31st August 2014. Liverpool have just triumphed 3-0 at White Hart Lane, putting Tottenham Hotspur to the sword again, with Brendan Rodger’s Liverpool team seemingly carrying on from their stunning attacking football of the bittersweet 2013/14 campaign.
In the 60th minute of the game Alberto Moreno Perez, the young Spaniard freshly signed from Sevilla in Liverpool's Luis Suarez funded spree, scores a sensational solo goal for the Merseysiders robbing Andros Townsend of the ball on halfway and driving forward decisively with pace and purpose before delivering a rasping finish past Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.
His comical defensive error to allow Stevan Jovetic to punish Liverpool at the Ethiad only days before on the 25th of August in a 3-1 defeat, is mostly brushed aside by hopeful Liverpool fans in the wake of this performance or simply chalked up to inexperience in the Premier League.
Fast forward three years to the summer of 2017 and Moreno has lost his place in Jurgen Klopp’s team and seemingly his plans to midfielder and renowned utility man James Milner with his steady dependability preferred to Moreno’s erratic and bipolar displays.
The highlighted incidents of Moreno’s first two away Premier League games for Liverpool appear to have been a damning premonition of what was to come for the Sevillian's Premier League career.
In this time period Moreno much like his employers Liverpool, under both Brendan Rodgers and current manager Jurgen Klopp, have been at times simply electrifying in attack but disastrous in defence with his performance in the second half of the Europa League Final against his childhood and ex-team, Sevilla, just one of a long list of ridiculous and costly defensive errors burned deep into many Liverpool fans memories.
Criticisms such as “reckless”, “brainless” and “comical” have been often spouted by pundits and fans alike, with many more derisory insults often thrown the Spaniard's way. It already seemed a long way back in from the cold, and with Klopp strengthening his side with the signing of Hull City’s Scottish international left back Andy Robertson amid Italian interest in Moreno, it appeared ever increasingly likely the Anfield exit door was looming for Alberto.
Nonetheless come the beginning of October 2017, the constant critics of one member of Jurgen Klopp’s much maligned, leaky back four have been deafeningly and tellingly quiet. Despite Liverpool’s clear defensive fragility and constant desire to shoot themselves in the foot at seemingly every available opportunity, Alberto Moreno has started the season on fire.
Playing like a man possessed, with his fine preseason form, highlighted by a brilliant display against the Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup, continued by markedly improved and impressive performances in the league, and against Hoffenheim, Sevilla and most recently Maribor in Liverpool's up and down beginning of their return to the top table of European football.
The signing and increased competition of Andy Robertson as opposed to forcing Moreno further from Klopp’s first team plans as many expected, appears to have inspired both full backs into greater levels of performance, with Robertson impressing on his appearances against Crystal Palace In the Premier League and Leicester City in the League Cup with his quality delivery from wide areas a talking point.
A particular highpoint for Moreno and Liverpool so far this season has been his potent overlapping combination down Liverpool’s left with either Sadio Mane or Philippe Coutinho, which is consistently proving the catalyst for some scintillating attacking play.
However perhaps the biggest positive for Jurgen Klopp regarding his Spanish full back this season has been Moreno’s performances this season have contained more intelligence, confidence and reliability so far. The kind that you would expect from a 25-year-old full back playing at the business end of the Premier League and less of the rash erratic quality we have come to expect from him over his career at Liverpool.
Moreno is still the extremely offensive left back that he always has been. However, he appears to have new found astuteness in his play and is using his attacking abilities much more intelligently.
Given the scarcity of top class left-footed players available in world football today, ready-made Premier League quality left backs can be the rarest of gems for managers. Given his talent you can understand Liverpool’s perseverance, as Alberto Moreno - for all his previous faults and mistakes - has always clearly had the ability to be a quality attacking full back, with his technique, speed and attacking threat especially marking him out as the archetypal modern fullback. It was never his talent that was in question but his defensive awareness, concentration and mentality that was preventing him from being the full package.
Thankfully for both Liverpool and Alberto Moreno’s Liverpool career, he appears to be steadily improving in this area. If Alberto Moreno can keep this performance level going, Klopp’s persistence will have been well founded and their left back area will have been transformed from an area of significant weakness, into a position of strength, with two different types of quality options at left full back, both filled with varied potent attacking threat adding another weapon to an already significant armoury.
The improvement in his game has been drastic and has thus far gone quietly under the radar due to much of the focus for positive and negative reasons being deflected elsewhere in this Liverpool team. However, Moreno deserves real credit for the turnaround in his game, as he appears to have through hard work and perseverance won his place back as Jurgen Klopp’s first choice left back and also he seems to be winning back the favour of the fans at Anfield.
However, with Robertson eagerly breathing down his neck at Anfield ready to capitalise on any mistakes, it remains to be seen for sure whether this as hoped is the quiet resurgence of Alberto Moreno and whether his critics will remain tellingly hushed.