The sickeningly fickle nature of football means managers, players and clubs are changing from world-class ballers to muppets and back to world-class ballers quicker than the new Top Gear show will crash and burn.
Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino is a case in point:
Liverpool is like a partner that mistreats us but we still come back to it, then occasionally they have sex (sign Firmino) and we're happy
— Indigo 🉐 (@IndigoLFC) July 22, 2015
Firmino was brilliant at Hoffenheim and he's been nothing but shit for Liverpool
— George Gordon (@George___Gordon) December 30, 2015
Firmino is one signing Liverpool haven't ballsed up in the last two years. Quality player
— Lee Carroll (@Lee_Carroll84) March 6, 2016
Come April 2016 you imagine that Firmino will be receiving death threats, followed by talk of a knighthood in May.
There is no denying, though, that Firmino’s start to life at Anfield under Rodgers wasn’t anywhere near the levels expected given the price tag, previous form and fanfare. However, since the turn of the year, the Brazilian international has gone a long way in justifying his high profile transfer.
But what has changed? Why has the attacking midfielder finally found his groove?
Brendan Rodgers cocked up two Liverpool transfer windows, handled the exits of Suarez and Sterling poorly, felt that Joe Allen was a lynchpin, had the Reds conceding goals for fun – need I go on? So, it stands to reason that the former Swansea City gaffer wouldn’t have a clue at how to utilise Firmino’s talents.
Klopp has come in, and although the Reds turnaround hasn’t been as spectacular as expected – Rome wasn’t built in a day – the signs are positive and, long term, the former Borussia Dortmund manager has Liverpool going in the right direction; Firmino’s form is a prime example of this.
Most importantly, though, Klopp is a guy who makes you feel like you can walk on water and you don’t want to be the guy who lets him down.
The pressure on instant success has never been higher on players, managers and clubs in the beautiful game, despite everyone knowing that it takes time to succeed.
Nine months or so into his Liverpool career, Firmino is now looking settled, understands what is required of him and, most importantly, has a rapport with his team-mates.
Firmino’s international team-mate, Philippe Coutinho, had a spell on the sidelines, meaning the central creative position was free for Firmino to move into and occupy more. The former Figueirense playmaker was/is able to influence games greater when in behind the striker and can find the back of the net – or at least try to – on a more regular basis.
— John Wynne (@JWynne_LFC) March 6, 2016
Style of play
Firmino excelled with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga because he combines a typical Brazilian flair and technical ability with strength and power; a style which suits the Premier League, too, so there was no way the 24-year-old wasn’t going to excel.