On Wedenesday night I got a text from a Chelsea fan:
“Did you listen to TalkSport radio tonight?”
“No. How come?”
“You’ll like what Jason Cundy was saying on there!”
Jason Cundy, ex-Chelsea and Spurs player, now pundit on Chelsea TV and TalkSport. He’s not a pundit whose opinion I hold with any credence one way or the other to be honest. I can’t recall having listened to him talk about football on many occasions, if at all. I’m sure I will have done, but it hasn’t stuck with me.
But what he said was worth reading. So worth reading that I thought I’d fix it in time by putting it up on here rather than just leaving it to get buried amongst the various Twitter feeds it has appeared on. This one will stick with me.
Speaking after Liverpool’s 4-0 win at Anfield against Red Star Belgrade on TalkSport radio, Cundy said:
“Joe Gomez is fast becoming one of the best defenders in the world. I’m not a Liverpool fan but I watch him and Virgil Van Dijk and he’s a better all-round footballer, defender than Van Dijk. He can play in a 3, play in a 4, play right back. You know what, I bet he could play in midfield too. He’s as good as anything. He’s better than John Stones. This kid is the best; he’s quick, he’s got a cool head, two good feet. He’s so aware of his space and who’s around him, the best passes, when to make the passes and who to. He rarely gives the ball away. He rarely makes mistakes. He’s as good as anything out there right now and I’m talking about the very, very best defenders in Europe right now.”
High praise indeed!
Cundy’s got history when it comes to talking up Gomez. After his stellar performance for England against Brazil back in November 2017, Cundy told TalkSport listeners:
“Joe Gomez put in the sort of performance [against Brazil] that I think ends Gary Cahill’s international career, ends Jones’ international career and ends Smalling’s international career. I think that performance there tells me he’s the future.”
Gomez was magnificent that night, operating in a back 3. Just 20 at the time, he was named Man of the Match. England drew 0-0 and Gomez helped keep Jesus, Coutinho and Neymar quiet. It’s often hard to remember back to what players’ reputations were amongst wider football fan circles, but I remember people starting to talk about Gomez more after that performance. Us Liverpool fans all knew he was a player. We’d seen him play left back for Rodgers’ 15/16 team when Rodgers trusted him from the first game of the season, merely 2 months after signing him from Charlton. He was 18 at the time. He started in such an assured manner that season. His performances were reminiscent of the likes of Rafa’s Arbeloa or Finnan, or Houllier’s Markus Babbel. Those kind of refined, experienced fullback performances; steady, reliable. When he did his cruciate ligament on u21 duty that October it felt agonising on the basis of this kid’s potential.
But back to Klopp’s Liverpool & to the conversation leading to me seeing Cundy’s more recent comments, my friend went on to say:
“It seems an odd game to pick out a centreback for praise, especially when your forwards have all scored. Was he particularly good?”
Yes, mate. He was bloody marvellous. Again.