RSS Feed

Liverpool’s Other World Class Player


Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by

Strikers have it easy as far as the glory business is concerned. Score a goal late on and you’re labelled a match winner, no matter what you’ve actually done throughout the game. In fact, it is even better if you’ve done absolutely nothing during the rest of the match “he’ll be quite for ninety minutes and then he’ll find a goal,” they’ll say “that’s why he’s a match winner”.

It is impossible for a goalkeeper to get similar recognition. For them there’s no hint of glory unless they keep a clean sheet and even that doesn’t necessarily guarantee appreciation. Apart from having to share credit with defenders, irrespective of whether they’re competent or not, the harsh truth is that like referees the less noticeable goalkeepers are the better. Because when they do get noticed it more often than not means that they’ve made a mistake which, in turn, is likely to result in a conceded goal.

Following through on this train of thought, goalkeepers can never get the recognised as being the ones to win games. It is goals that do that and, unless there’s some freak incident, a goalkeeper won’t be scoring goals. This is, however, fallacious reasoning: if scoring goals allows team to win then so does a save that prevents a goal from being conceded.

Indeed, it would be insulting to call Pepe Reina anything other than someone who wins games for Liverpool. More than ever this season, when goals have been particularly hard to come by and any advantage has had to be defended as much as possible.

That is where Reina has been excelling. Despite a drop in clean sheets, his importance to the side has increased immeasurably. Liverpool’s instability at the back has made it all the more important to have Reina as the last man, someone who can really stop the seemingly unstoppable.

That’s something that he’s often been asked to do and his response has always been impeccable. There are no bad games for him or ones where he simply goes through the motions. His attitude is, frankly, inspiring as is his dedication to the club.

Which brings us back to match winners. At Liverpool, so the public consensus seems to go, there are two players who can turn games around: Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. That belief, however, depends too much on that most obvious of statistics, the number of goals scored. Yet Reina is possibly even better for pure critical moments: stopping a shot that could have resulted in a goal, for instance.

It is such ability that marks him out as a pure game winner, just as it is that ability that elevates him as a true world class player.

1 comment »

Anonymous said...

A good point well made.
It has become more and more apparent that Liverpool(Benitez in particular) are victims of a smear campaign simply because we stood up to & almost defeated Mr Ferguson and his team. Sadly we have failed to push onthis year for a few reasons:
1-investment in playing staff. The club failed to 'add' to the squad. Johnson&Aqua were replacements not additions.
2-injuries. The best performers of last season have seen injuries rob them of both games & form eg Carra/stevie/Torres/fabio etc etc
3-confidence. Losing our top performers to injury has resulted in us losing games we would have won or drawn last year. Falling behind in the race for the league has hit our confidence badly as the majority of fans & players are crying out for the league. This has had a knock on effect in Champs league where we have seen our usual ubber professional approach disappear usually towards the last 10mins.

Pepe has not followed suit but in fact has grown&matured, saving us from more than a few defeats along the way. His shot stopping & distribution have been top notch all season. Can you remember a game when he has made a mistake....?
Mascherano has also grown as the season has wore on. Most kopites would say he's been our best player so far

So in terms of world class players id say we had (at least):

That counts as 4 not the 2 the media always rant on about (as if we're entirely reliant on them).
Case closed.