There’s a match this weekend that is near and dear and frightening to our hearts. Did I say frightening? Good, yes, that’s accurate. Liverpool make the trek eastward for a clash with Manchester United on Sunday and while the body usually buzzes in anticipation of watching any Liverpool match, the nerves are now beginning to communicate the likelihood of failure, the likelihood of repeating a soggy performance, the catastrophic possibility of back to back matches played in neon kits.
But there’s a beacon of sensibility that shines through the crackpot malaise of mental defeatism that may precede this derby of derbies. It has taken on the shape of a man. And his name is Alberto Moreno.
“It’s a great game to look forward to,” said Alby the beacon man.
Yes, that’s true in a way, Moreno. But, you see, I’m restless over it. It’s United, we’re talking about. Must win. Must impress. Must shut down. Must control. Must make calls to city officials and sign proper paperwork in order to move José Mourinho’s parked buses.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Moreno continued, “it’s a tough ask to go there and do well. It’s even more important because we’re both rivals in the upper part of the table.”
Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? Liverpool are in second place in the league, sitting on forty-four points. Manchester United are in sixth place with thirty-nine points. Must win. Must not give up ground. But, also. Must enjoy the youthful enthusiasm of Alberto Moreno.
“Playing in a derby match is great,” he said, “all players enjoy that and me especially. I love the challenge of derby games and if you can win, it makes it even more extra special. So I can’t wait for it to come around.”
The odds of Moreno starting against United are slim. James Milner, when fit, has the left back position locked down. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spaniard make an appearance at some stage of the game. His speed might just be utilized late on, if we’re chasing it. He can be effective going forward. And if Joël Matip plays and Dejan Lovren shifts to the left side, it might be okay. Might. Must win. Must show strength. Must justify hype.
But, if the chance presents itself, Moreno is ready and willing. The player has been very professional this season amidst his new life of a reduced minutes. No complaints, kept fit, trained as well as anyone. And he may still have something to offer Jürgen Klopp.
“It’s true that I’ve not had many opportunities this season,” Moreno said, “but I’m still the same player and still working hard and that’s what it’s all about. Keep positive so that when you are called upon, you’re ready.”
Must stay positive. Must take a deep breath. Must not cede mental space to The Zlatan.