24 Feb 2014

LFC vs. Swansea: BR explains why he 'needed' to sub Sterling for 'outstanding' Allen

At Anfield yesterday, Liverpool struggled over overcome a resilient Swansea team, and once again, huge holes in the Reds' midfield caused problems, with Jonjo Shelvey in particular able to capitalise on the space. To counteract this, LFC boss Brendan Rodgers brought on Joe Allen in the second half, and in his post-match interview, he explained his thinking behind the substitution.

Speaking to reporters, Rodgers explained:

"We had spells sporadically where we had the ball and made good combinations, but I thought we were better when Joe Allen came on; I thought Joe was outstanding.

"I felt we needed to get hold of the ball and press it better, but we can't be perfect."

Did Allen really make such a difference when he came on? Here are his stats for the game:

* 95% passing accuracy.
* 100% tackling success.
* 1 interception.
* 58% of ground-duels won.
* 0 clearances/blocks
* 0 shots/corners/crosses

Stats: OPTA

Sloppy passing throughout the game put the team under pressure at times, and it's clear that Allen helped LFC retain possession. He also made more successful tackles in his 32 minutes on the pitch than any other Reds midfielder, including Gerrard (50% success rate), and Henderson (40%).

Allen's stats in some areas are excellent, but zero blocks/clearances; only one interception; and a mere 58% success rate in ground duels, shows why he is not Liverpool's first-choice defensive-midfielder. Additionally, as usual, Allen made minimal attacking impact on the game, though it's possible Rodgers told him to focus solely on possession/defensive duties.

I've often argued that Allen is a man without a position at Anfield, but perhaps his place in the team is now becoming clearer. Allen appears to be the guy you bring on to solidify midfield if Gerrard is being overrun. That won't happen in every game, but yesterday, the skipper needed help, and the Welsh midfielder delivered.

Going forward, I doubt Allen will be happy with this role, though. He wants to start matches, but he just doesn't fit into the starting line-up, and on current form, there's no way Rodgers will drop either Coutinho, Sterling or Henderson to accommodate him.

Allen only has himself to blame for slipping into perpetual substitute mode. Since signing, he's had plenty of chances to impose himself on the team, and he's regularly failed to effect games in the same way as Hendo, Sterling et al.



  1. Control is the word ,Joe Allen had a very good 32 minutes which will give him a great deal of confidence .

  2. Pretty sure that Joe put studge through on goal, after winning the ball in midfield; not his biggest fan but I think he is decent going forward

  3. Did Allen not play further forward in this match?

    When he won possession he broke forward and can even remember Allen making a defence splitting pass to Sturridge.

    Where was he deployed as a defensive midfielder in this match?

    This is a snippet from an Allen interview on our official website after the match.
    He executed five successful tackles against the Swans, which was more challenges than any other Liverpool midfielder managed throughout the entire 90 minutes.

    The 23-year-old broke up the play, harried the opposition and surged forward with the ball at his feet in an attempt to ease the burden on his side.

    "The manager just told me to go out there and play my game, in order to help the team push to get the winner," he reflected. "Thankfully it came and it was a great feeling to be part of a winning performance."


  4. You are completely wrong about Allen making zero attacking impact. He was instrumental in building at least three attacks which ended with shots that I can think of without checking. It was just an excellent all-round midfield display from him. It doesn't mean that you have to revise your whole opinion of a player, just because he does things you don't expect him to do, but you do need to recognise and acknowledge where and when it happens to be credible.

  5. Yes, Allen did appear to steady the ship, not my favorite player, bit light weight and overpriced for me, but his appearance and Shelvey going off (how much space did we give him) settled the game down. Gerrard for me, is too slow for defensive midfield and drops far too deep, at times it looks like he's center back. Would rather he was moved further up the pitch, if his legs can't take it, he would be a devastating sub there for the last 20-30 minutes. Allen will probably drop back to the bench next week.

  6. I feel Allen gets unfairly criticised far too often. Too many comparisons to our other players, why do we need two players the same? He isn't a Gerrard nor a Lucas in fact he isn't even a defensive midfielder! He is probably closest to Hendo and I think Hendo is brilliant but personally Allen is a better passer, better tackler and is more intelligent as a player.
    As a midfield trio, Lucas Hendo and Allen would be the most secure allowing still enough attacking flair but whilst also not leaving the defense in the lurch. These 3 have actually proved this point already this season.
    But back to the point, we need to back our players, especially the younger ones and even more so the potentially great ones because Allen is just that. The potential is there, why can't the supporters help boost the confidence instead of shattering them.
    Rodgers should really play Allen in the next match, after performances definitely. And unfortunately it's Coutinho who needs to be benched for a game.

