3 Mar 2015

Aldo: Forget Coutinho. £15m whipping-boy had his 'best game' ever against City

In the absence of Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is staking his claim for a regular place in the team, and after a series of good performances, the £15m midfielder is convinced he has what it takes to keep Gerrard and co out of the team.

After the Manchester City victory, Joe Allen described his performance as 'probably my best for Liverpool', and Reds legend John Aldridge seemed to agree, when he enthused:

"Joe Allen was my Man of the Match. Best game he's had in a Liverpool shirt by a mile"

Emboldened by his run in the team, Allen - who is often the subject of criticism by Liverpool fans - has set his sights in sealing a regular place in the starting line-up. He told the Liverpool Echo:

“It's unfortunate for individuals when you get injuries [but] if I can maintain my fitness then I'm confident I have the ability to put in those kind of performances consistently.”

Self-confidence will certainly help Allen, but in my view, all the confidence in the world is not going to be enough for him to be a regular starter next season.

Allen is a squad player, and irrespective of his performances this season, he will always be a squad player. It's his job to come in and cover for Gerrard et al, and he's doing a decent job, which is what he's paid for.

However, as harsh as it may sound, Allen just doesn't offer enough (in terms of specific, measurable impact) to be an automatic starter for Liverpool, and he's proven that over the last three years.

The key question is this: Is Allen the best Liverpool can do in Central midfield?

The answer is unequivocally NO. Allen brings neat two-touch passing and high-intensity pressing to the team, but that's not enough (IMO) to justify a regular starting berth.

A team regularly challenging for the league/Champions League needs MORE from its central midfielders, and its no coincidence that over the last five years, the Reds - with midfielders like Lucas, Allen, Aquilani, and Spearing, etc in the squad - have persistently struggled to make any headway in the league/Europe.

There's no room for sentiment - players like Lucas, Allen, Johnson et al should be squad players, not regular first-teamers, and if Liverpool are to consistently reach higher levels of performance, then upgrades are needed in central midfield.

With Gerrard leaving, Liverpool will undoubtedly sign a new central midfielder or two this summer, and with Henderson guaranteed to play regularly, and Can inevitably set to move into midfield, I don't see where there's room for Allen to be a regular starter.

Author:



65 comments:

  1. Totally agreed, how many season Allen have been with the club? and you can count with your ten finger for his series of good performance. Btw $15 mil is not a good value for money in fact it's the other way round in his case. If we're going to do some transfer value survey you'll see how much we should pay for top class players like Suarez ($22 mil) comparing to those transfer BR paid from $15 - $25 million, hell these players are only average joe and nobody would mind if BR is paying $30 - $45 mil for a World class players. Luciano Vietto is top class (a Luis Suarez in the making) and I'm sure in a few years his values gonna sky rocket. For sure we won't be able to get back for what we paid for these players like Allen, Lallana, Markovic, Lovren, Balotelli, Sakho or even Henderson, not very wise investment or even as players. When comes to transfer spending BR is wasting lot of $millions like Daglish but at least he's got LS transfer profit to cover his A@%ss.

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  2. Those "average joe" players just beat the champions. For all the complaints about transfers the team on the weekend had 8 Rodgers signings in the starting line up. Was the result not good enough for you?

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  3. I generally agree. Liverpool should be aiming higher than what they've currently got. The midfield put in a brilliant performance against City but it was just one game, let's not get carried away. If Allen can perform like that every match then he's clearly a quality player and definitely a guy you want to have in the squad. When a first choice player is not available Allen can fill any positional role and that's incredibly valuable. However Liverpool will want to bring in someone to try and fill the gap left by Gerrard and that player will need to be very good. The only question is what kind of player that ends up being. If they buy a true holding midfielder who has a bit of box-to-box potential then Allen will quickly find himself on the sideline. Henderson, Lallana and Coutinho will be preferred in the advanced roles. However if the inbound player is a more attacking type not suited to breaking up plays defensively then there is still a gap in the deeper positions to be filled.


