As one of the more pleasant surprises of pre-season so far, Danny Ings appears to have secured the role of second striker on Liverpool’s depth chart to start the season. Christian Benteke is still likely to be the first name called by Brendan Rodgers in Daniel Sturridge’s absence, but Ings impressed far more than fellow newcomer Divock Origi or any of the club’s other strikers.
Depending on the situation, it’s even possible he will at times see action alongside Benteke or out wide on the wing, but no matter the particulars, it seems clear Ings will get his share of minutes. For his part, the striker thinks the best quality he will bring to the side is his ability to stretch defences, something Liverpool lacked last season and that was on display when he scored his pre-season goal against Adelaide.
"What I’ve found was really effective, even at the Championship level, was making runs constantly in behind," said Ings of his approach to the game. "As soon as a defender switches off, that run behind is so effective. As long as there’s someone stretching the pitch and you’ve got your creative players behind you in that space—and you’ve got players at this club to feed those runs—you can be an effective team."
With the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Adam Lallana all likely to get time filling those creative support roles, it’s certain that if Ings is making those runs he will be spotted. It’s the sort of channel running Fernando Torres and then Luis Suarez had so much success with at the club, a drive to always be facing up to the opposition and to receive the ball in stride rather than back to goal.
Without that last season—with Rickie Lambert or Mario Balotelli constantly looking to drop deep and get involved in the buildup—Liverpool struggled. Midfield because too crowded and space disappeared. It’s a something Ings seems to understand intuitively, as he realises his role leading the line at Liverpool will be more about creating space for others than getting involved in the early stages of moves.
"The way the game is going, it’s full of creative players now, players who want the ball all the time," Ings added. "Even if I don’t touch the ball as much as those guys [though], if I’m stretching the game it’s still as effective. It can all get too crunched and if you don’t create space for those players in behind you then it’s hard to create opportunities."