Would Liverpool Have Been Worse Off Losing Pepe Reina?

By , February 3, 2011 9:20 pm

Don't Worry, La. I'm Not Going Anywhere

As the debates rage on about Torres and his untimely departure from Liverpool Football Club, an interesting question has started to creep up. There’s no doubt in most supporters’ minds that losing Fernando Torres, no matter how much he didn’t want to play for the club anymore, was a massive blow. The hurt feelings combined with the fact the club would be lacking one of the most talented strikers in the world was always going to be hard to take. Everyone felt used, mistreated, and saddened by his sudden change of heart. In the wake of his new desire to play for another team, fans were so disheartened by the treatment they felt Torres had put them under that they didn’t stop to look at the bigger picture.

Since Torres was, is, and most likely will be a top class striker, for the remainder of his career anyway, it’s easy to see why any club would miss him. But while we all sat around dismayed and disillusioned, the manager and owners were busy working at a way to overcome that feeling of loss. Dalglish couldn’t have said it better than when he told the press, “The football club will always be here, and no person is bigger than this football club.” Right on.

And strikers, while top class ones are always hard to find, are definitely out there. And I personally think the top brass did a magnificent job in acquiring the likes of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. The feeling around the club is that the team will be better off in the long run. Goals will keep flowing, and perhaps the burden will now be shared from one to many.

And as we watched all this drama unfold, you had to look around and think: if we had lost another massively important player other than Torres, would we still have been better off? I think the answer to that is no. And the player I’m referring to Liverpool losing is Pepe Reina.

It’s a matter of coincidence that I prepared to write this piece over the last number of days when just this afternoon, Twitter was abuzz with rumors of Pepe ‘apparently’ stating he wants out now as well. And I use apparently because the rumors appeared primarily on Twitter and then one small, what looked like slapped together article in the Metro UK, regarding his desire to leave Liverpool and go to Manchester United. While I am no more in a position than the Metro UK to claim this is true or not, I have to say it all sounds a bit strange.

For all we believed Torres when he said he loved the club and would never leave, I just don’t think Reina is the same kind of person he is. Couple that with the fact that goalkeepers have much longer careers than outfield players (which is why Torres felt he needed to leave now before it was too late), and you just don’t get the sense there’s any merit to the silly rumor. (It seems Simon Clancy and Ben Smith were having a little conversation of their own on the micro-blogging site, nothing but harmless speculation, and somehow the Metro believed this to be word on high regarding the Spaniard’s current position.)

Back to the question at hand. If the fans and the people involved in managing Liverpool had a choice, would they be worse off seeing the back of Fernando Torres, or the back of Pepe Reina? As mentioned before, as sad as most are to see Torres go, I think it’s an easy question to answer.

A quality goalkeeper, as Arsenal knows all too well, gets you about 10 extra points a season. This can be the difference between safety and relegation, European qualification and mid-table mediocrity, and winning the league and coming in second. When losses are turned into draws and draws turned into wins because the man between the sticks makes some world class saves, it becomes more clear that his position may be even more important than the ones scoring the goals.

Don’t misunderstand and think that I’m saying strikers are insignificant, that’s not my point at all. But key to grabbing points is not just up to how many the team scores, but how many you keep out in the end. You’ll never lose a game if you don’t concede a goal and all that.

Reina Has Two Golden Glove Awards And Numerous Broken Records To His Name

After the game against Stoke, two wonderful things happened. First, Liverpool managed to finally gain a positive goal difference. It took 25 games, but at least they got there. Second, and most importantly, Pepe Reina kept another clean sheet, his third in a row to be exact. And on top of that, Reina passed Elisha Scott for third highest clean sheets in LFC history. That’s an amazing feat for a keeper who has only been at the club just over five years, and also managed to beat Ray Clemence’s record of fewest goals conceded in their first 50 games by notching 28 clean sheets in his first 50 appearances. Add to that his two Premier League Golden Glove awards for most clean sheets for three years in succession (three if you count 2008 when he tied Petr Cech), and you see what an incredible asset Reina is.

On top of that, Pepe Reina has the reputation of a lovely and jovial young man. He celebrates more than most when his team wins and score important goals, and he, we’d like to believe, is Liverpool through and through. He has even joked that his kids have scouse accents. The fact that he’s been made captain in the absence of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher speaks volumes about his leadership, commitment, and talent. Gerrard even testified last season as to the immense character of Pepe Reina, and believes that he will indeed one day captain the club.

Reina made his intentions clear last year by signing a contract extension, and committing himself to Liverpool for many years to come. He was one of the first to do so in a season filled with low points, which just goes to show the perseverance and faith he has in Liverpool. He was quoted as saying during the most recent transfer window, when his position at the club may have been in doubt, “Obviously, I want to be part of a team that has the chance to win the title, win major trophies and to play with the best players – but I expect that to happen here at Liverpool, and for the club to return itself to that level. I plan to stick to my contract.” I imagine Pepe might have had one or two things to say to his Spanish compatriot about loyalty before he walked out the backdoor.

At the end of the day, Liverpool Football Club and its fans want players that want to play for them. In Reina they have a world-class talent and loyal servant to the club. If I had to make a choice this past transfer window, as difficult as it would have been, I would have chosen for Reina to stay. And while Liverpool may once again be fooled into taking a player’s word as his bond, you get that feeling that Pepe means it – really.

