Had Charlie Adam or Saido Berahino been slightly more adept than my 3 year old cousin in front of goal at the weekend, Liverpool fans would have been tearing their hair out after another frustrating away day to the hands of ‘inferior’ quality.
It is in the DNA of the modern football fan to be reactionary. Social media means we are all an Iago Aspas corner away from sharing that sinking feeling of disappointment in a flurry of expletives, but also a Dejan Lovren header away from exclaiming that a grown man heading a ball into a net is a greater moment then the birth of your first child!
As a result of the ever-connected world we live in as fans, there will always be incredibly vocal support or disdain for positive or negative performances. Retweets, likes and upvotes promotes a culture of viscous opinion & echo chambers where reds can all boisterously agree that Moreno’s defending is in fact shite. A player whom has divided opinion and taken significant flak this season has been Emre Can.
After our thumping 4-3 win over Arsenal on the opening day of the season, Liverpool were buzzing. A calamitous afternoon at Burnley had us quickly back into a cynical state, but a week later there was again cause for optimism. Liverpool went on a great run, which had fans and pundits alike singing our praises. One of the main discussions was the great depth we had as we were playing so well without one of last seasons Europa league heroes, Emre Can.
Can’s much anticipated return to action after a long layoff was poor, often looking well off the boil. Fantastic displays from the Henderson- Lallana – Wijnaldum midfield trio were enough to keep fans satisfied that we could carry on smoothly and slowly nurse Can back into the side.
But soon injuries hit an already stretched squad with Mane at AFCON and Matip in a ludacris standoff with Cameroon, Can was quickly thrust into a starting berth with heavy weight on his shoulders. Liverpool fans were left to wonder what had happened to the Can that they remembered from the season previous. Slow and lethargic, Can was mainly singled out as a key to Liverpool’s poor run through January as Liverpool slumped to a successive run of uninspiring draws and defeats.
Hampered by an injury only recently revealed by the club, Can was not at his swashbuckling and physical best, playing within himself, often taking the safe option in offence much to the frustration of the Anfield faithful. The key to playing in the center of the park for Liverpool is the ability to turn and get the ball moving quickly forwards, something Can seemed to pale in comparison to Henderson and Lallana whom he was replacing. Fans began to lose patience after details of a contract standoff over a wage increase for a player whom had simply been not good enough for the majority of the season. With time running out on his deal and rumours of Juventus circling, Liverpool fans were quick to write him off as another failed young player with eyes larger than his appetite. Since the return of key players Emre spent time away from the spotlight and seemingly recovered from his injury, which had hampered his form earlier in the season, prompting a slow return to form.
In recent months he has been one of Liverpool’s finest performers, turning in terrific displays notably against City and Everton. Still far from the finished product, he has begun to show us again signs of the Can who had Liverpool fans dreaming of a future world class player. Recently clarifying his joy of playing for Liverpool and his position in contract negotiations, fans have begun to again warm to Can, and have begun to cry out to FSG to renew his contract.
Quick feet, physical domination of the midfield and moments of creative genius all have found their way back into Emre’s game in recent months. Although he can be critiqued for being inconsistent, on his day he is surely worth retaining at the 70k per week his management values him at. At just 23 years of age, Can again looks to be one of Europes top midfield talents about to move into the finest years of his career. A settled figure on Merseyside and popular member of the squad, Can represents everything Klopp seems to value in a footballer. With noises coming from the FSG camp indicating that they are ready to invest significantly in the club, tying down Can would surely be nothing but a wise investment that would not hurt the financial power of the club in the slightest this summer.
The case of Can is a curious insight into the ruthless and temperamental mindset of the modern football fan, hungry for instant gratification and success. The story of Emre Can is far from over, but it’s a timely reminder to have patience, and have faith.