Expectations. If there’s one thing that can kill most young players careers is Expectations. These ‘Expectations’ come from many sources including the press and the fans.
If a player is unlucky enough to fall into the label of the ‘next big thing’, then the press are all over them, building them up, putting added pressure on them to perform week in week out and if they don’t perform, then they are slaughtered by the press and fans alike, start to lose their all important confidence and will more than likely start to move between club’s for the rest of their careers trying to rediscover the form that saw them get the ‘next big thing’ label. You just have to look at the lower leagues in England to see how many players who had their careers ruined the press and the expectations of having the ‘next big thing’ label.
Then there’s the fans. When a player comes through a club’s academy and makes the all important break through to the first team, the expectations are amped up. Will this player be the one to replace a long standing player in the team? If they don’t make it, they’re forgotten about, thrown on the scrap heap and doomed to the doldrums of the lower leagues.
Currently at Liverpool, the club has an array of talent playing in the first team. Some of these exciting players include academy starlet Jordan Ibe, German midfield player Emre Can, the French beast Mamadou Sakho, ex Southampton star Adam Lallana and for me the most exciting winger in the Premier League Lazar Markovic (yes I know he is cyrently on loan, but I thought I would include him regardless). Apart from Ibe, the rest of the players I mentioned above could be classed in the same light as marmite, you either love them or you hate them.
For me the four of the players I mentioned above I have great hope for. Emre Can for example is one of the most exciting midfield players in the world right now. All you have to do is watch his performances of late. He’s chasing down players, breaking up play, tackling and scoring goals. Compare that to last season when Brendan Rodgers utilised him as a centre back along side Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel. Such was midfielder Cans influence at the back, Liverpool improved and conceded less goals and started to win games in a row. At last summers U-21 European Championships along with Tiago Ilori he was the player of the tournament for me. Now with Jürgen Klopp in charge at Liverpool I fully expect him to go onto fulfill his potential and become one of the best midfield players in the world.
Another one of Liverpools players I have been harping on about for the last two years is Mamadou Sakho. Imagine coming to Liverpool after being Paris St Germains youngest ever captain to realise you were behind Dejan Lovren in the pecking order. Like Can, when Sakho came into the Liverpool team last season he was one of the players of the season. Now with Sakho out inured for a few months Liverpool fans will see just how important he is to Liverpool. I can see Liverpool dropping silly points with both Lovren and Skrtel in defence. Neither of them individually inspire confidence so together there the stuff of nightmares for Liverpool fans but the stuff of dreams for opposition strikers. I really feel for the confidence of Simon Mignolet. It’s fragile enough when he had Sakho playing in front of him, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like without Sakho in front of him.
Then there’s Lazar Markovic. The most exciting winger to come through the doors of Liverpool since Steve Mc Manamam. He’s a special, special player who has pace that can roast defenders, an eye for goal and if he got the chance to play with the likes of Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge on a regular basis he would prove all those doubters wrong. But when Liverpool had Brendan Rodgers in charge that was never going to happen. This saddened me because before Liverpool had signed him, he excited me so much. Playing a player like Markovic as a right wing back is the craziest thing I had ever seen. At times I felt like banging my head off the wall when I saw how poorly Brendan Rodgers utilised him. And because of this some fans have jumped on the bandwagon and say he’s not good enough for Liverpool, but I assure you he very much is. An attacking front trio of Phillipe Coutinho, Lazar Markovic and Firmino is frightening. And it’s the stuff of nightmares for defenders. Hopefully now that Rodgers is gone, Markovic will get the chance to prove his worth as a winger under Jürgen Klopp.
Finally I get to Adam Lallana. (For those of you reading wondering why nothing on young Ibe, it’s simple, he’s not marmite just yet.) While at Southampton he somehow produced performances that warranted a big money move to Liverpool. Since then in my opinion he hasn’t done anything to justify that price tag either in a Liverpool jersey or an England jersey on a consistent enough basis for my liking. At times he acts like a headless chicken running into blind alleys, losing the ball and I’m fully convinced that if Jürgen Klopp can get Markovic firing on all cylinders then Lallana will.become surplus to requirements at Liverpool. I could be wrong like I was about Jordan Henderson but I think what happened with Hendersons improvement is a once a decade thing.
Now I know I may have gone off topic just a tad but, when Adam Lallana moved to Liverpool for such a big fee the expectations that came with him were huge. Sadly so far for him he hasn’t lived upto those expectations. And unlike Can and Markovic he can have no excuses as he has been allowed to play in his natural attacking position. Markovic on the other hand, while having the same expectations from fans as Lallana did, has an excuse for his poor performances to date at Liverpool. What are those? Well under Brendan Rodgers he was continously played out of position. Forced to play a defensive game he wasn’t used to and that I’m sure affected his confidence. Also getting shipped off on loan I’m sure isn’t helping him. Can and Sakho have made their own expectations amongst fans with their powerful performances and their professional attitudes on the pitch. Both players under Jürgen Klopp will improve vastly, something I couldn’t see happening under Brendan Rodgers, and will, as I said already, will become world beaters. Will they be able to live upto the expectations they’ve created? Only time will tell.