  7. Do not waste your breath regarding Allen mate. There is no point doing it on here.

    Just ask me :-)

  8. Whoscored has him down with one key pass too so not a Zero attacking impact. He made the same amount of Key passes as Sterling and Henderson. We know Sterling's was fantastic but we could have done more with Allen's. He also held the ball up well at times. I agree not first choice but in solidifying a lead and also what Jaimie said then that will be something. Will he kick up a fuss about being sub? I doubt it. He will get starts too at times fitness of Gerrard and now seemingly Lucas too is a question. Both those two players need legs about them.

    Oh and whoscored class a keypass as being "The final pass leading to a shot at goal from a teammate".

  9. I know I know.....sometimes you just gotta try!
    Anyway in reality the midfield isn't a problem, nor attack. How can a team with 4 really good centre backs struggle so much defensively?!

  10. I am not sure Allen has the potential to be great but I do appreciate him as a player and do believe he can be unfairly judged. I do however think that being overly critical of players is counter productive. Far far more so than overblown praise.

  11. Our current defence is an absolute shambles! Skrtel cannot lead and does some brainless things at times, Agger looked lost vs Swansea and Toure does not know what to do with the ball at the moment.

    Hyypia's replacement has been a long time coming. Sakho is exactly that. Can't wait for him to be back!

  12. He played Sturridge in on goal, so he definitely had a key pass. He'd have had an assists if not for a very good block by Williams.

  13. I have greater concern with Mignolet than Allen because we have solid/better options in the position he specialises in.

    My thoughts on Mignolet may be controversial but I think at this stage of the season it is becoming more obvious to me at least that he maybe the weak defensive link. Now hear me out because at this point I have probably attracted the ire of many.

    Mignolet is a good shot stopper but a keeper needs to be more than just that and in our system he also needs to distribute better.
    Mignolet never commands the back-line because he is always rooted near the goal line waiting to stop shots.
    Yesterday Skrtel was at one point sternly speaking to the keeper because he wouldn't come out to collect possession when Skrtel had no other option so he had to concede a throw-in when Mignolet could have easily made himself available and received possession.

    Shortly after Mignolet then tried to venture out and he fumbled the ball out of the 18 yard area but only got away with handling the ball because he managed to cleverly disguise his mistake.

    After a solid start, Mignolet became a nervous wreck from about the 6th game till now. This in turn makes defenders nervous about him so they try to get the ball away from him resulting in silly mistakes if you look at Kolo's comical errors that resulted in goals you will see he received the ball under pressure and Mignolet made no attempt to communicate or offer the defender a way out. In most cases the keeper should speak with his defenders since he will see opposing players in a busy defender's blind spots and be able to warn the said defender.

    Initially Mignolet looked like an upgrade on the erratic Reina performances of the last 2 seasons but given we have conceded a goal more after the same number of games as last season it looks like there is more work needed with our goalkeeping.

    Mignolet has kept 7 clean sheets in 27 games while Reina recorded double that after 38 games so Mignolet now needs to keep 7 clean sheets in the last 11 games just to match Reina's performance of last season.

    The usual excuse this season has been we have had many defenders in and out but it was also the same last season when Carra played out the second half of the season but he sat out the first half while Agger and Johnson as usual had their spells out injured with Skrtel having his worst season for LFC.

    The big difference between this season and last season in terms of personnel is that Carra retired while Wisdom is out on loan and Enrique has been out since November but most significantly we have a keeper who has improved shot stopping but we have lost the distribution and command of the backline that Reina offered.

    Reina is most likely gone for good and its not a bad thing but I feel we still need to get a better keeper than either Mignolet or Reina. I also dont understand how Rodgers who places a lot of faith on the keeper being a key part of his passing style picked probably the worst keeper for that system given he must have been scouted beforehand and £9million was invested on him.

  14. Our defence is a flippen joke yet you want to have a dig at Mignolet?

  15. I don't need to 'revise my whole opinion' of Allen. I've never argued he's a bad player. He's a good player, but he just doesn't fit into this LFC side. If he's so outstanding, why is he not starting every week? Will he start the next game? No chance. Rodgers bought him as a first teamer, and now he's a squad player. he doesn't score/assist, and as the stats show, his defensive work is good, but not great.

  16. If he was not as injured as much as he has been then he would have played in many more matches than he has.

    That I can assure you.

  17. I don't agree with him, but it isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

    I remember Shay Given always used to be thought of as excellent behind a series of awful Newcastle defences. He was an outstanding shot-stopper (in pure shot stopping terms, one of the best in the world, in his prime), but he didn't seem to organise his defence well. This ultimately led to him being usurped by less proven 'keepers at City (Hart) and Villa (Guzan).

