Roberto Firmino was “horrible” against Newcastle and made Christian Benteke look bad, claims former Liverpool striker John Aldridge.
Firmino, a summer arrival from Hoffenheim, has endured a mixed Premier League spell, instigating the recent demolition of Manchester City, but being “anonymous” in the 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park, according to Aldridge.
Aldridge, who scored 63 goals in 104 games for the Reds between 1987-1989, believes Liverpool were out-muscled on Tyneside, but it was the Brzilian’s performance which irked him the most.
Benteke was poor against the Magpies, and represents a £32.5million problem for the Reds, but Aldridge believes his below-par performance was due to Firmino.
“Roberto Firmino is playing as if something is wrong, mentally and physically. He’s been absolutely redundant the last two games after such a great display at Man City,” the 57-year-old told the Liverpool Echo.
“It can’t just be the fact his mate Coutinho has been missing.
“Christian Benteke played badly – he was stood outside the box when two good crosses came in, one from Moreno – but it was Firmino who made him look worse. Everything Benteke needed from him was absent in a horrible display.
“He needed him to be the link man but he wasn’t there. Benteke won his flick-ons but he was nowhere near him.
“Firmino was the missing link and things improved when Adam Lallana, who played well, came on. It was like chalk and cheese.”
Aldridge, has also warned Firmino – who was subbed after an hour against Newcastle – he is going to “have to learn how to get stuck in” after an “unacceptable” showing in the 2-0 defeat on Sunday.
“The Brazilian also pulled out of a challenge that was 55-45 in his favour. Liverpool fans won’t accept that. I’ve been going for 50 years and I know it’s unacceptable,” added Aldridge.
“If the ball is there to be won you win it. He’s going to have to learn to get stuck in.
“The defeat to Newcastle was incredibly disappointing on Sunday. You try hard not to get carried away but it’s hard sometimes.
“Mistakes were made across the board but what stood out for me was the fact we got out-fought.
“The same happened with physically big teams like West Ham and Crystal Palace with their pace and power.
“We’ve struggled to deal with these big, physical teams this season.
“Newcastle had nothing else apart from their physicality.”