EVER completely change your mind about something or somebody, and almost feel bad for holding the previous opinion?
These days it seems there’s a clamour to be right about everything online and often people will act as if they’ve always held a certain opinion — or, alternatively, they’ll remain stubbornly behind their original opinion, no matter how much the facts, or what is right in front of our eyes, go against it.
Very rarely do people admit they were wrong about something or somebody and change their opinion. So here it is…
I was wrong about Alberto Moreno.
At the beginning of August I wrote a piece for The Anfield Wrap acknowledging Moreno’s improved form in pre season before suggesting that he would not be able to turn his Liverpool career around given the lack of trust a large number of supporters and, seemingly, Jürgen Klopp had in the Spaniard.
Alberto Moreno is having a *lovely* time pic.twitter.com/NCPW9uwlYb
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 8 May 2017
I even went as far as to reaffirm this opinion at the end of October in another article, stating that his next costly error is just around the corner and that that would effectively take him back to square one.
What I hadn’t banked on was that Moreno was so determined to turn his Liverpool career around after what must have been a very difficult season.
There are comparisons to be made with the recently-departed Lucas Leiva, who seemed to be linked with a move away from Anfield every summer but always came back fighting. There’s an argument to say that those close scares were in direct correlation of his determination to win over supporters and show that he had what it takes to pull on the red shirt — as he did 346 times.
Similarly, Moreno was obviously stung by the reports this summer that he was surplus to requirements at Liverpool and said to himself he would do everything in his power to change his fortunes.
“Klopp was very honest. He couldn’t promise me anything and told me that they were going to sign a new left back. But I wanted to play for Liverpool,” Moreno said in an interview with IBTimes.
“Last season was bad. There was a moment in which my mind said: ‘Alberto, whatever you do will be useless’. But it is always said that new year [is time for] a new life so I started the new season with that mentality.”
A lot is said about how competition for places gets the best out of football players. The thought of losing your place to a new signing or a teammate playing outside his natural position should spur you on.
Moreno had to look on as James Milner was converted into a makeshift left back, making just two league starts all season, but he wasn’t going to do the same when The Reds signed Andrew Robertson from Hull City for a fee that could rise to £10million.
From that point, sheer dedication appears to have taken over, though it hadn’t fully shown itself to supporters until 2.30am on Saturday morning.
While Moreno was asleep in the team hotel, his wife was in hospital giving birth to their second child. The Spaniard had chosen to stay with his teammates and prepare for the game as normal, instead waiting for the news to come through that “Alberto Junior” had been born.
It’s hard to fault that sort of dedication, and you can imagine that the thought of Robertson being drafted in and impressing was part of Moreno’s decision to stay with the team and take part in the game.
What Moreno’s resurgence means for Robertson is a different story. For all Klopp’s talk of the Scot needing to get up to speed, it’s hard to imagine that he was signed on the basis that he would make just three appearances in the first three months of the season — given that most of Klopp’s senior signings have been able to slot in seamlessly.
Klopp has suggested he sees him as a player for the future and is willing to be patient with the 23-year-old, but what the manager wouldn’t have banked on was Moreno playing out of his skin and doing everything he could to keep Robertson out of the picture.
The determination Moreno has shown to put himself back in the first-team picture and the dedication it has taken to stay there is admirable. He’s shown that his concentration has improved and has even admitted to previously neglecting defensive duties, something which he has looked to atone this season, showing a maturity in doing so.
“Last year was useful for me: to think, to change things, to say to myself: ‘Alberto, what can you do better?’ And the first thing was: defend. I’m a defender. And I’ve changed that. I’m more focused; I think you can see that – and thankfully I haven’t made any mistakes,” he told The Guardian.
“Maybe in my first few years at Liverpool, I was always thinking: ‘Attack, attack, attack.’ Confidence is vital for a footballer but I’m more settled, more focused: now I’m like: ‘First, let’s defend, keep a clean sheet and, then, let’s go forward.’”
It’s clear that Moreno has learnt a lot from the last 15 months or so. His attitude is something that definitely can no longer be faulted, and has been crucial to his resurgence as a Liverpool player.
He will likely make a mistake or two again in the future, but he has done enough to give himself at least a bit of leeway.
As Moreno himself said: “In the world of football one day you are down and the following day you are up. You never know. The best thing to do is living the day to day, keep working and keep improving.”
Is right, Albie. Keep it up.