Liverpool’s assistant Pep Lijnders has eloquently explained what the side lost when Fabinho moved into defence to cover for our injuries at the back.
At first, it was working before Christmas, but it all came tumbling down when we also lost Joel Matip for the season – on top of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez – going on a six-game Premier League losing streak at Anfield.
But upon Fabinho’s return to midfield, Liverpool looked a different side, beating Rb Leipzig in two legs and Wolves domestically – keeping our narrow chances of a top four finish alive.
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Lijnders hasn’t openly said not using Fab in his best position sooner was a mistake, but it has to implied given his explanation of the problem it caused Liverpool.
“We didn’t lose only our last line [due to injuries], by losing our last line we lost our midfield as well,” he told the official website.
“And that’s where we lost our engine, and that’s a big problem. It’s something that created doubt in many different tactical aspects.
“Many times small problems come from one big issue. If you try to solve the small problems you get nowhere, you have to solve the big issue. We always tried to find the solution, but the solution needs consistency, and that was the problem because there were always different and new problems coming and took the consistency away.
“We don’t measure ourselves with the past, but we have to understand what made us the team who nobody wants to play against. This is the main reason why we won.
“Coming back to Fabinho as the lighthouse, a proper ‘six’ just sees more, top teams and top players like Fabinho have in common that they have a huge spirit of initiative. That’s why when we speak about team development we are speaking indirectly about individual development – our idea forces this individual development.”
Reading Lijnders’ quotes, we’re say here thinking, ‘Why didn’t you buy a centre-back in January, then?!’
Liverpool waited until deadline day of the winter window and then only brought in a loanee and a Championship defender who has yet to play.
Had a more marquee signing in early January, Fab could have switched to holding midfield earlier and who knows where we’d currently be in the league…
That being said, we’re still in the Champions League and this season could end up as a glorious one.