There’s a saying that goes you can’t please all the people all of the time and this is particularly true in football. It’s also a well known fact that a player plying his trade for his dream club will often remain at said club in whatever capacity he can, simply to pull on his favoured jersey. He’s not just a player. He’s a fan, and this can speak volumes. Whether he plays a leading role of not. How many footballers can you name that fit this description? For Liverpool Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher immediately come to mind.
Brendan Rodgers apart from being an astute tactician is also a very capable man manager, and should recent reports be correct, he’ll be showing further proof of this should he secure the signing of Rickie Lambert. The 32 year-old Scouser, for me, will probably the best transfer that Rodgers will make in this window. The Reds boss definitely needs cover for Daniel Sturridge and Player of the Year Luis Suarez but his problem is finding a player who can provide the goals but at the same time may not be guaranteed much playing time.
If he gets a ‘big name’ player, then he’s going to want to play. We’ve seen this before in numerous examples. Your average footballer – not least striker – is not known for being a shrinking violet in the egotistical stakes and keeping three or four top forwards happy, whilst ensuring the continued development of younger players like Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho would be a struggle for Confucius, let alone Rodgers.
Enter the former Liverpool youth player Lambert. At 32 he’s got experience on his side. The reported fee of £4m is an absolute snip when you consider they his current teammate Adam Lallana is valued at £25m. He’s also got goals in him and his 13 goals from 37 premiership appearances last season are decent stats for a squad player. It’s arguable that those numbers may even improve under the tutelage of the Reds boss. What’s more, as I pointed out earlier, the lad is getting the chance to play for his boyhood team. I’m sure Lambert didn’t choose to be let go the selectors in the Liverpool youth program that’s for sure. Rodgers has made the point of buying or preferring players who one may say have a point to prove. Sterling, Coutinho, Jon Flanaghan, Victor Moses, Daniel Sturridge. Some have proved and others not so but it’s a good tactic and if Lambert ever needed an incentive, he’s not going to get a better one than playing for Liverpool Football Club.
On the negative side, his pass completion rate is a rad poor at 70% but this could be due to a number of factors. Previous playing style of play etc. That said, it leads me to the opinion that Lambert may offer the team something else. The option to play in another style if needed. Not necessarily a typical long ball game but somebody who’s strength can be implemented in other ways like holding the ball up in quick counter attacking play when the team may be under pressure and men can’t get forward as quickly. Heading ability at corners and set pieces. These scenarios are a couple of many.
Without blowing my own trumpet, I have to say I’m not surprised that Liverpool have made an approach for Lambert. I suggested last week, to ridicule from some, that Jermain Defoe would be a good buy for the squad. He’s experienced and clearly has more premiership experience than the Southampton striker. Statistically though, Lambert has a better goal scoring ratio of 49.8% over 235 top flight games, whilst Defoe’s shakes out at 38% during 471 appearances. Lambert’s scoring record is actually better at the higher level (38% over 385 games) when compared to his lower league performances. Perhaps an important thing to note. Fact remains, Rodgers has gone for a similar type of player, and probably for the reasons I’ve noted here.
So, for me, Rodgers has secured a vital piece of the puzzle of squad improvement. The recruitment of players can never just be about your superstar, Fantasy Football type players. It’s vital that there’s at least some method to the madness that is the transfer window and the boss has showing himself to be astute and smart in his thinking. There have been many big names thrown out there during this close season as being targets, but as a wise man once said: All that glitters is not gold.
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