FOLLOWING Liverpool’s gloriously gritty and dogged 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Monday night, there was a general sense of immense satisfaction at another major hurdle successfully negotiated in the quest to secure Champions League football.
This was the kind of game Liverpool are supposed to trip up in, so they say. That makes it nine points from nine in three consecutive away trips to Premier League yard dogs supreme, Stoke City, West Brom and Watford. Big grocks, all of them, but no match for these battling Reds.
Adam Lallana‘s thumping volley off the crossbar and Emre Can’s outrageous bicycle kick were the only two moments of genuine quality from either side in the entirety of the first half, in truth, totally out of kilter with the turgid nature of the contest. Can’s goal deserves to go down as one of the greatest — a sublime piece of individual genius and make no mistake about it, everything about that strike was intended and executed to perfection.
Despite Sebastian Prödl putting hearts in the mouths of every Liverpool fan by lashing a volley off the bar in the dying moments, Liverpool managed to cling on for the victory. Three absolutely monumental points in the bank towards achieving the end goal for this season.
In the aftermath of Monday night, however, there has been widespread and in some cases, quite severe criticism of Divock Origi’s performance against Watford. Across social media — albeit, not usually the best place for level-headed analysis — the Belgian has been labelled as “useless”, “a donkey” and even his entire future as a Liverpool player written off on the back of his most recent display.
Now of course, anyone who watched the game would see that Origi was well off the pace in the first half. His touch was heavy, the ball would not stick and he wasn’t making any kind of penetrative runs whatsoever, albeit on a very congested pitch against a compact defensive line. When Lallana’s volley crashed off the bar, he wasn’t there, anticipating, ready to tap in the rebound.
That said, Origi’s performance massively improved in the second half. A couple of times he got himself in behind Watford’s defence using his pace, while his general hold-up and link-up play were much more accomplished. His finishing could have been sharper, granted, but overall this was far from the disastrous performance many have suggested.
Within any fan base, it is absolutely healthy to have a debate about player’s performances and criticise where appropriate. We all want the same thing — Liverpool to succeed — and that means for the players to be the best they can be. However, it seems to some that no player is allowed to have an off-day without every single minute detail of their performance being scrutinised in detail.
Take Dejan Lovren, for instance. In all three recent victories against Stoke, West Brom and Watford, the Croatian has been mostly excellent, bar an iffy first half against Stoke when no Liverpool player was anywhere near their level. He’s been winning his aerial duels, defending well on the front foot and clearing danger effectively.
Yet against Crystal Palace, when Lovren decided to step back in time and reproduce a performance akin to those we saw during his first season at the club, he was slaughtered for his part in both of Christian Benteke’s goals.
Fans were absolutely right to say Lovren wasn’t good enough that day — far from it. However, this seemed to translate into hugely hyperbolic statements about Lovren being a “terrible defender” and widespread derision over the club’s decision to reward him with a new £100,000 per week contract. Whether you feel Lovren deserves that kind of money is neither here nor there, to be honest. Jürgen Klopp clearly values him as an integral part of his squad and won’t be changing his opinion of the player off the back of one poor display in what has largely been a decent season for the defender.
Back to Origi, then. Those slating him after a poor first half showing might do well to remember that Can was on the receiving end of this kind of criticism earlier in the season and has since emerged as arguably Liverpool’s most consistent performer in recent months. To highlight his weaknesses and to voice doubts over his ability is one thing, but to completely call curtains on Origi’s future prospects at this stage is nonsensical and reactionary.
There are, of course, plenty of things Origi can do better. His finishing is still nowhere near the level we’ve come to expect for a Liverpool striker, although expectations are conditioned by the somewhat ludicrous standards set by the likes of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and the 2013-14 version of Daniel Sturridge, over the years.
For a player with such strong physical attributes, you also get the feeling Origi could put himself about more than he does and make life more difficult for defenders. Too often his movement is static and he could improve his game by drifting out into the channels and varying his position.
Nonetheless, his potential ceiling is clearly very high. We’ve seen him tear apart a brilliant Borussia Dortmund side in the Europa League last season, at which point he was virtually unplayable prior to Ramiro Funes Mori ending his season with that cowardly challenge in the Merseyside Derby.
