The Unfair Alberto Moreno Witch-Hunt Returns

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First things first: I have been one of Alberto Moreno’s biggest critics over the last few years.

The horrendous performance in the Europa League final essentially cost Liverpool a trophy – he was not the sole reason for the defeat, but the key reason for it – and too many lapses in concentration and a perceived lack of focus have irritated the life out of me.

That footage of him flipping a bottle on the sidelines last season, instead of being engaged in the action in case he was brought on, drove me to distraction.

I have spent most of the last couple of years disagreeing with those who have always admired him, accusing them of blind loyalty when the team were far better off without him.

That criticism was fully merited in my mind, and I wanted to see the back of him prior to the start of this season.

In what has been one of the most surprise turnarounds in years, however, the 25-year-old has stormed back into form, displaying the quality that saw Liverpool sign him in the first place, and cutting a more focused, experienced figure.

Prior to the Sevilla game – we’ll get to that shortly – Moreno had a strong argument for being Liverpool’s most consistent performer in 2017/18.

A series of mature displays were tallied up, and the moments of madness that existed before were nowhere to be seen.

His speed and directness gave the Reds an extra dimension down the left flank, especially compared to the more intelligent but one-paced James Milner last season, and he kept new signing Andrew Robertson out of the side.

He didn’t have the individual impact of Mo Salah, who has been Liverpool’s star man this season, but very few were guaranteeing a seven-out-of-10 performance every week like him.

Moreno’s unlikely Anfield resurrection saw him earn a first call-up to Spain’s squad for three years, and some his many detractors were slowly warming to him.

Unfortunately, there was also a vast heap of supporters just waiting for that first iffy outing, smugly waiting in the wings to stick the boot in and tell everyone, “I told you he was rubbish”.

These individuals are so stubborn that their opinion becomes irrelevant, and they were given their chance to come crawling out of the woodwork on Tuesday evening.

Returning to former club Sevilla, Moreno had a dreadful night at the office. Or at least a dreadful 15 minutes.

He had been his new-found reliable self in the opening 45 minutes, with Liverpool 3-0 up and cruising, but it went horribly wrong after the break.

A brainless, Moreno-of-old tackle earned Sevilla a free-kick in a great position, and Wissam Ben Yedder headed home from the resulting set-piece.

He then conceded a sloppy penalty, dangling a leg out inside his own box, and the arrears were reduced further.

The Spaniard’s head went completely, with the hosts targeting him every time he had the ball – he was already on a yellow card – and it wasn’t long before he was rightly substituted in place of Milner.

The negativity aimed in Moreno’s direction both during the game and in the days that have followed has been unbearable, lazy and uncalled for.

Many were immediately calling for him to be dropped, and the tedious “I told you so” crowd were in their element. Imagine being openly happy about one of your own players have a nightmare. You’ll Never Walk Alone, eh!

Moreno deserves plenty of criticism for what was a very frustrating performance on an important European night for the Reds – there is no doubt about that.

Without that idiotic foul, Liverpool would have been in no trouble whatsoever, and you just cannot make such sloppy mistakes at the top level.

It was also worrying to see that Moreno still has a performance like that in him, having impressed for a sustained period this season.

Despite this, anybody laying into him and ignoring what has come before has to have a long, hard look at themselves.

The word “agenda” in football is a horrible one that is so often worth ignoring, but people genuinely have one with Moreno. He’s not alone when it comes to Liverpool players.

The left-back has been the least culpable member of a much-criticised back-line all season, and the mental fortitude he has shown to win his place back is commendable.

Sevilla was his only poor display in 17 appearances since August – every single Liverpool squad member has had at least one bad game, too – and you could argue that there were mitigating circumstances behind it.

Moreno was back at his boyhood club, looking to show them the form he was in, and his emotional characteristics got the better of him. He plays on the edge.

He’s not alone there, with arguably the greatest Red of all, Steven Gerrard, someone who endured days to forget on emotionally-charged occasions.

The legendary former captain was sent-off a combined four times against Man United and Everton, all of which saw him let down his teammates.

Infamous back-passes against Arsenal and Chelsea both led to goals for Thierry Henry and Didier Dorgba, respectively, and the same happened for England against France at Euro 2004, with the eventual foul by David James on Henry allowing Zinedine Zidane to fire home a last-minute penalty.

Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren have both gone missing against former team Southampton a number of times, and you could find endless other examples in the annals of history.

Is the jury still out on Moreno? Yes.

He has improved immeasurably this season, but there is no guarantee that he will remain at this level, and Robertson could well replace him eventually.

One bad game should not be held against him in such an unfair manner, though, and he should be viewed in a positive light currently. He has been very impressive.

How Moreno responds from Tuesday’s disaster is likely to define his entire Liverpool career now.

He could easily revert back to being the walking mistake that flattered to deceive in his first three seasons on Merseyside, or go from strength to strength as he improves with age.

Moreno seems a great lad who has really knuckled down, and I will be willing him to shut up the doubters and make his Sevilla showing a distant memory.

