Following Jamie Carragher’s retirement, the signing of Kolo Toure on a free transfer immediately made sense to me; experienced, and with no shortage of ability, the Ivorian would make a fine replacement in the squad for the Reds’ legendary number 23.
But then I took a look at his statistics, as well as reading a few comments on the official Liverpool site, and I started to wonder if the former Manchester City man has actually been brought in to partner Agger at the heart of the defence in the majority of matches.
Brendan Rodgers claimed recently that Liverpool will sign “probably another defender” which doesn’t imply that there’ll be too many other options with Coates and Skrtel kept away from the first team last season, and Toure himself says “These past two years of being ‘part-time’ have helped me refresh and be more hungry“, which doesn’t imply he’s looking at a place on the Anfield bench.
In the same interview linked to above, when asked what he’d offer Liverpool, Toure said “”More talking, for sure! I like to lead when I’m on the pitch, I like to speak to the players and organise things”. This is not something that either Agger or Skrtel are renowned for, whereas Carragher was, so perhaps Rodgers will be looking to Toure to bring this to the starting XI.
A big part of Liverpool’s issues at the back last season were down to the number of defensive errors they made which enabled their opponents to get a cheap shot and/or score. Nearly a quarter (10 out of 43) of the goals that the Reds conceded were as a direct result of a mistake they themselves had made.
Whereas Martin Skrtel made five such errors during the last campaign, as an example, Kolo Toure hasn’t made one since January 2011, covering his last thirty-four league appearances. As an aside, I think this also played a part in the decision to replace Reina with Mignolet, as you can read in this previous post.
Here are the stats from last season for Toure and Liverpool’s centre backs. Kolo only has a small sample to work with (of just over ten full games of pitch time), but they suggest he’s performing at a pretty similar level to the other defenders under Rodgers’ charge.
Kolo Toure performed at a comparable level in 2012/13 to Liverpool’s centre-backs, makes fewer defensive errors and is vocal on the pitch, which the remaining defenders following Carragher’s retirement are not. He also doesn’t get dribbled past too often, and even offers a little more creatively than his new teammates.
As a result, I’m increasingly starting to think we might see Toure and Agger start together against Stoke on day one at Anfield. My main concern with that would be Toure’s apparent weakness in the air, which the Potters will obviously look to exploit.
But that’s for Brendan Rodgers to worry about; I’ve just pulled together a theory based on bits and bobs I’ve read. But unless the likes of Kyriakos Papadopoulos turn up at the Paisley Gates before the end of August, I reckon there might be something in this idea.
Related posts you might like:
Daniel Agger – The Interceptor – A look at the Dane’s injury record and stats, as fans decide whether it’s the right time to cash in.
Error Log – The Reds are gifting their opponents too many goals this season, and here is the charge sheet!
Back Four Blunders, And Why They’re Happening – Liverpool’s defence are making a lot of errors this season, here’s why I think that is.