Liverpools appointment of a throw-in specialist in September raised some eyebrows but after England beat Croatia in the Nations League, the wisdom in that decision was there for all to see.
After Andrej Kramaric had put Croatia in front at Wembley, England were on course to finish bottom of their Nations League group and therefore suffer relegation from League A, bringing a positive year for English football to a disappointing end.
However, goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane inside the final 12 minutes turned the game – and Englands Nations League prospects – around completely. Lingards equaliser which ignited the fightback came from a long throw into the box by Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.
Doing his best Rory Delap impression, Gomez hurled the ball into the penalty area from the right touchline onto the head of John Stones who flicked it onto Harry Kane and his deflected shot was tapped in from a yard out by Lingard.
Considering Gomez was deployed at centre-back, it was clearly a ploy beforehand to utilise him on long throws should England require a Plan B option. Perhaps his work on the training pitch with Liverpools throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark, is already paying off.
Gronnemark, who holds the Guinness World Record record for the longest recorded throw-in at 51.33m, previously worked with Brentford, a club renowned for their left-field approach off the pitch, from coaching to scouting methods before linking up with Liverpool. Hes also worked with clubs in his homeland and in the Bundesliga.
Shortly after his arrival at Anfield, Gronnemark said of Gomez: “If I was a defender I would not want to be on the end of one of Gomezs throw-ins.” Gomezs club colleague Dejan Lovren probably feels that way now considering he was playing for Croatia at Wembley.
There were plenty of people who ridiculed Jurgen Klopps decision to appoint Gronnemark, including ex-Everton striker Andry Gray.
“Im sorry, a throw-in coach? Heres the ball, pick it up with both hands, take it behind your head and throw it with both feet on the ground,” Gray scoffed.
“Ill tell you what, Im officially a throw in coach and Im also going to some clubs later this month to teach them how to kick off. I want to be the first kick-off coach.”
Gray and others who questioned the wisdom behind appointing a coach with such a niche speciality, might not feel quite so smug if Gomez continues to wreak havoc in opposition penalty boxes with his long throw missiles.
On Twitter, plenty of Liverpool fans and journalists were quick to highlight criticisms made of Liverpools appointment of Gronnemark after Lingards goal had gone in.
Liverpool player with long throw sets up England goal. Lots of people a few weeks back: lol Liverpool have a throw-in coach haha
— Alex Stewart (@AFHStewart) November 18, 2018
Liverpool's throw-in coach paying off for England
— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) November 18, 2018
[various clips of pundits, and screenshots of tweets mocking Liverpool for hiring a throw-in coach]
— Nathan A Clark (@NathanAClark) November 18, 2018
Liverpools throw-in coach, who was mocked by the majority of England, has kept England alive with help from Joe Gomez.
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) November 18, 2018
Take the mick out of our throw-in coach now lads
Missile throw from Joe Gomez
— Raj Chohan (@rajsinghchohan) November 18, 2018
Liverpools throw-in coach has done more than Eric Dier for England this afternoon.
— Zac (@LFCZac) November 18, 2018
GIVE THE LIVERPOOL THROW-IN COACH A KNIGHTHOOD
— Lewis Tizard (@TizTaz99) November 18, 2018