    I'd just ask people to consider what it is that they really want from this football team. Do you want good football and results or do you want big name players? If a midfield of Allen and Henderson with Lallana and Coutinho in front can beat Man City then exactly what else are we looking for? Constant improvement is certainly on the cards, Liverpool will never stop trying to get better, and I fully support that. It's just strange that we can seemingly continue to criticise Allen and assume he's not good enough when he was a massive part of a team that just produced such a brilliant result.

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  4. I disagree JK I would take a Joe Allen a player who would open the door to attacks over a Frank Lampard a player who would finish the food.

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  5. ... with a deflection

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  6. "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man"

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  7. Absolutely spot on JK - I'm often sat with my Red mates discussing what Allens measurable output to the team is. You've nailed it. Keep up the good writing.

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  8. What about salary's and bonus's ??
    plus all the attitude 's with So called world class players .

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  9. If Joe Allen gets a consistent run in the team and plays like he did at the weekend consistently he'd definitely be a regular starter.

    He dominated midfield and his calmness on the ball, pressing, and accuracy of passing (mostly forward) were exceptional.

    Forget all the irrelevant stats re assists and goals scored for Joe Allen. He's not that kind of player. He brings something different to the team dynamic that provides a platform for others to receive the plaudits.

    Well done Aldridge for singling him out on this occasion. I do agree be needs to perform more consistently but he played well back end of last season too.

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  10. Players don't need a measurable output to be useful. Take Xavi the first time he won the UCL with Barcelona he scored 0 goals that season, in the other two season where Barcelona won the UCL under Guardiola where he was as important as Messi he scored 15 goals in about 105 appearances yet he still came 3rd in the world player of the year

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  11. Ok Allen had one decentish game against City other than that it's been the usual garbage from him. You are spot on with his limited contribution, he runs around a lot and plays simple passes (only because he can't pass more than 10 yards) but he will never ever be good enough for LFC. Allen, Johnson, Borini, Lambert are all not good enough simple.

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  12. Nonsense, absolute drivel to compare Allen to Xavi (one of the best midfielders to ever play the game). Allen is a midfielder who can't pass the ball... So yeh he does offer something different to most other midfielders. The only attribute he has is being able to run around a lot, he has not other single attribute.

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  13. This comment was meant to be on Mrclever's post above... Apologies.

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  14. I didn't compare him to Xavi! He played very well Sunday and was vital in us winning. Get over it! Some fans love to criticise certain players but won't give them praise when deserved.

    I've criticised Allen in the past but he was exceptional Sunday. As Also, Carra, Phil Thompson and others have pointed out.

    Try a constructive post next time rather than the drivel you served up last time!

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  15. Oops. Now I need to apologise to you!

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  16. You said Allen can not pass yet he was the one who was finding Coutinho Moreno Lallana and Markovic, Allen had an 87.7% passing accuracy and made the most successful passes against City. Something I have been saying since the start of the season is that Allen arguably better for the team then Gerrard and his 60 yard balls are.

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  17. This argument is reliant on a misrepresentation of what Allen does and what he brings to the team. He doesn't only bring efficient if limited passing and pressing. He is also able to retain the ball in a challenge; to beat a man with skill moves; to turn the team around receiving possession in tight areas; he has a first touch as good as any player in the division; he has a great engine; his tactical play and use of space is excellent; he is very consistent. He's not just some average clockwork player. He is immaculate technically, intelligent and energetic.


    There are some absurd misrepresentations of Allen on here, claiming that this was a one-off performance from Joe Allen. It wasn't at all. He's just a good player. I don't believe he needs special criticism and the extent to which he's been singled out in his time at Liverpool is ridiculous, just ridiculous, and reflects some of the worst of our contemporary fan culture in my experience.

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  18. Allen is not the flashiest player but he is very effective when you need to control the game. He has never been a goalscorer or assist maker but he will like Lucas put in a shift that goes unnoticed.

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  19. The trouble is 99.9% of those attempted passes are what I would call 'safe' passes, any pro footballer should be able to play 5-10m passes without losing the ball. I admit Allen played well against City but the truth is that he was not far off the maximum he can contribute and we should and could be expecting more.

