Former Tottenham and England striker Les Ferdinand believes that Claude Makelele was the worst thing that could have happened to English football.
Ferdinand, who scored 184 goals in the English top flight, believes the need for defensive midfielders in the modern game is unnecessary.
The role has always been around but Makelele made it his own when he signed for Chelsea in the mid-2000s. The role became predominantly known as the ‘Makelele role’ due to his immense ability to control the flow of the game from his deep-lying position in midfield.
He told the Tottenham and Wood Green Journal: “I know there’s a lot of talk about holding midfield players, and I’m always arguing with Tim and Chris (Ramsey) about this – and they agree,” he said.
“I don’t like holding midfield players. I like players to understand that if one goes forward, the other one tucks in for them. I don’t want someone who just sits in front of the back four and doesn’t go anywhere. I was saying to William Gallas when he was here, the worst thing that happened in this league was Claude Makelele.
He added: “When Makelele came into this country he wasn’t a holding midfield player. He was a player who had the intelligence to say ‘Frank [Lampard], you can score more goals than me so if you go I’m going to tuck in here for you, and I’ll hold. You keep going forward’.
“Then everyone went ‘right, we’ve got to have a holding midfield player’ – and what we’ve done is produce a crop of players who don’t want to go over the halfway line, who don’t want to pass over the halfway line and are happy to just sit in front of the back four.”
It took Makelele 66 Premier League games to score his first goal for Chelsea.Published 29 Jan 2014, 02:30 IST