Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Southampton FC

STURR CRAZY: Sturridge scores the winner against Southampton at Anfield. Pic: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda.

DOO is a bit angry.

Anger doesn’t suit Doo.

Doo is a really nice fella.

Doo is a Southampton fan.

*This isn’t going to go all ‘I want to introduce you to someone’. Doo works at Southampton University, is a born-again fitness enthusiast and has been nowhere near Iran.

I can understand the anger to an extent. We did after all make off with three of his team’s most potent players from last season, and everyone at some point or another falls into the trap of needing a pantomime villain to lash out at. Liverpool FC have turned into Doo’s pantomime villain, but it was by no means always that way. Rickie Lambert joining his boyhood heroes was a bit too ‘Roy of the Rovers’ to begrudge, but Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren made it personal as we swiped away two of the cornerstones of the side that carried Saints to eighth last season.

“Stating the bleeding obvious, but you missed Suarez today,” Doo commented via a Facebook exchange. Partly in general footballing conversation, partly (I suspect) in a subconscious “Ha, Ha” dig at the fact that we no longer have arguably the best player in the world from last season within our ranks. Luis Suarez might have physically gone away, but he won’t be going away any time soon in an aesthetic consciousness sort of way. Each and every time we play in a disjointed manner – or heaven forbid actually lose a game – his toothy Uruguayan spectre will appear once more to haunt us.

Disjointed is what we were against Southampton. There is no use bouncing through this article like Tigger pretending otherwise, but we won the game and lessons will have been taken on board by Brendan Rodgers. Lessons – there are always lessons to be taken on board whether you’re putting five past Arsenal while making clever ‘arty’ BT Sport advert-provoking performances, or you’re labouring to narrow opening game wins against teams with a bit of a point to prove.

Impressions were made. Dejan Lovren did a reasonably good impression of Alan Hansen, all dark hair and borderline laconically accomplished with the number six on his back; he just needs a decent scar on his forehead and a love of golf to go with the visuals. Simon Mignolet attempted to mimic the role of a sweeper-keeper, although that in-built propensity to drift back towards his goal-line, where he feels most at ease proved too much to resist as the game wore on. After he’d been buffeted around on a couple of occasions he reverted to type and stopped coming for the ball, yet pulled off another series of critical saves. We have a wonderful shot-stopper, but it’s futile to try and make a sweeper-keeper out of him as it’s just not going to happen. Eventually we will either have to learn to live with a shot-stopper or we will need to look elsewhere for a sweeper-keeper. You can’t turn a habitual baseliner into a natural serve and volley player.

Javier Manquillo, like Lovren made an impressive debut, but can we really create a defensive unit that works in a symbiotic manner, rather than what at times last season appeared to be defenders playing well on an individual basis but unable to work as comfortably with each other as a collective? When Alberto Moreno takes up the left back spot we will possibly be sporting a defence that has changed by 75 per cent from what it was at the end of last season. If the individualism of our defence remains an issue despite the changes of personnel then much scratching of heads has to follow.

Jordan Henderson was outstanding. Winning the ball, brushing off further heavy attention and then propelling a beautifully precise and weighted pass for Raheem Sterling to burst on to and place the ball past Fraser Forster for 1-0. Henderson can this season grasp the mantle of being the heartbeat of this Liverpool side. He is metronomic and without doubt he is now worth much more than the transfer fee it cost us to sign him from Sunderland – a transfer fee that was once used as a brutal weapon to beat him with on a near daily basis. I fully expect Rodgers to complete another similar metamorphosis trick with Joe Allen this season. We found more cohesion when the ‘Welsh Xavi’ entered the fray. Why buy in new players when we can upcycle instead?

Awkward and disjointed it was against Southampton, but the great thing about this Liverpool FC is that positives are never that far away. Yes, our forward three was nullified a bit too easily at times, but the perseverance they have means we are deadly whenever opposing defences switch off. Sterling shouldn’t really be out-jumping big lumps of Southampton players in their penalty area, but he did and it provided the winning goal for Daniel Sturridge. The option of Lambert from the bench played its part, as Southampton had blotted Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho out very effectively, only to see us throw on Lambert, who they failed to adjust to quickly enough before the ball ended up in their net again.

This win was awkward, ungainly and ugly in a handsome sort of way. It was a teeny tiny body of a person with long uncontrollable limbs. It was Peter Crouch in the form of three points. We’ll play better than this and lose games this season, but we’ll also play better than this and destroy teams this season. I bet that we’ll look good on the dance floor before too long.

Prepare yourself to dance like a robot from 1984.

PS – Sorry we robbed your players Doo x

Pics: David Rawcliffe

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