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"Brilliant" Lallana Gets God's Blessing

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Apparently you lovely folk have been a tad distracted by some transfer shenanigans involving Luis Suárez. In an effort to lighten the gloom somewhat, let's find some perspective by looking at a man that will actually be playing for Liverpool next season.

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Adam's telekinetic power over non-metals - he's known as the Magneto of Plastic - had very little practical application.
Adam's telekinetic power over non-metals - he's known as the Magneto of Plastic - had very little practical application.
Richard Heathcote

This morning sees many of us in a particularly spiky mood. Our natural cynicism has bubbled to the surface and we have taken on a hard-bitten, sceptical perspective as we side-eye the parties involved in the sickeningly inevitable departure of Liverpool's best footballer to a remarkably self-entitled mob from Barcelona. Nobody has been safe from the piercing mistrust of our glare as the details of the deal-in-progress filter back through a frankly rabid media. There comes a time though, dear reader, when one must simply let go. The machinations are beyond us and their progress is inexorable. The very best result is only ever going to be a poorer version of the previous reality, initially at least.

No matter where you stand on the delightfully broad spectrum of opinion, there can be very few who believe that Liverpool will be a better side without Suárez. His departure is an inherently bad thing for the team and the manager who worked so well with the Uruguayan genius. Troubled he may be, unpredictable he always was but possessed of almost other-worldly brilliance, he most definitely is. Ignoring, for a moment, all the tiresome posturing and position-taking, this scribbler's honest reaction is to be utterly crestfallen at the prospect of no longer watching the pugnacious necromancer in Red. He's the best these eyes have witnessed in over two decades and was a perfect fit for the iconic number seven jersey.

But enough of such morbidity. No matter how long we nibble and gnaw at the remnants, all good meals must end and our remarkable repast with the Uruguayan flesh gourmand has surely concluded. What then, of the future? Who will forge a bright new destiny for Liverpool Football Club? For all my earlier pessimism about the impact of ol' Bitey's departure, there is ample precedent in Anfield history to suggest that this may be a harbinger of better things. When Kevin Keegan left, Kenny Dalglish assumed his throne. Later, when Dalglish's team lost the mercurial Ian Rush to Juventus, the Scot replaced the club's greatest ever goalscorer with John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Ray Houghton and John Aldridge. The resultant team was the finest I have ever seen. Anywhere.

That latter example is a fine one for current managerial incumbent, Brendan Rodgers, to draw inspiration from. The Antrim man must replace the ostensibly irreplaceable, in the same way that Dalglish did. Just as the King's solution was to recruit a raft of talented footballers using the Italian's lucre, so Rodgers must look to carefully invest the incoming pot of Catalonian cash. No doubt we are faced with weeks of stories featuring the likes of musclebound Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri and short-shorts fancier, Alexis Sanchez, but one man who has already been added to the Anfield attack for next season is Adam Lallana, a recent survivor of massive exposure to Hodgsonian gamma rays.

Lallana has already divided opinion amongst the the more fretful and overwrought types in the Liverpool fan base. Much of the anxiety is inextricably linked to his reputed price tag and the all-too-recent traumas supporters endured watching Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing labour under their farcically high transfer values. Such wariness iseminently understandable and the lack of clarity in the reporting of the England man's fee has not helped the perception of him as yet another over-priced local for which Liverpool have payed the so-called British levy.

If we might remove the vulgarity of money from the equation for a moment and focus instead on the altogether more edifying topic of football, there are still some very pertinent questions to be asked about Lallana and how he may fit in to Liverpool's system. Many have wondered if the St. Albans native will be able to play as one of the two ahead of Steven Gerrard in Brendan Rodgers' midfield. Others have pictured him in the number ten position, which Raheem Sterling has recently carved out as his own. Still others see him raiding from the flanks as part of a fluid attacking formation.

Perhaps, however, all of these questions are missing the central point, the notion alluded to earlier. In the absence of such a stellar and forceful talent as that of Luis Suárez, then it is likely that the entire make up of the team will change. Brendan Rodgers is nothing if not tactically adaptable and an astute reader of the game. He has shown an admirable and invigorating ability to learn and adapt quickly and he will no doubt have the perfect idea of how Lallana can slot into next season's side. It is not unreasonable to suggest that, in our efforts to second-guess everything and everyone, it behooves fans of the Redmen to have a little faith in the man who has elevated the club to such lofty heights so very quickly.

Anyone who saw the former Southampton captain plying his trade last season will have been impressed with his technical ability, reading of the play and general business around the park and all of these are qualities which Liverpool's manager holds dear. Something else Rodgers rates highly is versatility and although, in the opinion of this scribbler, too much has been made of Lallana's adaptability, he will at least offer his new gaffer a certain variety of ways in which he might be deployed, something not lost on Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.

"I think he's a brilliant player - and I'm not just saying that because he's a Liverpool player now," insisted the Toxteth Terror. "I enjoyed watching him last year at Southampton. I think he's got the ability to change tight games. He's both footed and can play anywhere along the midfield or the front. I don't think we've seen this type of player for a long time in the Premier League where he's got the ability to make space with a little turn or a little flick. I really enjoyed watching him last year. Brendan has got options as to where he can play him."

In the midst of all the murky pessimism surrounding the departure of Luis Suárez and all the hand-wringing over the choices of recruits, let us take solace in the words of a Liverpool deity and embrace the addition of Adam Lallana to Liverpool's ranks. After all, if any former Redman can inspire faith, it must be the one they call God.