While his performance on Monday night at the Etihad was by no means poor, Alberto Moreno left plenty of room for growth. His lingering was one of the key components that allowed Manchester City's opener, and his positioning--like much of Liverpool's defense--was inconsistent at crucial moments. The potential was there, however, and as with Javier Manquillo in his debut in the season opener against Southampton, it was clear why his signing became a priority this summer.
After some fine-tuning and just enough rehabilitation for a sprained ankle midweek, Moreno was spectacular in the 3-0 win over Spurs on Sunday afternoon, standing out at both ends of the pitch and scoring a wonderful solo goal after dispossessing Andros Townsend on the winger's first touch of the match. It was a passage of play that Brendan Rodgers highlighted post-match, noting that the young fullback made the most of the steep learning curvehe experienced on Monday:
"He should have got tighter to [Jesus] Navas in the Manchester City game, and we spoke about that. At this level and how we play, the philosophy is to press and to get tight. The goal we conceded was from when Navas spun the ball in for [Sergio] Aguero - but he learned from that. That's what you look for in players, to try to help them improve.
"You saw today, when the ball went to Andros Townsend - who is quick as well - he pressed him tight, nicked the ball and then he was away. The speed that he showed was phenomenal because Townsend is a quick player, but he has got away and it was a great finish. That's what I asked of the full-backs, you've got to defend first and foremost and then join the attack. He was excellent, as was [Javier] Manquillo on the other side. He's 20 years of age and was very good."
Actual fullbacks, ones that defend, attack, and put in a proper shift with and without the ball. Ones that have clearly defined roles as part of the larger tactical approach and the technique to execute. Two of them, no less, and on the day, both were exceptional. Moreno got the goal, but Manquillo wasn't far off the pace, again proving steady in just his second Liverpool match on the opposite flank and handling nearly everything that came his way.
Early days still, but in the Spanish duo he's brought aboard, Brendan Rodgers looks to have the fullbacks he's wanted, and if they're only just learning now, it's exciting to consider what's yet to come.