Let’s face it.
When Manchester United have the ball and are moving forward, they move with a purpose. There is a defiance and an arrogance in their movement. Every pass seems to find the addressee, every ball is played to perfection and the opposition defense just looks like B-grade actors thrust there to tackle emptiness, run into each other or just fall in the background, as the cameras focus on the United player delivering the killer ball, then the jubilation. For hours. Days even.
I hate that. But that’s what I’ve been seeing on TV. Over and over again, generation after generation.
That’s what I never see in a Liverpool game any more. Defiance and arrogance. Until the Hodgson curse was lifted on one midfielder. Raul Miereles was Liverpool’s closest incarnation of defiance and arrogance. When he moved into the six-yard box against Chelsea last year, he was not just going there to offer options. He went there looking for the ball. That goal alone exemplifies what I mean. He moved into the box with a purpose to get to ball and score. And he did.
That was not a one-off example. I continued to savour Miereles’ attitude to the game, the last one being in the match against Exeter lately. After his awkward fall, he was visibly in pain. The squad doctor and physio came to him and were talking him out of the field. He shrugged them off and just wanted to go back on the field. That is the reaction of a focused player. Someone who wants it.
Unfortunately, as much as he wanted the game in that match, he obviously didn’t want it enough off the field. No one is bigger than the club and we lose two players to Chelsea in one year. There used to be a time when big clubs would not be feeder clubs to rival teams. In football however, eras are counted in half a dozen of years.
Some were arguing that Sturridge for Miereles sounded a bargain. I do not agree. I believe we lost some well needed defiance and arrogance with the loss of Miereles. And I hope this does not cost us a few points in the coming games.
However, all is not doom and gloom. Many observers seem to have forgotten about it, but before Miereles, there used to be another midfielder to run to the ball with a taste for opposition blood. He got us into the second stages of the Champions League and won it for us. He’s not arrogant, but defiant beyond belief. And he is due to come back in a few weeks.
You know what, forget about arrogance, it never was the Liverpool way anyway. However, the first mission for Steven Gerrard should be this: inject defiance into the new blood. This secret ingredient, in my humble opinion, may make the difference between a top 6 and a top 3 finish.