After yet another horror show from Alberto Moreno against Arsenal last week, many Reds fans are bewildered and frustrated that Jurgen Klopp hasn’t taken to the transfer market and signed another left back.
By the looks of it, Liverpool will finish the window with James Milner, Alberto Moreno and Joe Gomez as the main options for that left-back spot. For the majority of last season, Moreno did not receive the levels of abuse and criticism from fans and pundits as he is doing at the minute. Whilst we all were aware he wasn’t a rock defensively, he wasn’t costing us that regularly and in attack he was giving us an outlet on that left hand side.
However, after shocking performances costing us against Villarreal and Sevilla at the end of last season, it was widely regarded that he was the weak link in the side and needed to be replaced. It hasn’t happened. Jurgen Klopp has decided to ‘coach’ instead, to a very negative reaction.
Despite the fact I’m going to make a case for Moreno, I do think a left-back should have been brought in to challenge him and give him real competition. Despite impressing in one or two showings there last season, I don’t think James Milner will be a solution in that position, as Joe Gomez is out injured. This puts even more pressure on Moreno and begs the question, what does Jurgen Klopp see in him?
Moreno burst onto the scene in emphatic style with a 60-yard run and a wonder goal against Tottenham Hotspur at the very beginning of the 2014/15 season. The general consensus was that this lad was going to solve our left-back problem after impressing for a very good Sevilla side. Typically of Moreno’s career, that goal and good performance was over shadowed a week later after a miss-control in the box cost the Reds a goal in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.
These 2 weeks were a sign to come. In his first year, Moreno was a victim of the in-house wars between Brendan Rodgers and the infamous transfer committee. It was clear for all to see that Rodgers wasn’t keen on either Alberto Moreno or Mamadou Sakho. Despite this and being in and out of the side, both players featured heavily in the Reds 13 game unbeaten run that season.
The year after and it wasn’t looking good for Moreno. Teenager Joe Gomez was given the nod initially to start the season at left back. It was only really the appointment of Jurgen Klopp, added with the long term injury of Gomez, which gave Moreno his chance. Moreno was almost an ever-present for Klopp, and his form matched the teams form in that first year. He was full of energy, mostly good but at times very, very poor. A mixed campaign ended with the horror show of Sevilla which, for many Liverpool fans, was the final nail in the coffin.
So why is Jurgen Klopp, our adored coach, keep sticking with him? He has been quoted recently in saying that if we had found a perfect left-back you’d know as we’d have signed him. In that quote alone he acknowledges Moreno isn’t the finished article, so why stick with him?
Personally, I think it’s all about coaching. The abilities Moreno has can’t be coached, and the flaws in his game can be coached. You can’t coach his pace, his left boot or his boundless energy. The way a Klopp team plays demands a lot from full-backs, and Moreno’s impressive stamina meant he was a constant outlet for the Reds last year, linking well with Coutinho especially when going forward. This energy and pace also means he can recover well too. A late recovery and tackle against Leicester on Boxing Day won us that match, for example.
In terms of what he hasn’t got, again, that can be coached. Work can be done on his positioning and decision making. In the social media frenzie that Moreno has become, it is easy to forget two things. The first is that we have had far worse left-backs. Emiliano Insua, Andrea Dossena, Aly Cissokho, Jose Enrique and Djimi Traore were all far worse than Moreno. Some of them were involved in very successful LFC sides due to great coaching. One has a Champions League winners medal, one scored against Real Madrid and Barcelona in the same week!
The other thing to remember is players have come from worse spots than Moreno and recovered. I recall Lucas Leiva being booed by certain parts of Anfield when coming on, now he is our longest serving player. Jordan Henderson received dogs abuse (and still does), and now he is our captain.Klopp obviously sees something in him, so let’s get behind him.
Written by Jack Mitchell (@JackMitchell5_)