The Darwin Nunez Experience

You can’t stop it you can only hope to contain it

There are so many layers to the Darwin Nunez Experience. I immediately feel as if I am that artist who said the name of the song in the first bar but here we are. Nevertheless, our current Uruguayan wild horse is a player that conjures up memories of many players past. From what got him to our club to what he brings to the table, let’s explore the realm of Darwin.

READ MORE: De-stigmatizing Being A Sub by Trevor Utley
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Let’s go back to when we “met” our latest #9. It was goals abound in the Champions League quarterfinals and Darwin had just put one past Alisson in each leg of our 6-4 aggregate win over Benfica. It is a sports adage as old as time. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. But in our case on many occasions, if you can’t stop ’em, sign ’em.

ASTV Shorts: Nunez Off The Break

Nunez came with a hefty price tag given the fact that Benfica didn’t necessarily want to move on from him and they are also some of the shrewdest businessmen in the transfer market. But Nunez’s arrival came most inopportunely in my opinion.

He Isn’t Haaland

The FA Community Shield is art. Its meaning can be whatever you want it to be. For the losers, it is “just an exhibition.” For the victors, it is a “catalyst” to bigger and better things. My oh my could that analysis have been more shit for 2022-23? Liverpool handed Manchester City their asses on a platter that day even though the proceedings showed that it could have very well been the opposite. Of the Premier League newbies that got on the scoresheet, it was Nunez and Julian Alvarez who hit the back of the ole onion bag, not the much-ballyhooed Norwegian. Haaland even missed a comical sitter in the match which put many a meme firmly in the lap of every Prem troll account. But all in all, it seemed as if that slight failure just made the Viking angry.

The regular season to come displayed the gulf between the incoming strikers. This wasn’t necessarily a slight on Nunez’s talent, but instead a lack of awareness of Haaland’s. Darwin came into a broken camp with Liverpool while Haaland got himself buffet service on the regular with Citeh. The comparisons were unfairly continued as Haaland obliterated top-flight records while our striker was just “OK.” And that is the beginning of the Darwin Nunez Experience. We took a man who was unfairly lumped into a scoring race with a player who was given a three-lap headstart and the football public asked him to make up the ground with a busted engine.

Measuring Expectations

If you’ve listened to Gally on any American Scouser broadcast, he’ll put Darwin’s numbers out there in black and white. 15 goals and a handful of assists in a debut season is nothing to sneeze at. However, all of his misses were magnified and all of his strikes were subdued. In my time watching this club, I’ve never seen a player so universally diminished despite recording decent numbers.

In my eyes, this was all him being put on an unfair pedestal. He came into the Premier League at the same time as a forward who would reshape the way we saw the position played in the league. For us Yanks, this is the equivalent of somebody hitting 35 home runs but calling him a bum because somebody went and broke Barry Bonds’ record and hit 74. It’s all about perspective. And our view of Darwin Nunez got egregiously tainted by one play against one of our perennial bogey teams.

Taming The Wild Horse

We knew it. Crystal Palace sure as shit knew it. Darwin Nunez could be gotten to. Joachim Andersen played the role of the annoying younger brother in an excruciatingly poignant way on Darwin’s Anfield debut. The Danish center-back got into his head from the jump and was a gnat throughout the 57 minutes they shared the pitch. The penultimate collision before the final headbutt seemed innocuous, almost like a UFC weigh-in. But our wild horse bucked shortly afterward and, albeit with a bit of Hollywood flair, sent the Palace big man to the turf. This was the first in-house example in which we had the middleman on the Uruguay Troublemaker Matrioshka Doll.

It took some time, but in the end, despite all his warts, there isn’t a Liverpool supporter who will say that Luis Suarez’s time with the club wasn’t fruitful. He began his run on Merseyside in an eerily similar fashion to Nunez. Missing chances, getting rowdy, scoring worldies. For every time we had to hold our heads in our hands, we held our hands over our heads. I feel this is the same way we are going to look at our current frontman over the next year or so.

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Nunez In A Nutshell

We don’t need to look any further than this past week against West Ham United for a perfect encapsulation of what Darwin Nunez can do to a Liverpool supporter’s psyche. Getting a well-deserved start against the Hammers, Nunez did everything asked of him in Jurgen Klopp’s attacking setup. He pressed. He tracked back, almost to a fault. Nunez gave himself up to double teams to give space for his fellow parts of the front triumvirate to shine.

However, once he got his opportunity to have a chance handed to him on a silver platter, he scuffed it worse than I would take any shot with an iron off a fairway. It truly looked as if he had been possessed by the most lackadaisical FIFA player on the planet who was trying to time a finish whilst also attempting to record a lackluster TikTok. Brutal was the dominant adjective for the miss.

Then, Alexis Mac Allister got the ball off a West Ham turnover. And as if the aforementioned flub didn’t happen, he took the Argentinian’s chip first time and piss-missiled it past Alphonse Areola. It was a thing of beauty. Our writer group chat produced this absolute fucking gem of a duality.

Now I don’t want to single out Zahid for saying what we were all thinking. But that mesh of six words and punctuation IS the Darwin Nunez Experience. This is a man who is still learning English. He’s had to cannonball into a football pool that has no shallow end. Throughout all the crap he’s endured thus far in his Liverpool career, he finally is exuding confidence and keeping his head up regardless of his miss totals.

A Nice, Cozy Bedlam

I don’t want us to think of him as the cliche “project.” Chaos is a term that follows him whatever his role is within the club. It may be semantics on my part, but as much as I use it I think the term chaos doesn’t properly reflect Nunez’s impact. There is an implication that there is no method to his madness. Instead, let’s refer to him as an Agent of Bedlam. Darwin Nunez aims to play the game in a way that befuddles and confuses his opponents. Tracking him is like taming a wild horse. That wildness will have its consequences for both the offense and defense. Those will change from match to match.

In the end, I want us all to accept our man-bunned man for who he is. Darwin Nunez is a superb striker with the ability to get into fantastic positions and score fantastic goals. The Dr. Jekyll of his personality though has many strikes that are going to hit vendors instead of goal faces and a Suarez-esque temperament that may produce some less-than-desired seeings of red. But that truly is the Darwin Nunez Experience.

Another Monday of looking for answers as we look at the recent struggles but put all of it in perspective as we talk about the 35th anniversary and what it means to us
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