Rickie Lambert Set For Liverpool Exit: Was His Reds Career Doomed From The Start?


It wasn’t quite up there with the JFK moment, but plenty will always remember where they were when they heard the news.

Commuting to work? Idly flicking through Twitter in bed? Looking at the aghast face of the nearest person to you and about to be enlightened over just what had shocked them so much? Well here it goes. Rickie Lambert to Chelsea.

Of course Tuesday morning’s transfer rumour was about as truthful as a particularly untrustworthy politician. The transfer window is fast approaching and news outlets and websites are happy to throw clubs and players out of it together to see what sticks (or rather what gets them hits).

Lambert won’t be seen in the blue of the Premier League champions any time soon, or indeed ever, but just how long he’ll be seen in the red of Liverpool for is a much more pertinent question.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-TOTTENHAM : News Photo

For a while now it has just been presumed that Lambert’s Liverpool dream will be cut short at the end of this season, with the fact that Brendan Rodgers came close to levering him out of the door and off to Aston Villa at the end of January used as the most compelling evidence.

But the erstwhile England forward still has one year left on his contract, and the presences of the likes of Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson – probably the club captain next season – in Rodgers’ squad show that the Northern Irishman is ready to give players a second chance when he feels as though their presence will benefit him, but has Lambert’s ever done that?

Through no fault of his own, there has always been a sense that the ex-Blackpool, Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and Southampton forward was something of a competition winner at Anfield – the media quickly establishing his as a ‘rags to riches’ story and reporting on him accordingly.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-QPR : News Photo

If Liverpool's 2014/15 Season was a player it would be... Daniel Sturridge 

Throw in the sale of Luis Suarez, the repeated absences of Daniel Sturridge and the weird world of Mario Balotelli and you almost had a no win situation for Lambert, whose style of play meant that the Reds had to alter their approach to the one that served them so well last season in order to fit him in. The results – as Champions League elimination and a mid-table position in the Premier League showed – were not good.

Why sign him in the first place should be the obvious question, then, and quite correctly so.

Rodgers was seemingly looking to add some guaranteed Premier League goals to a squad which had relied upon their now absent front two for pretty much all of last season. Lambert was used to operating in a footballing team at Southampton, and he’d happily sit on the Liverpool bench because he’s wanted to be this close to the Anfield turf all his life. Squint hard enough and it kind of started to make sense.

What’s happened is goals in a miserable defeat at Crystal Palace, a Champions League draw at Ludogorets and then finally a win at Aston Villa. An elusive first strike at Anfield remains absent, with potentially only Palace’s visit on the penultimate weekend of the season to come for him.

Can he really last beyond the summer? Well with Steven Gerrard departing and Brad Jones, Kolo Toure and Glen Johnson probably following suit there are certainly vacancies for old heads, it’s just that Reds fans would rather those heads be attached to more appealing bodies than the one owned by the 33-year-old former beetroot factory worker from Kirkby.

There goes that backstory again, but it is almost impossible to ignore.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League : News Photo

Lambert has done okay when he’s been called upon by Rodgers, just as he was for the match against QPR on Saturday when he laid on a goal for Philippe Coutinho.

It was his first league start since December and the first time he’d completed 90 minutes since a four-game run in the side back then, but just doing ‘okay’ is never going to be enough at a time when the Reds are straining at the leash to keep up with the sides above them.

Regardless of any striking departures, Divock Origi’s Reds career will begin in earnest when ends his loan spell at Lille in the summer, and it could be that Rodgers looks at the development of the young Belgian before he decides what to do with Lambert, who will be so desperate to stay on a little longer.

Just wanting to succeed doesn’t mean he ever will though, and you get the feeling that the shock over the Chelsea rumour won’t be repeated when we’re all reading about Lambert’s Liverpool career being over this summer.

Not all fairy tales have happy endings.

 

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