Let’s Hear It For… Raul Meireles

Ollie Irish

23rd, November 2010


By Ollie Irish

Raul Meireles (left) has settled in at Liverpool in no time

Portuguese international Raul Meireles arrived at Liverpool – a big new club in a foreign country – at a very, VERY bad time. What with the Hicks & Gillett saga poisoning LFC from within, serious doubts over how long new manager Roy Hodgson would last, and a string of poor performances on the pitch… well, talk about walking into a hurricane.

Under those trying circumstances, you can only applaud the blood-and-sweat manner in which Meireles has started his career at Anfield: sleeves rolled up, no moaning, no nonsense, no gloves, fighting for the cause with passion. He has been Roy Hodgson’s best signing, by far – and that’s despite being played out of position for most of his time at the club. No wonder that the vast majority of Liverpool fans have really warmed to him.

The only question mark over Meireles is, where do you play him when Steven Gerrard is fit? He’s a versatile midfielder who has played several games wide right, to cover for the injured Dirk Kuyt, and he even played at full-back in one game, if memory serves. But these are not the areas of the pitch where you get the most from Meireles (he is wasted on the wing, frankly), even if he will give you a full shift wherever he plays. Meireles needs to be played in central midfield – he is a classical box-to-box central midfielder, with the ability to create and destroy. He said as much this week:

“I feel more comfortable playing in the middle, but I will play wherever the manager wants me to. That’s my job and I’m working to be a successful player for Liverpool and to help the team.”

When he says that, you know he means it.

A CM pairing of Gerrard and Meireles is perhaps a little too cavalier (especially in tricky away games), much like the blasted Gerrard/Lampard axis. Meireles and Lucas/Poulsen is a stronger blend, in which case a fit Gerrard can be moved in behind Fernando Torres (the closer you can get Torres and Gerrard to play together, the better) in a 4-4-1-1, or even onto the right wing (in the role workhorse Dirk Kuyt has made his own) – Gerrard is a better right-winger than Meireles, surely.

Anyway, now that Gerrard is out for a few weeks, it’s the perfect chance for Meireles to move inside and show his quality in his natural position, and he did exactly that in Liverpool’s 3-0 win against West Ham, alongside the much-maligned Christian Poulsen. And, as more than one Liverpool fan pointed out on Twitter, Meireles is due a screamer from 30 yards out soon – the boy can bang em in, as he showed for Portugal not long ago…

And that was with his weaker, left foot.

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  1. PhilandoTorres says:

    Great player and a great signing. Makes you wonder why we didn’t sign him sooner and instead of Aquilani. Especially considering the fact that Meireles is twice the player for half the money.

    Personally, I’d stick Gerrard centre-mid with Meireles in the 4-4-2 that has suited us lately. Stick Kuyt up front but allow him the freedom to drop deep and occasionally swap places with Meireles.

    As effective as he is in an advanced role I much prefer Gerrard sitting deep, spraying the passes around like Alonso. Let Meireles occupy the ‘Gerrard role’ and I reckon it’ll pay off.

  2. Ben says:

    Great article, Ollie. I agree that Meireles has been one of the few good things about Liverpool this season, and am also very interested to see how he does without Gerrard and his defensive indiscipline clogging up the midfield (sorry Liverpool fans, you know it’s true).

    For what it’s worth, Meireles played the deepest, more central role in Portugal’s 3-man midfield against Spain last Wednesday, and was quite frankly outstanding. But in his days at Porto, he generally played either side of a more defensive midfielder. If I was a Liverpool supporter, I’d be hoping for Hodgson to switch to 4-3-3, with Poulsen in the deepest, most defensive position, flanked by Lucas and Meireles, with Kuyt and Maxi either side of Torres.

  3. Ollie Irish says:

    I think for home games, Gerrand & Meireles in the middle looks progressive, especially if you have industrious wingers (such as Kuyt) prepared to man the pumps inside too.

    As Meireles is a more considered passer than Gerrard, and keeps possession better, for away games I like the aforementioned 4-4-1-1, with Meireles and Lucas the two CMs sat in behind Gerrard-Torres. And if Kuyt plays right midfield, he can interchange with Gerrard to mix things up. Left wing is a trickier spot, mind.

