Well it does, rivals may scoff at the idea of Liverpool signing a 32 year old ageing striker with no European experience, but Rickie Lambert makes absolutely perfect sense. British football culture loves a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ story, too. Born and raised in Kirkby, up the road from where Liverpool’s future generation now train, Lambert was unfortunately released by Liverpool aged just 15. It’s the hardest thing in the world to pick yourself up from such a massive disappointment. Yet it shows the mental strength of the Scouser to keep on going. Marine, Blackpool, Macclesfield, Stockport County, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers, Southampton, the World Cup, the Champions League: what a rise it has been. Southampton were in League One when they bid for the experienced striker, hoping at the time that his knowledge would help them stabilise. However, the Saints meteoric rise into an impressive footballing entity mirrors the change in fortunes of Lambert. Nobody could have predicted the last five years for man and club when he signed in 2009, and as nice as their shared story is, people still have their doubts over Liverpool’s potential signing.
Yet for many reasons Lambert is the perfect fit for Liverpool – here’s why;
A fan in a shirt: since Carragher retired the season before last it has been a worry for fans that the club was in danger of losing its identity. ”There has always been a Scouser in the team” many ex-players commented at the time of his retirement, cue a sensational first real season by Jon Flanagan. Alas, we have a Scouser back in the squad in ‘Flanno’ but the influence of Carragher was irreplaceable. Hopefully, if Lambert signed then he would add an aggressive Scouse dimension back to Liverpool’s line-up, joining Flanagan and Gerrard.
Plan B: when Chelsea parked the bus and triggered our loss of the title, we were left deflated and depressed. The neutrals admired our style and scorned theirs, but that wasn’t enough. As many pundits rightly called, Liverpool needed the experience to break down Chelsea. Lambert will offer us another dimension in our playing style. We can play it forward, we can bypass midfield, it can go wide and he will mix things up. Disregard the stigma attached to such football, the ‘Stoke’ tag is not our aim, but we need to match the styles of defensive teams when they do come to Anfield.
Set pieces: Atletico vs Real Madrid proved that football, tactically speaking, has evolved once more, from tiki-taka, from countering, to maximising set-pieces. The lessening of space between the lines has resulted in more free-kicks than ever before – Rickie can take these – however he will not be used for that. Lambert will be another threat in the box for us, joining Skrtel as a set-piece goalscorer.
Dressing room experience: this Liverpool squad is extremely likeable, mostly due to our youthful flair. But with youth comes naivety. Gerrard is our elder statesman, we need another presence in that changing room to keep the young Coutinho, Sterling, Flanagan, Joao, Tiago, Henderson and to an extent, Sturridge, grounded and focused on our quest for glory.
Here’s to hoping Rickie comes home at long last.
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