What the Reds can learn

Just before Euro 2012 this summer, the French (and Newcastle) player Yohan Cabaye said that the thing he was most concerned about for the summer tournament was Steven Gerrard. In the end France and England drew 1-1 in their 11 June game, but the Frenchman made a good point when he said “Steven Gerrard is a very important player, very powerful and an inspirational player, a leader.” Although the Reds are out of the Champions league, we’re still in with a chance in the Europa league which will probably involve taking on some French teams.

English footballing style has often been described as the British Bulldog approach to the sport: dogged, practical and without too much flair, while the French (in the Eighties at least) were described as ‘the Brazilians of football’, with a style that was elegant, technically advanced, and overall, skillful. Alongside chess, perhaps poker can be described as the most tactical of games.

So, with this in mind we thought we’d look to poker to see if there are any tips that would give us the advantage over those French teams the Reds might encounter in the Europa cup. Our players may not spend their evenings on gambling websites but they can surely pick up a tip or two from those who do.

Speed
A key poker skill is to be able to combine the ability to play well, with the ability to play fast. Quick thinking can win you a game. No one is saying that the Reds play a slow game or can’t run, but it is also true that most French teams play a very speedy game and pass the ball a lot.

Technical skills
You have to play the cards you’re dealt in poker, but it’s what you do with them that makes you a success or not. Reading poker books, talking to other poker pros and generally mugging up on your technique is what gives you the edge. The Brazilian poker legend Carlos Alberto is among those who have argued that technical skills (passing and dribbling skills, good movement etc) are what English players lack.

Offensive skills
No, not swearing at each other, but pushing through the field. A poker player who takes everyone on is called a monster and is likely to end up losing hard in the end, so all poker players know that a good player will play an attacking game but with nuance. Likewise, most French teams generally play quite an offensive game, and the best way to deal with this is to meet fire with fire. Fire is after all red!

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