Moreno’s Sevilla capitulation means Liverpool must bring Robertson in from the cold
As Liverpool crumbled in Sevilla by throwing away a 3-0 half-time lead to draw 3-3 at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, one man must have been watching on wondering why he was not on the field.
Andy Robertson’s opportunities since moving to Anfield from Hull City in the summer have been limited, but the Scotland international has typically impressed when given the opportunity to shine by manager Jurgen Klopp.
Penny for his thoughts, then, when Alberto Moreno suffered a capitulation in Andalucia, where the hosts picked on his clear defensive deficiencies to secure a route back into the game. It was the Spaniard’s weakness down the left flank that allowed Sevilla a route back into the game,
The tactics employed by Eduardo Berizzo’s side were nothing new; Moreno has been a clear liability for Klopp’s side for months, and while his performances have improved this term, there remains a reason why James Milner – a natural midfielder, of course – was preferred to him in the berth for much of last season.
Indeed, Moreno’s struggles would have been much of the logic behind Robertson’s summer arrival for a relatively cheap £10 million.
The Scot may only be 23 and is not the finished article by any means, yet it seems bizarre that he has made the matchday squad in only three of Liverpool’s 12 Premier League matches, despite featuring in two of these for the duration.
When he has played in the league, Liverpool have conceded only one goal, and during the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace, which was his debut, there was little dispute about him being the man of the match. He raided superbly down the left that afternoon at Selhurst Park and supplied a wealth of quality crosses into the box, at least one of which would surely have been taken by a surer team in front of goal.
Admittedly, he was not significantly tested going the other way, where he is not considered to be so strong, yet he cannot be considered any poorer, surely, than Moreno, who is a proven failure defensively.
Klopp is a manager who seems to love playing Russian roulette with his defence. He was insistent that there was no need for his side to sign a centre-back this summer, despite ample evidence to suggest otherwise. Now that he has an option on the left, he is similarly refusing to use him.
“Everyone can see how good Robbo – with a few more sessions – can be, especially in offensive situations,” the former Borussia Dortmund coach said in August; he has used him only twice subsequently.
Klopp has persistently stuck by the message that the player needs to get used to a new system and new team-mates, much to the frustration of his young charge.
“I’ve spoken to the manager because I felt as if the settling-in period was over for me and I thought I was ready to play,” Robertson said earlier this month.
“I felt I did myself justice in the games I have played so I had a good chat with him, he gave me a few points to work on and that’s kept me going.
“I know I’m still well in his plans and, if I work on the things he’s asked me to, then, hopefully, I’ll be in the first team, or closer to it.”
International football has, at least, offered Robertson the opportunity to maintain some degree of sharpness, although Scotland played only one friendly during the November break, going down unfortunately 1-0 to the Netherlands in a fixture that the left-back did reasonably well in.
Moreno’s poor display in Sevilla may open the door for the former Dundee United youngster to be offered game time in forthcoming matches, although given the manager’s track record, he is unlikely to shake things up in his defence before Saturday’s visit of Chelsea.
Nevertheless, he now has the ammunition to hammer on Klopp’s door to demand his chance.
More realistic for Robertson are the matches against Stoke and Brighton coming up in a busy period for the Anfield outfit, who will play 10 matches in the space of just 34 days. If he is presented with an opportunity, he will have to take it.
Defensive capitulations have been commonplace for Liverpool this season, and while there is little that Klopp can do until January about the situation in the heart of his rearguard – a problem that should have been solved in the summer- he has it in his hands to make changes on the left. Robertson must be brought in from the cold for the good of the team.