  4. gaptooth says:

    good article ollie

    Raul is a class act who along with Lucas (apart from the last game) have been Liverpool’s most consistent performers. he is due a goal – and it feels imminent – hopefully he can bag a brace at the lane on sunday

    the real problem areas for liverpool are the wide areas, as good as kuyt, cole and maxi are – they lack pace and won’t bang in 6-7 quality crosses per game – which your bale , nani or even pennant will .

    the one good thing for all liverpool fans is that things are slowly improving
    still not convinced by hodgson tho

  5. Kipp says:

    I picked Meireles as one of my worst signings of the season. Just prior to a pick up in his form.

    Then he was a simple passing, wayward shooting superfluous midfielder. It wasn’t until Woy wealised that you can’t play effectively 5 central midfielders and play well. Especially if you lump the ball over them time and again.

    Then he was 12m for not very much, since then Woy has used him more effectively but i fear for a Gerrard return and another clusterf**k in midfield as 40 yards out from goal, Gerrard, Maxi, Meirles and Cole try to do something with no width.

    As i read on twitter. He’s a 3d player in a 2d team playing a 1d system.

    More apt than I could ever put it.

  6. Ollie Irish says:

    The wings are a problem. If Liverpool could sign one player in January, I’d go for Adam Johnson, who is reportedly unsettled at Man City. Can play on either wing and has pace/trickery.

  7. Jh says:

    Good article. Raul shouldn’t be played on the wing, you’re right in saying his talent is wasted there. One commentator said he was as central a midfielder as you can get – so I certainly hope to see him play in the midfield soon! Regarding his position when Stevie Gerrard comes back, I hope we revert back to the 4-4-1-1 that was effective in 08-09, when Gerrard played behind Torres. Meireles will control the midfield along with Lucas/Spearing/Poulsen (and Poulsen should play only if he can improve). At least that’s what I hope to see.

    And must say that the guy has an excellent attitude, played out of position but doesn’t whine – good on him.

  8. deckard says:

    left wing is a concern cuz liverpool have 1)no typical winger(don’t start with the babel bullshit cuz he went thru the entire ajax system as a CENTRAL STRIKER 2)no attacking player with a cultured left foot. there’ve been a busload that’ve come and gone – kewell(always injured), gonzalez(who?), riera(dreadful). mind u tho, it’s hard to find a decent left footed player these days let alone one who can operate from the wings. why u think man utd are clinging on to ryan giggs for so long. having said that, had liverpool been in a better position sporting wise and financially(up until recently), it would’ve been more attractive for players like adam johnson to make the switch. although he’s at a title candidate winning side now(i think) he doesn’t always get a game cuz mancini has to juggle 27(+/-) players who all feel they MUST play. then again, had liverpool been in a rosier position as i was talking about before, it may’ve brought david silva to anfield over the summer and joined a club with a great history instead of going after the sheikh’s money sack.

    anyway, if meireles is switched into a more advanced role with gerrard out, where does that leave joe cole? – who i’d yet to mention and who is also an option for the left wing albeit always cutting inside to his right and (usually) delivering in a hopeless cross. or jovanic who’s even worse. his ceiling was the belgian league, or maybe a bottom 4 prem league club but not liverpool(who usually contend for the top places).

    i personally, as a dutchman, find kuyt an admirable fellow but generally a woeful player. he can’t beat a man, he doesn’t score when u need a goal, and my blind granny so to speak has more vision. he does have a decent cross though, but he’s so slow getting into position to deliver one, against top sides he gets reduced to a pawn.

    i’d probably say maxi on the right would be the best decision. although no world beater either, he does have some of that south american flair and has pretty good left foot which makes him more unpredictable than kuyt. kuyt interchanging with gerrard i find a ridiculous idea for the aforementioned reasons. kuyt can work and he can finish(on a good day), and that’s where it stops.

