Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meet Liverpool's player of the season: No. 14, Xabi Alonso, a.k.a. The Director

About three weeks ago, I tried making the argument that there were only two serious candidates for Player of the Season at Anfield, and one of them was Dirk Kuyt. As you can see in the link, I kind of half-heartedly mentioned Xabi Alonso as the other contender to that point. Now three weeks later, the only man left in the debate is No. 14, a.k.a. The Director.

I've taken in recent weeks to dubbing Alonso "The Director" because he has recaptured his 2005 form, particularly the performances Liverpool fans saw in Europe during that unforgettable year. Again Saturday versus Blackburn (despite the woeful first half for all involved), Alonso was as calm as ever on the ball, patiently picking out runners left and right and directing the action. His goal was of a similar nature amid Liverpool's frenzied flailing to start the second half. He just ducked in, clipped the ball beneath two defenders and watched it slowly pass Paul Robinson. Combined with Hyypia in defense, the side had a consistently cool-headed response to the scrambling Blackburn.

Rovers were really up for it, pressuring Liverpool throughout and creating several mistakes. Babel did his best to hand Blackburn every possible advantage, but when the match needed a more measured, studied approach, Alonso and Mascherano rose to the level their reputations call for. Xabi ... excuse me, The Director, linked well with Gerrard and got things moving in the second half. Mascherano covered the team's ass when Hyypia or Carragher couldn't. When Blackburn were forced to chase, Alonso kept things under control. Just an outstanding performance again, although Hyypia was equally as good if not better on this particular night.

But if Alonso wasn't necessarily Man of the Match at Blackburn, he's certainly been Player of the Season at Anfield. Every week now I find myself saying aloud to no one in particular, "It's unbelievable Rafa was going to sell Alonso to buy Gareth Barry" or something like, "Where would they be if Rafa sold The Director?". When they hold these votes at the end of the season, Gerrard usually ends up winning the fans' tally, or in the case of last season, Torres deservedly takes the honor. But here in early December, the team's most valuable performer has been Xabi Alonso. The victories against United and Chelsea can be attributed to his marshaling the forces (and the only goal, of course, at Stamford Bridge), and the rest of the league performances have been taken to a higher level that more consistently produces points - and a slot at the top of the table - because of The Director.

1 comment:

Carl said...

Alonso was supposed to come the Arsenal, now i really wish he had because he would have been an amazing addition to the team. Imagine him liking up with Cesc!! The beauty of those two together! damn Rafa.