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  20. I believe we can agree that we like his nippy type of contribution to the team, and we've seen this shift that helps the whole team tick. The upgrade that we feel we need, I feel, should be of a similar mould. Only better. More incisive. With greater ability to change games. Taller? But if we have to trade off on the TYPE of contribution... I'm happier to keep Allen.

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  21. "Embiggens". Glorious.

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  22. Don't use words like 'misrepresentation' and 'contemporary' near a football conversation.

    *throws pie*

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  23. I am too good for this world.

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  24. In my mind the best team effort of the season sure there was 1 or 2 put in average games but the pressing passing and the 2 goals just highlighted a great effort.
    They showed no fear of the highly rated City team and did it all on a short turnaround after the Besiktas game which surprised many i have talked to.
    The effort they put in was full of grit and determination and i couldn't
    be prouder to be a supporter of this great club oh and Allen was good too.

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  25. I thought it was the other way around, if they play terrible Rodgers puts them on a bench and the slowly reintroduces them?? Bench Can, let Lovren and Allen play, the deserved it!

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  26. C'mon he's got "plays short passes" written all over his forehead. He's just playing it safe while Lovren tries to play it smart and always looks for an opening. and Sakho is not all that sturdy in the back, just think of his game where the attacker went around him and he went down and grabbed his feet! I forgot which match it was but it was comical to say the least, and his passing is not always spot on. People stop bashing Lovren for no good reason!

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  27. He doesn't slow down the play to find our where the other player is though whilst other players might. His one two touch safe passing keeps our play moving and shuffles the opposition from side to side. This creates space.

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  28. It's a perfectly cromulent word.

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  29. I'm not sure if you watched the match against City most of those passed advanced Liverpool's game state, whereas if Lucas or Gerrard was playing one would pass it back to Can and the other woul d search for Markovic or Moreno but would end up finding the linesman.

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  30. Firstly I concluded it by seeing with my eyes and using my brain to interpret the information. Secondly I have looked at the stats before. Now if you are happy with me showing this season's stats and comparing the two I am happy to oblige. But if you are making excuses for Dajan then we will need last years stats too which are harder to find. Especially Lovren's as I am unaware of how to find Soto's stats.

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  31. Struggled to make any headway in the league? We finished 2nd last year...

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  32. Average pass length of Lovren 21m for Sakho 20m. Average long ball per game Lovren 3.1, Sakho 2.8. Passing Accuracy Lovren 85.8%, Sakho 89%, Passing in opposition half Lovren 70%, Sakho 85.3%. Lovren makes 0.1 key pass per game compared to Sakho's 0.3.

    So Sakho is passing on average one meters less and 0.3 long balls (over 25 yards) less than Lovren per game. But is doing it far more successfully as his passes in the opposition half show.

    As for sturdiness. Lovren errors 6 Sakho 2. That foul you are on about is where Sakho slipped and grabbed the player I have also seen Terry and Kompany do similar things. It is a poor attempt.

    So please stop this nonsense now.

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  33. I have never mentioned that Lucas or Gerrard are better options. I am simply stating there is a lot better out there than Allen and as much as you defend him that is the truth.

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  34. I would need to compare Lovren's stats from Soto which is proving difficult to. Not entirely given up though.

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  35. Your first sentence sums it up perfectly

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  36. Charged in, passed forward, pressed like Hendo. He can't be our first option, but a good option to have.

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  37. I too thought this was a rather interesting comment.

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  38. The only 'misrepresentation' going on here is by you. Your attempts to exaggerate Allen's skillset are amusing:


    * 'Beat a man with skill moves'? I've never seen him dribble past a player, but if he has, it's a very rare occurrence.


    As for good first touch, and ability to 'retain a ball in a challenge' - these are the rudimentary skills required of any footballer from League Two upwards, and given the elite training Allen receives, this is the bare minimum that should be expected.


    I haven't argued that Allen isn't a good player, or that he's technically bereft. As you state yourself, he offers only a 'limited' range of passing/pressing, and that's it. Everything else you've mentioned is par for the course when it comes to footballers.

