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Following Dimitar Berbatov's stint at centre-half, skysports.com takes a look at a few other versatile performers
Dimitar Berbatov helped to plug a defensive hole for Manchester United against Leeds on Tuesday, becoming the latest in a long line of players to have been asked to take on a different role to that which they have grown accustomed.
There have been numerous occasions down the years when outfield players have filled in between the sticks, while keepers have always fancied themselves as goal-getters rather than goal-stoppers.
Here skysports.com takes a look at a few examples of tactical tinkering, with managers opting to try something a little different in an effort to generate results.
Berbatov's laid back approach would appear to be well-suited to centre-half, with the Bulgarian striker often accused of meandering his way through games, and he was only too happy to slip into the back four for the final minutes of Manchester United's Carling Cup win at Leeds. Whether he completes the transition from enigmatic frontman to ball-playing defensive lynchpin later on in his career remains to be seen.
Manchester City needed a goal in their final game of the 2004/05 season against Middlesbrough to qualify for Europe, but rather than throw on a striker manager Stuart Pearce opted to send on goalkeeper James. Cue reckless challenges and wild shots without the threat of any end product. City failed to find the target, drew 1-1 and James was subsequently returned to his more regular role.
During the latter stages of the 2008/09 campaign, Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce opted to use burly centre-half Samba as a striker - playing him up front on his own at one stage and leaving South Africa international Benni McCarthy on the bench. It is easy to see why the Congolese powerhouse was deployed in such a role, with his physical presence enough to cause problems to the meanest of defences.
Renowned for his goalscoring and his prolific SAS partnership with Alan Shearer that helped Blackburn to the Premier League title in 1994/95, Sutton was also more than useful at keeping things tight at the back - as he proved on numerous occasions during his days at Norwich. He was often used as a centre-half by the Canaries, with his ability to second guess the movement of opposition strikers proving to be invaluable.
No-nonsense midfielders have little trouble slipping into a defensive unit when required and players as good as Mascherano make the transition look easy. The Argentine helped to ease Pep Guardiola's defensive headache on numerous occasions last season and helped Barcelona see off Manchester United in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final from centre-half.
Valencia made a name for himself as an old-fashioned right winger, with Manchester United picking him up from Wigan as a wide man who likes to get chalk on his boots. He has, however, shown promise at right-back and may decide to try his luck there as competition for places mounts at Old Trafford - with Nani and Ashley Young currently Sir Alex Ferguson's preferred options on the flanks.
A classy operator in the heart of midfield, Essien was asked to provide defensive cover by Chelsea in 2007. The Ghanaian slotted in alongside John Terry with consummate ease and the Blues lost only two of nine games with him at the heart of their back four. Jose Mourinho has forged a reputation for being one of the shrewdest tacticians in the game and his decision to drop Essien back during his days in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat proved to be masterstroke.
It seems like a bit of waste to stick a player of Gerrard's considerable talent at right-back, but sometimes needs must. Liverpool's talismanic skipper filled in at the back during the 2005 UEFA Champions League final, as the Reds edged their way towards a penalty shoot-out. With AC Milan on the rampage as they searched for a dramatic winner, and with Liverpool's aching limbs creaking badly, Gerrard somehow managed to drag himself over the finishing line before going on to lift the trophy.
Stuart Pearce repeated his David James trick in 2009 when he sent Peterborough keeper Joe Lewis on as a striker in a friendly romp for England's U21s over Azerbaijan. He claimed he was protecting others from injury as the Young Lions readied themselves for a shot at European Championship glory that summer.
One of the most famous versatile players in history, colourful Mexican keeper Campos was a hit at both ends of the field. He plundered over 30 goals for Pumas as a striker, but made over 100 appearances for his country between the sticks. Campos sets the benchmark when it comes to goal-scoring goalies, but he is by no means the only South American shot-stopper to have found the target on a regular basis over the course of their career.
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