John Gibbons: Georginio Wijnaldum gets medals at Liverpool – he doesn’t need goals

No goals for you Gini, just shuttle runs.


I’ve spent the last two weeks on paternity leave.

Which inevitably means spending a lot of time in the house, which inevitably means watching a lot of TV, which inevitably, much to my wife’s delight, means watching a lot of sport.

I watched all five days of England’s glorious defeat against Australia. I watched the Rugby Union World Cup warm-ups. I watched late-night boxing and early morning tennis. Of course, I watched lots and lots of football.

I even managed to watch 10 minutes of the Republic of Ireland play, but that proved to be a bridge too far even for me. And when I wasn’t watching all that, I was watching Sky Sports News show me highlights of all the sport I had already watched.

I think my wife has taken the boy and moved out.

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I enjoyed the football very much. England v Kosovo was a laugh wasn’t it? Like watching kids in the playground, but brilliant ones.

It was also nice to see Cristiano Ronaldo finally getting on the scoresheet for Portugal. The Dutch are my favourites at the moment though. All total football with a Ryan Babel on top.

Obviously, they have got future Ballon D’Or winner Virgil Van Djik in their ranks, but the Liverpool player most catching the eye for Holland at the moment is Gini Wijnaldum.

In a more attacking “number 10 role”, Wijnaldum scored in both of Hollands games in the international break, including the winner in the first Dutch win in Germany since 2002.

Wijnaldum now has six goals for Holland in the last calendar year, more than he has for Liverpool in the same period, despite obviously playing for The Reds a lot more frequently.

For Holland, he plays much more like the role he played for Newcastle United, for whom he managed 11 goals in a Premier League season, despite playing for a club that got relegated that year. He’s clearly capable of doing similar for Liverpool, the evidence is in his two-goal substitute performance against Barcelona in the Champions League last season.

It’s just that Jurgen Klopp has chosen to largely use him in a different way.

So, is it about time Jurgen let Gini off the leash and allowed him to attack more from midfield?

It does seem curious, with so much talk of Liverpool missing the attacking threat that Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita can offer from midfield when they aren’t available, that Gini Wijnaldum isn’t asked to try and do something similar for Liverpool.

Instead, Klopp prefers to have him working, winning the ball and recycling it, keeping the shape and making Liverpool so hard to beat.

Why is that? Well it should be said that neither Newcastle or Holland have been able to select a front three of Mane, Salah and Firmino in Gini’s time with the teams.

Maybe Jurgen Klopp has decided he has quite enough goals from those three already and everyone else just needs to concentrate on getting them the ball.

But he did move Phil Coutinho into central midfield, and he did buy Naby Keita, so he’s clearly not adverse to someone who can drive the ball forward from the middle of the park and get into the box.

It might also be a case of wanting to support the defensive players a little bit more.

Liverpool didn’t play with one out and out defensive midfielder until the emergence of Fabinho, while Holland often play with two.

It is also fair to describe our full-backs as more like wingers, with whoever is playing central midfield having to do a fair amount of covering there too. Maybe if you play central midfield for Liverpool you just need to accept that others will ultimately get more glory.

Salah gets the goals, Robertson gets the assists and you get endless shuttles from side to side.

The least glamorous job at Anfield, no wonder James Milner loves it.

Unfortunately for Gini, it looks like he will continue to have to wait until international duty to have his fun. Not that anyone has told his smile.

He knows that the real glory comes in winning and under Jurgen Klopp Liverpool are currently winning a lot.

He might get more goals elsewhere. But, the medals are coming at Liverpool.

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What do you think?