Lightweight, off the pace, a liability. These are just a few of the labels Raul Meireles was given by fans under Roy Hodgson as he struggled to adapt to the rough and tumble of the Premier League and an unfamiliar position. But against Wolves on Saturday the Portuguese midfielder showed why Roy Hodgson spent £11m to secure his signature and why he should have been played in the centre from the beginning.
Meireles was often utilised on the right of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation under Hodgson and although he is a talented footballer, he does not have the pace or trickery to beat a man and get to the by-line. His forte is short and long passing, getting into the box and dictating the pace of the game in the middle of the park.
New manager Kenny Dalglish has adopted the 'pass and move' principles that made many Liverpool sides of the past great and has placed Meireles in his preferred role as he looks to give the team a more attacking emphasis.
Liverpool have long been accused of relying on Steven Gerrard to support the attack from midfield and since the goals have dried up for their captain they have struggled to find someone to replace them. The signing of Meireles from Porto was meant to lift the burden off of Gerrard and give Fernando Torres another supply line but up until last week's Merseyside derby it never really materialised.
But one goal can do so much for a player in a game in which confidence is so important and Raul's strike against Everton certainly appears to have given him a boost. Meireles opened his account with a crashing half-volley from 18 yards and after waiting for 17 games to score his first Liverpool goal he got his second the next week at Molineux.
His goal was one of real quality, the type of strike that many players dream of but very few are capable of executing. A long Daniel Agger freekick was headed away by the Wolves defence and fell to Meireles on the edge of the area. The Liverpool number 4 struck it first time and saw his volley nestle in the top corner.
It was not just his goal that earned him the Man of the Match award though, it was his work rate, his vision, his passing ability both short and long and the way he made the game look effortless amongst chaos Wolves attempted to create around him. His performance oozed class and he looked every bit the player Liverpool have been missing since Xabi Alonso left.
If he can maintain this level of form for the rest of the season then Alonso will be a distant memory and Liverpool will be sitting pretty in a European place.