    Allen does not consistently impact games, and no amount of spin is going to change that. He doesn't score, create, make chances, or hurt the opposition in any recognisable way. Short-passing and receiving the ball in tight areas is great, but to maintain a regular first team spot, a central midfielder has to do more.

    When you consider LFC's regular first-teamers, those that deserve to be there contribute something that specifically impacts games in a positive way.


    * Henderson: Box-box midfielder; scores and creates goals.
    * Gerrard: Peerless set-pieces; scores/creates goals.
    * Lucas: Excels at his principal job: breaking up play and protecting the back four.
    * Sterling: Scores and creates goals.
    * Sturridge: Scores and creates goals
    * Coutinho: Score and creates goals

    etc


    Allen contributes, but not enough to justify a regular starting place. That's the point. He's frequently played in advanced areas for Liverpool over the last two years and had zero positive impact (in terms of effecting games).


    Liverpool need more from central midfielders. Allen cannot just be in the team to pass sideways and press; he needs to contribute something specific that helps Liverpool win games, and he doesn't do that consistently enough.

    It all comes back to the same question: Is Allen the best Liverpool can do in Central midfield? If the answer is yes, then the club has serious problems, and should forget about challenging for major titles.

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  39. *sigh* This is the exception over the last five years, not the rule. Why do you ignore this patently obvious fact? I stated 'in the last five years' in the article, too.

    Last season was a one-off based on the incredible exploits of Suarez and Sturridge. This season, Liverpool have returned to the kind of form that saw the club finish outside the top 6 FOUR years in a row.

    That is what I'm (obviously) referring to with that comment.

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  40. However Rodgers has only been in charge for 3 of these years, in which time we've made serious headway. 2nd last year and currently looking good for a top 4 finish again this year. That to me is headway.

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  41. Allen Hendo is the future man! Nah, I'm happy to see things work for these guys now and all of them seem to start benefiting from Gerrard no longer being on the pitch. Coutinho's new found shooting boots, Henderson's passing and Allen's driving of the ball were all snowed under by Gerrard commanding midfield and demanding the ball. It's not even because Gerrard is so dominant on the pitch but how can you not pass to him when he's there? That said, Xabi Alonso and Mascherano never seemed to bothered by him being there and that was definitely a much better Gerrard they played with. So it's good to see them click as a unit but when it comes down to individual skill, they can all be improved on.

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  42. Thats how it should be really but remembering that Can isnit being played in Mid where he is supposed to play. Thats why we have to be a bit more patient with him, just like we are with Raheem-he isnt a striker but is being forced to play there, thats why we tolerante it when he fails to shoot properly due to his miscues

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  43. Bravo JK couldn't agree more with everything you have said...Can't say that happens often tbh but you've nailed this one!!!!

    I quote 'beats a man with skill moves' when the hell has this ever happened?!?

    I have also seen Allen have many poor, heavy first touches so I would contest this statement too (not that he is the only one).

    All our other midfielders have key facets which add something to our game. Albeit Gerrard's facets are seriously on the wane. I just can't see for the life of me what Allen does above what any other average footballer should do.



    The simple fact, as you have rightly pointed out, is he doesn't do enough, he doesn't have a key role in the team and we should and could expect more from our central midfielders.

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  44. According to Squawker Lovren had a 73% passing accuracy against City and 64% against Soto. They don't have the Besitkas game. These were supposed to be some of Lovren's best games. Sakho has only ever had a passing % below 85 twice. One of those was when he came on as a sub 79% and the other 81%. From Sqawker you can see the direction of passes too (as if other stats I have given were not good enough) and you can see Lovren is not passing forward more and certainly not more accurately.

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  45. Please bi diligent and find Lovren's stats from Southampton- you will see the error of your ways...

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  46. I'll say it again, this was confidence ridden Lovren, please go find and comapre SOUTHAMPTON Lovren! and focus more on the defensive effect because they are, I dunno, DEFENDERS after all!

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  47. Passing accuracy 2013/14. Lovren 82% Sakho 92.5%. Sakho had a passing accuracy in opposition half of 86.6%

    I will look for further info.

