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The European Championships taught fans very little about the state of British football over the summer. Both England and Ireland were thoroughly outclassed by their European counterparts in almost every department. There seems to be a complete lack of ability to maintain possession and treat the ball as a friend.
During the summer a new regime kicked off in Liverpool under the watchful eye of Brendan Rogers. The Northern Irishman had masterminded Swansea’s remarkable run last season and his style and approach was tipped to succeed at one of Britain’s most successful clubs.
One of his first acts as Liverpool manager was to sign 22 year old Joe Allen from his former club. The young Welsh midfielder had earned rave reviews during Swansea’s debut Premier Season and had clearly been identified as integral to Roger’s plans.
Having not seen much of Allen last season it has been interesting to see the young Welshman begin the season at Liverpool. He is a rare commodity in the Premier League; young, comfortable in possession and of British descent. Rodgers had spoken openly about his admiration for the young man following his signing and even though Liverpool have struggled at the start of the season he has looked very impressive.
One criticism leveled at him though is that he is doing all this work too deep; he needs to be playing these quick and accurate passes another 10 yards further up the pitch where he can open sides up. He does not have the passing range of Xabi Alonso for instance but clearly spots the correct pass earlier than most.
At the moment he is playing too many passes to his back four and more importantly when facing his own goal. However, with Lucas injured it seems that both he and Steven Gerrard a playing a deeper position than they would be playing if the Brazilian was fit.
It would not be the first time a youngster with a good eye for a pass has been played deeper than he should have been.
The most famous case of this in recent time is Xavi Hernandez who was played as a defensive midfielder for Barcelona during his early years to the point where he considered leaving to play in a more advanced role. Finally, after many years of frustration, he was moved into a position further forward and the result; he has become the best midfielder in the world.
There of course is no guarantee that Allen is at this kind of level. What he has shown though is that he is capable of dictating the tempo of the game and maintaining possession which is rare to see in a British player. Once Liverpool’s transition has developed a little more significantly it would not be surprising to see Allen and Lucas in tandem as the players used to drive them forward.
For now though Allen must develop and hone his skills in a more defensive position. What he now needs to show is the ability to create more and to play this style of game another 10 yards further up the pitch.
If he can do that then Liverpool and Wales can look forward to having a quality midfielder they can depend on for the foreseeable future.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow him on Twitter @hunter67980
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