Earlier this season, in December, he went on a run of scoring in five consecutive games. He’s capable of scoring all kinds of goals, too. He can whip the ball into the far corner while cutting in from the flank. He has a great leap on him to score headers, while he has demonstrated his poaching ability with several close range tap-ins as well.
What we have in Origi is an enormously talented young player who thrives off confidence. When he’s flying, he looks almost the perfect striker. The problem he has, at this stage in his career, is that his performances wildly oscillate between the extremes. When he’s not quite at it, he’s near enough an empty shirt.
Despite all his flaws, though, Origi is into double figures for goals for the second successive season at Liverpool. In fact, at the time of writing, Origi has started 19 games in both his seasons at Liverpool so far, hitting 10 goals and picking up three assists in each of those seasons, with three games still to play this campaign.
Of course, many of his appearances for Liverpool have come off the bench, so those numbers are not fully reflective of his productivity. However, imagine a scenario where Liverpool were linked to a 22-year-old striker with 20 goals and six assists in 38 starts. You’d take it, wouldn’t you?
The point here is that progress is very rarely linear and that with any young player, there will be peaks and troughs in their development. While at times we can lose patience with some players, as fans we often accentuate the pitfalls and neglect the many positive attributes about our own players.
Origi might never become the world-class, prolific goalscorer we want him to be at Liverpool. He will almost certainly have a decent career at a high level somewhere, though. In the immediate future, he remains a valuable player in the squad who will have a significant role to play next season with European football on the cards.
A key thing to mention here, which applies not only to Origi but several other young players at the club, is that Liverpool are very much a project under Klopp’s management — a place where talent is nurtured and persevered with. It’s part of the whole ethos of the manager and the owners. That isn’t to say players have an unlimited free ride — they have to show they can make a worthy contribution and that they are progressing — but that talent is not discarded without a great deal of thought.
In order to achieve success, Klopp will clearly need to strengthen his squad with several first-team-ready players this summer as this isn’t simply just a project to develop individuals. Liverpool have ambitions to achieve, trophies to win.
However, a player like Origi has shown enough in his fledgling career to date that he is not one to be letting go of at this stage. There’s significant potential in there, waiting to be unlocked, and he is working with the right manager to help him iron out the flaws in his game. He can be frustrating to watch and there will come a point where he’ll have to kick on to the next level in order to justify his place at Liverpool.
Right now, though, Origi has plenty to offer. We haven’t seen the best of what he can achieve yet and time is still very much on his side.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Yes.. absolutely he deserves it.. he has regressed massively from last season
He’s getting a lot of mins on the pitch in his favoured no9 position but delivering very little in terms of goals or assists at a time when we really need him too.
Before his ankle injury toward the end of last season I really thought we had a player on our hands but he’s failed to kick on and I’m now doubting his suitability.
Worth noting that Evertons Belgian billion dollar striker was on a goal in every 3 or so at the same age. So Divock could well develop in time.
He could develop because he’s Belgian??
Origi has certainly been patchy, but that’s to be expected with a player of his age and game time. He’s made plenty of appearances which, on paper, inflate the sense that he has stalled in his development. He has struggled, yes, but he has also been lumped in and out of a revolving, injury-riddled first eleven, often looking rusty and playing alongside a team full of rusty players. Liverpool’s impatience for perfection has lead us to cast off a lot of talented but flawed players. We need to build with incremental steps forward, allowing rough diamonds time to polish their game rather than binning the likes of Origi to replace him (expensively) with yet another Origi 2.0, because this game/week/month he is deemed not up to standards.
The fact is he scores goals – 10 in each of his first two seasons -which for a bench striker who has just turned 22 is stellar. If we’d only seen him on Transfermarkt or Youtube, we’d happily pay to get him. The uncomfortable truth that he isn’t a shiny new transfer, but a frustrating, developing footballer annoys many fans but Klopp is a manager who likes to coach problems out of players, and I have every faith that he will relish the challenge to utilise Origi in the squad and iron out his flaws on the training pitch.
