They say that into each life, some rain must fall. And so it is.
Following Liverpool’s 5-0 thumping of Napoli in Dublin - which also happened to serve as Alisson Becker’s debut as the Reds’ presumptive starting goalkeeper - manager Jürgen Klopp was reasonably satisfied with the performance his world record signing, saying that the was “really pleased.”
In truth, there were some nervy moments interspersed among the various mostly solid moments enjoyed by Alisson during a match in which he didn’t have too much to do, arguably no more or no less than would be expected given the occasion and circumstances. Not everybody can serve up a bicycle kick goal on the debut, after all.
Never one to mince words, Liverpool legend Graeme Souness, in his column for the Sunday Times, was quick to put the focus on the new keeper.
“He played in Brazil and Portugal, then was initially kept out of the Roma team by Wojciech Szczesny, who found English football difficult at Arsenal,” stated Souness. “So he’s not coming with 300-400 games at the highest level under his belt and, despite the fee, there has to be a question mark against him.”
Factually, all correct (though the implicit argument about Szczesny’s relative quality may not be 100% sound), and it is quite true that there will be some degree of pressure on Alisson given his fee, as well as given the nature in which his predecessor Loris Karius lost his job.
There’s a case to be made that Alisson’s acquisition was not made solely based on his keeping ability, but also in part on the premise that the back four need to have absolute confidence in their keeper - something which was always going to be an uphill struggle for Karius, despite the public circling of wagons by his teammates.
Despite the world record fee, Alisson doesn’t have the Best In The World for Liverpool to have success this season - but he does have to be Quite Good. Which is just about the same conclusion at which Souness arrives.
“If their signings work out, if the goalkeeper is a proper one and the new midfielders are workaholics who can handle our football, Liverpool will push City all the way in the two big competitions this season — the Premier League and Champions League,” he wrote. “They are the team that City will fear most, unless somebody else goes on a late summer spending spree.”