Steve Bruce has continued to lavish praise on Liverpool after the Reds 3-1 victory against Newcastle on Saturday.
Often managers give faint praise to their opposition, while mainly focusing on their own team but the Magpies manager was honest in his assessment claiming the Reds are ‘an excellent, excellent team’ and ‘as good you can get.’
This time around, Bruce focused solely on an individual, that being the tireless Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian has a tremendous blend to his game of guile and grunt.
While Firmino‘s teammates, manager and fans have recognized his qualities for a good while, it seems his play is finally getting the wider acclaim and high praise it deserves.
The Mirror reported Bruce as saying:
Look, Cantona is as good a player as I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen Firmino week in week out but….
“Firmino is similar to Cantona in that he drifts into that little area and he naturally does it, where it’s so difficult for defenders to go.
“I haven’t seen him week in week out like Eric but just when you see him here today and what he gives them, it’s a perfect balance. And Cantona gave us that.
“Back in the day, we had Giggs and Kanchelskis who had frightening pace and stretched sides so much like Liverpool’s two, and Cantona dropped into that hole and people couldn’t get anywhere near him.
“That’s what you see with Firmino.”
The veteran manager said the reason the Liverpool front three are so potent is that they tick all the boxes required in terms of elite forward play.
“Firmino is the one that drops in, but the pace of the other two is frightening. He drops in and the other two are running over your shoulder.
“His attitude and work rate, it’s so important.
Bruce says that Liverpool are a team which instills fear into the opposition and therefore incredibly difficult to contain.
“Back when I played for United, everybody suddenly started playing one centre forward against us.
“Back in the day, everyone played with two, then suddenly they would put an extra midfield player in, and it’s what you have to do because you are under threat of getting a hiding.
“And a team like Liverpool, they have two full backs up the pitch, they attack at every opportunity, then you face being blown away.
“They can do that to you, and you have to acknowledge that.
“If you open up against sides like this then… the big difficulty we all have, is you have to find a way when you know a team is far better than you – and I say that with no disrespect at all to us – then you have to find a way.”
“That is Liverpool now, like City a team opponents fear to provoke. And that is the biggest progress they have made over the past 12 months.”
It is a another sign of how far we have come that the opposition are showering us with fulsome praise.
Respect is not earned lightly and now we have that and deservedly so.