They say don’t meet your heroes, or play against them in Conor Coady’s case.
After three consecutive Premier League defeats against his former club Liverpool, Coady was set for a battling point at Molineux on Thursday night but was personally undone by two goals, one early and one late, from his boyhood heroes.
The misery began after eight minutes when Coady, who made two appearances for Liverpool before leaving Anfield in 2014, misjudged the flight of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s swinging corner.
Wolves captain Conor Coady battles for the ball with Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The central defender found himself in no-man’s land between Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson. The ball grazed the top of Mane’s scalp and Henderson headed powerfully past Rui Patricio.
Wolves battled back for a deserved equaliser after 50 minutes from Raul Jimenez but with time running out, Coady slipped at the wrong time as Henderson’s cross came in and Roberto Firmino snatched the winner.
Predictably there were social media about Coady ‘allowing’ his beloved Reds another win on their way to the title.
In truth, 26-year-old Coady performed admirably in between the two goals, stationed in the middle Wolverhampton’s three-man defence. If Gareth Southgate opts for that system with England at Euro 2020 you could see him fitting in with Harry Maguire and Joe Gomez.
The defender did not hold back on Thursday night even though he is a boyhood Liverpool fan
Coady’s story is an uplifting one. Not everyone goes on to good careers after leaving Liverpool but he has thrived and as captain of the best Wolves team since the Billy Wright era in the 1950s and Nuno Espirito Santo’s undisputed leader.
Thursday night represented Wolves 40th game of a busy season and Coady has played in 38 of them.
To his credit, he recovered well from the early Liverpool goal. Sitting deep and ensuring Wolves kept their shape, Coady was instrumental in reducing Jurgen Klopp’s side to a minimum of chances.
Coady got in a good block to stop Mo Salah extending the lead and when Salah tried to drag him out wide, Coady never dived in. Perhaps the Egyptian’s frustration lay behind his decision not to pass to Takumi Minamino for a golden chance to make it 2-0.
Coady joins in the celebrations after Raul Jimenez headed home a deserved equaliser
Coady and Wolves deserved getting on level terms after 50 minutes when Raul Jimenez headed in Adama Traore’s centre. It had been a very mature performance against the European champions.
While Molineux grew increasingly excitable as the home side then pushed for a winner, Coady did his usual job of pointing and cajoling to ensure concentration remained high whenever Liverpool’s front three got the ball.
He was an attacking threat as well – trying to find Traore in space on the right whenever he could. Traore with his pace and trickery has to be the best out ball in English football at the moment.
Coady only played once for Liverpool in the Premier League – when he made a late cameo in a 3-1 victory against Fulham. He was six minutes away from gaining a valuable draw this time but Liverpool aren’t European champions for nothing.
He hasn’t toppled his beloved Reds in the league, yet. But he and Wolves are getting closer.