Liverpool: Why Alberto Moreno’s Reintroduction Isn’t The Root Of The Reds’ Problems

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

AS last season came to a close, it was supposed to be the end of Alberto Moreno’s career at Liverpool, writes KEVIN KOCZWARA.

The 25-year-old Spanish left back had become a punching bag for the Anfield crowd. He was derided for his social media posts, much like the club’s previous Spanish left back — though the less said about Jose Enrique, the better. But, after injury issues in the squad and a good pre season, Moreno’s swan song hasn’t arrived quite yet.

“This pre season has brought us new players. Moreno is 100 per cent back which is really nice after a difficult year,” Jürgen Klopp told reporters after Liverpool’s final pre-season game in Dublin.

Moreno, with his hover boards and terrible haircuts, has not endeared himself to the Liverpool supporters, but it’s also not inconceivable that he still has a role to play. Rarely has a bad word been uttered about him by the backroom staff or his teammates. He’s fast, a key trait for a player under Klopp, and he’s actually left footed, something this Liverpool squad was short on last season.

Add to that the fact James Milner — 31 years old with miles and years under him — is set for a move back into midfield to fill a void left by the club’s inability to sign Naby Keita and the untimely injury to Adam Lallana. It all makes the perfect cocktail for Moreno to get a second (or third) chance at turning his Liverpool career around. Plus, so far no club has met Liverpool’s price tag.

In The Reds’ current state — and with a global shortage of top-quality left backs — the club has decided to embrace Moreno’s madness. He’s a known commodity, and that’s something the team can work with. He’s not a new shiny toy, but a faded and partially broken one which can be glued back together. If Klopp can harness his positive attributes, Liverpool have a player who can add another dimension to their attack.

ROTTACH-EGERN, GERMANY - Thursday, July 27, 2017: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno and manager Jürgen Klopp cycle back from training from the Seehotel Uberfahrt on the banks of Lake Tegernsee on day two of their preseason training camp in Germany. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Moreno has his faults. He’s daft and over zealous, often leaving his post and forgetting defence is his first priority. He somehow manages to send whipping crosses into the box at inopportune times. He does that mad tackle thing where he flies in from behind and swings both his legs around a player, only occasionally making a spectacular tackle but one that would be unnecessary if he were positioned correctly in the first place. And he has a tendency to lose his mind and gift the opposition a goal or penalty.

But it’s not all bad. Look over the series of left backs Liverpool has employed over the years and you’ll see a common thread of bad options with short careers. Also Moreno’s not as terrible as he’s been made out to be, a narrative of failure has followed him throughout his time in a red shirt. He’s been written off and never given a chance to grow into the player the team envisaged he would be when he was chosen over Ryan Bertrand in the summer of 2014. He still has room to grow, tactically and mentally, but he has the physical attributes and the desire to work on his game and become an asset for Liverpool.

The Reds lacked pace last season. When Sadio Mane was away on African Cup of Nations duty, Liverpool looked short of players capable of getting in behind deep-lying defences. Milner, then filling in at left back, was never blessed with the ability to open up his legs and sprint past people. Nathaniel Clyne is fast, but he was too often wasteful with the ball. Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and the oft-injured Daniel Sturridge are not blessed with enough pace to open up and stretch defences.

It was apparent when Mane was gone how much Liverpool missed someone who could go past the opposition full back. Liverpool struggled to score and became predictable. As a natural left footer with a desire to get up and down the pitch, he can give Liverpool another option.

Watching the game against Munich, although it was a friendly, it was refreshing to see someone scampering down the left-hand side and send curling balls across the box at pace. Early in the first half, Moreno’s pace got him free and he sent a beautiful ball across the goalmouth that curled back towards the onrushing Mohamed Salah, leaving the Egyptian with an open net.

The move was a precursor to Liverpool’s blistering counter attacks and it was Moreno who lead the charge. His overlapping runs will free up his teammates, giving Mane space to run into and Coutinho another outlet. By being able to stick to the touchline, Moreno makes the field that much bigger for a Liverpool team that needs the extra space to unlock deep-lying defences.

