Former Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno says that he cannot understand why he got all the blame for the Europa League final defeat in 2016.
The Reds showed signs of things to come as they reached a final in their first season under Jurgen Klopp. However, their inexperience cost them, with serial winners Sevilla triumphing. Liverpool did in fact take the lead through Daniel Sturridge, but they then fell 3-1 down and could not recover.
Moreno, who was the club’s first-choice left-back at the time, endured a mixed career at Anfield.
While he had some fantastic moments, such as his runaway goal against Tottenham, he never truly convinced fans with his defending.
Indeed, he received criticism for Sevilla’s first goal in Basle for failing to win the ball after coming out of position.
The now-Villarreal man is looking to go one better when his side play Manchester United in the 2021 final on Wednesday, but he still has sour memories of five years ago.
“I still don’t understand the amount of criticism,” Moreno told The Guardian. “On the first goal they nutmegged me, sure. But I’m a defender.
“Players get past Sergio Ramos, the best centre-back in the world. Why can’t it happen to me?
“To this day I don’t understand why I got so, so much criticism, when the whole team didn’t play well. The finger was pointed at one player and… I don’t think that’s OK. People blame you. Only you. It was like I lost the final.
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“It’s hard. You can’t get it out of your head. You look at the paper, at social media – I don’t usually pay much attention to social media because it’s all so false – and read things. ‘Alberto, Alberto, Alberto, Alberto.’ I’ll go to my grave not understanding why I got all the blame.”
In the 2016/17 season, Klopp opted to play James Milner at left-back for most of the campaign.
However, Moreno’s chances diminished further when Andy Robertson signed from Hull in the summer of 2017.
Moreno airs Liverpool, Klopp problem
“If the coach puts a right-footed central midfielder there, then he doesn’t want me,” the left-back added.
“But the following year pre-season started and he played me. I got back in the Spain squad after three years and just then, I injured my ankle.
“That was when Andy Robertson had his chance. He played at such a high level and that was it; I didn’t get any more chances.”
Asked if he felt Klopp protected him, Moreno added: “My relationship with Klopp was perfect and, with Unai [Emery, Villarreal coach], he’s the best coach I’ve ever had.
“He knows how to squeeze the best out of you, what to say at any moment, how to get the group to go out and ‘eat’ the opposition. But protecting me would have meant keeping faith, giving me chances which didn’t happen. I don’t know if that was Klopp or the club.”
Moreno’s last game for Liverpool was the 2019 Champions League final triumph. Robertson, meanwhile, has turned out to be one of Klopp’s greatest signings and made 50 appearances this season.