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Assessing Jordon Ibe’s impact at Anfield

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At the moment there is very little which Liverpool fans can be excited about coming off the back of an abysmal Premier League campaign which resulted in a sixth place finish. The fact that there are still some footballers at the club that seem to be playing purely out of love for the game is of little consequence to the fans reeling from the horrors of last season.

Horrors? It wasn’t all that bad, was it? It was alright when the team didn’t lose for thirteen games consecutively. It was actually decent when Philippe Coutinho rocked up after about two or three months and worked his magic.

Perhaps a turning point in the season came with the return of Jordon Ibe. Injury to several regulars left Brendan Rodgers short-handed and he chose to re-call the 19 year old from his season-long loan with Derby County.

The purpose of loaning out a young player is usually to help get them get more regular football and thus help the player develope. I watched Derby regularly when Ibe transferred and I was disappointed at the lack of starting appearances he made. He started 14 games during his loan spell and was introduced off the bench 10 times.

That being said, regardless of who you are or where you’re coming from, guaranteed professional football is difficult to come by. He scored 5 goals for Derby County and boss Steve McClaren was highly impressed with him.

“When he first came, we gave Jordon a ball on his own and gave the team the other ball,” McClaren said in December. “Now, he’s learning to be a team player and developing into that. He’s learning he needs to add end product to his game.”

Ibe played his last game for Derby in a crucial win at Ipswich on the 10th of January and a week later he came on as substitute against Aston Villa in the Premier League. Three weeks after being re-welcomed to Melwood he started in a Merseyside derby and was played as a right-wing by Rodgers due to his lack of options. It’s not surprising given his physical nature how well he coped with the defensive responsibilities.

“That was maybe the one thing that surprised me,” says Gary Waddock, who handed Ibe his professional debut as a 15-year-old. “I had no doubt he could handle a big game, and that he had the talent, but as a right wing-back? That shows how much he has come on as a player.”

Ibe very nearly scored the perfect debut goal, and one of the best Merseyside derby goals in history with a thunderbolt that crashed of the side off the post. Upon his return he had even less involvement than he had while on loan.

He made 12 league appearances at an average of 52 minutes per game. However, during those 12 games he dribbled past more opponents per 90 minutes than Sterling, averaging 3.5 dribbles per game to Sterling’s 3. He also boasted an impressive average passing accuracy of 97.4 percent.

Only Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure had more accurate pass rates. This is made even more impressive as they are all centre backs and the majority of their passing is lateral and doesn’t have the risk that an incisive pass has.

Maturity Revealed

In May, Ibe signed a new 5 year deal with Liverpool. It has been revealed that his step-father was instrumental in the deal being a success. As a result of the nature of the talks his step-father was offered a job as a scout at the club. Ibe told Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo, “I don’t see what an agent can do for me that my parents?couldn’t.”

This is both great to see an also worrisome as it would be most likely irk Ibe’s friend and team-mate, Raheem Sterling to hear such a comment. Aidy Ward is Sterling’s infamous representative and while the matter needs no more publicity the following is very pertinent:

“I don’t care about the PR of the club and the club situation. I don’t care,” Ward said this in his rant about Sterling not signing for anything between £700K and £1 million a week. It highlights his failure to Sterling as an advisor and the complete lack of a paternal aspect that having your father represent you provides. The very fact that Ibe has seemingly looked past the contractual and material side of football is incredible and to be so mature at such a young age is fantastic to see.

Liverpool supporters have recognized him as a young star and with the potential to be world class. He must surely have the same mindset because while his team-mates are enjoying their holidays he is taking part in extra training sessions with Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ingelthorpe.

This sends the right message and shows that he intends to rock up in the upcoming season and be more than just a squad member, regardless of the signings Rodgers brings in. Hard work like this under the Ulsterman doesn’t go unnoticed and he will likely be rewarded with a starting berth come the new season.

If Liverpool truly want to succeed then Brendan Rodger’s knack for featuring players out of position needs to stop. In order for Ibe’s development to continue in earnest he needs to be played in his natural position and not restricted by being played at right-wing back.

Don’t get me wrong, it is very encouraging that even at such a young age he is tactically astute in that he can slot in at right back without too much instruction. That being said, his true quality lies in attacking roles and the development of this will not take place in a right back role.

Jordon Ibe holds a goldmine of talent which Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers can utilize if, and only if Ibe is played in the correct position. The 2015/2016 season will undoubtedly be a season of excitement for Ibe as he going into it as a known commodity for Liverpool fans and not a player of potential quality. It will surely be exciting to see him feature as left wing, that is, if Rodgers thinks to play him there.

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Aspiring sports writing currently completing final year of high-school education. Your typical die-hard fan of Liverpool. Founder of rousingthekop.wordpress.com

Liverpool

Three Liverpool men who need to capitalise on rotation

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Photo: Getty Images.

With the Champions League semi-finals occupying all of Liverpool‘s mind and attention, it has represented a fresh chance for some players on the fringes of the squad.

For three men in particular, the next few seemingly meaningless Premier League fixtures could represent a chance to rescue their Anfield careers.

