Friday, September 29, 2023

Mané Is Liverpool’s New Main Man, And Other Things We Learned From The League Cup Rout

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Jon Depp (JD)
Eccentric writer, effervescent blagger. What he lacks in cheekbones, he makes up by being cheeky. The footballing Jack Sparrow pompously navigating the high-waves of journalism.2015 International Football Blogging Award Finalist, the pin-up boy of The 4th Official.

Full-time Score: 0-5 to Liverpool.


Origi (15th minutes),
Firmino (22nd minutes),
Naylor (61st minutes og),
Sturridge (78th minutes, 83rd minutes)

Venue: Pirelli Stadium.

English League Cup 2nd Round.

Burton Albion FC, native of Burton Upon Trent, a tiny town located in the North-west of London, famous for its canals and breweries were shot down will all the ease of shooting fishes in a barrel, as the Merseyside giants, the most successful team in the history of The English League Club, opted to field their strutting commandeers. Juergen Klopp wasn’t going to fool about after that embarrassing 2-0 defeat at Turf Moor at the hands of Burnley – and so it was. Here are a few lessons learned for Juergen Klopp to take forward to, for the next match vs Mauricio Pochettino’s swashbuckling Tottenham.

#1 James Milner Is Not Half Bad

Involved in three goals – the pass for Sadio Mane to set up Div Origi’s backheel flick onto goal; the corner which forced an own goal from Naylor from the head of Emre Can; and the phase of build-up play that lead to Daniel Sturridge’s first strike of the two he scored on the night.

James Milner is the everyman, and the lesson to be learnt is that he should be only employed as a left-back against everyman teams, preferably in this competition. He had a lot of joy on the left-hand side, stitching together give-and-go’s, putting crosses in, and cutting-in at will.

Originally, starting his career as a left-winger at Leeds United, it was easy to see the comfort in familiarity, rolling back the data and onto an older-build of his operating system, pegging his man back in an advanced position on the wing, and taking him on. Once you learn how to operate a Windows 98, you never forget.

However, he was caught a few time for his obvious lack of pace – a glaring weakness that comes at the forefront in the hit-and-run football of the Premier League. Use him with prudence.

#2 Sadio Mané Will Be Liverpool’s Main-man This Season

One of Liverpool’s predominant problems in Juergen Klopp’s first season at Liverpool was a painful lack of incisiveness against teams that sat back and put on their tin-foil hats. In any given situation, there was just not enough pace on the counter, or even in possession to break through the enemy’s backline. All that led to, was a floundering, ponderous passages of play looking to probe for space with very little movement on offer.

Sadio Mané changes all of that. Having all the verve of a black Freddy Mercury on the ball (I just impressed myself here, with this analogy, because, you know, Freddy was effervescent and gay), his showmanship in possession leaps beyond bounds, and hapless tackles. You could hear the sincerest of travelling supporters take a break from singing themselves hoarse, every time the Senegalese sharpshooter was near the edge of the area, with the ball with a one-on-one – such was the anticipation in the air.

Chalking up two assists on his first game back from his shoulder injury: one, a gorgeous takedown from a floated cross from Milner to pass to Big Div Origi; the second, a scythed pull back for Sturridge’s hammer finish, after the main-man left his man contemplating relativity of time and space. Looks like Mané would have to spend extra hours in the gym to condition his clavicle area as he may have to carry this Liverpool team over the finishing line, on very many occasions this season.

A joy to watch.

#3 Keep Daniel Sturridge In The Box

There is no doubt that Danny Boy Sturridge is an exceptionally gifted forward, who can seemingly do it all. In his pomp, he comes deep and sprays passes to either flank or keeps the play ticking like a seasoned number 10, but, note, that is when he’s in his pomp.

Struggling with injuries, he has yet to find his rhythm this season, and Klopp would do well to instruct him to just loiter in and around the goal-mouth and leave the other cute stuff in build-up play to the N number of attacking midfielders and wing-forwards Liverpool have at their disposal.

Both of Sturridge’s strikes came when he was hanging about in the box, in anticipation of the ball to be fed to him – and it was, and the goals duly came – one, a bundled in poacher’s finish, the other, where he smashed his finesse shot button with zero-drag of backlift, spanking it towards the bottom left corner, in effect of just a single touch.

While Danny, when the balance of play not going his way, is and has been tempted to drift deep to collect the ball and lay the patch work – it’d be of the benefit of his confidence, his form and of the team, if he tries to just focus on getting the ball into the back of the net. The other options, in the words of Bob Paisley, can be discussed later.

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