Liverpool have recently – and quite deservedly – gained a bit of a reputation for luring away Southampton players, to varying degrees of success. Rickie Lambert was a feel-good story that never played out in the Hollywood fashion we all wanted, Nathaniel Clyne has been a categorical home-run, and Dejan Lovren might just be seeing a bit of a renaissance after a disastrous first season.
Adam Lallana, though, has been a bit of a mixed bag, swinging from sleek, sexy turns and clinical finishes one week, to hero-balling and injury troubles the next. The stop-start nature of his Liverpool career stands in stark contrast to the smooth longevity he experienced at Southampton, where he spent 15 years climbing the ladder, culminating in two consecutive promotions and being awarded the captain's armband as the Hampshire club returned to the Premier League.
This sort of constancy was certain to breed contempt in the event that he ever left the club, and so it turned out, as the home crowd booed the former Saint's every touch on Wednesday. Lallana, buoyed perhaps by the scoreline, perhaps by the away fans' chants of "Adam Lallana, he's winning six-one" as the final whistle beckoned, chose to focus on his current team's performers rather than the abuse from his former admirers:
"It was [incredible], especially after the start we had. It was sloppy - they started the game well but I think we started on the back foot.
"But it was a great response from the lads, Studge has scored two very important goals tonight.
"He showed exactly what he's about and why we want him back and in the team.
"He's massive for us, he's a world class player. Within ten minutes he finished two brilliant chances and we're in the lead after a sloppy start. "
Like Daniel Sturridge's finishing, that's pretty classy, a word which generally describes both Lallana's style of play, as well as his performances in front of a microphone. His agreeable presence and knack for saying the right thing in interviews is one of the reasons he was considered a dark horse for the Liverpool vice captaincy this summer, and he displayed that gift again, with some encouraging words for hat-trick hero Divock Origi and a summary of the strength of the squad:
"Divock was brilliant again, he took his chances, and it was a great result and we're in the semis now. (...)
"You look at the squad, look at the bench - Firmino, Benteke, Jordan coming back, Milner.
"We've got a great, strong squad at the minute with everyone fit and I think it's making everyone raise their game."
Sounds about right! With seven wins from their last eight, a manager who has instilled confidence in the team, and two of their most important players for the past few seasons returning from injury, there certainly are reasons for optimism at Liverpool.