Takumi Minamino desperately needs a nice, comfortable starting role for Liverpool soon. That could come against FC Midtjylland this week.
Takumi Minamino only played the last ten minutes against Sheffield United on Saturday. He didn’t have too much to do, either, only having nine touches and completing two passes, per Whoscored.
But the key thing is that, once again, Minamino played the ‘False 9’ role. He almost exclusively plays that position at the moment, as cover for Roberto Firmino.
Unfortunately, when he comes on for brief spells like this, Minamino lacks the confidence for the role. It’s a spot that requires confidence, too – you’re the link between midfield and attack. You’re the one who must pull defenders away and create space for the others.
But if the player doing that lacks confidence or feels a little lost, the attack suffers. Minamino looks that way, especially when coming on late in games.
He never looks entirely settled in the role and it interrupts the flow of the team. But the biggest problem is that Minamino has a lot of potential as a False 9. But if he doesn’t get settled there, he won’t fulfil that potential.
What Minamino really needs is a ‘comfortable’ starting role in Liverpool’s first team. A game from the beginning The only starts he’s had this season have come in the League Cup without a full first XI.
Other than that, Minamino has only played more than half an hour once – 45 minutes in the 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa. That one perhaps wasn’t a fair game to judge a player. Especially one who came on for the second half, when the damage was done.
So all this means Minamino has never had a game when he can get up to speed with the team. He’s always coming into a game and having to catch up with the tempo – not an easy task when you’re not too used to the False 9 role as it is.
Whenever he’s been given enough time to catch up, he’s looked good, though – Villa aside, of course. He played well and scored in 30 minutes of the Community Shield and again played well in 30 minutes against Ajax.
Hopefully, then, the game against Midtjylland can offer a comfortable start for Minamino. It should be a recognisable XI from Liverpool against a team they fully expect to beat. It will be the best chance so far for the Japan international to show what he can do in a starting role alongside Liverpool’s best players.
The long-term benefits could be huge. If Minamino can spend 90 minutes getting into a rhythm with the team, the days of him looking a little lost should be over.