Ask a Liverpool fan about what parts of their squad they are most concerned about and nearly all of them will speak at great length on their mis-firing strike-force (The reds, already having problems last year, loaned out their £35m striker Andy Carroll this summer and failed to replace him).
A surprising number of people will also mention the goalkeeping position as an area of concern. Pepe Reina has been a stalwart of Liverpool for as long as most Liverpool fans can remember. He has been rightly recognised is one of Liverpool’s few ‘world class’ players and nobody in their right mind would question has inclusion in the side.
Last year however, Reina’s form was not as good as we had become accustomed to. Expensive mistakes and indifferent performances started to replace steady, superb displays and, as Liverpool’s form as a whole slumped, so did that of their hero.
So, if Liverpool were to replace Reina in their starting XI, could Aussie Brad Jones be the man to replace him?
That Jones’ name has even been mentioned around Anfield marks an unbelievable rise in fortune for the perennial substitute and caps an remarkable personal story for the man from Perth.
Jones moved to the UK in 1999 and signed for Middlesbrough. Unfortunately, he found it very difficult to break into the starting XI and was consistently loaned out to lower division clubs. Indeed, in his 10 years in profession al football in the UK, he made less than 100 first team appearances.
Jones’ amazing story first came to the public eye in distressing fashion on 11th November 201l when newspaper reports broke of his young sons death from Leukemia. At the time, Jones was still a virtual unknown, even amongst Liverpool fans. His rise to stardom started towards the end of last season – mere months after his sons death and only 6 days after new youngest son was born – when both Reina and his traditional understudy were sent off in successive matches, both incurring from subsequent games.
Fate would have it that Jones’ first start would be a cup semi-final appearance against arch-rivals and neighbours Everton. The way he collapsed and kissed the turf after Liverpool’s victory is now etched into the memory of Every Liverpool fan, despite only making 5 appearances in total for the reds.
Fast forward a few months and Jones is still warming the bench at Anfield. But, with Reina’s indifferent form continuing (he has made two major errors already this season), more and more people are looking at Jones as a potential number one. Few people if any would would begrudge him the opportunity to prove his worth again.
Jon Addison is an Australian who follows Aussies in all sports and in particular is a huge Liverpool fan. As well as being sports mad he has an interest in gambling and his favourite slot machines.