Albeit hyperbolically, Garth Crooks’ claim that Liverpool would get relegated with Alberto Moreno in the side last weekend symbolised the exaggerated and downright nasty reaction to the Spaniard’s performance versus Arsenal.
In reality, the response carried over from our loss to Sevilla in our previous competitive game, when Moreno’s indecisive defending played a part in Liverpool’s Europa League Final capitulation.
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But in painting Moreno as much worse than the pantomime villain, heads were lost.
Failed manager Gary Neville labelled him ‘absolute garbage’. Carragher – a man who knew his own struggles at Liverpool early on – was equally unkind.
The penalty Moreno gave away was shoddy, but the first goal was as much as his fault as four or five other players and Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren have somehow avoided blame for the second.
Moreno is a guy who wants it. He doesn’t sulk. He isn’t lazy. He gives everything to our cause every time he pulls on a red shirt. Does he have a defensive blunder in the locker? Too right he does. Is this a reason to systematically and brutally question the man’s position as a professional on a weekly basis? No. Remember – most of the time when he’s bursting forward, he’s obeying the manager’s orders.
You can expect the travelling Kop to get fully behind Moreno, if he plays, on Saturday – as a result of the cruel backlash.
How would you have dealt with that as a 23-year-old, Reds?
That being said – Liverpool DO have to address the left-back area. James Milner doesn’t want to play there, Ragnar Klavan provides nothing going forward and Joe Gomez is a relatively untested youngster.
What’s more, following the Christian Benteke deal, we’ll have MADE money this summer; quite extraordinary considering it’s Jurgen Klopp’s first real window of change. We’re actually in a position financially where we could break our transfer record on a left-back and it be a sensible, not rash, decision.
Chelsea have today been linked with £22m-rated Ricardo Rodriguez, who we’ve watched on countless occasions. The Swiss is the same age as Moreno, but a much better player. Klopp said he’d only buy the right type at left-back, but Rodriguez offers everything the Spaniard does – and more. He’s young, quick and happy to surge forward, but unlike Moreno – is comfortable on the back-foot. Rodriguez fights for headers and positions himself more sensibly. He also takes a wicked free-kick and adds his fair share of goals and assists – although it’s his ability as a defender (and attacker second) that we should focus on.
Antonio Conte already has Cesar Azpilicueta, the best left-back in the country, on Chelsea’s books – and they’ve previously signed and let go the superb Filipe Luis as well – so it would be pretty heartbreaking if they got this deal done.
There’s no word that Klopp’s interested, and we’ll naturally support his team – with or without Moreno – through thick and thin – but this seems like an opportunity too good to miss.
We’ve brought in a goalkeeper to challenge Mignolet, central defensive enforcements, height and power in midfield and injected pace into the side with Sadio Mane. It’s just the left-back spot that remains… If we can acquire a genuinely top level player for the role like Rodriguez, armed with our lofty budget, this would have been a truly outstanding window.
Here’s wishing, anyway!