15 Responses to “Would Liverpool Have Been Worse Off Losing Pepe Reina?”

  1. James says:

    Interesting article. Let’s hope he and no-one else ever wants to leave Liverpool ever again!

  2. Tommy says:

    This article sounds very apologetic to begin with, which it should not be as it echoes my sentiments about Reina being one of our star assets.
    The loss of Torres is unfortunate as it came as a shock to hear him say he wanted out, then to see him in Chavski blue did make me feel ill. But that is done and we have to look to the future.
    If we have a few more transfer windows like the one just passed then I think that we will be able to reclaim our rightful spot in the Champions League which was taken from us by mercenary teams. Not teams with the history and passion that we posses.

    Q. Torres or Reina?

    A. Pepe Reina – he is the perfect person to have when things are not going well. He doesn’t sulk, he inspires those around him, and has saved us from conceding on countless occasions.

    Remember what people said about him when he first joined? Dodgy, unreliable, no good at corners… Now look at what people say about him world class, best keeper in the prem, unbeatable. If he progresses the same over the next four years as he has done over the last then we could lose ten players like Torres and not flinch.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Tommy. Was not meant to be apologetic at all, not exactly sure where you saw that.

      You’re completely right. He is always upbeat, always does his best for the team, and he’s not one to shy away from criticism. He supports the team through and through.

      • Tommy says:

        I just felt a defensive vibe coming from the article initially. Reading it again two or three more times I think it was the ‘strikers are not worthless’ sentiment that gave me this vibe. Yet I do concede that it most likely the way which I read it (with the flu and in the post Torres era), maybe I was projecting.

        Finally an article that recognises the value of Reina. Now do Lucas!

        • Thank you Tommy. There was no desire for it to be defensive, just wanted to make sure no one misunderstood and felt I was devaluing strikers in anyway.

          I should write about Lucas because all last season I couldn’t stand him! But to be fair, I think this season, in Alonso and Mascherano’s absence, he has really come into his own. He reminded me a lot of Alonso against Stoke, just sitting in the middle, spraying passes around the field. He has been excellent of late and I am happy to eat my own words and give him plenty of praise!

          • Tommy says:

            I have to confess that I am a Lucas-lover. Always have been. I think that the age that he entered the team, his previous credentials, and Rafa’s unwavering faith in him meant that he had to be good at some point. What is he 24? He can be part of our future for another 8 years. Fingers crossed he doesn’t get injured or regress.

  3. Paul says:

    Glad someone has written this. I had the exact same conversation with a friend before the transfer window. At that point, I had no idea that Torres was on his way however! Whilst Torres is clearly a great striker, goal scorers always crop up so we will be able to replace his goals in the same way we replaced the goals of Keegan, Dalglish, Rush, Aldridge, Fowler and Owen.

    Keepers are much harder to come by. If Arsenal spent £20m on a keeper 3 years ago I don’t think they would have gone so long without silverwear. Utd went through many keepers before they got to Van Der Sar to find a keeper that went someway to meeting the big Dane’s standards. Liverpool had a similar problem as Pepe is the best keeper we’ve had since Grobbelaar (although I believe Pepe is better than Bruce was at his best as he makes so few errors).

    If Liverpool lose Pepe, I think that would be a genuine nightmare for the club. It could take 10 years and a lot of cash to replace him. However, call me a mug, but I believe he wants to stay at the club and he will do (I hope!). “Pepe Reina, Pepe Reina, Hey Hey, Pepe Reina, Pepe Reina, Hey Hey!!”

    • Absolutely, Paul. Reina has been immense for the club, and he’s overlooked sometimes because goalkeepers, unlike strikers, are not really the “sexy” stars of a club. Arsenal know better than most teams how much better off they would be with a world class keeper.

  4. wayne says:

    Reina it could be argued is the most important person in the playing squad at the moment.
    Gerrard struggling with injuries same with Carra, as well as Carra really coming to the end of his carear.Pepe is an ever present and performs @ 100% every game, granted he made a few errors at the beginning of the season, the 1st small blipp i can remember for the club in his time.
    He is a massive character which is commonly appreciated with LFC and in the spanish squad.
    But as a Keeper he is IMO one of the best in the world.What makes him stand out for me over the other very good keepers is his distribution is unmatched by anyone.
    He loves the club thats for certain, i look back at the way he celebrated with RH when we won last minute at Bolton, he was like a kid at christmas embracing the then under pressure manager like a long lost father, it ment so much to him.
    It would have been a bigger lose to lose Pepe for sure, however great FT is and was Pepe can not be replaced by one or even two purchases.I hope in future years we can see our future club captain pick up the club silverware his performaces and dedication deserves.

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Empire of the Kop, Sarah Joseph, Santhy, Erin Mc, Pandagoal and others. Pandagoal said: Via @ErinNYC75, a great piece on Reina's value to #LFC by @daniellewarren. http://is.gd/c59YDL [...]

  6. craig says:

    I probably agree with you although I think he has suffered a little since man marking has been introduced. I am fairly sure he preferred the zonal marking because he knew decisively which areas were his responsibility.
    That said, I cant think of any Keeper I would trade him for and I would like Kenny to give him the licence to come of his line a little more again. He used to use his speed so effectively. It was like having a sweeper but you dont see that from him as much anymore.

    • Good point Craig. Like a lot of players earlier this season, Pepe wasn’t performing to his best, but now everyone has been superb since Kenny came back. It’s amazing what confidence can do.

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