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  48. You said in an earlier post that Lovren is this great passer and Sakho has "short passer" written all over him. It's good to move the goal posts when your proven wrong though.

    Like I have said, finding Soto stats from last year has proven difficult. But whatever a player does for another team is irrelavant. What he does for us is whats important.

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  49. Only have Squawker to go by. Av pass length Lovren (L) 22m. Sakho (same year(S)) 20m this year 21m. Duels won L 58% S (13/14) 59% S (14/15) 59%. S defensive errors 2 and2. Lovren 1.

    So Sakho came in to Liverpool from a new country in a leaky defence and performed better than Lovren when he made the switch to Liverpool.

    But yeah keep making excuses for the lad.

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  50. how many games did each play?

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  51. You actually proved nothing, you can't deduce Lovren's effect based on leaky formation and general team underperforming, that's just wrong..

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  52. Enough for it to be a large enough sample size. Sakho 18 Lovren 31. Unless your just choosing to ignore the overwhelming evidence to hold on to your mistaken belief.

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  53. I compared it to a leaky defence of last year (Sakho's debut season) in which Sakho out performed Lovren in his debut season.

    You feel it is wrong because you disagree. One of the major reasons our defence was so leaky was Lovren. Not only him by any stretch but his own individual errors cannot be blamed on anyone else. His not very good passing back to the keeper and coleagues also was not a help. Him not having the best positioning or running out to try and win balls he shouldn't cannot be blamed on anyone else.

    For the record I liked what I had seen of Lovren and I was happy with his signing. I thought him and Sakho could put together a good partnership but he didn't perform and the idea of him taking Sakho's place in the team is crazy.

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  54. Im talking about Lovren's Soiuthampton season you should go find the stats- I did. You writ only what suits you. Liverpool had better formation more durable and still were pouribg goals ( when Sakho played) and yet this year pre-January with zero midfield protection where Lovren and Skrtel had to plsy liberos they received less goals compared to same part of the season last year
    I dunno where u get your stats dude

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  55. I gave all the stats I could find on Squawker. If you have a better source please show me?
    I also compared Sakho last year to Lovren last year and there wasn't much in it apart from Sakho's better passing stats. So that is Sakho at Liverpool when we were leaky against Lovren at Soto.

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  56. I have to say this is a pretty narrow vision Jaimie. Your barometer of 'specific measurable impact ' appears to indicate that a midfield player can only be judged on assists and goals . By this rationale Makelele and Busquets would be on your list of squad players....Dunga???(or any of about six holding midfield players Brazil have employed in the last 20 years)..every team needs their water carriers, they give the flair players a platform from which to produce. Any modern coach would tell you that.

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  57. We made headway last season and I seem to remember Allen playing very well when fit...last season was only a one off because Suarez left and Sturridge has been injured , and we got to the position we did because Rodgers signed Sturridge when nobody else was sure about him and coached Suarez from maverick talent to top goalscorer in about a year.....he has done the same with Henderson (10 assists , 5 goals, Sterling has improved massively (more assists this season than in previous three combined) and as for Coutinho....he has proved to be a masterstoke , the only this missing from him was goals and now he is delivering those. We are on course to finish 3rd now I think and given what we lost for much of the season (Suarez & Sturridge = 60% of our goals last season), the rapid fading of Gerrard and the need to integrate so many new players, that will be a perfectly acceptible mini step back. We won't have so many new faces next year and should hit the ground running for another title tilt I reckon. With Joe Allen playing a major part.

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  58. No, you are have interpreted this incorrectly. Each players is judged on objective criteria related to their positions, so holding mids will obviously be judged on a different set of criteria to attacking mids.

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  59. I almost agreed with most everything you'd written, until you got to the part where you put Lucas into that 'squad player' list. First, regarding Allen. He did indeed have a fantastic performance against Man City (41 of 57 passes were forward). In terms of measurable impact, that is determined by one's role. Saying that Joe Allen doesn't get enough goals or assists is like saying that Sakho doesn't get enough goals or assists...it's simply not his job. His job against Man City, and in general, is the job of a holding midfielder...passing, pressing, tackling. When fully fit, he consistently excels in those areas. I don't believe he should be a starter in the best midfield that we can put together, whether it's from the current squad or including transfer ambitions, but I believe he deserves better than the squad player title. His Liverpool career has been so stop-start and injury hampered that we've never really seen his best, and I hope we get to.


