Once the current season began, he found himself out of favour with the new man at the helm as well, and a succession of average-to-forgettable displays from the bench consigned the Spanish wing-back to the ‘get rid’ pile, in the eyes of many a fan.
Unlike many of the detractors, I kept the faith. Not that I’m claiming to be a footballing equivalent of the Oracle or anything, but I just didn’t feel like he’d had enough of a chance to be thought of in a negative light. Had a lot of these people forgotten about his awesome attacking performances from full-back at the start of the previous season? Was it lost on them, also, that he was playing in a side that had collectively lost its’ form (if it had ever really had it) in the last 4 months of the previous season?
It seemed that all of that had been forgotten.
If anything, I was more disappointed that many people were still prepared to give both Henderson and Downing more time, when a player with bags of quality (but clearly lacking confidence), who had deserved, at least, another crack of the whip was being shoved out of the door before he’d even played a full football match at all this season.
So, after an assist that could only be marvelled at (and almost matched the quality of the finish) for Luis Suarez’s equalizer against Newcastle, Enrique followed that performance up with a lung-busting display against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge from the left wing back position. All that he missed was a goal that his performance deserved. But despite this, he was still getting some stick from fans for trying things that his apparently limited technical ability wouldn’t allow.
Well, fast-forward 6 days and Jose Enrique’s resurgence shows no signs of slowing down. After starting in the same position as against the blues of Chelsea the Sunday prior, he put in a dazzling display of attacking verve that even managed to rival Luis Suarez’s. So it was with great delight (and a little smugness) that I watched as the Spanish defender was named Man of the Match against Wigan on Saturday, after an assist and a goal in the 3-0 victory over Wigan Athletic.
Sure, he may not reach this height every week but he’s a defender by trade, so you wouldn’t expect assists and goals from him week after week. But one thing I can say with some certainty is that this is no false dawn: Jose Enrique is back.
When Downing scored from left-back a few weeks ago, the manager and press were full of ‘this is where he turns his Liverpool career around!!’ claims, but nothing has followed on from that and, if we’re honest, we didn’t expect it to. But Enrique’s career at Liverpool should never have been in doubt. He’s back. And once he hits his stride fully he’ll add something to our left-side that we’ve missed all season long. So why did anybody doubt him in the first place?
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