Alberto Moreno – A Man Reborn

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If you want to find the best possible example of a stubborn football fan, find someone who really, really doesn’t rate Alberto Moreno.

We live in an age where we all pride ourselves on being right about certain players, managers and teams, and admitting you may have actually been wrong about one, or simply giving them praise or criticising them, seems impossible.

This is painfully apparent with Moreno, who has gained a legion of loyal haters incapable of doing anything other than slate him.

It is wholly understandable why the Spaniard has had his detractors since becoming a Liverpool player three years ago – I have been very vocal about some his past misdemeanours – and some of the flack he has taken has been brought on himself.

For parts of his Reds career, he has been a disaster area, making brain-dead decisions defensively, not offering enough going forward and appearing to lack focus.

That clip of him flipping a water bottle instead of watching the game against Southampton in May summed him up.

At the end of last season, Moreno looked as likely to leave Liverpool as almost any player in history, with James Milner preferred to him and supporters desperate for a new natural left-back to come in.

Jurgen Klopp had seemingly lost all faith in the 25-year-old, and very few were complaining about his inevitable exit. He’d had his chance and not taken it.

From nowhere, though, the Spaniard has enjoyed one of the most unlikely turnarounds you could wish to see, cementing his place as first-choice left-back and being one of Liverpool’s most consistent players so far this season.

The biggest compliment you could pay Moreno is that if he was a summer signing, he would be earning rave reviews.

Milner has been put back into midfield, much to his delight, and Andrew Robertson is being eased into life on Merseyside, and it has allowed Moreno to go from strength to strength, growing in stature by the game.

He has started 14 of Liverpool’s 17 matches in 2017/18, and it is hard to think of a single time he has let the side down. Has there been a lower than six-out-of-10 performance?

The former Sevilla man has, admittedly, been part of a defence that has leaked goals, but he has been the least culpable by some distance.

Dejan Lovren has been indescribably poor, Joel Matip has been comfortably worse than he was last season and Ragnar Klavan is not good enough.

Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold are two young players of vast potential, but both have had their moments in the last few months, despite also flourishing.

Moreno’s critics will try to claim he has made plenty of ‘mistakes’, but give or take the odd minor gaffe that the majority of full-backs will encounter from time to time, he has been an extremely solid performer.

His previous crazy decision-making is nowhere to be seen, his work in the attacking third has gone up a gear – he has the joint-most assists in the Champions League this season, alongside Kylian Mbappe and Ricardo Quaresma – and he is cutting a far more mature figure.

The hope is that he realised he needed to knuckle down just before he was shown the Anfield exit door, and that we are now seeing someone focused solely on their football.

Confidence is certainly playing a part, as it does with any player, and when Moreno takes to the field now, you don’t watch him with the same level of dread. He is more measured and authoritative.

This is the player that was rated so highly when he joined from Sevilla in the summer of 2014, and hopefully, this is a run that becomes long-term rather a brief renaissance.

Sadly, some fans just have too much personal pride and are unwilling to give Moreno even an ounce of praise for his impressive form.

They have made their minds up about him, regardless of what does in a Liverpool shirt between now and whenever he leaves – see also: Jordan Henderson and Emre Can, among others – and all it does is lose them respect from fellow supporters.

If you can’t see how much Moreno has improved this season, and are waiting in the wings to throw vitriol in his direction when his mistake does come, take a look at yourself.

Is Moreno the definite long-term option moving forward? No. He needs to play like this for a more extended period to prove that, and Robertson may well usurp him once he has adjusted to life under Klopp.

What cannot be denied, however, is that he has shone since August, showing the type of character and quality many didn’t think he had.

We’re roughly a quarter of the way through the campaign, and Moreno would be in contention of Liverpool’s Player of the Year So Far award.

He wouldn’t win it, with Mohamed Salah the frontrunner in that respect, but have there really been any better on a consistent basis?

Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane have had moments of brilliance but been in and out of the team, Roberto Firmino hasn’t yet hit top gear and the midfielders have all been adequate rather than impressive.

The haters will no doubt be fuming to hear this sort of opinion, but they will never warm to Moreno, even if he scores a Champions League final hat-trick.

That’s their problem, but it’s a real shame they can’t heap praise on one of their own, even if it means accepting they might have been at least slightly wrong about him.

Fair play to you, Albie – keep up the good work.

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  1. Some LFC fans are defending Moreno saying he has been good this season.

    If a player upgrades from being useless to being less useless, that doesn’t mean his good. It means he’s still useless. The fact that his errors don’t lead to concession of goals or the concession of less goals does not mean the player has suddenly become good.

    It’s the errors that do not lead to goals & those that were not the primary error in the lead up to a goal, which people tend to forget about. The fact that a particular error did not lead to a goal in one game does not mean that it is not an error, & it certainly does not mean that the same error will not be punished in another game where the opposition are better, or luck finally runs out.

    Moreno is in his 4th season at Anfield & it seems that the turning point in his reinstatement to the starting line up was his display in a pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich.

