Roberto Firmino has ended his tenure at Liverpool as my heart aches

The shelf life football players are perhaps the shortest. Baseball wants to get there, but in the football world, it still basically works when you get to 30 and start counting down the clock. So, on the one hand, Roberto Firmino seems to be playing for Liverpool forever. In another, on the statistics sheet, he was really only a mainstay in the lineup for six seasons, and for a total of eight at the club, which is hardly a flash. How could it be both?

Firmino arrived at Liverpool basically in disarray. The Brendan Rodgers era was disintegrating at an alarming rate, with Steven Gerrard gone and the brief window of spring 2014 when they actually could and should have won the league felt closed forever. That was a spec on the horizon, if that. Like everything else at the end of Rodgers’ reign, he had no idea how to use Firmino, or too many ideas to use him. Right before Rodgers was kicked, we even saw Bobby at right back. What exactly happened here?

In today’s game, there is not really a place for the traditional no. 10 already, and certainly not the Vin Diesel vehicle speed in the Premier League. Even centre-forwards are not like they used to be, they have to run, press and open channels for others. Jurgen Klopp appeared, walked out of the laboratory of strangeness and said: “Firmino will not be both. 10 and no. 9 at once!” then he burst into that maniacal Klopp laugh that we find so endearing and probably the most heart-wrenching sound in the world for everyone else.

See also  One week after USC and UCLA head to Large Ten: The SEC remains to be higher

Bobby is not in the middle just like Jürgen Klopp

Fortunately for Klopp, and fortunately for us, Bobby was just as out of the middle as his manager, and he fully took over the role. Liverpool fans will remember it all starting with a Man City game when Klopp shouted at Firmino to go forward and lead the line better than he did and then scored his first Liverpool goal a few minutes later. Then it felt like something was born.

Much of Klopp’s and Liverpool’s system depended on Firmino’s endless energy, ingenuity and swagger. You can run all day to get that angry press in the first pair seasons. He raged on the counter-attack and smiled with joy at the immeasurable chaos that was Liverpool at the time. When Klopp wanted to control the ball more as the team developed, Firmino was no less comfortable dropping from the front line into the pocket between the two forward midfielders and the defensive lines. He seemed to have that force field around him most games when he had the ball, just slipping past would-be tacklers who seemed to fly around him out of thin air before sliding in Salah or Mane or finishing himself.

And yet, while doing all this, he still found more than enough time to be in the box to finish it. 81 times actually.

See also  The Panthers cap the Hurricanes with a last minute goal

And even with his to-do list put together by Klopp, Firmino had time to figure shit out. Like this:

Firmino clever defender against Salah 3-0 Liverpool v. in the Bournemouth team | Premier League | NBC Sports

Or this:

ROBERTO FIRMINO CALLING back corner cover! 🔥 | #shorts

Or this:

And when he was feeling really spicy, there were the unseen goals into the open goal or the diabolical endings just because he felt like it.

False 9 with all the toppings

It would probably be too much to say that Firmino invented the false 9 role because teams have used it before and it wasn’t just a false 9. He was the false 9 with all the toppings. He’s certainly made it his own while never hiding how much he goes out of his way to do these things that shouldn’t have come with just one player. Perhaps no player has maintained such vocal structure while being completely avant-garde like Firmino.

Every fan has their favorite goals from club legends. Most people would probably pick the winner against PSG when he injured his eye in training the day before and couldn’t really see out of it. Or maybe this Hammer of the Gods Against Stoke. Maybe it’s the slalom against Arsenal.

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino weaves through Arsenal’s defenders to score | Premier League | NBC Sports

Maybe the one that won the Club World Cup at the end of 2019. Mine came a few too days after. The two The goals against Leicester weren’t all that special in themselves. But Liverpool flew back from the Middle East for that Boxing Day clash with the then second-placed side and quite simply rubbed Leicester’s asses for 90 minutes in the moonlight with a 4-0 scoreline. doubts that the title will finally return to Anfield. This team was as thorough a dismantling as we’ve seen, with Bobby at the helm and that Vegas gigawatt smile how he played with it.

See also  CJ Stroud, Caleb Williams, Hendon Hooker, Blake Corum, Bo Nix

Bobby’s game had too much to keep together forever. You can’t run as much as he does in your 30s, and you can’t do everything else. The arrival of Luis Diaz last season put Bobby on edge a bit, which was only exacerbated by the arrivals of Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo this season. Football doesn’t wait, and sentimentality doesn’t do you any good either.

Bobby played his last game at Anfield for Liverpool last Saturday and of course he scored. His red career ends on Sunday. A career full of mischief, energy, karate kicks and well-timed tackles and passes that no one should have tried or even seen, and just an absolute joy that is unlikely to be repeated.

Man, how was it really only six seasons? Like Firmino on the pitch, there was so much in him that it doesn’t seem like there could have been just six seasons, just like there couldn’t have been in one player.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate.