This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
After toying with the idea on numerous occasions, it’s time for Steven Gerrard to stick with Andy Halliday at left-back over the inconsistent Borna Barisic.
Barisic has been something of a disappointment since arriving from Osijek last summer for a sizeable £2.2m. Playing only 24 times for the Gers as the club’s only orthodox left-back in the squad is poor, particularly when you’ve been brought to the club for such a large fee.
Yet, there clearly is a player in there, he’s been a regular in recent Croatia squads (one of Steven Gerrard’s bones of contention with the full-back) and the club wouldn’t part with such a sum if they didn’t see something in him.
He’s been written off by some in the media, but he now has someone who can take the burden off him. This player wasn’t brought in for a big fee and has only recently discovered his talent for playing on the left-hand side of the defence, having played the entirety of his career as a midfielder.
Entering the last 12 months of his contract at his boyhood club, Halliday knows that this could be his last chance at the club he loves.
The 27-year-old hasn’t sulked or been stubborn with his future uncertain though, demanding to play in one of the midfield roles he’s become accustomed to over his career, quite the opposite in fact – he’s been a pleasant surprise for Gerrard and the perfect utility man.
Stepping up regularly as a makeshift left-back in the absence of his Croat teammate has allowed his manager to focus funds on other areas of the park this summer, rather than attempt to bring in another left-back to compete with Barisic.
He proved his reliability by playing 11 more games than the former Osijek man last season, and as a left-footer, he added more balance to the side when deployed in the role than the right-footed Jon Flanagan, who struggled on his unnatural flank.
Halliday continuing at left-back is a win-win for all involved – Gerrard gets a cheap solution to compete with the underwhelming Barisic without splashing more cash in the transfer market, while the boyhood Ger gets the opportunity to prove his worth and earn a new deal.