Left-back – in the changing room?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 16 August 2019 at 7:00am
Written by : @ConorCulver
Left back is often one of the most overlooked positions in football but arguably one of the most important. They have to deal with tricky right-wingers who are often some of the world’s best players. We need to upgrade in that position, and we should have done so over the summer. Fans were left frustrated with Cresswell’s performance against Man City and they have every right to be.
First, four of the five City goals came from their right, by targeting our left-back. This can be no coincidence give how thorough and intelligent Pep Guardiola is. The disappointing thing is that it is so obvious that Cresswell is not cut out for the role anymore, as evidenced by Kyle Walker closing a seven yard or so gap in a matter of seconds leading to the first goal. Don’t get me wrong, Walker is supremely quick – but that is unacceptable if you want to be a starting full-back in the Premier League. You don’t expect Cresswell to be as quick as Walker, but imagine what would happen on the other side if Walker ran at Zabaleta in the same fashion – Zabaleta would’ve stepped right in front of Walker and either taken the foul or shepherded the ball out of play. This is the issue with Cresswell, he is neither athletic enough or intelligent enough to be a starting left-back for a, hopefully, European challenging side anymore. Back in his day he was a fantastic fullback, but as he has gotten older and lost some of his athleticism, his all-around game has suffered.
This is not an anti-Cresswell piece. He is the best left-back we have, has done great work for us in the past – but this is an area we should have looked to strengthen first this summer. As much as some fans love King Arthur, he can’t defend. That’s no knock against him, but it is pretty clear that he is a left midfielder/winger and he’s even said that himself. You can see by how unbelievably good he is with the ball at his feet and given his better athleticism, he is a better footballer than Cresswell. But as a left back he still needs to be able to defend and too many times last year he got blown past or switched off allowing easy goals to be scored. Again, this isn’t his fault but he is being played out of position and is often exposed against better sides. Against poorer sides, he is ideal as he can get forward and show off his flair whilst having minimal defensive duties.
It is clear that we need a left back to help strengthen the squad, and this should be addressed in the January transfer window.