One of the many reasons we love football is because of its ability to create stories of all kinds on a consistent basis. It is easy to focus on the negatives, after all you only have to scroll through the tabloids or your Twitter feed to see that the disgruntled tend to scream the loudest. Yet the best stories are always a little harder to find but are always far more satisfying.
Life as a Liverpool supporter has been near perfect for the past couple of years now. This past weekend was a very rare case of the team playing well below expectations, and it certainly hurt that this performance came against our biggest rivals when it seemed they may be ripe for a beating.
As disappointing as it was, there was a silver lining. A story of remarkable persistence in the face of setback after setback. That is the tale of Adam Lallana.
Incredibly, Lallana is now one of Liverpool’s longest serving players having been at the club since 2014. The former Southampton skipper had a difficult start to his Anfield career having arrived when the club was in turmoil following the departure of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge often MIA.
His fortunes took a sharp upturn upon the arrival of Jurgen Klopp who reinvented Lallana as a central midfield player where his technique and energy was an invaluable resource for the side. He scored 15 goals in two seasons in this new role as he seemed to finally have found his calling.
The last two years though have been ravaged by injury. In the blink of an eye, he went from one of Liverpool and England’s most important players to an afterthought. It was rather tragic in many ways.
Remarkably he returned to fitness just in time for the 2018 Champions League final where he had the unenviable task of replacing the injured Mo Salah. Even a fully firing Lallana would have struggled to live up to those expectations and he didn’t have the impact he knew he is capable of.
Last season wasn’t much better for Lallana on the injury front but it was still evident in flashes that he brings a quite unique skill set to the table. Hope definitely remained that he could still contribute greatly to the team when needed, if only he could get a run of games going.
Then pre-season came along and Lallana Super-Fan Klopp decided to experiment by playing him even further back again, now as a number 6. The idea seemed to be that his composure and balance on the ball could help the team against more low block teams where defending wouldn’t be a priority. The feeling was that Lallana could be our Jorginho (the Napoli version I assume) and the signs were promising but to date in competitive games the intriguing tactic has not yet been utilized.
Fast forward to October 20th, 2019 and Liverpool are in a bit of trouble at Old Trafford. Klopp turns to his bench on the hour and doesn’t summon the Guinean Gandolf Naby Keita, nor does he call for Mr Reliable James Milner. Instead he trusts Adam Lallana.
The reaction on Twitter to this substitution was quite hilarious in retrospect. Clearly plenty of supporters out there did not trust Lallana the way I do or more pertinently the way Jurgen Klopp does.
With just five minutes to go, the aforementioned Keita started a move which Andy Robertson swept across goal, and who was there ghosting in like a thief in the night but Lallana to tap in his first goal since 2017.
Liverpool still needed another goal but few would begrudge Lallana his moment to celebrate. The relief must have been something truly divine. In all honestly there are few players in the squad easier to like and despite all the issues, his attitude has never been less than first class.
So for Adam Lallana it was arguably his biggest moment in Red since Norwich away back in 2016 when he scored the winner in a nine goal thriller at Carrow Road. Incredibly Norwich had been relegated from the Premier League and promoted back in the time between his two biggest moments.
I wrote a very similar article about Divock Origi almost a year ago after his most massive of tap ins to defeat Everton in the Merseyside Derby. I always sensed Origi had potential to become a key player again and so he proved last season.
At 31, time is not on Lallana’s side but he only has to look at James Milner to see how a player can still be impactful past the age of 30. His style of play should age well so it is definitely a possibility.
I truly hope this is the start of something bigger for Adam Lallana again. But for now it was a wonderful moment to be enjoyed, and who knows how important this point could be come the end of the season.