I remember sitting in The Kop for the dreadful game against Crystal Palace last season. It was, and probably will be, the one and only time I get to enjoy Anfield. I was high up, standing and doing my best to sing while also not tumbling over the seats in front. The game was a dire affair, one of the low points of the season. Liverpool couldn’t break Palace down. Sam Allardyce’s pub football had neutralised Liverpool’s swashbuckling style. Coutinho couldn’t find space and Liverpool struggled to get any width with Milner only able to cut inside next to him. Each pass and move was predictable. Pace was nonexistent.

Then Moreno came on and ran. He ran as fast as he could up and down the left flank. He created space and got back to defend. He allowed Coutinho to try and work his magic. And he managed to get to the byline, something Liverpool hadn’t been able to do all game. The problem was that the change came too late. But, standing atop The Kop as Liverpool tried to surge for a late equaliser, it was evident a real left back was needed on that day.

Liverpool signed Andy Robertson from Hull City in the hopes of finding a gem in the rough. But, still, somehow Moreno has stuck around. He has chose to keep fighting for his place in the team, and sometimes it’s those players that eventually come good.

Moreno only has to look at his captain Jordan Henderson to see what is possible.

@kkoczwara

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22 Comments

  1. Stop playing him ASAP. He is not good enough!!!!!!!

  2. Dont doubt Morenos a nice lad but his errors and positioning reverberate throughout the team, and end up with Lovren,Matip exposed.
    Its not enough he bombs on which is what piece implies
    IF we played five at the back he might benefit from being a wing back but at the moment,he forgets the simple rule, defenders defend first.

  3. Interesting article. I don’t think you have addressed one important factor in regards to Moreno though and that is HE IS FUCKIN SHITE!

  4. Antony Riley

    The only reason Boreno is still thieving a weekly wage at Anfield is because NOBODY WANTS HIM.
    He is a headless chicken with no positional sense.

    P.S.
    “Moreno only has to look at his captain Jordan Henderson to see what is possible.”

    Henderson is NOT and never has been an LFC quality captain, either.

    Squad player at best, which Boreno is NOT, either.

    Hysterical, deludedness (is that a word? if it isnt, it should be :) from your article.

    I am an LFC supporter of 55yrs, you are deluded (With all due respect) and have proven accepted mediocrity.

  5. Do you actually watch this guy playing? I was excited to see him play when he joined but he’s simply not good enough. He just doesn’t seem capable of defending and able to understand the basic positional requirements of a left back. There are plenty of left backs that can run down the wing….and know what their job is when the opposition have the ball…Moreno doesn’t.

  6. Antony Riley

    I suppose you think making that useless Twonk lovren captain?

  7. Certainly Moreno has his plus points (and his skills at keeping Coutinho happy are another you didn’t mention!), but the guy’s defending terrifies me. Genuinely reduces my enjoyment of the game he worries me so much!

  8. Not sure I’d seen anyone say his reintroduction is the root of the Reds’ problems. Seen loads say it’s a symptom though, and I think you’ll find it more difficult to argue with that point of view.

  9. It baffles me this whole thing that suggests Moreno just does whatever the hell he wants when he is on the pitch – no rules, no manager instructions, fuck all that, he’s just going to do whatever pleases him. And right under the nose of the boss – don’t forget that for 45 mins he’ll be right in front of Klopp. Does anyone really think that with Milner and Robertson knocking around the gaff, that Klopp just lets Moreno run amok and ignores it?
    I think Neil touched on it in the Hoffenheim review show, when he mentioned the space in our left back channel – but also pointed out that the CB doesn’t shuffle over, the DM doesn’t split the CB, the mid lads (winjaldum or Can) don’t drop and cover.
    Moreno has his faults, but it feels unfair to hammer him all the time when it’s clear that there is a systemic issue for me and also it seems clear that he is (mostly) doing what Klopp is asking from him.

    • Edinburghred

      Good post, along with a good article. Maybe folk need to re-think their views instead of simply saying “he’s shite” clearly Klopp doesn’t think so.

    • Totally agree, excellent well made points. We get articles such as this which try to look at things in a balanced way and the responses are disappointing. Just insults and idiocy rather than balanced counter arguments. We’re supposed to be the most knowledgeable supporters in the land!

  10. Rob Leighton

    Poor Albie, shocking positional sense, weak in the tackle, can’t hit a barn door with a shot… he can run up and down the wing all day, but the things a wing back needs to do well are beyond him.

