Alexander Doni is a name Liverpool fans will have seen regularly enough on the subs bench, but those who don’t turn out at Anfield early enough to watch the team warming-up, or follow the Reserves, may not even know what he looks like.
32-year-old Brazilian Doni has the high-pressure job of filling Pepe Reina‘s boots whilst the Spanish goalkeeper spends three matches suspended for his “headbutt” (in the loosest sense of the word) on James Perch of Newcastle Utd on Sunday afternoon.
Those games are against Aston Villa at home this Saturday, away at Blackburn on 10th April, and the FA Cup semi-final clash against Everton at Wembley on April 14th.
With 6 defeats in Liverpool’s last 7 games, there isn’t even a point in recent club history more awkward to come into for Doni – who is yet to make an appearance since his free transfer from Roma last summer.
In fact Doni hasn’t even completed a full game for Liverpool – even in pre-season. Martin Hardy of The Independent this morning writes:
“…he [Doni] dislocated his finger against Rangers on his one start – and who conceded seven goals on his previous appearance in England.”
As if it couldn’t be any more cringeworthy, those seven goals he conceded were at Old Trafford, against Man Utd whilst playing for Roma.
One fan Doni already has is in young Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates, who speaks of his fellow South American with great confidence.
“Alexander is a great person and a great goalkeeper. I am sure he will do really well,” Coates told the club’s official web site.
“He has played for Brazil, one of the greatest national teams in the world, so he is used to playing in big games.
“He perhaps hasn’t had an opportunity because obviously we have Pepe, but I think he will do well.
“I think he will make the most of every opportunity that’s given to him. He is a great teammate and we all wish him well.”
But whilst the pressure mounts for Doni, Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish may be more concerned with his team’s inability to score goals this season.
In fact, Liverpool have scored just 36 goals this season in the league (just ten more than Arsenal’s Robin van Persie has on his own) and with neither Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy or Luis Suarez even getting close to scoring in Sunday’s defeat at Newcastle, those 36 goals don’t look like being raised too much further in the Reds’ final 7 games of the campaign.
Dalglish was clearly frustrated by his side’s failings in the final third on Sunday, telling press, “There were lots of times we did create openings, but we’ve got to take them. We’ve got to believe in ourselves and believe in what we’re doing. If we can do that, then we’ll have a better opportunity.”
Liverpool could be in the bottom half of the Premier League table by the end of the week, and are now a full 11 points behind sixth placed Newcastle and fifth placed Chelsea.
With Everton, who also sit above them in the league, in the FA Cup in less than two-weeks, it really feels like it’s make or break time for this current Liverpool set-up – or at least make or break for this season.
Alexander Doni is not the man to answer all of Liverpool’s prayers, but he is in the perfect position to take a chance and become a hero.