  18. Are you suggesting that Reina or any other keeper would do a better job behind a a joke of a defence such as ours?

  19. I think an observation and a dig are two different things. I have stated my observations that I feel need to be worked on and have not disparaged Mignolet at any point. He is after all the most significant change for us so I am entitled to note the differences between now and last season.. I refrained from focussing on Allen because we have improved in his area while scoring more goals in the process.

    We have now scored 70 goals in 27 games against 71 in 38 games last season so that is a big improvement and the midfield plays a key role in supplying our strikers.

    I cant be wrong to be concerned that a key keeper stat of clean sheets that is only better than 6 teams in a 20 team league needs improving.

    Our defenders do need improving but a solid commanding keeper will no doubt help the team more. Mignolet was this keeper for us for at least the first 6 games but something made him more hesitant and those solid one nil early season wins and 3 successive clean sheets have become a distant memory.

    Last season we conceded 43 goals over 38 games and we are now 8 goals short of that with 11 games to go. When you consider we have conceded 12 goals between matchday 20 and matchday 27 yet conceded 1 goal only in our biggest games against Everton and Arsenal in that period, the reality means our defence and that includes Mignolet can indeed raise their game if need be. We have changed defenders many times this season but the constant has been Mignolet yet the same weaknesses remain.

    Should we simply dismiss this by assuming our defenders are equally poor or maybe Mignolet himself should try to reproduce his early season form?

  20. Refer to my question I asked of VermHat.

  21. Oh and by the way, we conceded 34 goals after 27 matches last season.

    Mignolet has conceded 35 this season?

  22. I agree with a lot of what you say. Reina had started to make a few mistakes and because of the kerfuffle around his replacement and departure a lot of supporters felt they should get behind the new man. He then made that penalty save and lived off that for a while.
    His lack of command in the penalty area and poor distribution are quite apparent although he has not been helped by a hesitant and ever changing back 4.
    BR and the scouting team might well have thought that any weaknesses could be overcome by coaching and that is probably the case but it might take some time. I don't think he needs to be chucked away just yet

  23. I think he has the potential to be very good for Liverpool as a whole, certainly better to have than not.
    Criticism is a weird one because I believe supporters should always support. However sometimes the obvious needs addressing from the people who can actually make the difference (Rodgers). I do hope he dishes some abuse to the players, we're brilliant to watch but just because we're winning now with a shocking defence doesn't mean we will next week.
    We know he loves to over praise on the camera, just hope he says it how it is behind closed doors.

  24. So, you basically advocate blind faith, and never being critical of anything? That, IMO, is counter-productive, and if everyone had that attitude, then nothing would ever improve. Please don't ever become a politician, as you would probably be an all-controlling dictator who slaps down dissent ;-)

  25. No you can't 'assure' anyone of that. This is just your opinion, and it's not based on anything approaching reality. The unambiguous fact is that Allen is a squad player; Rodgers does not play him from the start regularly despite the fact he has been fit for months now.

  26. Vermhat conceded he doesn't agree with me but accepts the point I raised that Mignolet could be the one contributing to the defensive shambles by only sticking to what he knows best which is shot stopping.

    Mignolet was assertive to begin with for example shooing away defenders to get on with the game after saving the penalty against Stoke but he is no longer imposing himself. So to answer the question you posed to VermHat, I believe a keeper who organises the defence better can improve that defence.

    Mignolet worked with a struggling defence at Sunderland which cant be better than our defence but performed quite well in those conditions. My contention is not that Reina is better but I highlighted areas he did better that Mignolet can work on and become better.

    Besides there is no way we can improve our defence without reviewing every position and that includes Mignolet's position given he along with Skrtel have played all our league games this season. My belief is we may not have the best defenders in the league but they are better than what they have displayed so far and having a vocal keeper should help them cut out mistakes given he will constantly communicate and effectively organise them.

  27. If you read my original post you will see I include these stats.

  28. Would Henderson have played as much as he has if he had as many injury problems as Allen since joining LFC?

  29. I am glad you see my point and agree with me in that regard. I am not advocating that Mignolet be cast aside but only emphasising that he needs to improve some key areas of his game which in turn will help the defence overall.
    What we probably need more is a competent backup other than Jones who can push Mignolet more and avoid having the first choice keeper fall into the same comfort zone that Reina was in when he knew he was always first choice irrespective of his performances.

  30. the problem isnt allen or hendo or lucas. The fact is we contrive to compare everyone to gerrard. Someone who tackles, someone who scores, someone who does hollywood passes, someone who takes penalties,corners and freekicks - no one will come up trumps. We will only realise the worth of gerrard when he retires.A player like this comes once a generation and is worth his weight in gold when you add loyalty to his qualities.