The Spaniard followed up on the performance against Sevilla with a near man of the match performance against Chelsea, credit where it’s due. Some people will be waiting to tear him to shreds at every opportunity, choosing to ignore all the good on show, but anyone with a fair mind will be able to see that Moreno has been very good this season.

One poor night should not change that – if it happens again in the near future, then we’ll talk.

Want more insight on Moreno? Well, Spanish football expert Graham Hunter was on Nina Kauser’s Euro Incision Podcast this week. Check out a snippet of what he had to say after the Sevilla game and subscribe to Anfield Index Pro to listen to this and many other exclusive shows.

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  1. Very good article. While criticism for Moreno’s performance on Tuesday were justified, calls for him being dropped, or shipped off in January, were an absolute overreaction and uncalled for. While he’s been part of disappointing performances at Tottenham, and City, apart from opening day jitters at Watford, Sevilla was his first truly bad performance all season, and all defenders have those days where nothing goes right for them. And the occasion and the moment got to him. In hindsight like Klopp said, perhaps Moreno shouldn’t have started that game in the first place.
    His response against Chelsea was truly magnificent. I’d say he was our best player apart from Salah. He marshalled Zappacosta, and Hazard whenever needed despite getting less than adequate cover from Coutinho in front of him. There was one slightly ill advised jump in his own box, but it didn’t lead to anything so it can be forgiven. Moreno’s resurgence is still truly alive and ongoing. Hoping for more of the same.

  2. The article is a lazy one written by a football illiterate (see previous criticisms I have made of Jackson).

    It is lazy because it perpetuates a narrative that people like to hear, but where is the SPECIFIC evidence?

    Here is my article as early as last month, which rebuts the fallacy of the aforementioned article

    “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.

    In summary a pig is a pig. It might smell less bad if it’s consuming something other than faeces, but it’s still a pig.“

    Jackson also inadvertently promotes mediocrity by using terms such as Moreno “being the least culpable member.” It’s as if being average is the new Roberto Carlos. Laughable.

    In addition, the suggestion that Moreno has been unfairly castigated for one poor performance over a 17-game period is unbelievably short-sighted.

    In effect Jackson restricts the debate to the time-frame that suits him, rather than look at Moreno’s performances since his arrival.

    This is the tactics used by rose-tinted Kloppites. I have written about such individuals here:

    Over the years I have noticed two things with fellow Liverpool fans.

    The first is the proverbial memory of a gold fish. There are numerous examples of this, but two 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 second 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 numpties 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.

    It seems that having consumed e-numbers, processed and frozen foods over numerous years, 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.

    A university degree or studying for one appears to be of no help. I know a finance student who harps on about FSG’s net spend in the transfer market. I, as a non-finance student, vainly tried to explain to him the level of debt Liverpool were in, the issue of generating revenue streams, value for money & how net spend is an anomalous method of judgement.

    I rationally thought that a finance student at university would understand such concepts, but only a few days later he was back in schizophrenic mode harping on about net spend. Unfortunately I did not have the heart to advise him to take his medication.

    This leads to the second thing I wanted to write about and that is the language of mediocrity.

    I hear many Liverpool fans use terminology of: “he has been decent”, “he has been ok”, “he looked lively”, “he’s the least of our worries.”

    You can use that terminology for one or two players in a starting 11, but beyond that, if the same descriptors are used for Mignolet, Moreno, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Can etc then that’s basically 50% of the starting 11. In simple terms it means they are useless, and as a fan, you’re glossing it over with politeness. Faeces is faeces even if you spray Asda Smart Price deodorant on it.

    I had that same finance student say to me yesterday that Moreno has been the “least worst from the back five this season.”

    Wow wee. What do you want me to do about that? Run down the road naked in celebration, & post Moreno my juices. Did he really want me to celebrate the best individual from a collective pile of faecal matter?

    I think the language of mediocrity stems from the fact that Liverpool have not won the league title for almost 30 years and fans have just become accustomed to Henderson’s mind numbing side ways passing. Older fans will remember Barnes, Hansen, Whelan, Rush etc and will simply despair at how mediocrity is accepted as the new high. After all, I did see that finance student proudly wear his Henderson top.

    The end is nigh

  3. Muhammed, pretty good analysis of Moreno, who has no common sense in defensive positioning. He is an accident waiting to happen. Look to previous players in that position fom the past and you will see the comparisons. Moreno has always been an accident waiting to happen.

    I would like to see Robertson get a run in the team, not because I think he is better, rather as a precaution for any injury to Moreno, who has been lucky in that respect. Then, if neither player does not excell, replace them. Good, better, best, should be the thought that leads Klopp to glory for his adoring fans. Yet it seems good, better, average is the norm, and not just for Moreno, but for Lovren/Klaven, Henderson/Can.

  4. Moreno is much the scape goat for things as is Migs. Both have played well with a few glitches. Klopp has to take blame for both draws. 3-0 away from home at the half and you can’t even get your team to park a golf cart. Our captain has stinkers nearly every week yet he still starts yet Sturridge scores in back to back games and you sit him bench. You take of Sturridge when he was keeping the opponents defense honest and leave Mane more pace on the bench when he would have stopped them from coming at us or gotten a break away on the counter SMH.


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