    Now for Lucas...he is our most consistently under-rated player. During his spell in the team he led the league in tackles per game (I haven't re-checked that stat, don't hold my feet to the fire if he's actually 2nd or something). Ahead of Nemanja Matic in that stat, who I rate as a top 3 DM in the world, and he broke up play so intelligently and is excellent at passing the ball through the lines along the ground. He was our MVP during his run in the team. He isn't as mobile as I'd like, but he is such an efficient player in that role and with the right partner, I think it would be very difficult to get someone in without a ridiculous fee who would do better. I believe Emre Can will eventually be better if he ends up settling at DM, but I don't think right now he could. My ideal signing for that spot is Radja Nainggolan, but if we can't get him I don't see many realistic options out there that are an upgrade on Lucas, if we really honestly assess how he has performed. I'll add that I had a very difficult time getting to that conclusion, it's so easy to underrate him and I've done it myself often.

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  60. Also, Re: your article...I agree it's rough to take Lovren out and hurt his confidence, but if Sakho is fit, Sakho must play. He is our best defender, and according to the stats (record with and without him) is the most influential defender in the EPL.


    I also feel compelled to mention our summer signings and how fantastic many of them have been. Emre Can is a clear success, and a fantastic talent. Moreno has settled very well and looks great. Manquillo was my favorite one early on, I'm sad to see him not getting much playing time, but I hope we buy him. Markovic has shown his quality and is settling in, and will clearly be a huge asset to us over the next few years. Dejan Lovren failed at a time when everyone was failing, and finally over the last few games is starting to show that he can play - this doesn't mean I consider him a success, but I do think he has a future with us - he's still quite young and Skrtel is getting older. Balotelli, for all the criticism he gets, is not a failure in the traditional sense. He was the absolutely wrong player profile for us, why we bought him is a mystery, and anyone who expected him to succeed in our team needs to learn a thing or two...I can't call him a failure because he was never going to succeed, and if anything I believe he has improved as a player during his time with us...but he will be sold, and should be. I feel very bad for the guy, and if the Tottenham goal is his only meaningful contribution this season I'll be fine with it and wish him well. Lambert is similarly not suited to us, and I feel bad for him as well - I hope he gets a look in before the season is done.

    So to recap, we bought 2 players who we shouldn't have bought and weren't ever going to succeed, and they haven't (Lambert/Balo). We bought one player who was shite when everyone was shite, and may pan out in the future (Lovren). We bought or loaned 4 good young talents that are the right player profile who have impressed me very much, and Origi we'll see next year. According to a Tomkins Times analysis of transfer dealings, 50% success rate is a job well done considering how everyone does. I call our transfers a 4/7 success, which beats the going rate. I'm personally very pleased with them, I believe they will propel us to to the top 4 unless BR brings Gerrard back into holding mid, and I believe next season will be an absolute blast.



    To quote Paul Dalglish, "Last year was hollywood football, fantastic to watch. But the way we're playing right now...this is how you win things."

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  61. Well in that case , you need to back up your assertion that he's not good enough with an analysis of those specific stats, because all he does when I see him play is break up opposition play, win tackles and pass the ball (high percentage ) to a teamate. That would appear to be his job done wouldn't it?

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  62. Stuart C Jaimie's battering of Sterling is Totally justified

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  63. With that kinda millions he's paying I'm saying BR should paid for quality, reliable and consistance players in and out avery weeks for BPL and European games, not someone awesome on a day then gone another.

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  64. If moneys are your concern then Liverpool should stick around to the championship level but fortunately we have FSG to look after that, Attitude management will be looked after by the manager, Do you see any of those problemata on Barcelona team?

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  65. Now you see my point mr. griffin, I've got nothing against our players we need consistency to win trophies and quality investment to strengthen the club's financials with good resell values for players like Suarez quality to get us back to the TOP.Good football and results.

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