x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dirk Kuyt the artist of industry

The Liverpool player's enthusiasm rubs off on teammates in win against Chelsea.

Occasionally the artisan can provide a reminder that he doubles up as an artist. One such arrived after 10 minutes at Anfield.

Dirk Kuyt, that paragon of incessant industry, provided the sort of pass that might be deemed Steven Gerrard's hallmark, but never his own.

It required the vision to spot the lurking, predatory striker, the quality to chip it over John Terry and into the path of Fernando Torres. It had to be weighted perfectly. It was.

But every now and again, the workhorse's perspiration is allied with inspiration.

He remains the first line of resistance, harrying Chelsea at every opportunity and setting the tone for an energetic Liverpool team, but he is not just a marathon runner.

The banner that the Kop used to display, referring to Dirk "Duracell" Kuyt, contains an apt nickname, but the emphasis on activity can ignore his ability.

While Torres was the headline act, Kuyt proved his unselfish accomplice.

He had spent a month on the sidelines with an ankle injury; predictably, there was nothing in his display to suggest he might be semi-fit.

But having left a team in the relegation zone, he has returned to one regaining confidence and momentum.

If Rafa Benitez had his way, he would play no part in it. It is a curiosity of Kuyt's career that, while unappreciated by sections of the support, he is a firm favourite of his managers.

Benitez was keen to take him to Inter Milan, Roy Hodgson equally determined to ensure he remained at Anfield.

Bert van Marwijk preferred him at the World Cup to Rafael van der Vaart, one whose obvious talent tends to bring the description "Dutch master" rather more often.

But Kuyt's importance lies in the example he sets as well as the effort he provides.

There is an infectiousness to his enthusiasm.

It was apparent in Raul Meireles, when he tracked back to dispossess Ashley Cole in the build-up to the second Torres goal, and in Lucas Leiva, who produced a performance of considerable commitment, his blond mane streaked with as much sweat as Kuyt's.

Forwards who win the ball on the edge of their own penalty area or compete for headers on the edge of both six-yard boxes are a rarity. But then Kuyt has always doubled up as a defender.

When he went back to his old beat on the wing as Hodgson, seeking to protect the lead, reverted to 4-5-1, it was to provide Martin Kelly, the inexperienced right-back, with protection.

Kuyt was unfortunate not to score when Petr Cech's outstretched right foot denied him, but managers have never assessed him by his output in front of goal alone. Nor, indeed, has he been judged by assists. But yesterday's was sheer class.

 

sports@thenational.ae