By Mark Mason @MMason00
The job advertisement reads:
Wanted Main Man. Internationally respected club with wonderful tradition are looking for star player. Highly competitive salary and excellent working facilities, recently renovated. Job would suit a go getter who’s not afraid to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and win it. Excellent promotion possibilities, especially if you speak Spanish. No Southampton players need apply.
This isn’t new ground for us, we faced the same situation three years ago. With the loss of a certain Sr. Suarez we were left desperately searching for a new main man. Gerrard, the old legend, was fading. Sturridge, the heir apparent, couldn’t get onto the pitch. Sterling, the up and coming prospect, turned out to be serpentine. We needed a new main man.
In reality for at least a year we had players flirting with the role, but we didn’t have that go to guy. It wasn’t until the opening game of last season and the last kick of a terrible first half that we found him. Coutinho bent it into the top corner and continued to drag us that day, and for large period of the season, to three points.
Yes, last season Mane was fantastic and Lallana showed us he could be the player that we had always hoped he would be. Yet it was Phil who was the main man. It was he who dragged us through terrible form at the end of the season to the fourth spot and the promised land of Champions League football.
So with the job potentially once again up for grabs, there are three obvious candidates for the role.
Coutinho can come back from his failed push and reclaim his job. It has been done before, but takes a special type of player. Not many are as driven, dare I say it crazy, as Suarez. He was able to turn his failed move to Arsenal into a catalyst to push his performance to the next level. However he had the words of Gerrard in his ear. “You can do better than Arsenal” and he subsequently did landing a move to Barca. Phil already has Barca at his door, Â where is his motivation to lead Liverpool going to come from. With rumours of him going on strike. Â I fear we are just as likely to get from him an out of sorts Hazard as a Suarez.
Sadio was our player of the season last year, a gold star on his resume. At times last he was almost unplayable. Yes he has electric pace but so does Jordan Ibe, Sadio combines his pace with intelligent play, a great work ethic and no fear. It seems such a little thing to say but he never hid, he never let us down. These are vital qualities for a main man. The only doubt over Sadio is he seems such a quiet unassuming lad. The question is would the extra weight of responsibility weigh him down rather than lift him up. That said Coutinho was no extrovert, however that may explain why as Liverpool’s most talented player he struggled for so long to perform consistently. We don’t want the same to happen to Sadio.
Bobby is Klopp’s wet dream, a skilful player with a Kuyt like work rate. Bobby has shown he has the ability to drag us back into a game. Look at his contribution Saturday, a game we previously would have struggled to get back into. He slotted the penalty coolly to make it 2 – 2, but more importantly he sent through Salah to win it. His brilliant round the corner through ball, showed the excellent game awareness he has. He then followed it up with his lobbed shot come pass, bringing us the third. Saturday wasn’t a one off we saw him multiple times last season stand up and be counted. When he is on form he has that spark of genius that only the best players have. The issue with Bobby is that he isn’t at the races often enough. Too often he had a quiet game. We can excuse this to some extent as he was shunted around last season to cover for missing players. However it leaves some doubt about his ability to step up to the plate and become that main man.
If we see our last game as the job interview it would seem a clear win for Mane. He terrorized the Hoffenheim defence. His pace and running was mesmerizing. Firmino had a stronger second half but he didn’t have the impact that Sadio had. However the ball Firmino played splitting Hoffenheim’s defence to put through Milner was something nobody else in the team could have done. Bobby is far from out the race.
One game isn’t enough to make this appointment. Coutinho still has a chance to come back and Â reclaim his role. What is positive is there are signs that players are ready to challenge to take on the job. If he decides to recommit to Liverpool the role may already have gone. What is not in doubt is that we need a main man.
By Mark Mason @MMason00