Is there anything more refreshing to see than a player who fights back against the ire of the team's supporters to win them all over, to the point where he was the player of the year? What odds would you have gotten on that two years ago? And I exemplify it to the hilt.
I hated Lucas, even halfway through last year. I blamed him for my baldness and inability to deal with the women in my life. I was close to blaming our financial crisis on him. I didn't think there was anything he could do. Not anything he could do well, mind, but simply do. He was just there. I couldn't figure out if Rafa was tossing him out there consistently to either justify his own genius or to get himself fired or both.
But then there was that game against United in October '09. And while it was a bit foul-heavy, Lucas complete dominated the midfield that game. He was everywhere. Carrick and Scholes were so comprehensively rolled over they were basically a puddle by the time the final whistle went. And Lucas went on from there, improving as the year ended while the rest of the team around him collapsed.
It got better this season. Lucas from jump street was the team's best midfielder, adding to his rep of breaking up the opponent's play by showing a pretty keen eye for a pass to start Liverpool the other way this season. He was still our deepest midfielder, but he didn't hesitate to get involved on the other end either (though he can still biff the most open headers). While Hodgson's Liverpool became a bad joke, Lucas held it together just enough to keep from becoming a complete disaster.
But like everyone else, things got better when Kenny came in. Lucas was a little more unshackled, and with Spearing providing a tandem to let him get forward more there were even better results. I never thought I'd see Lucas in the Brazil starting 11, but there he will be when Copa America kicks off next week. Lucas and Gerrard are the only midfielders we'll sure will be back next year, and the only ones sure to be in the first 11. I can't wait to see how his game grows this season, he could still add a few goals to his name. And now he should have superior talent around him.
I never thought we'd get here with Lucas. I'm so happy to be wrong. There's a strange feeling of being proven so wrong by a player on the team you support. Maybe it's keeping an eye on the greater good instead of your own intelligence. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm not alone when it comes to Lucas. I'm more than happy to be even more incorrect next season.