Today, as the people of the United States prepare for the inauguration of a dangerously unhinged vulgarian and the good folk of Britain brace themselves before going through an exit door marked ‘Are You Absolutely Sure?’ the rest of the world seems to be increasingly riven by conflict and chaos. 2017: it’s going great.
Amidst such all-pervasive upheaval, it is hardly surprising that within the comparatively insignificant world of football, some seem to be losing their bearings. Bad decisions and ill-advised statements are popping up all over the shop, as a kind of confused anarchy reigns.
Over at the Etihad Stadium, my fellow beardy baldy, Pep Guardiola, has already conceded the title and seems to be all-at-sea in the good ship Manchester City. At Selhurst Park, a man who likes his wine by the pint and his hidden cameras to be high-resolution is, so far, resolutely failing to live up to his reputation as The Great Rescuer, having ousted another man, who once felt it was acceptable to indulge in a spot of dad-dancing on the touchline. Strange days indeed.
It can hardly be considered surprising, then, if a former Liverpool great embraces the spirit of disarray in his assessment of one of Jürgen Klopp’s current crop. Jan Molby, for it is he, was one of the most elegant and refined footballers this scribbler has ever witnessed in any Liverpool team. The Dane was a cultured presence in the midfield through the 80s and 90s and his occasionally corpulent frame belied the delicacy of his touch on the ball. Molby, it’s fair to say, knows a thing or two about top level football.
The amiable ex-Red is a visible media presence in Liverpool, often popping up on the official website and penning a column for the Echo. From the first time I heard him speak, Molby had a full-blown scouse accent and one associates him with the down-to-earth realism of the denizens of Liverpool, so you can imagine how high Latest News’ eyebrows were raised when the big man recently compared Adam Lallana with the vampirically pale genius that is Andres Iniesta in the aforementioned paper.
“Of all the midfield players we have, Adam Lallana is definitely different,” he began, reasonably enough. “He has, without any shadow of a doubt, turned out to be the key midfield player. What Adam Lallana is, and maybe some people won’t see this, is he’s a playmaker. He’s not a playmaker who sits back and dictates play; he’s a bit like Iniesta, he’s that 15 yards further forward where he dictates the direction and the tempo of the play. He’s been very impressive, he’s been very, very important – so important that I make him our key player. Now, when Adam Lallana is on the ball and he manipulates himself into a situation where he can do something, you’re almost on the edge of your seat, you think something is going to happen.”
“He’s been very impressive, he’s been very, very important – so important that I make him our key player. Now, when Adam Lallana is on the ball and he manipulates himself into a situation where he can do something, you’re almost on the edge of your seat, you think something is going to happen.”
Now Latest News is not so gormless as to pick a fight with a man of the hero-status and ample size of Jan Molby, but we would suggest that he could ease back a little on the hyperbole, if only for the sake of poor Lallana. The ex-Southampton man has been our player of the season, but in recent weeks, especially against his former club, the player’s form has fallen off a cliff.
The number 20 has been the surprise package of the season and seems to have finally shown Liverpool supporters what he can do. Only the most mean-spirited naysayers are hanging on to their wariness about his presence in the side and his centrality to the team’s effectiveness has been clear to everyone. Perhaps, though, he has another season or two of excellence ahead of him before he merits comparison with the follically challenged Spaniard. Then again, compared to the rabid exaggeration favoured by a certain orange-tinged reality television merchant, maybe Molby’s take on Lallana is not so extreme.