Divock Origi Deserves More Respect

When Diogo Jota missed what was effectively an open goal yesterday afternoon, I thought that it was going to be ‘one of those days’. The Portuguese forward has been sensational for Liverpool since signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers, so it was perhaps the fact that he was up against his former club that sent his decision making all askew. Quite why he decided to blast the ball directly at one of the players rather than just roll it into the net I’m not sure I’ll ever understand. He might well have been overcome by the emotion of the occasion, if we’re being particularly generous, or he may just have been a bit tired. After all, the manager has asked him to go again numerous times recently and I’m not sure he’ll ever have had to have coped with such an intense workload in his career before. Regardless, he chose the wrong option and the Reds were up against it. That decision also came off the back of some big misses in the first-half, which didn’t help.

It was clear that Wolves were going to make things as difficult as possible, which is exactly what we should have expected from the third-best defence in the country. Chances were always going to be at a premium, which made the miss from Jota with the back-post header in the first-half and the shot blasted over the bar by Trent Alexander-Arnold all the more frustrating. In recent weeks, this Liverpool team has made a habit of being devastatingly clinical in front of goal, so a slight lack of composure at times at Molineux was surprising to see. In praise of the home side, they made life extremely difficult for Mohamed Salah, never giving the Egyptian a moment to get any sort of momentum up. They couldn’t do the same thing with Sadio Mané, but he enjoyed his own struggles in spite of his good form this season. Pre-kick-off I thought the manager had made a mistake with his starting eleven and that looked to be the case as the minutes ticked down, but you can always depend on Divock…

He’d Be A 20-Goal A Season For Another Team

Let me be absolutely clear, when I talk about Divock Origi deserving more respect, I am very much aiming that at myself. Though I have long felt as though the Belgian would be a brilliant striker for another team, I have been dismissive of his performances for Liverpool. For me, his display in the Champions League final summed up Divock Origi: barely being able to make a pass and then scoring an outrageous goal to win the game. It resulted in me coining him a man of ‘moments, not matches’, given the manner in which he could be close to appalling for most of his time on the pitch only to come up with the goods when we needed it. I largely put that down to his lack of a run in the team, constantly having to cope with substitution appearances that limited his ability to get any kind of rhythm. It is why I have long felt that he would be a twenty-goal a season striker for another team, imagining what he could do if he was signed by Brighton & Hove Albion, say.

Given the money being injected into Newcastle United ahead of the January transfer window, it is difficult to get away from the thought that they could do a lot worse than offer the Reds £30 million for Origi. I very much hope that they don’t, given the fact that I would love the sports-washing, human rights-abusing regime at St. James’ Park to be relegated this season, but if he did end up in Tyneside then I’d be immediately adding him to my Fantasy Football team. That is the extent to which I think that the Belgian is a decent goalscorer, but have never been convinced by his ability to fit into this Liverpool team. Over the past season or so, he has felt like the place that attacks went to die, with the ball often bouncing off his foot or going out of play as he tried to make the pass. Discussions of ‘planet Divock’ sounded about right to me, seeing as though he never felt like he was actually part of what was going on around him, but could still score.

He Seems To Have Clicked Back Into Gear

Whilst I will always maintain that I was right about Divock Origi being a man of ‘moments, not matches’ at the time that I said it, there’s no questioning that he seems to be offering something else this season. I will confess that I sent a message to my WhatsApp group of Liverpool supporting mates when Origi was coming on saying, “Settling for the draw then,” because I’ve grown so used to attacks petering out with him on the pitch. As always, though, I absolutely adore it when Liverpool players make me look like an idiot for my negative views because it means that the Reds are doing well. Far from being the man out of time that the Belgian has looked in matches gone by, he was strong on the ball, quick with his feet and looked like a completely different player to what we’ve seen over the past season or so. Perhaps that is partially because of the manager’s decision to play him through the middle rather than pushing him out to the left, putting in front of goal.

Maybe it’s because the man himself has realised that he’s got the chance to be part of something genuinely special if he stays at Liverpool for a little bit longer. Whatever it is, he’s looked like a different proposition this season and I need to apologise for being so negative about him. He has, of course, long cemented his place as a cult hero for the club; of that there can be no doubt. Yet scoring iconic goals isn’t good enough in my books if you want to be fighting for a starting berth. Whilst he’s clearly not even close to Mo Salah’s levels (who is?), I am just a little bit less worried about the Egyptian disappearing off to AFCON than I was a few weeks ago. If the manager can use Origi and Takumi Minamino sensibly in the coming games, he might just be able to get them in rhythm in time for January. Both of them are players that I am desperate to see do well at Anfield, largely because that will mean that we’re in with a chance of winning the biggest prizes in football.

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