It was pointed out to me on Saturday morning that the Liverpool Echo’s Dave Prentice had written an article regarding the recent performances of both Charlie Adam and Lucas. The article was generally positive, citing how they’ve started to develop into a decent partnership and have begun to understand and, thus, complement one another’s game. However, one line stuck out like a very sore thumb: “I’ve written before that if everyone in the Liverpool squad is fit (i.e. Steven Gerrard) Lucas has a ready-made role in the Reds squad. It’s called substitute.”
Dave precedes this by reminding us that ‘football is a game of opinions’ and, on that point, he couldn’t be more right. The problem for me though is that, in his opinion about Lucas he could not be more wrong. If I could ask him one question right now it would be ‘really Dave, after that performance?’ because once again on Sunday Lucas was awesome. How can the man who near single-handedly halted the seemingly unstoppable combined talents of Silva, Nasri and Aguero be considered anything short of top class?
There seems to be a small minority of football fans these days that value primarily defensive players if not above attacking players, then at least equally and I would count myself as one of that number. When Liverpool’s upturn began in the early days of 2000, I was more drawn to the defensive ‘triangle’ of Hamann, Henchoz and Hyypia when my friends were raving about Owen, Fowler and Heskey. I see the style of football players like Mascherano, Makelele and Deschamps embody as a near art-form while others feel similarly about Xavi, Messi and Ronaldo. And when somebody asks my favourite Liverpool player, it is a two-fold question: ‘defensive or attacking?’
So for me, Lucas is 2nd only to Reina these days when the team is announced. If he is absent from a big game, I feel almost the same sense of impending doom that I once felt when Sami Hyypia was absent or Didi Hamann was on the bench for an away trip. So given the almost universal praise that Lucas has been receiving in the past 12 months it makes it all the more baffling that somebody of Dave Prentice’s experience still sees a player of Lucas’s ability and importance to the club as doing nothing more than keeping Steven Gerrard’s place in the team warm.
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