On the 20th March, Liverpool were 2-0 against Southampton at half time. It looked to be an easy win – we had it in the bag. In the second half, Martin Skrtel – who had been out injured since December – returned to the pitch and subsequently gave away a penalty. It was saved, thankfully, but Southampton won the game 3-2 thanks to some woeful defending on Liverpool’s part. The team conceded as many goals in 40 minutes with Skrtel in the team than their previous 795 minutes without him. What’s it down to? Return from injury nerves? Lack of play time recently so everything is a bit ropey? Or just time for him to go? That was certainly the consensus on social media.
It’s easy to cast aside a player when they’re not up to standard, but let us not forget that this man is Slovakia’s national team captain and has won the Slovak footballer of the year award four times. Sure he’s second on the list of all time premier league own goals list with a total of seven, but he shares that position with Jamie Carragher – who is held in god-like regard by the Kop. (Carra had 508 appearances and 5 goals with the club, where Skrtel is on 16 goals in 237 appearances, just so you know). And in October, Skrtel was the team’s best passer with an accuracy percentage of 87%. This is a man who literally gives blood for the team on a regular basis – how many times has he had his head stapled together on the sidelines and finished the game?
Sometimes fans strike me as babies throwing their toys out of the pram when games don’t go their way. Lovren had his head on the chopping board for a long time at the beginning of his Liverpool career, but his game has settled and he’s putting in magnificent performances – and the fans love him now. Sometimes you’re the hero, sometimes you’re the villain. One thing is for certain: Liverpool fans will never hear a bad word about Stevie’s Slip.