Joe Allen is not your ordinary “Joe.” If only he would start believing it himself.
Allen came to the Red half of Merseyside for £15 million from Swansea to better translate Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy on the pitch. He had astonishing passing accuracy in midfield and even made a wonderful start to his career at Anfield.
However, things have gone down since then. From a time when his purchase seemed like a bargain, the clock has swung to a period where he needs to prove more to achieve his earlier, unanimously-voiced starting place.
Jordan Henderson—also lambasted for poor displays along with a heavy price tag—took the Welshman’s place in the Liverpool starting lineup against Norwich in the Reds’ previous league game. Henderson scored and looked very lively indeed.
Henderson’s improved performances bode well for the club, but in order to reap optimal benefits, Allen must raise his game, too.
Allen was sided with temporarily when he played in Lucas’ role while the Brazilian recovered from injury, but now that he is allowed the freedom to play in his favoured role, Allen must prove his doubters wrong.
Still only 22, Allen has many years ahead of him. Unfortunately, the rate at which this current Liverpool setup is progressing, Allen cannot take much time to match performances with the best if he wants to make a career at Anfield.
Last season, Henderson was very circumspect and did not try audacious things on the field. Allen, too, seems to have gone into a similar shell.
The dribbles seen at Swansea and in his early games with Liverpool are not the only things missing from his game. It looks like Liverpool are vulnerable to losing the midfield battle when Allen starts these days. He is definitely short on confidence at the moment.
With the FA Cup and Europa League to move ahead in full swing in a matter of days, Liverpool will need every sap of energy from an already thin squad.
If Allen does not prove himself, it gives the youngsters an opportunity, but there are far too many repercussions associated with his failure to reciprocate for hopeful breaks to the youngsters, with expectations that they might be the next gems.
Allen’s transfer does a lot to undermine Rodgers' position in the transfer market if the Welshman continues to underperform. Allen is Rodgers’ most expensive signing, and the gaffer might not be trusted with big money if he continues to underwhelm.
Further, with the likes of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson stepping up, a rejuvenated Allen can only help in providing more optimism to the fans and the overall club for a push for fourth place and Champions League qualification.
Finally, I must say that there are not many bigger clubs that Allen may play for in his career. He is still new to the setup, but the state of the league is such that it will pass Liverpool by if they do not get into the Champions League soon.
Allen must step up for himself and for the club.