So how’d you solve a problem like Alberto Moreno? The easy answer… Sell Him. But that wouldn’t make for much of a blog post now would it? Let’s delve a little deeper into what Liverpool can do with our much criticised left-back.
Upon hearing that Liverpool were signing Alberto Moreno, I rushed to find out everything there was to find out about him, and more importantly to see if he was fit to take on the role of full back once held by Liverpool legends Aly Cissokho and Javier Manquillo (sorry I couldn’t resist). Unfortunately, our interest in him and subsequent decision to sign him were announced within a short time of each other, I didn’t get to watch many of his games before the move. In fact I only got to see him play one game for Sevilla, the 2014 Europa League Final – which turned out to best game I could have chosen!
He was phenomenal that evening, managing to strike the perfect balance between the offensive attributes of a winger and the defensive qualities of a player well beyond his years – the complete modern day full back.
But what stood out more than his performance that night was his passion. As Moreno left the field for what would be his final outting for his boyhood club, he burst into tears. There’s something endearing about a player who wears his heart on his sleeve and has a genuine attachment to the club and fans he’s representing every time he steps out onto the pitch. We Liverpool fans have always valued that in our players.
The Bright Start. The early games were very positive, with Moreno showcasing his blistering pace, overlapping ability and just all round desire to contribute to the team in anyway possible; rather than just being a passenger he looked to take on the responsibility our wingers cowered from. The prime example of Moreno’s attacking prowess came in just his second game in a Reds’ shirt, when he tackled Andros Townsend and ran 40 yards to bury it into bottom corner. Very promising start!
Where It All Went Wrong? Wednesday, 18 May, 2016, Basel. The day when everything fell apart. Even before that day Moreno’s defensive frailties were apparent, it wasn’t unusual for him cost us victories or put us under pressure at key moments during games, but for the most part we could always pin the blame on the whole of our back four rather than singling out an individual. But on that day, it was all Alberto Moreno.
With Liverpool 1-0 up at half-time and firmly in control of the game it would have taken a monumental effort from Sevilla or a complete capitulation from Liverpool to swing the momentum back into the hands of the Spaniards OR Alberto Moreno. Within a minute of the second half he’d cost us our lead and 20 minutes later his mistake was responsible for Sevilla going ahead. We ended up losing 3-1, and although the score sheet read 1 goal scored by Kevin Gameiro and 2 by Coke, it might as well have said 2 goals scored by Alberto Moreno.
My assessment of his performance that night:
Composure…. Non existent.
What Do We Do?
Left Back to Left Winger. He’s very good going forward, one of the best in fact, but it’s moving in the opposite direction he just can’t seem to get to grips with. Some may see this as a weakness, and it would be for a Left Back, but for a Left Winger it wouldn’t be much of an issue…. see where I’m going with this.
Moreno’s best performances in a Liverpool shirt have come in games when we’re on top, counter-attacking and exploiting wide areas with pace. To expect us to consistently be on top in every game is unrealistic, but moving Moreno left-wing seems like the best way to consistently play to his strengths and limit his potential to be a liability. Moving full backs further up the field isn’t unheard of either (cough…. cough… Gareth Bale). Not to say that Alberto Moreno would all of a sudden become a world-class winger, but it would definitely give him a better chance of keeping his place in the starting 11 and more importantly, his place at the club.
Sign Competition. Alberto Moreno’s arrival at Anfield coincided with the beginning of long-term injuries for both of Liverpool’s other two left backs, José Enrique and Jon Flanagan. What seemed like a blessing for Moreno, soon became his downfall. Not having to fight for (or worry about losing) his place for two straight seasons has allowed complacency to creep into his game.
The solution of ‘signing competition’ has not gone unnoticed by those in charge of recruitment at Liverpool (and Jamie Carragher). The beginning of the 2015/6 season saw the arrival of Joe Gomez from Charlton, and it wasn’t long before Moreno was fighting for his place in the first team and raising his performance to keep pace with the young Englishman. Unfortunately, Gomez suffered a severe injury early on in the campaign and just like that Moreno was back performing without fear of being dropped.
Although Jose Enrique has been offloaded, Joe Gomez and Jon Flanagan are both on course to return to full fitness in time for the start of the season, not to mention the name of Germany’s Euro 2016 left back Jonas Hector has been floating around as possible competition/ replacement for Moreno. Suggesting that this solution may already be in the works.
Problem Solved? Allowing Moreno to play in the out wide could be beneficial to both Liverpool and Moreno’s career. Most of Liverpool’s wide players are make-shift wingers who prefer to operate in more central roles, and Moreno just prefers to operate anywhere away from the our penalty area, so a position change seems like a win-win situation for all concerned. The option of signing another Left Back as competition for Moreno would be a costly one, but the Left Back position is one that Liverpool haven’t really addressed since we lost John Arne Riise, so it’s about time we invested some serious money in it.
Whether it be in the form of position change or the signing of another Left Back, there could still be a future or Alberto Moreno at Liverpool. At the age of 24 there’s still a lot of time for Moreno to prove himself worthy of the Reds shirt,
and that’s just what he needs… time. Actually, that all sounds like a hell of a lot of work, maybe the best solution is to sell the guy now and cut our loses while we still can.
Who Should Liverpool Sign As Competition For Moreno? Is It Worth Moving Him To Left Wing Or Should We Just Offload Him? Is He As Bad As Everyone Has Made Out?
As Usual Comments Are Encouraged!