Liverpool versus Manchester United always is a tasty affair. It’s the first game both sets of fans look out for when the fixtures are announced, Sky do their best to build the game up to melting point and there is usually something in the game itself which always gets us talking. The plot was simple this time: King Kenny against Sir Alex – rivalries resumed. But it wasn’t the managers who caught the eye on Sunday. Liverpool’s new number seven, the shirt Dalglish himself wore so famously, is quickly becoming Anfield’s new golden boy and looks like the man to lead Liverpool forward. But can he handle it? Have the Kop finally found someone capable of wearing the famous shirt?
Before Luis Suarez, the number seven shirt has been worn by the likes of Dalglish and Kevin Keegan to name but a few, so there is certainly an element of responsibility that goes along with wearing it. Given the type of club Liverpool is, I’m sure the Uruguayan has been made aware of what it means – I couldn’t imagine the likes of Jamie Carragher or Dalglish himself being too happy with it belonging to any old Tom, Dick or Harry (Kewell). But so far, it doesn’t seem to have affected Suarez. Being a big-name at Anfield brings its own pressure, especially given the season they’ve been having, but to emulate the likes of King Kenny and Keegan on top of that? The boy was either blissfully unaware or good enough to tackle such a task.
I’d be tempted to go with the latter. Suarez is exactly what Liverpool need right now, and the number 7 seems to be what he needs. Fernando Torres left a huge hole, but towards the end of his career on Merseyside, it is fair to say he was there only because he had to be. His departure was a bitter pill for the fans to swallow, but you hardly hear the Spaniard mentioned these days, and a lot of that is down to Suarez. Liverpool’s first goal against United was an example of his ability to twist, turn and run at players. Last week at West Ham, the 24-year-old looked incredibly sharp; always spinning off the shoulder of the centre-back, even if the ball was never coming.
Liverpool’s talisman for an age has been Steven Gerrard, but for too long, it’s been proved they are overly reliant on the skipper. Gerrard isn’t getting any younger either, so there had to be a time when a new leading man was found. I know it’s early days, but Suarez certainly fits that bill. He may not have the usual characteristics of a give-it-all captain like Gerrard or Jamie Carragher, but his ability to make something happen from nothing and lead from the front is just as important.
It is everything you need to successfully wear the famous Liverpool number 7. It seems trivial because after all, it is just a number on the back of shirt. But at Liverpool it’s different. King Kenny owns the number, but in Luis Suarez, he may just have found himself a worthwhile tenant for the jersey. Fernando who?
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