  11. Your concept of this article is fine apart from one huge issue and its not the one david Mooney made so succinctly. (gem). Lovern needs to have no distractions he is extremely thick and therefore is at his best when he is only thinking about his own game. This point has been made many many times. JK tried the two of them together early days and it failed Lovern looked awful. Milner allows Lovern to defend, Moreno gives him the jitters and result is we look terrible in defence. They cannot play together it does not work. Its either Lovern and someone he does not have to nurse maid or its a new central defender to school and direct Moreno. JK you tried this before, it failed and Lovern got all the flak. You are repeating the same mistake and while most fans know something is wrong the can’t put there finger on it except to blame Moreno. Its simple chemistry these two don’t mix together.

  12. Bit of a contrast here between the article – sometimes maligned players can come good – and the comments – he’s shite. God forbid Trent ever has a few bad games in a row. Moreno wasn’t the finished article when he came here, and as evidenced by his goal against Spurs he *can* hit a barn door, but his concentration levels and positional sense can be poor and he’s very inconsistent. But our whole backline has been flawed FOR YEARS. The main reason Moreno became the focal point is because he was, very unfairly, hung out to dry on Twitter straight after the Europa League Final by Carra (Who is otherwise impeccable). What footballer hasn’t made a mistake? The modern game has never been so bereft of top class defenders and that’s in part because the game is so much more attacking. I’m not saying Moreno is or maybe will ever be the solution but it seems he gets an incredible amount of stick. The club could do with being more ruthless and ambitious and we as a fan base could do with being a little bit more understanding rather than simply scapegoating certain players.

  13. Looks like he’s staying alright, but as you suggest I think that’s more the result of our failures in the transfer market and injuries, than any great improvement in his form. I just don’t think he has a defensive brain at all. He ballsed up in one of his first games, away at City, has ballsed up many many times since then (Norwich away probably the most ridiculous), and does anyone really believe that he has eliminated dopey errors from his game? If we had a top quality keeper and a solid, reliable pairing at centre-half, maybe we could live with one headbanger at the back, for the reasons you mention (pace and balance with the left-foot). But we don’t. We have plenty of good options going forward, especially if Trent is coming through on the right to bring some more threat from deep. I just don’t see how Moreno is worth the risk.

  14. Here is my big Moreno question, which I’ve never seen a good answer to: Why has Moreno not been converted to an out and out winger?

    Everyone knows he’s great in the attack- fast as hell, makes great runs, can beat a defender with the ball at his feet, sends in a great cross, can strike the ball well on goal. All his attributes are what you look for in a decent winger.

    Defensively he’s not very good, yet LB is the only position he sees playing time at. We took Milner, a midfielder and made him a defender. Why haven’t we tried to do the opposite with Moreno? Why Is he restricted to LB? Let him play to his strengths without the defensive duties.

    If anything, one would think he would work well as a winger in Klopp’s high-press, having someone who has played (mostly unimpressive) defense for most of his career farther up the pitch. Surely he could put in a better tackle than most wingers right?

    I can’t be the first person to have thought of this, but I find it baffling that it hasn’t been tried out yet…

    • We don’t play 4-4-2 for a start (other than a few games with the diamond when needs dictate). He has neither the game management to sit left side of a three, nor the ability to play in the front three. If we played with wingers it would be a moot point. I really wanted him to be the flying left back that was apparently being chased by some of the biggest clubs in Europe. But he’s a poor man’s Riise with none of the highs and all of the lows.

  15. “Also Moreno’s not as terrible as he’s been made out to be”…..but not good enough for the Liverpool, or the prem. Moreno is Konchesky calibre. A fucking liability. Like Mignolet.

  16. After listening to the Hoffenheim 1st leg review here, I’m hearing that Alberto.M is an ‘organised chaos’ Klöpption who affects the performance of Lovren and gives Henderson/Winaldum too much extra duty.
    I’m guessing if he lost a yard of pace (alright 2 yards) he would be covered in a blanket at dropped off at FC Cadiz.

  17. He should have gone after Norwich & Seville performances. The ‘why not play him as a winger?’ argument keeps rearing it’s head too – because his final ball isn’t great either! Robertson put in more dangerous crosses in the first 45 minutes than Moreno & Milner have in three seasons.

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