  31. I have to disagree, Rodgers has stated that Allen isn't that defensive midfielder, he wasn't for Swansea. Gerrard is one in a billion and needs something to change to keep him in a team, so defensive midfielder it is.
    Look Allen isn't immense at present we all know that however I can still remember all the abuse Hendo received. He's turned into a brilliant player for the team so it's possible.

  32. Why don't you debate properly and address the points I made instead of trying to veer things off topic with pointless questions? Henderson is irrelevant in this context.

  33. Yeah too right! Are you with me?
    It's difficult of course, and you know what this is why I'm not in that position. I just believe in lots and lots of support from supporters and the nasty difficult work to be fulfilled by the people better trained.
    I like to think that our manager has clear vision and can see the negatives as well as the positives and acts appropriately.

  34. It is not irrelevant at all.

    Any player that has been injured as much as Allen since joining the club would not have been able to play on a regular basis.

  35. Nope.

    I think what I wrote is pretty clear: I'm saying it could be that Mignolet is a contributing factor. He certainly isn't as commanding with crosses etc. as Reina used to be and doesn't look to be as vocal, but whether this is a major factor or even a partial factor in our defensive shakiness is impossible to prove either way (short of asking all of our defenders if it plays on their minds).

    Equally you could argue that Mignolet is shaky at times because how poor our defense is.

    Either could be argued. As I've said in my original post, I don't think Mignolet is a major factor and disagree with Jon's point, but it isn't impossible.

  36. This is why we need to go all out in the off season and get Vidal. There was chatter of him leaving Juve, with CL it could happen. Won't hold my breath though.

  37. I think people are generally supportive of Allen on matchday. You don't hear people booing him, since he certainly doesn't deserve that.

    Some people may have some remarks about them amongst themselves, but no one is screaming "Whilst your pass accuracy is generally impressive Joe, you often fail to make a clear definable impact in the attacking third of the pitch!!!".

    I think it is fine to talk about this business online. I doubt any misgivings about him like Jamie has pointed out get back to him and if they do, I expect him to be able to deal with it. Comes with the territory. I'm not one of these people who think players should tamely accept abuse etc. but I think they have to be able to deal with criticism (even if it is unfair sometimes).

    I think Jaimie's assessment of Allen is pretty fair but I must say his view largely reflects my own on this matter, He should prove a good lad to have if we make it into the European Cup next season.

    I think his assessment of your comment is a bit harsh though.

  38. I think he'll be our of league. By a fair distance too.

    Outstanding player though. Best midfielder in Serie A. I just hope United don't go for him. I think people underestimate what a massive draw United will still be in the summer, even if they don't get into Europe.

  39. I was thought we were going to sign begovic. begovic would [imo] have been a better choice.

  40. I feel the deeper role does not suit SG. We needed a DM in January and maybe paying the price until LL is back. Our defence is making individual errors however we are far to exposed in midfield without a sweeper or DM. And no SG is not the answer.

  41. Man Utd scare the poo out of me, too many years of doing the unexpected. Even now I find myself relieved when they lose, I'd feel happier if they were 30 points behind!
    This is the first season in a long long time where I honestly believe we're in a better position overall.
    Better players, more belief, better team spirit and more promising manager

  42. I think he deserves time and he has put in good performances. Truth is the defence needs shaking up. I don't know what it is, maybe age, maybe coaching.....Benitez certainly got Skrtel and Agger playing better.
    Why doesn't Skrtel watch where the ball is going instead of trying to decapitate players?
    Great players don't lose it, need to go back to basics.

  43. A lot depends on how serious our ambitions are. If we get any higher than top 4 - fsg would have achieved it on the cheap - and may look to replicate that next season as well. We tend to target 10-15 milion players - about 3-4 of them rather than one 30-40 million player.

  44. I felt Allen actually showed some prowess going forward out there.

    He pressed further up the pitch to get the ball back, and I thought he played well.

    Perhaps it doesn't show up on the stats sheet, but our team performance improved once we threw him into the midfield.

    Allen is not a defensive midfielder. He's a tweener... not really a defensive midfielder, not really a CAM. So from the perspective of him not having a natural position, I agree with that sentiment.

  45. Totally agree. Brendan has had a great influence on the development of many players in the squad and there's no reason to believe that in time he can have a similar impact with Allen and he too can become a more integral member of the team.

  46. He's had his ups and downs but for 32 minutes Sunday, he was way up and you could tell watching the game.

  47. Next year we will have significantly more games if we qualify for CL. Rotation and injuries will necessitate use of the full squad.

    Allen's energy and enthusiasm stood out for me

  48. Hart was the future England superstar and his presence in City side helped legitimise them, in light of their crazy spending

  49. He wasn't the future England superstar when he first got in the team. For a time Kasper Schmeichel was preferred.