Xabi Alonso rolled back the years with a high-quality performance for Liverpool Legends on Saturday afternoon.
In the absence of Steven Gerrard at Anfield, Xabi Alonso took it upon himself to take centre stage in Liverpool’s latest Legends match.
Mark Gonzalez made another positive impression against Manchester United, having scored twice in the Reds’ ‘Legends of the North’ 3-1 win over the Red Devils in May, but it was Alonso who was the standout figure throughout the contest on Saturday afternoon.
A long ball forward from the Spaniard inside the opening minute of the game forced a corner and set the tone for the authoritative performance that would follow from the 40-year-old, who rolled back the years with a vintage display.
Composed whenever in possession, the former Reds midfielder was urged on more than one occasion by the Anfield crowd to shoot from distance, but instead choose to resist such temptations as he picked out team-mates with precise passes from range.
One searching ball played over the top of United’s defence by Alonso found Anthony Le-Tallec, who fired a first-time shot wide of the left post. Had this effort gone in, it certainly would have represented a goal worth the admission fee alone.
Possessing the ability to play the game at your own pace is a quality few players can boast about, though Alonso falls firmly in this category alongside current Red Thiago Alcantara. A frenetic and all-action display from midfield partner Mohamed Sissoko was countered by Alonso’s leisurely approach to proceedings, taking the time to assess his surroundings and make assured decisions.
That Alonso has pursued a career in coaching should come as little surprise given his antics on the pitch at Anfield, barking out orders at his team-mates and organising the midfield area to prevent United attacks. The World Cup winner spent three years as manager of Real Sociedad B, who he left at the end of last season, and was keen to instruct those around him on positions to take up.
In the majority of other Liverpool Legends games to have taken place in recent times, Gerrard has been the standout name fans have flocked to L4 to see turning out for his boyhood club. That was certainly the case when Barcelona Legends visited Anfield back in March as the former Reds captain got on the scoresheet, but Alonso filled this void left behind by the Liverpool icon in style.
Even before kick-off arrived, the ex-Spain international immediately stood out as a player to enjoy watching grace the pitch once more, and he certainly did not disappoint those in attendance. Liverpool supporters enjoyed five seasons of service from Alonso, but will have left many fans wishing this period of association lasted longer after issuing a clear reminder of his natural ability.