    If that’s the case, is that not a demonstration of the poor standards expected at LFC that a player’s previous poor performances over a few seasons are forgotten & he is reinstated on the basis of one pre-season performance, or at best, a few performances in pre-season?

    If you want to gauge how poor Moreno is, contemplate this: Milner, a right footed ageing English midfielder played virtually a whole season at left back. Digest that for a few seconds.

    I am not saying that Milner is a poor player. What I am trying to show is how poor Moreno is. To then think he will be reincarnated and come back as Lizarazu is a delusion only certain Liverpool fans can suffer. In fact it demonstrates that we have accepted mediocrity as the new high.

    There are others that defend Moreno on the basis that Klopp likes his full backs high & therefore in his system full backs are more likely to be exposed, but that doesn’t apply for goals not conceded on the counter & nor does it apply to goals conceded on the counter where the full back has had the chance to get back & has not done so. Equally, regardless of Klopp’s system, I expect a player on thousands a week to be able to read when to bomb on & when to sit.

    I always maintain that, despite Klopp’s system, a full backs forward duties does not mean abrogation of his defensive duties.

    Now, as was done with Henderson, let’s look at specific instances this season so that we can put to bed the myth that Moreno has been good. Where possible, reference to other players’ errors will be omitted as the focus of this write up is on Moreno.

    (A) Hoffenheim first goal (away leg)

    Penalty saved by Mignolet. Lovren brings down player on the left side as he covers for Moreno who has bombed on in to the opposition area.

    Question is: Should Moreno have been there when the probability of him receiving the ball was unlikely based on how the play had developed in the build up? Here the question pertains to Moreno’s game intelligence. I am not advocating that he should not bomb on, but what I am advocating is that a player should be sufficiently intelligent to know when to bomb on & when to sit, particularly away from home in Europe.

    (B) Liverpool v Sevilla (both goals)

    Although there were bigger errors in the lead up to the concession of the first goal, had Moreno smelt the danger & got goal side, the goal may have been prevented.

    For the 2nd goal, as the player plays the ball to the goal scorer, Moreno does see his run from deep. Instead of coming round & covering, Moreno’s initial movement is away from goal. In mitigation, people argue that he probably makes that movement as he thinks a pass will go out wide & the man wide is his man. However, football is also about using your brains. Sometimes you sacrifice your man/position to cover the greater danger. The greater danger here was straight through the middle.

    People forget that Moreno was fortunate in this game not to get a second yellow. He also went steaming in twice when he should have held his position. It was fortunate that Sevilla did not exploit his rashness.

    In the last minute of stoppage time (2nd half) Liverpool are playing a high line & Moreno plays Muriel on side. He should have scored & had he done so, the inquest would have involved Moreno.

    (C) Leicester’s second goal in the PL game

    As Ndidi is about to shoot, Moreno turns his back on it & ducks. The cross/shot reaches Vardy who scores.

    This issue of Moreno turning away from the shot with hands behind the back was picked up by Carragher on Sky Sports when Moreno was new to the league. In approximately 2+ years nothing has changed.

    (D) Liverpool v Newcastle PL

    60th min – Moreno concedes needless free kick in wide area. Perez is 2 v 1 in this situation & is not going anywhere fast. Customary brain fart moment from Moreno. The subsequent free kick causes panic in the Liverpool area.

    76th min – Moreno is played in on the left side of the area. He has time & space. Instead of putting in a more measured drilled cross, he blasts it across, giving nobody a chance.

    80th min – Again Moreno from a promising position blasts the cross in behind everybody.

    (E) Liverpool v Man Utd PL

    19th min – Moreno misjudges header & Lovren has to come across to cover.

    30th min – Moreno loses Young’s run, because he is not goal side & he is square to the play. Young gets to the bye line, gets in a decent cross, which is headed away & Matic shoots just over the bar. Neville said in commentary that in this instance Moreno was poor.

    36th min – Moreno’s wide in Utd’s penalty area. Excellent opportunity to cross but instead of measuring the cross, he blasts it across giving oncoming LFC player(s) no chance of reaching it.

    Over the years I’ve noticed 2 things with fellow Liverpool fans like Jackson.

    The first is the proverbial memory of a gold fish. There are numerous examples of this, but 2 will suffice.

    First, it took approximately 5 months of “decent” performances by Mignolet at the back end of last season for many Liverpool fans to start thinking he was now the number one.

    They might be fellow Liverpool fans, but they are nonces if they think 5 months negates 4 seasons’ of tripe.

    The 2nd example is of Moreno. It seems that the defining moment in his reincarnation as Roberto Carlos was in a single pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich. On the basis of that I had many Liverpool fans more or less alluding “Moreno is back.”

    These fans are bigger imbeciles than the ones who thought Mignolet was now number one. At least they based their poor judgement on approximately 5 months and not a pre-season friendly.

    Having consumed e-numbers, processed and frozen foods over numerous years, it seems these fans’ brains have been reduced to an almost useless pulp. They can therefore only comprehend a small amount of easily digestible information happening at the time.

    If you ask them to digest more than one sentence or piece of information, or correlate it to another piece of information, they will have a malfunction, let alone ask them to understand context.


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