I can remember it now as though it were yesterday, the day page 300 on BBC Teletext revealed that we’d signed Fernando Morientes from Real Madrid.
Signed in January 2005 for 9.3m Euros. We’d bagged ourselves a high calibre centre forward, internationally recognised, having rubbed shoulders with some of the generation’s greats. Is there anything more exciting as a young football fan? Fuck it, is there anything more exciting as a football fan of any age?
My mind was taken back to the Spaniard recently when discussing Alexis Sanchez’s underwhelming spell at Manchester United, with the topic moving onto underwhelming signings. For all that excitement and anticipation, when I think back on Morientes I’ve barely got more than a handful of memories of the fella, one of which is him holding the scarf up when he signed for us.
The squad ending that season had Djibril Cissé and Fernando Morientes in our attacking armoury; the strikeforce with seemingly everything ‘on paper’ (albeit Morientes’ arrival coinciding with Cissé being out injured). The guile, movement and composure of Morientes; the unpredictablility, pace and power of Cissé. Real shame that one didn’t work out – I was convinced we were going places with those two lads. We won the Champions League that season of course, but most people forget about them when thinking back to that squad. Morientes was cup tied for the Champions League, having featured earlier in the competition for Real.
But unveiling photograph aside, there’s one Morientes memory that I’ll cherish; a relic of his time with us.
It’s the first weekend in February, 2005.
We’re away to Charlton. Former Red Danny Murphy’s opened the scoring against us & we’re getting a bit of a pasting; it all feels a bit flat. The Valley’s a weird little ground. I miss Charlton being in the Premier League. Anyway, I digress…
On around the hour mark Milan Baros robs the ball off their centre-half & slips in Morientes about 25 yards out. He sends El Karkouri for the paper with a feint to shoot on his right before chopping back onto his left and slamming it top bins from the edge of the box, past a full stretch Dean Kiely.
It’s a first Liverpool goal for Fernando Morientes. He’s as ecstatic as we are & Stevie Gerrard’s all over him in the celebrations. Our new number 19 conjuring Kopites’ dreams of leading a charge to league title, number 19.
Alas, there’s very little else that follows, but that moment was rather fun. He went out with just 8 goals to his name in a Liverpool shirt, a Super Cup and a 2006 FA Cup medal in tow. Oh Fernando…