Follow @Jordan_AC90 on Twitter
If Adam Lallana was a horse, he’d be a frontrunner. Smooth and impressive in full flight after a good start, but shoddy when stuck in the middle pack.
But he’s a footballer, which means he’s great when Liverpool are winning, but largely obsolete when we’re drawing or losing – incapable of producing genuinely game changing moments.
I’ve looked heavily for stats to back up my theory, but even the deepest depths of Opta cannot provide me evidence that the £25m playmaker is only effective after Liverpool have taken the lead.
These are my eyes talking. And I watch Lallana play football every week.
The statistics that are well publicised though are damning for a playmaker/attacking-midfielder. He’s scored one Premier League goal in 2015. Since arriving at Liverpool, he’s scored eight in 64. This season he’s contributed zero goals and just two assists in the top flight.
When Liverpool are winning, or even better, coasting – he’s a joy to watch. Lallana holds onto the ball at will, forcing opposition defenders to eventually close him in packs, but he has the technical ability to retain possession in tight areas and pick out a team-mate in any area of the pitch. He drains them, simply, by being better at keeping control of the football – in Spanish style.
When Liverpool scored early goals against Manchester City in our season defining performance, Lallana purred. He didn’t score or assist, naturally, but he suffocated City, nerveless in possession – picking off the tired defenders with clever flicked passes and flamboyant turns.
Lallana’s first touch is usually perfect, a good marker of a naturally gifted footballer. He’s probably the best futsal player in the England squad and I bet he’s brilliant in training as well.
But all this counts for little when Liverpool are chasing a game or trying to break down a stubborn outfit.
This is when we need a player in his position to take risks, produce the moments of magic his talent suggests he should be capable of.
So far under Klopp he’s not scoring or making goals, but he’s not contributing many game changing passes either. WhoScored have him as making 1.3 key passes per match. We’re not expecting him to match world-class Mesut Ozil’s 4.2, but Lallana’s scoring worse than James Milner (2.1), the midfielder often criticised for his lack of creativity.
At the moment, Lallana reminds me of a retired legend coming off the bench in a testimonial to a standing ovation. He waltzes around and turns on the style completely unnecessarily without it having any impact on the result.
Sadly, he’s a 27-year-old £25m footballer and we cannot afford him that luxury, unless we really do use him as a bench player ready to come on and help us close out games when we’re ahead (which he’d be brilliant at).
But that’s a waste of his talent, right? On the surface, Lallana has all of Klopp’s favoured attributes. He runs, presses, closes off the ball and has flawless technique.
Lallana needs to stop slowing our attack and use his ability where it matters – in the final third. While his first touch is excellent, most the ones that follow are trepid. He’s lucky to have a manager who won’t berate his mistakes providing he’s trying to actively create. So he needs to actively try to create.
It’s in his locker as well. In 2013/14 he hit double figure goals with Southampton and was voted into the Premier League Team of the Year.
It’s time we saw more of that at Liverpool.
Take a look at this promotion