  9. Gmac says:

    Why can’t Gerrard and Miereles play center mid together?They are both genuine box to box players with great defensive skills.The further forward Gerrard plays the closer he is marked.With the best striker in the world we should attack home and away.When we set up to defend we draw teams on to us,those are the tactics of a team with less able players trying to nullify a superior team.We are Liverpool we have….Gerrard,Torres,Miereles,Maxi,Cole,Johnson,Kuyt,Aurelio,Shelvey,Ngog,Pacheco all talented players who are great going forward.Take the shackles off…….Attack !!!

  10. Jab Me ALonso says:

    I can’t belive how people think Mereles is a good signing?? He was signed to replace Mascherano and it appears Roy soon realised he wouldn’t be able to do that so played him out of position just to fit him in to the team.

    I really hope I am wrong and that he proves to be an Alonso type but with Steeel Balls.

  11. Temjin says:

    The man is a no nonsense northern portuguese man to the core and that’s like saying he’s a geordie/spartan mash-up. Very different from the good-time lovin’ islander type (like C-Ron) or the Lisbon-born cosmopolitan type (like Figo).
    I think one of the reasons why he’s settled so in so well is because he loves the city. He recently told a portuguese newspaper that he “completely fell in love with Liverpool”. One of his hobbies, he claims, is “getting on the train and just wandering about without anyone bothering (him)”.

    A rich. Football player. That rides. The train.
    I rest my case.

  12. James says:

    Lucas/Poulsen sitting behind Meireles and Gerrard in midfield with someone on either wing and Torres up front? That would work if you let Gerrard and Meireles float about just behind/around the oppositions’ CMs.

  13. Ollie Irish says:

    Nice insight, Temjin, thanks

  14. Mr. Angry says:

    I am certain! this is our best line up!






  15. James says:

    I concur Mr. Angry.

    Aurelio will overlap well with Maxi as he doesn’t play wide, though that might leave us exposed on the left.

    I’d probs rather have Kuyt than Johnson atm tho

  16. Pedro says:

    Actually, in that interview Meireles said he would take the train to London. He might be in love with Liverpool but he was talking about how nice it was to be able to take the train to London without being recognised and having people bothering him.

  17. Mr. Angry says:

    @ james

    i think you’ve got a point mate…

    kuyt’s work rate is phenomenal but quite frankly he’s not very skillfull at all, and he hasnt got the pace…

    johnson by the way who’s utterly shite in defense but brilliant in attack will make use of his skills… he’s fast, strong, can cross the ball…. i would really like to see him play there or babel… dont put babel on the left!

  18. PhilandoTorres says:

    Good interview with Raul;


    And yes, he mentions getting the train. To London.

  19. Ollie Irish says:


  20. adam says:

    Woy really is a donkey. playing pacheco in the reserves team, loaning out aquaman… when from the start of the season LFC have lacked so much flare that both of these players would provide.
    i fear Aquaman will play well at juve where the manager has confidence in him (9starts 6 assists and 2 goals not bad for someone who settling in a new league and come out of injury, imo)
    and why he signed this guy… if he is not playing him in the natural position…. why?
    thats like playing gerrard out of position for England. oh wait, that’s done nearly all the time…. hmm.
    Seems like a good player, Meireles, am worried if he is not played in his natural position, pacheco is not played in first team and aqau dont come back, that would be 3 feckups by Woy. in 1 season. That 17 year old Spanish kid, Suso or what is his name, he looks a rising talent too.
    Woy needs a slap.
    Had no faith in him before he came…
    1 good signing, but wasted .

  21. Alberto says:

    Meireles is not one of the best midfielders in the world but he is surely a very useful one if he is used where is good at, and that is in front of number 6 and behind number 10 e a 433.

    His type of goal is usually this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfCkyvLX0Ik&feature=related

    As for the dude who said Northern Portuguese players where crappy let me just remember that current Benfica captain Nuno Gomes was born in Porto (and a lot of other former captains like Joao Pinto or Humberto Coelho) which is where we can find the most dedicated professionals in Portugal. Seamed to me like a lot of southern bull…

    As for LFC, the problem is in the manager which is not worthy of the position.

  22. […] a more disciplined and balanced pairing than Steven Gerrard +1. As I said before, in praising Meireles, Gerrard is most effective in a free role in between the midfield and a lone […]

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