Rickie Lambert's Surprise Liverpool Move Is Based on Requirement, Not Romance

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistJune 3, 2014

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 03:  Rickie Lambert of Southampton celebrates with Luke Shaw (R) as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Forget everything you know about Rickie Lambert—the Scouse accent, the Liverpool tattoo, the lower-league career, the beetroots—and instead focus on this.

In the past two seasons of Premier League football, Lambert scored 28 goals.

That is the main reason why Brendan Rodgers has decided to bring him to Liverpool on a two-year contract, a decision which has spawned 1,000 articles charting the forward’s career through the English league system, with the odd dash of beetroot juice thrown in.

It is an undeniably fantastic story, one which would make a far better football film than the many which are produced on the subject—with this dry offering being the latest—but, as Lambert himself indicated in his first interview with the Reds’ official website, there is simply no room for sentiment at the very top of the game.

Now it is over, the undoubtedly popular end-of-season DVDs have been produced and everyone has finally, mercilessly been able to get their breath back, Liverpool’s 2013/14 campaign can be looked at for what it was. Just nine months of football. Or perhaps more pertinently, 39 weeks.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool tackles Lewis Grabban of Bournemouth during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Bournemouth and Liverpool at Goldsands Stadium on January 25, 2014 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Ian Wa
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Thirty-nine weeks in which the Reds played 38 Premier League games and five domestic cup matches, exiting the Capital One Cup and FA Cup to Manchester United and Arsenal respectively after beating Notts County, Oldham and Bournemouth.

The Reds were a thrilling, magnificent force to watch at times, but they were also the same force on repeated occasions. Familiarity bred a very good football team, but it was one performing to the very edge of their capabilities.

You might be able to swap those three lower-league sides for the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus next season as the club return to the Champions League after five years away, but the other competitions will still have to be negotiated too. Which brings us back to Lambert’s arrival.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Luis Suarez (R) and Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool prepare to kick off during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Live
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will remain the Reds’ first-choice front line, obviously. The pair established themselves as one of the deadliest duos on the planet last season as they produced 55 goals between them, but when Sturridge was injured for six weeks between November and January—prime Champions League territory in the coming campaign—Rodgers was forced to change his system.

Why? Largely because the signing of Iago Aspas last summer has proven to be a mistake, as the Spaniard failed to come to terms with the English game.

He played his part in the early-season 1-0 victories which got the Reds off to a flying start, but when Suarez returned from his ban in late September that vast gap in class was exposed. Aspas failed to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool over the campaign, and now probably never will.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Liverpool player Iago Aspas in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on August 24, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Had the Reds had more matches over the season, then he would have undoubtedly had more chances, and so whilst in that respect he was unlucky, Liverpool can’t afford to take too many gambles in the position they are in.

That is why the addition of Lambert and his 28 Premier League goals over two years adds so much to the squad.

You can imagine the forward coming in for, say, a rested Sturridge in a tricky away league clash and more than playing his part. The same goes for Fabio Borini now he’s back from his loan, although whatever role Rodgers has in mind for him isn’t so clear.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Rickie Lambert of Southampton celebrates scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on May 11, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty I
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Lambert’s mind might currently be whirring with more vivid repeats of all of his childhood dreams—playing in a Merseyside derby, scoring the winner against Manchester United, going toe-to-toe with Europe’s finest—but he might find that it is the less glamorous tasks that he’ll be faced with, at least to begin with.

The great thing is though, that with his two-year contract, his sheer love of the club and his desire and passion just to pull on the shirt, he’ll approach those challenges all the same.

Because whilst you could forget everything you know about Lambert and just focus on his goals, it is everything that he is which makes this such a clever addition.