Brendan Rodgers received heavy criticism for spending £25 million on then Southampton captain Adam Lallana. Two years hence, Lallana might be one of the most in-form players in his position at the moment.
Perhaps it was his price tag weighing him down, or the manner in which Rodgers used him, but Lallana struggled slowly after his move from St. Mary’s. The England international was expected to fill some of the void, left by Luis Suarez, but couldn’t replicate the form that earned him the Liverpool move in the first place.
His ability regularly came under question and with the opinion divided on Brendan Rodgers, fans became divided into exactly those camps as far as Lallana was concerned too. The ones who liked Rodgers were pro-Lallana and the fans who didn’t, dismissed towards him.
After Rodgers had got sacked, many thought Lallana would be one of the first players to be shipped out by Jurgen Klopp, the German replacing Rodgers. Almost exactly one year hence, Lallana has made himself one of the most important players in Klopp’s system.
Pressing is the term associated substantially with Klopp, and it is why people thought Lallana would be shipped out quickly by Klopp. The German’s high-tempo system doesn’t complement Lallana on paper, but how Lallana makes himself useful despite this is because of the speed of thought he possesses. He knows exactly when to press, and he can play quick passes, as shown in the drubbing of Hull, to ensure that the defensive block set by the opponent isn’t very useful.
Lallana has always brought in enthusiasm to the team, even from the bench. However, the reason why he is more efficient this season is the new position Jurgen Klopp is operating him in. The addition of Sadio Mane sees Lallana in a more central, and a deeper spot in the midfield. When joining the attack, he advances from the midfield, which gets him more involved in the game, as opposed to being static in a more attacking and wider role. He also tracks back and tries to help the defence.
This almost box-to-box midfield role Klopp has assigned him is working like a charm so far.
Lallana was also criticised for his lack of end product and is something he has evidently worked on. Despite doing well under Klopp last season, and sporadically showing real class, the player still only had four goals and six assists in 30 league games, not an achievement to boast. In his new position, he has three goals and three assists in 6 league games so far, and these numbers suggest that Lallana could end this season as one of his most productive ones if he performs with similar zeal and fervour.
Lallana’s somewhat languid style and habit of rarely lasting 90 minutes under Rodgers were also something he received criticism for, and the player has made amends in this department as well. He now looks determined to provide non-stop work for however long Klopp demands him on the pitch. This shouldn’t be surprising as he also worked tirelessly under Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham and the current Spurs boss and Klopp do have equally demanding, and vaguely similar systems and managerial styles.
Adam Lallana’s September by numbers:
100% shot accuracy
87% pass accuracy
2 chances created
2 assists https://t.co/kJzlmW9Cx3
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 30, 2016
The player received the club’s “Player of the Month” award for the month of September. He should feel proud receiving it, even though it could just be brushed aside as a meaningless club award. His relentless work rate and undying perseverance get validated through this award. What he would treasure even more than this prize would be the acceptance, love and warmth of the fans that have largely been tepid towards him since he arrived from Southampton.