by Darren Rudham

And so Liverpool’s seemingly injury-proof iron man, Lucas Leiva, is gone for the season with ligament damage. After what seemed like an innocuous challenge in the closing stages of the Carling Cup quarterfinal matchup against Chelsea, he went down, came back on, went down again (in a much more painful looking heap) and was carted off the pitch in a stretcher.

Strangely enough, I will miss him.

Last year, I thought giving him the player of the year was an affront. Being immune to injury and passing the ball sideways 5 yards at time wasn’t justification for an award of this magnitude. Loyalty and perseverance in the face of some withering criticism is it’s own category – and one that should be lauded – but, by giving him this award, it was effectively an endorsement of how mediocre my beloved Reds had become. So, naturally, I aimed my ire (based mostly in disappointment, it must be said) at the fair-headed, potential boy bander.

It was even more galling to have people coming out of the woodwork to challenge my allegiance to the bird as a result of my open criticism. Frankly, when you’ve loved the same bird for 32 years, you’ve earned the right to question where she goes and what she does.

If I was ever given the chance, I would love to interview Rafa, Kenny and Woy as to why all three continued to put their faith in his abilities. Our Big Brian seems to think, as many probably do, that they would all show a similar picture of themselves with in various states with a farm yard animal.

All of it aside, why would they choose this unassuming, completely un-Brazilian looking (and playing) Brazilian ahead of so many other more talented players in their ranks? Why would they sell young, promising players and keep him on the books? Finances would more than likely get mentioned. The need for loyal squad players would be up there, too. But still the question lingers – why Lucas?

Do I think he’s great? No. Do I think he’ll ever be recognized as one Liverpool’s greats? No. But did he do his job? Absolutely. And he got consistently better at doing it. And that is what I have come to appreciate and will miss despite myself.

His quiet, methodical attention to plying and improving, his craft when a large section of his fan base was howling for his head is the mark of a true professional. He worked hard, he tried hard and he did what he was told. These are all admirable qualities in a modern game with muppets taking of their jerseys to advertise their own self-aggrandizing T-shirt agendas when they actually do what they get paid to do.

Those ill-timed, ill-advised and ill-fated challenges slowly started to diminish until he was accurately picking pockets at ten paces. His proclivity for padding his passing statistics by passing it sideways or backwards was slowly replaced by more industrious and efforts towards the opposition’s half of the pitch. In short, he got better.

I’m not suggesting that we give him the Ballon d’or, but I can – and will – recognize effort, commitment and improvement. All too often it’s only through loss that we realize what we had and I think his absence in the defensive midfield role will be felt.

2 thoughts on “LUCAS LOST

  • Good article. Nice use of proclivity. 😉

    I share the same opinion concerning his award of player of the year last season; it was more an indication of how piss poor the squad was than his abilities. This year he’s definitely stepped up a notch and we will actually miss him. It’s an opportunity for Spearing and Shelvey to make a bid for the first team and for Henderson to capitalize on his improving performances.

    • Agreed. But I don’t think either Shelvey or Spearing have the minerals, frankly. This is Hendo’s chance to shine. It’s terrible that his shot comes as a result of Lucas going down, but he’s got the rest of the season to make that spot his own. He wasn’t suited for the wing anyway. The next big question is do we go shopping in January? I hate post holiday pick ups. They’re always over-hyped and over-priced.

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