With BBC Sport reporting that Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing are likely to move on from Liverpool before the transfer window shuts tomorrow, perhaps temporarily in Spearing’s case, the complexion of Liverpool’s midfield seems set. Lucas (once he returns from his new injury), Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard and Nuri Şahin will form the main players, rotating the three first XI roles as required. Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson, in turn, will serve as backup. One would think Shelvey’s gung-ho nature primes him for a more advanced role, whereas Henderson can sit back and intercept, tackle and tick things over. Six bullets in the midfield gun – that should be enough, right?
Adam is a quality player; for sure, his long balls are occasionally world class and although he hasn’t reproduced his finest form in a red jersey, you’d have to be pretty cynical to deny that his dead-ball exploits were top notch at Blackpool. Even Sir Alex Ferguson had to admire them. But when Lucas’ season came to a premature end during November 2011, and results took a turn for the worse, Adam’s form seemed to drop off. I don’t believe he was ever really purchased with a place as the main man in mind, but with Lucas and Gerrard on the sidelines, a lot of pressure rested upon his shoulders. And that can’t have helped. With the team struggling and expensive recruits failing to drag the club through tough times with much glory, a backlash was always on the cards. I felt sorry for him when his Carling Cup final penalty soared high over the bar. No respite for Charlie. Although, at least, we still won the cup.
With Jay Spearing, a local lad from the local area with a local heart who wants to play for his local team… there’s a mixture of things that went wrong. He was never really ready to replace Lucas last year, someone we’d come to rely on for consistently high performances. He was belatedly breaking into the first team and the near-toxic environment wasn’t really healthy for his development. Instead of coaxing him through some tough times and giving him the benefit of the doubt, far too often it seemed he was the target of disdain. From other fans as well as, sadly, ourselves. We’ve gone from Alonso and Mascherano to Jay Spearing? Do me a favour! If you’re winning and want to blend an inexperienced player into the fray, that’s okay, he’s young, he’ll learn, he’s not pulling you back. If you’re experiencing a rough campaign, however, there’s suddenly no time to wait – no patience affordable. We can’t fall down the league just so this guy can learn the ropes!
With Brendan Rodgers’ new system, neither player seems particularly suited. Adam isn’t really mobile enough, and his favourite move – the Hollywood ball – isn’t a staple of the new boss’ plans. He won’t get much game time and, at his age and with international football to consider, moving on seems best for all parties. Spearing, in turn, is behind Lucas and Allen for the defensive midfield role. Even if he was at front of the pack, many still have reservations as to what level he can actually play at, and would be calling for an upgrade. Again, he won’t be playing much, and a move onto a new team seems the best option for his development. I personally think he needs somewhere a little more low-key, where he can play every week and not have the fans on his back. A high Championship team seems a good shout – first team football at a club on the rise; win over the fans, enjoy some success, get promoted back to the big time.
Tonight Liverpool face Hearts in the second leg of their Europa League tie; the first leg ended in an unspectacular but useful 1-0 victory for Rodgers’ side. Despite reports of Adam and Spearing’s departures, it’s always unclear how far along any deal is. You simply can’t be sure until it’s officially announced. Even when a supposedly reputable ITK mentions it’s a done deal, you never quite believe it until you see the pictures turn up on the club website. So maybe they’ll feature tonight as we look to utilise the squad players in between two tough league fixtures. Or maybe they won’t, with Brendan opting for a stronger squad to see Liverpool through to the group stages with more aplomb.
Who knows? Not I. We’ll have to wait and see.
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