Global Sports : Henry, Carra Fight Corner

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Should defenders be encouraged to run with the ball and take on players? Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Thierry Henry have different views and exchanged verbal blows on Super Sunday…
Ahead of Everton’s 2-2 draw with Leicester, the experts discussed Toffees centre-back John Stones’ red card against Young Boys in midweek, when the 20-year-old was caught on the ball and ended up paying the price.
Henry said he would happily encourage the defenders to move forward with the ball because it gives more space for the strikers, while Carragher said it was an unnecessary risk with nothing to gain.
Thierry Henry: I love the fact that (Stones) is composed on the ball and he isn’t scared. Yes, he made a mistake the other day, but I really don’t mind my centre-backs to be on the ball and try to bring it out. Sometimes you have to kick it out and we all know that, but sometimes you can concede a goal by trying to kick it out when you have time on the ball. It’s finding the right balance.
Jamie Carragher: I still think he’s taking too many risks. That balance will come with maturity. But there’s no balance, for me, with defenders dribbling on the edge of the box. There’s no right time to do it, there’s only a wrong time to do it. The lad’s from Barnsley – he could be from Brazil, it doesn’t matter. Any manager or person in football who tells me it’s right for a defender to try and dribble past people on the edge of his own box is talking absolute nonsense.
TH: I obviously don’t agree. I’ve seen defenders trying to clear the ball in a stupid way when they had time on the ball and they could have brought it out. Me myself, for example, I would have been in trouble because all I was waiting for was the defender to try and clear it when he had time, and vice versa.
JC: It’s totally different. Running with the ball is different to dribbling. If he gets a chance to step into midfield he can bring an extra player in midfield to outnumber the opposition. But actually dribbling on the edge of the box is stupid – you don’t get anything from it OK, you might go past a striker, or two strikers. So what? You’re 80 yards away from their goal. If they win the ball off you they’re in at your goal.
TH: That’s, for me, where the argument starts. As a centre-forward when I used to play, if my centre-back does that it will buy me time on the ball if it ever reaches me. If you clear it straight away, straight forward to me, I will have to battle for that ball. I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, what I’m saying is I don’t mind if my defender does that, because if he beats one man another man has to step out, and that allows the midfielder to get more time on the ball, and therefore allow me more time.
JC: Say you’re a manager, you would encourage your defender?
TH: You need to find the right balance. When you read the game well and you realise you can step out, and you know there’s no danger your team’s going to concede a goal, I would encourage you to step out. I would encourage you to beat a man.
JC: What’s the risk to reward? You’ve got a centre-back in your team, he dribbles past a striker, what’s the reward for that? The risk is you concede a goal.
TH: You buy time for your team-mates to be on the ball. Less guys to beat.
JC: I don’t want to see it. If I’ve got time to step into midfield, that’s fine.
TH: That’s the beauty of the game. That’s [Jamie’s] way, and that’s my way. That’s why you have teams that like to counter-attack and teams that like to keep the ball. For example, for Barcelona, [Gerard] Pique is allowed to dribble.
JC: He doesn’t dribble, he runs with the ball. It’s different.
TH: I’ve seen him dribble past people. I’m not saying all the time – it has to be the right situation. You have to be clever enough to know when you have to clear it and when you can actually step out. Laurent Blanc used to do that a lot. Of course you’re going to lose some, but my point is in the right way and the right situation, I will tell my guy ‘yes, if you have to beat your man, beat your man’.

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