :)

18 Jan 2020 12:58:26
Mach, Xabi and Stevie win it hands down for me. If we had those 3 in our midfield now we'd be on 63 points rather than 61!
Those 3 had everything from tough tackling to unbelievable passing to scoring screamers from 40 yards.
Our current midfield probably has a better work rate though.

18 Jan 2020 13:18:50
Klopp enjoys better squad strength than Benitez did, so his midfield can absorb key men missing better than Benitez could.
I would also add that Klopp’s style is very much broadening and becoming more flexible. Whilst 4-3-3 is the basic system, we’ve seen him continually mix it up, both in-game and for certain opponents. And that fluidity is one of the main reasons for the success imo, we can adapt and respond.
There’s no doubt that over a season Klopp’s team would top Benitez’.
But Klopp’s flexibility would allow him to accommodate all 3 of Benitez’ midfield men. Not together and not even as starters perhaps, but I’m sure he’d love to have all 3 such players as part of his group.

18 Jan 2020 13:51:57
I think the reason Hendo, Gini, Fab work well is because of the system that they play in and the team around them.

Gerrard would have been world class for any team and Alonso proved he was too at Madrid and Bayern, I was always a big fan off Mascherano as well as he was such a terrier!

I love our midfield but I'd argue that perhaps the individuals wouldn't be quite so successful in a different set-up. Gini's role has changed massively since moving to us and Hendo doesn't quite have the same impact playing in a different team when with England.

Gerrard Vs Fabinho would have been a great battle to watch! World-class AM Vs world class DM.

Really interesting question, nice debate!

18 Jan 2020 15:14:06
Personally feel the front three's determination to win the ball back has allowed our midfield to exceed what Gerrard, Masch, Alonso were capable of, although I'd rate Gerrard and Alonso as our best from that group. I actually think Wijnaldum doesn't get enough credit and would say he's the third best on that list (Mascherano being last as he doesn't have the range of passing, dribbling the others do) . Henderson ahead of Fabinho. But our midfield three are still writing their story and may ultimately prove themselves legendary. Our current team has so much more talent in reserve compared to Rafa's (Didi aside, you have to say Ox, Milner, Keita would start week in and out at any team in the top four except City)

18 Jan 2020 15:28:01
Not even a question, Gerrard is the most complete footballer ever and alonso is one of the best passers ever Mash was quality at winning the ball back but then gave it away then win it back and give e it away. So he was not the best .

18 Jan 2020 15:43:29
Gini being a limited player sounds a bit dodgy but a good besides that.

18 Jan 2020 16:20:53
I'd definitely go for Gerrard, Alonso and Masch. That is the better midfield and had they had the quality in front of them and behind them as this team does, they would have won the league several times.

18 Jan 2020 17:07:18
Sg8 I always thought the same about masch, would win the ball a lot, often in style but his passing was awful so the opposition received it back anyway.

18 Jan 2020 18:04:17
Good post PB. But for me, Gerrard was z brilliant tackler.

18 Jan 2020 18:17:37
IMO, Masche was a headless Terrier who had NO positional awareness, lacked the type of passing range any of our current midfield 3 have and simply would not start over any of our current lot, IMO

Also, Xabi actually made SG a better player which is a testament to his football IQ and raw ability on the ball and his presence on the pitch. Xabi and SG are better and more complete footballers in terms of raw talent and ability HOWEVER as a group and under Klopp's scheme which is SO diverse, I don't think SG nor Masche would have the legs cos they are not as athletically gifted as the current starting crop.

18 Jan 2020 18:39:21
These are the wonderful articles I loved reading.
Welcome back Plain Bread and keep them coming.

18 Jan 2020 18:58:11
Masch was class. He stopped looking for the big passes and just won the ball and gave it to stevie or xabi.

18 Jan 2020 19:18:02
Can you imagine Gerrard and Alonso playing in this team with the movement of our front 3 ahead of them. God knows how many goals and assists they would get. 'World class' is used far too often these days, but Gerrard and Alonso were exactly that and would walk in to this team. Fabinho is far superior to Mascherano in my opinion.

18 Jan 2020 19:26:14
Gerrard not athletically gifted?
Are you referring to the 30-something Gerrard or the rampaging box-box young Gerrard who Benitez coached to slow down for his system?
You’ve contradicted yourself there RM, you praise Klopp’s diverse tactics and then proceed to write off both Masch and Gerrarrd as if they were playing in a 4-3-3.
Klopp occasionally plays a deeper 2 and Masch and Xabi could do that excellently, they balanced each other perfectly.
In which case, the defensive line drops 10 yards, the full backs stay deeper, and the advanced midfielder has the freedom to stay higher. Gerrard is perfect for that.
If Klopp played a 4-2-3-1 or similar then Benitez’ midfield could do that for him brilliantly imo.

18 Jan 2020 20:22:38
I hated our team under benitez. I remember Merson calling it subbutio football and for once in his life he was right. Everyone in their position and the team moved up and down the pitch keeping the space between players constant with no player leaving their position. Our default defensive line was on the edge of our own box which is why Hyypia and Carra where so good as they didn’t have, or need pace.
We were decent in the second half of the 08/ 09 season when we had a chance of the title. Other than that it was a bore fest.
This team is completely different. We are completely interchangeable and hold a high line. We are physically and mentally stronger than any other team in the world. For me that means the current midfield is better than Rafa’s.
That being said, if Stevie had been born 15 years later and was in his prime in this team we’d have won every game this season. They would probably have to make us play with 10 men just to make it fairer for everyone else.

18 Jan 2020 23:07:23
Fully agree B. P. Our football under Benitez was horrendous, boring, rigid. He was so full of himself that he couldn’t celebrate a goal or congratulate his players. Yes we won in Istanbul (no thanks to him) but we left another Champions League behind us two years later - if we’d only attacked that aging Milan team with pace we’d have beaten them easily but as usual Rafa could only stick to his defensive system. His ego cost us the league in 2009 with that crazy Facts rant and it could be argued that he cost Torres his career by playing him even though he wasn’t fit. He even tried to sell Alonso so he could replace him with Gareth Barry. WTF! I remember the Real Madrid president describing our football at the time as “rubbish on a stick” and he was bloody right.

19 Jan 2020 14:02:45
Red Meister, your doubts about Steven Gerrard playing in the current Liverpool midfield because he would not have the legs are totally unfounded. As well as being superbly technically gifted and hugely skilful, in his prime Steven was also a fantastic athlete. Alongside The King Kenny as the most complete footballer I have seen in over 50 years watching The Mighty Reds, he would be a huge asset to the current team.

19 Jan 2020 14:56:10
Would be interesting to get some actual facts on both midfields running stats. See quite a few posts saying our current Midfield are athletes but let’s be honest Stevie and Masch weren’t slouches when it came to putting high energy shifts in either.



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