I loved hearing that song. At the time it was pretty hard to dispute that Liverpool had the greatest central midfield on earth.
We had quality and quantity pouring out of our ears. We could genuinely rotate and not be weaker.
But every time I hear that song, it makes me think. Think about how far our midfield has fallen.
But is it on the rise again? I don’t think there’s any sort of chance that our young, energetic midfield will ever reach those halcyon heights, but as Brendan Rodgers’ shape clearly begins to bear fruit at Liverpool, our central midfield is looking very, very good for the first time in a long time.
Gerrard, Allen, Sahin, Lucas, Shelvey and Henderson.
These are the six guys our midfield now revolves around. I’ll start with Steven Gerrard, who after a slow start to the season has seemingly returned to his usual ways after goals and very good performances against Manchester United and Norwich. He now seems to be comfortable in Rodgers’ midfield and is giving the ball away far less than he was doing earlier in the season. He’s still our number one man in midfield, and calls for him to be dropped were massively premature. He’s clicking well now and has become a goal threat again. Still our talisman, still our inspiration.
I am not surprised at all that Joe Allen has flawlessly adapted to life at Liverpool. I’ve read a bit of criticism for him recently, all of it unfounded in my book. He keeps the ball superbly. He might not make hundreds of aggressive, raking through balls but he uses the ball intelligently and looks for the simple ball. He is also comfortable in possession, something which we struggled with a lot last season. He is a very impressive player and I am pleased with the start he has made, especially as he is playing that bit deeper because of Lucas being injured.
When Lucas gets fit, Sahin might well have played himself into total contention for a starting place. Three goals in a week have seen the Turkish international look to have made a starting berth his own for the foreseeable future. That may be a little early yet, given that we have hardly faced the highest quality opposition in the games in which he’s starred, but Sahin is clearly a top player. We have no guarantees that he’s staying beyond May, but if he continues his current form he’s going to be hard to drop.
Shelvey and Henderson are competing for the second place on the bench, but considering our squad was left threadbare by some poor decisions in the transfer market late in the window, there’s probably room for them both. Henderson isn’t fancied by Rodgers it would seem following his near sale to Fulham as part of a deal for Dempsey, but I think that he is continuing to improve as a player and is still very young. He has a terrific engine but his passing needs to improve. Shelvey is a very talented young man and he has a good eye for goal. He’s been spoken about a lot so I don’t need to go into much detail. He is another who needs to work on the consistency of his passing – but his future is very bright.
Overall, we are looking in good shape in the centre of midfield. I would say the best since we lost Alonso, a blow from which we have never truly recovered. There are holes in our squad which are being plugged by youngsters, but not central midfield. We should be sorted in that position for years to come. With the exception of Gerrard, they are all young lads who should have long careers. Hopefully with Liverpool.