The two words that most Liverpool fans would hate right now are “Sergio” and “Ramos” said one after the other. The Real Madrid player, and I use the word “player” very lightly as he has made himself the public enemy no.1 for the Liverpool fans.
Just to recap, drag Mohamed Salah down, chuckle when the player was receiving treatment, elbow Loris Karius in the face, get Sadio Mane booked by feigning contact, criticise the Liverpool players after the final, I guess I’ve covered everything.
All this was done in a space of a few days and while I wish we could have hammered Madrid in the final of the Champions League with Salah undressing Ramos with a filthy piece of skill and scoring the winner, it was not to be.
However, a week or so after the loss and spending countless hours thinking about what could have been, it has come to my attention that we don’t feature “smart” footballers in the side and seem to be missing an edge in our game, something that Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard brought to us.
I can’t recall a player in the Liverpool side that opponents hate because of the player’s nature. Sure, they can hate Salah for his goals, Firmino for his incredible work rate or Mane for his blistering pace.
Hell, they can make fun of Henderson, Lovren or even Moreno but none of them is someone that can antagonise opponents and get under their skin.
We do play a great brand of football but where are the players that can get into the face of the opposition when things are not going our way?
Suarez was that kind of player. He was a magician on the field but when we needed a spark, when we needed to frustrate the opponents, when we needed to show that we cannot be dominated, he would come up with a tackle, attract the attention of the referee, shove, push, ‘bite’, foul, feign injury.
He would do something to give us an edge and it was near impossible for a defender to breathe when Suarez was in full flow. It was even harder for the opponents to deal with his character on the field.
Looking back over the years, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Javier Mascherano, John Arne Riise and even El Hadji Diouf were players that were not going to take things lying down when it was not going our way.
That is what we are missing now at Liverpool.
Sadio Mane got a red card last season for a high boot on Ederson but that was the only occasion where we seemed to be on the edge and that too, the ref might have got the decision wrong, given that the player was looking at the ball and there probably was no real malice.
As much as I hate to say this, we need a player like Sergio Ramos in the team. The kind who will do anything for the win. For all the quality that Madrid have, Ronaldo, Bale, Kroos and Modric, they sill need instigators such as Ramos and they had Pepe too, another serial offender.
There was a time when we were being linked with a move for Diego Costa, unfortunately, he ended up going to Chelsea.
Imagine, had we had a line-up featuring Suarez and Costa as forwards with Gerrard down the middle and Carra at the back. No team would try to pull off non-sense against us. We would have been on their faces and possibly half the battle would be won before we even go on to the pitch.
This Liverpool side is too good, too good in terms of playing football and too good when it comes to facing the opponents.
We need to have the fire in us and hopefully, next season, with the additions of Naby Keita and Fabinho, we can develop an edge in our game that would give us that extra 10% when things don’t work for us.
Klopp needs a few footballers with a street-smart mind, someone who would know how to get the business done. We aren’t being linked with such players and maybe getting one or two disruptive players will make us tougher to beat.