If a player puts in poor performances, they can expect to have those performances criticised.
My problem with the criticism that Origi has come in for, and the criticism that a number of our players have come in for, is that it is not criticism of the performance but rather a damning overall judgement on the player themselves.
Too many people want to make a definitive judgement on a player, not allowing for the context of their form, fitness, development path etc. Once that definitive judgement has been reached, people find it hard to row back from the position they have taken, no matter how performances might change over time.
We have a team of players, many of which a number of our own fans will shout about considering them not to be worthy of playing for Liverpool, or “wouldn’t get in to any team in the top 4”. Yet here we are.
Origi’s recent performances might be disappointing, but I think he has the tools to be a very useful player for us. He might not develop enough to be our number 1 striker in the future, but he still offers something useful and certainly promises to offer something different to Firmino.
If you look around at some of the other young strikers at a similar stage of development the Premier League, you can see a number of them struggling to make a consistent impact. Martial is having a difficult time at ManU, Batshuayi at Chelsea has one league goal so far, Rashford (admittedly younger) has a comparable record to Origi this season, although he’s taking more minutes to deliver each goal. Give Origi time and let’s see where he stands in a season or two.
Oh.. and this season he needs less time on the pitch to score than Firmino, and contributes assists at a similar rate to Firmino.
Joel, just let you rationalize and reason and make a case for a guy who has one good game every 3 months. The mediocrity that is rampant in our squad needs to be ruthlessly stamped out. That means both goalkeepers, Matip,Lovren, Klavan, Moreno,Origi,one of the full backs and probably one of the central midfielders as they’re all a bit similar. I’m sick and tired of waiting for the next big thing to develop and reach his potential at Liverpool. It just doesn’t happen. Origi arrived not as a YTS player, but a young yet established player who had been to a world cup with a fancied Belgian side. He’s been knocking around long enough for people to make a logical assessment that he’s not going to scale the heights needed at Anfield.
one of the full backs? Surely you know which one.
Just watched the 18 goals – he obviously has a lot of talent and I would not be surprised if he ends up being very good indeed in a year or two
I just don’t rate him as anything but a squad filler. He doesn’t read the game well enough to be a top striker. He has no poacher’s instincts in the box. He’s only a year younger than Kane but light years behind in effectiveness and understanding of the game.
Keep him next year but if he doesn’t improve a lot after another 12 months, we may as well get rid.
He’s 22 and been a bit part player for the last few seasons. Why are people expecting him to perform like a 26 year old regular? The lad has bundles of talent and is developing. He may not turn out how we want, but give him a chance. Klopp is. We need to also.
The jury’s not out on Origi I’m afraid. By this standard of criticism even Coutinho looks pedestrian excepting his worldies.
Origi has delivered, but he seems off for some odd reason. Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s the injury, or maybe it’s the team in general being inconsistent, along with a manager who’s also learning the ropes, mind you.
I for one would like to wait and see how this season ends and the next one progresses with respect to Origi, Klopp and the rest of the team.
I reckon he’ll come good, but even if he is only ever a good squad player, whats wrong with that ? A Liverpool career as good/indifferent as Emile Heskey, for example, would still represent success given what we paid for him. The key is getting other elite players into the squad. That hasn’t happened nearly often enough recently, however Champions League qualification will hopefully provide the missing incentive to change that.
The same goes for Can, Lovren, Lucas et al. Unless you are able to GUARANTEE a significant upgrade, chopping and changing personnel seldom improves results or even performances. A large part of what Klopp has “achieved” so far has been down to continuity. Demonstrating trust in the squad by limiting recruitment of new players, promoting youth and all those hugs cannot fail to develope esprit de corps.
Origi’s abilities (and hence value) are commensurate with where this club is. A club that is solely focused on attaining the financial reward of CL qualification with the leanest, cheapest squad possible. Which means ignoring a cup competitions, which offer little financial reward in comparison.
Hes good enough to be 3rd choice striker next season, behind Firmino and A N Other (presuming DS leaves)
Not sure what the debate is really, he’ll get games in the cups and for rotation in the league after CL games