THERE are a lot of different levels to the Jose Enrique story. Given a good telling off in pre-season training for keeping hold of the ball too long, dropped in the early parts of the season, back into the team as a rampaging left winger, and then slipped quietly back in at left-back, the Spaniard has had a weird old season.
After a very promising start to his Liverpool career, it’s fair to say that Enrique went off the boil in the second half of last season and has only just begun to show signs of recovery.
So much so to the extent that I am hopeful that Brendan Rodgers no longer has to think about the left-back position until summer at the earliest – if he needs to at all.
I think that Enrique is a good footballer. I have concerns about him defensively as I think his positioning is occasionally atrocious and at best, suspect. He also holds onto the ball far too long sometimes, as Rodgers identified in pre-season and as you can see for yourself. He backs his strength too often and can sometimes get dispossessed needlessly or miss out on a good ball.
However, as our form has improved piece by piece over recent weeks barring the aberration against Aston Villa, I think that Enrique has hit form along with us. He gets forward well and carries a threat, he isn’t afraid to have the ball and can put a good cross in.
Crucially, he appears to have struck up an excellent understanding with Luis Suarez. As our main goal threat, the Uruguayan cannot get enough good service and Enrique has hit it off with him in recent weeks.
Even though he’s only scored the one goal for us, Enrique is a threat in the opposition penalty box. He has good feet and isn’t afraid to take people on. When he gets that far forward he does look to pick out a pass or a cross, as he did for Suarez’ goal against Fulham on Saturday. He showed his best assets in one go – holding off the Fulham man, escaping his attentions, getting to the byline before looking up and picking out Suarez.
This is a very impressive turnaround because in the early parts of the season, Enrique couldn’t even make left-back – or if he did, it was for Europa League games when the squad was often rotated. It seemed a long way back. But for now, the Spaniard deserves a good run in the team. I’ve found the left back position a bit curious as Rodgers has happily used Glen Johnson there, and Stewart Downing but has yet to consider young Jack Robinson, and this is a manager who is not afraid of using the youngsters in his squad.
Ultimately, Enrique has revived his form through a combination of hard work and patience. He has waited for his chance to get back into the team and taken it with both hands. For this, he deserves a lot of credit.