If Suarez was to become injured for more than a single match then the Liverpool would, without doubt, be so far up the creek that there may well be no way back!
So the debate that has taken up most of our time, as Reds, in the past three months is ‘who do we buy in January?’
It’s a fair question to ask; one I’m sure we all have our answers to and one which I myself have written about from different angles, on quite a few occasions.
But January is a long, long way off right now. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it feels like a long, dark tunnel which, as each draw passes us by, may never end. Not only that, but just because January begins on January 1st doesn’t mean we’ll have somebody in the minute New Year’s Day arrives. If past New Year windows are anything to go by, it could even be as late as the last night of the month before he arrives. If he does at all.
Between now and January 1st, Liverpool have nine league games as well as two Europa league games, with a further four in January itself, as well as at least one cup match. That’s a lot of games to expect Luis Suarez to come through 90 minutes of, each and every time. And despite having a few young strikers waiting for their chance, Rodgers seems reluctant to use them in the league, so I have another suggestion: how about Jonjo Shelvey, as a make-shift forward?
On the face of it, most people might say ‘what the…?’ and prior to our current predicament, I may have done too. But we’ve not seen as much as we might have liked of Shelvey as we have this season, and thanks to his extra time on the field, I’ve noticed a few attributes this season that might make him suitable as a different option up-front.
For one, he’s a big, powerful lad that likes to work hard. That may raise the question, ‘well, wasn’t Andy Carroll too?’ but the difference for me is that Shelvey has a great deal more technique than Andy does and he’s already demonstrated that he has an uncanny knack of arriving in the box at just the right time as well. That alone is an attribute that strikers, and footballers in general, are born with, and is very hard to train.
Which is something else that he’d bring to the role; he loves to power forward to back-up the striker. He scored a terrific goal against Young Boys earlier in the Europa league group stages to close out the match but it was his first that impressed me more, being a real striker’s finish; instinctual, as much as great technique.
Giving that we’ve had players like Torres (I know, I’m sorry), Gerrard and Suarez scoring regularly for us in recent years, it’d be easy to watch them and think that scoring from anywhere is easy but it really isn’t. Just ask Jordan Henderson how hard it is to even hit the target
I’m speaking from personal experience here too, as I often found it hard enough to hit a decent shot playing 5-a-side, never-mind getting it on target or – god forbid – going as far as scoring. So when we find a talent like Shelvey, who clearly knows how to score a goal, it would be a bit daft if we were to not utilise that, at least in the meantime, while we’re short of striking options.
I would never endorse him being used as striker full-time (at least not unless it really worked), as I think he’s going to be a hell of a prolific midfielder for us for years to come, and if anybody is going to take the title of ‘the new Steven Gerrard’, then it is surely him. But given that Rodgers’ preferred tactic does not seem to involve midfielders bursting in to the box all too often, I’d argue that he’s being wasted in that sense as well.
For a midfielder of 20, he’s already fairly experienced too, with around 105 games in his career so far; with almost half of those coming in a Red shirt. For a 20 year old who only signed in 2010 that’s fairly impressive going so far. But with 19 goals in his short career already, (including 6 in 10 on-loan at Blackpool, and 5 in his last 30 for Liverpool), he’s probably got a better goals-to-games record than about 70% of English strikers operating in the top two divisions at present (and not far off a certain £50 million Spanish striker’s since he moved to a certain oil-rich London-based club!).
Given that Liverpool were ready to splash money on another midfielder with a penchant for goals – Clint Dempsey – in order to solve their goal-scoring issues way back in August, it wouldn’t be completely alien to use Shelvey in the same way. If it doesn’t work, who loses? Nobody, and it’ll mean that Luis Suarez won’t be physically exhausted by the end of January. So, what do you think, is Jonjo Shelvey cut out to play up front, albeit on a temporary basis?
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