Roy Keane delivered a scathing critique of Reece James’ decision not to “sprint” back in the lead-up to Luis Diaz’s opening goal for Liverpool.
In the match at Stamford Bridge, Jurgen Klopp’s team quickly secured an advantage through a rapid counter-attack, during which Mo Salah skillfully threaded a precisely-timed through ball to Diaz.
Diaz, who had been sidelined for a significant portion of the previous season due to injury, expertly converted the chance by poking the ball past Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez, with his initial touch.
While it was an impressive sequence of play for Liverpool, instead of admiring Salah’s brilliance, Sky pundit Roy Keane criticized Reece James’ contribution in the lead-up to the goal.
“He might as well stop and have a cup of tea!” ☕
Roy Keane believes Reece James could have done more to stop Luis Díaz from scoring pic.twitter.com/dDhe1yMw2i
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 13, 2023
Speaking toSky Sports, Keane said: “We talk about tactics and systems. James is looking at him when he’s running off. You can argue afterwards and say, ‘Oh I’m a wing-back. That’s not my job’. But he sees him running. You have to sprint back as if your life depends on it.
“As brilliant as James is… listen, I love him to bits. I think he’s brilliant player, particularly going forward. But when you see somebody run off the back of you, you sprint.”
Sturridge, who will become a regular Sky pundit this season, was quick to give credit to Diaz for his attacking instincts.
“I think it’s that awareness too,” the former Chelsea and Liverpool striker said.
“As an attacker in that moment, you always think to yourself, first, you’ve got to get there and you want to make that run before the defender. So as soon as he turns around and looks over his shoulder, you’re already gone. And you’ve got half a yard to get ahead of him.
“He’s got a few yards on him. He’s not going to get back there. Of course, he’s got to show that he wants to get back, of course.”
Keane soon claimed that James could have “stopped and had a cup of tea” before Diaz found the net. “You’ve got to sprint back because you never know what might happen,” he said.
Sturridge agreed. “I do believe he should have shown the need to get back and burst a gut for the team, just as much as the forward wants to burst a gut to score a goal,” said the 33-year-old.
“But in the end, Luis Diaz anticipated that Salah would be able to drive inside, try to get to the back post.”
Keane ended the segment, saying: “James is the captain. James is supposed to be leading by example. You sprint back.”
Thoughts on James’ role in the goal? Could he have done more?
Let us know in the comments.