Danny Ings

The ex-Burnley striker had rotten luck in picking up a serious knee injury in training days after Jurgen Klopp’s appointment and has only just started his first two Premier League games under the German coach up against Everton and West Brom.

His poachers’ finish at The Hawthorns was an emotional moment for the striker and whilst it seems inevitable that his future lies on loan next season at least, good form from the Englishmen could see him make a case to be a back-up option in 2018/19.

With Dominic Solanke not pulling up trees when given the chance earlier on in the campaign, Danny Ings may feel that there is a place up for grabs.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Ragnar Klavan

The Estonian central defender was never signed as a long-term solution at the back and whilst usually reliable, he has let the team down at times.

The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk has pushed him further down the pecking order and it still looks likely that another defender may arrive in the summer to join the Dutchman in favour of Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip.

Klavan has seen the latter half of this season disrupted by injury but by leading the way in an inexperienced backline in the upcoming league fixtures could be pivotal to defining his Anfield future.

Alberto Moreno

The Spaniard has always been a controversial figure on Merseyside, but at the start of this season he appeared to be on the right track and became a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s selections.

An injury picked up in the Champions League forced him onto the sidelines and led to the emergence of Andrew Robertson, who rapidly became a fan favourite and one of the first names on the team-sheet.

The left-back had shown his defensive improvements earlier on in the season and will need to maintain that if he is to convince Klopp that he is worth keeping around for 2018/19.

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English Premier League

Tottenham fans reminded why they sold Federico Fazio for just £3.8m

The Argentine was poor against Liverpool, reminding Tottenham Hotspur fans why he was sold.

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Last night Liverpool put one foot in the Champions League final. They raced into a 5-0 lead against AS Roma at Anfield. Inspire by the best attacker in the world right now, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool put the Italians to the sword. Whilst the Giallorossi did manage to grab two goals to make the second leg a contest, Liverpool will feel confident of progress.

For Tottenham fans, the game represented a reminder of why they sold a player they were regretting a couple of weeks ago. When Roma turned around a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona, the performance of Federico Fazio caused a stir. He was a man-mountain in the Stadio Olimpico, as Roma won 3-0.

It left some Tottenham fans wondering why they sold him for a fee in the region of £3.8 million in 2017 – as reported by talkSPORT – after just 32 appearances for the North London club.

Last night showed exactly why.

(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Fazio, along with the other members of the Roma back three, was poor against Liverpool. He was not helped by the decision to play a high-line. However, his physical attributes were exposed by Liverpool. Slow, sluggish and clumsy, this looked like the Fazio that Tottenham fans remember from his time at White Hart Lane after joining from Sevilla in the summer of 2014.

But a high-line is not his game, he is a combative defender who is excellent in the air. Well, that did not look the case when he wimpishly challenged Roberto Firmino for a header that the Brazilian dispatched.

Tottenham fans were impressed with his performance against Barcelona in the last round and, with Toby Alderweireld set to leave, having Fazio around again might have appealed to some Spurs fans. Based on this performance v their Premier League rivals, they will be happy he is in the Italian capital.

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Liverpool

Statistics show Jordan Henderson’s display against Roma was his best for Liverpool

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Photo: Getty Images.

In the build-up to the Champions League semi-final, there was one joke which was repeatedly told, “imagine the sight of Jordan Henderson lifting the Champions League trophy”. On Tuesday night, the Liverpool captain showed just why it’s a distinct possibility.

The midfielder completely dominated the experienced Italian trio of Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan, teaming up perfectly with James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum, who replaced the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to put their stomp on the game and dictate the tempo.

Sitting deep and playing balls over the top, Henderson showed what he can do as a playmaker with his impressive range of passing on show once again, completing as many passes in the final third as Sadio Mane.

Of his 54 passes, only 16 were backwards, compared to 22 forwards, and Henderson was consistently looking to move the ball forward and find a breakthrough against Roma’s high defensive line.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Defensively, Henderson was even more impressive. No player completed more ball recoveries than Henderson’s 12, so much so that the next best tally on his team was seven, almost half of what the captain contributed.

The location of his recoveries too showed his influence, playing in the holding midfield role and breaking up play before looking to rapidly start counter-attacks.

Restricting himself to an entirely central role, Henderson got the better of the likes of De Rossi and Strootman and put them on edge right from the off, causing them to be sloppy in possession and panic, which only got worse as the goals started flowing for the Reds.

In addition, he was successful in more tackles than any other Liverpool player as he made the midfield his own in arguably the highest profile fixture he has ever played in.

Many have questioned the credentials of the former Sunderland man, who is also in contention for the England captaincy, but performances like on Tuesday should soon convince any doubters that he is a key piece of Jurgen Klopp’s puzzle. Post-match, a number of fans and pundits aired their praise for his display.

The tie may only be at half-time but Jordan Henderson must show such leadership on the field of play again in Rome after his team lost their focus in the closing stages of their first leg clash.

Leading by example is pivotal to Henderson’s style and displays like his performance on Tuesday night at Anfield go a long way to justifying his role as captain of Liverpool.

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