LF C Talk – Time To Step Up

We Liverpool fans are a loyal bunch. If we see a young player under-performing but ‘trying hard’ we’ll give them a ‘pass’…. because they’ve got potential. The problem with these ‘passes’ is that we give out too many of them and we don’t set any conditions – like ‘How long does a pass last for?’

By not giving these passes an expiration date, we’ve allowed players to take up valuable space on the bench and sometimes the starting line-up, even when they’re not pulling their weight. It was all well and good being patient with players like David Ngog and Sebastian Coates when the best Liverpool could hope for was a Europa League finish, but now that we’ve got ambitions of challenging for the league, we can’t afford to have slackers along for the ride; especially when we know that they’re capable of more.

For one reason or another there are a few players in the current LFC squad who haven’t yet reached their potential, we gave them a pass last year, but this season we’re challenging them to step up!

 

MARKO GRUJIC

Marko Grujic

The Serb has become somewhat of a ‘pre-season specialist’, producing outstanding performances in each of the past two summers – including a goal in the memorable friendly 4-0 win against Barcelona at Wembley. Unfortunately, Liverpool fans never got to see anything like these kind of performances last season, or any performances for that matter, as the 21-year old was limited to only 8 appearances because of a hamstring injury. In all honesty he might as well not have come back because Klopp never seemed to keen on playing him, even during Jordan Henderson’s 3 month injury layoff.

Clearly Klopp was fond of Grujic at one point, he was his first signing way back in 2015, but that shouldn’t be enough to assure the youngster that he’s got a place in the manager’s future plans. Klopp’s failed pursuit of Guinean midfielder Naby Keita should be both motivating and worrying for Grujic. Motivating because it shows that Klopp still feels like there’s something missing from his midfield, but worrying because he might not see Grujic as the one who can fill it.

 

 

JOE GOMEZ

Joe Gomez.jpg

Alright, even I’ve got to admit this one is very harsh. Despite his preferred position being centre back, Gomez was able to displace starting left-back Alberto Moreno and make the position his own. However his run in the first team turned out to be a short-lived one. Gomez sustained a serious knee injury (ruptured anterior cruciate ligament) whilst away on England-U21 duty, ruling him out for the rest of that season and the whole of last.

So how can a player who’s barely even made his first steps be under pressure to step up?

The answer? I’ve already seen this before…

Liverpool have had talented young defenders in the past who were tipped to go on to big things after promising starts (Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson, Danny Wilson, Andre Wisdom, etc) who never ended up making the grade because of foreign imports taking their spots, and with rumours beginning to circulate that Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk is on his way, it’s starting to feel like deja vu….

Here’s hoping that Gomez stays and fights for his place, because as we’ve seen before, a loan move can quickly become a one-way ticket to becoming Liverpool’s forgotten man.

 

 

DIVOCK ORIGI

Divock Origi

The Belgian frontman has all of the attributes needed to be a top class striker, speed… strength… skill… but he’s missing one thing… consistency. Securing Origi’s signature was a major coup for Liverpool back in 2014 after he set the world alight as a 19-year old at the World Cup (scoring 1 goal and setting up another). He was then loaned back to Lille where he again showed much promise. But at Liverpool he’s looked like a round peg in a Strurridge shaped hole.

Origi has had several extended runs in the side due to Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems, but still hasn’t been able to make the position his own. The addition of Dominic Solanke and the Englishman’s good pre-season form gives Jurgen Klopp another attacking option to call upon in the inevitable absence of Sturridge, an option that he won’t be scared to use if Origi’s form doesn’t improve fast.

 

 

LORIS KARIUS

Loris Karius

Jurgen Klopp’s decision not to sign a goalkeeper this transfer window can only be a good thing for Liverpool’s current options between the sticks. By not signing a keeper you’d assume that the Reds’ manager is comfortable with his starting keeper and his back-up. The only problem is no one’s really sure who’s who, including the goalkeepers.

Loris Karius’ arrival from Mainz should have signaled the end of Simon Mignolet’s time as Liverpool’s No.1. Mignolet’s shaky performances over the years coupled with Karius’ commanding showings in the Bundesliga gave the young German an automatic starting spot at the beginning of last season, but after struggling to adapt it wasn’t long before Mignolet found himself back in the hot seat. To make things worse, the return of Danny Ward from a successful loan spell at Huddersfield could mean that Karius could soon find himself becoming Liverpool’s third choice goalkeeper rather than the No.1 spot that he was promised when he first signed.

 

 

DEJAN LOVREN

Dejan Lovren

If there’s anyone whose name deserves to be on this list it’s this man. Dejan Lovren’s regression (yup, I said ‘regression’, you didn’t misread) since joining Liverpool from Southampton has been remarkable; the once assured ball-playing centre back had been replaced by a clumsy, error-prone defender. To put it bluntly, we want the player we paid for!

Many will question the decision to include a player entering his fourth season on this list… why now?

In past seasons Lovren has escaped criticism because he wasn’t the worst defender in our squad, he was still bad, but he wasn’t the worst. That honour was reserved for the likes of Aly Cissokho, Kolo Toure and Alberto Moreno. Unfortunately for Lovren, this season he was partnered with a much better defender in Joel Matip and his defensive shortcomings became even harder to ignore.

This season Lovren needs to recapture the same form that saw Liverpool splash out 20 million for him back in 2014, or it won’t be long before Jurgen Klopp is forced into signing another centre back.

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