One of the best things about following, supporting and sharing any views on football is the unerring ability to be wrong.
Being wrong is great. It’s an incredibly underrated skill.
Imagine a scenario where the opposite is the case. You go to the match or a pub or to someone’s house and you call everything with 100% accuracy. ‘He’s no good. He’s brilliant. He can’t play there. He’ll come good in exactly 48 games and that lad will be looking for shift work come next September.’
No one would ever sit next to you again. You’d be exiled to the gates of the city in seconds. Mr Know It All. The man who saw through before everyone else. The smug prick.
I’m grateful then to the footballing Gods who continually keep me and others honest. I thought Charlie Adam was the answer to Xabi’s departure. I really did. I also thought Morientes would be what Torres ultimately became. I raised an eyebrow when ’60 goals in two seasons’ John Aldridge arrived and stated that you can’t replace a genius like Ian Rush with a lad who ploughed through the lower leagues.
I’m amazed people listen to me at times.
Don’t get me wrong. There are certain positions from which I will never recede. John Arne Riise was the most overrated player in our history. I still can’t see why the ‘decent at times but not all that’ Emre Can is lauded to the skies in some quarters and I still think Phil Collins should be tried for crimes against humanity, but when I’m proved wrong I like to think I’m human enough to raise my hands in defeat.
Ladies and gentlemen, I come in peace and welcome your bullets.
A few years ago, my friend David –a Southampton fan- told me that Adam Lallana would go on to make a name for himself. It was a bold statement as the Saints had only just been promoted and the young Adam hadn’t spent a single second in the top tier, but I like a bold proclamation so remembered it. Adam Lallana, you say. I’ll remember that name in case I’m asked about him on a future podcast so I can look all clever and wise.
Of course, he duly arrived in Brendan’s final complete season and, though he didn’t pull up any trees, he was all right. Nothing more. Fine. You wouldn’t buy his name on your son’s first Liverpool shirt, but you wouldn’t weep uncontrollably at the sight of his name on the team sheet.
I had him down as a second season signing. A lad who needed to bed in and would iron out the wrinkles of his new life at the mighty Reds before taking the world by storm.
But the day didn’t arrive and his faults were still there. Too many touches, slowing down the play whenever and wherever he got the ball and too indecisive at this level. Not a bad player but an upgrade wouldn’t hurt. In the same way I always saw Jordan Ibe as a modern Jermaine Pennant, Adam Lallana had Jamie Redknapp qualities – all right but nothing special. Pretty but never consistent enough to hurt people. Plus he had a really weird hair/beard combo and these things mattered to those with deeply prejudicial opinions.
Last summer, I was in an off-license with mates, buying the necessary liquid ingredients for a day out on the river. This is an annual event for a group of us who met on a LFC fanzine forum 10-12 years ago. We take boats down the Thames and eat and drink ourselves sick. Anyway, we discovered that we didn’t have a bottle opener. One of the lads pointed at one on the counter which was on sale for the princely sum of £1.50. He eyed it with disdain and said ‘It’s a bit shit but I suppose it might get the job done.’
Tony, the other lad in our reconnaissance party, shrugged away the indecision and said ‘Adam Lallana.’
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