Danny Ings is doing exceptionally well for Southampton this season and because of this people want to rewrite history. He scored 22 goals for the season and just missed out on the golden boot.
The 28-year-old has scored or assisted in 57% of the matches he’s featured in. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say his goals have helped Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side stay in the Premier League. They could finish as high as 11th, a remarkable achievement for a team battered 9-0 earlier in the season. To his credit, the former RB Leipzig man trusted his system, his tactics and his players, and it’s paid off.
But with Ings now arguably playing the best football of his career, some Liverpool fans are acting as though it was a mistake to let him leave. On one hand, I get it. It’s always a bit frustrating to see a former player doing well elsewhere. But like with Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto who failed to adapt to Brendan Rodgers’ style, Ings wasn’t ever the right fit for Jurgen Klopp’s design.
He’s thriving due to the way he’s being used by Hasenhüttl in a very specific system. Southampton play a variation of the formation used by the Austrian tactician in Germany. It’s a 4-2-2-2 shape and they tend to press rather aggressively. Few teams in England play with two strikers. Even fewer play with what could be considered a front four, but Southampton do. The perks of this are that there are a number of players in the final third and this creates space for Ings. Not only this but he has multiple supply lines running directly to him. Due to Southampton’s chaotic approach, it’s difficult for the opposition to plan for Ings and friends.
The former Liverpool benefits massively from the system he’s deployed in. It’s not a system he’d be used in at Anfield so acting as though he’d be the same threat is naive. The Reds don’t play with two up top, they don’t play with two attacking midfielders and they don’t press as ferociously as they once did, purely because they don’t have to now.
If anything, you could argue that Klopp’s side play with a diamond. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane usually find themselves ahead of Roberto Firmino. Despite starting as a centre-forward, the Brazilian is much more of an attacking midfielder. When looking at that trio, where does Ings fit in?
He’s not creative enough to play the Firmino role. He lacks the blistering pace of Mane and Salah and he’s not exactly as technical as either of the wide forwards. You could shoehorn him into one of those roles but who does it really benefit? And if he’s forced to play such a role, is he as effective? It’s very doubtful. Will he score as many goals? Not likely.
It’s strange to see the people moaning about Origi not being the perfect fit saying we should’ve kept Ings who similarly would’ve been like a fish out of water in our system. The move benefited everyone involved. Liverpool doubled their money, Ings got a guaranteed starting role and Southampton bagged themselves a goalscorer.