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Is Joe Allen providing value for money?

Date: 12th December 2012 at 5:30 pm
Written by: | Comments (153)

WHEN Allen signed Rodgers claimed he was a bargain at £15m and would have paid a great deal more for the former Swansea playmaker.

Despite inheriting a squad full of midfielders, and a team that had struggled to score goals, Rodgers’ main transfer target was the diminutive Welsh man.

Out went Aquilani (who despite recovering his fitness was never given a chance by a string of managers), then Charlie Adam (whose great range of passing did not compensate for his snail-like pace, poor tackling and penchant for the Hollywood pass) and nearly Henderson (who despite an up and down first season had just turned 22 and is England’s under-21 captain).

In came Joe.

A couple of games into a difficult start to the season the much anticipated return of was dealt a big blow with his thigh injury vs. Man City. Allen, still only 22, found himself as the holding midfield player (or deep-lying playmaker if you prefer) and through a series of combative displays coupled with tidy possession and good movement, he began to impress.

Rodgers loves to use extremities in his praise, and no other player has been called ‘outstanding’, ‘fantastic’ or ‘brilliant’ quite as much as Allen. But issues started to be raised.

Alan Shearer on Match of the Day stated passed sideways and backwards too much when there were better options forward. With continually struggling to win games Allen was scrutinised more and more – he was getting out-muscled too often, he only played simple passes, he only played the ball along the ground and he doesn’t look to be penetrative.

has often come to Allen’s aid in the press, claiming Shearer doesn’t understand the requirements of the position (although Pirlo and Alonso, probably the two best in that role, don’t have problems being creative from deeper positions) and that Allen is much better in a more advanced position (despite only scoring 7 goals in 130 games for Swansea).

Well, Lucas is back now. Our sorely missed Brazilian is not yet at his peak but we’ve won both Premier League games he’s started. An interesting stat from Opta showed that while Allen and the mysteriously under-used Sahin mainly pass to Skrtel and Agger, the player Lucas has passed to most since his return is Gerrard.

The West Ham game was another interesting barometer.


This was far from our best game, even if we did have 61% possession, and for large periods we were continually pummelled airily by the Hammers. Our centre-halves and Lucas were certainly earning their wages but Joe Allen, like for much of the last month, was struggling to make an impact. Diame is a tough player to handle, but while Lucas & Gerrard lost out at times (e.g. Gerrard’s booking scything down Diame when on the counter attack) , they were both able to come back and still win duels against him and effect our play positively when we did have the ball. Allen, playing in his favoured midfield role, made little impact on the game defensively or offensively.

Few would blame him for the penalty, and there’s no doubt he worked as hard as he could, but the positional sense and game intelligence I was hoping to see was lacking. In the difficult middle period of the game, when Pepe had possession and Lucas and the two centre-backs were being marked, Joe wasn’t giving Pepe an option, leading too often to a long kick forward and a loss of possession. Furthermore, he kept giving the ball away when attempting fairly standard passes, something he wasn’t doing at the beginning of the season.

Brendan Rodgers has acknowledged his dip in form, partly putting it down to becoming a new father and more sleepless nights. In certain situations it’s okay to just keep the ball ticking over but at a club like Liverpool you need to do more to earn your place. Certainly there have been times when Sahin or Shelvey should have started but Rodgers’ eagerness to prove the value of his new signing (much like Kenny repeatedly played Henderson at right midfield when Kuyt was a better choice) is clouding his judgment.

Henderson still has a lot to prove, but there was an improvement when he came on – Jordan using his energy well to both harry the opposition and get forward on the break, making the key cross for our winner. Clearly Diame going off injured made as big a difference as Jordan’s introduction, but when in the entire game did Allen make a run like Henderson did for the goal?

Allen is a talented young player, but at the moment Sahin is better technically, Suso is a better passer, Henderson is more athletic and Shelvey is far more dangerous offensively. Joe looks like he’s struggling for confidence while every performance is bringing added criticism. cost £10.7m in 2004 as a young 23 year old and the £15 million paid for Allen is a similar amount taking into account football inflation. Clearly Joe is a very different type of midfielder to Xabi, but if Joe is really worth £15m, how much is Jonjo worth at just 20 years of age?

The jury’s out on Joe at the moment, a good start followed by a disappointing dip. The first thing Brendan should do, so his remaining confidence isn’t completely shot, is take him out of the firing line and reintroduce him after he’s had some good rest and time to work out his problems on the training field. With Luis back against Villa, I certainly hope to see the deserving Shelvey joining Lucas and Gerrard in our midfield on Saturday.

 You can catch more from me on my own blog: http://taintlessred.blogspot.co.uk/
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153 thoughts on “Is Joe Allen providing value for money?

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  • claire
    1 year ago

    Yes Allen is a waste of money , think of the players we could have had instead for 15m

    Reply
  • bob
    1 year ago

    judging by the comments , nearly all fans can see a poor player when they so one , im glad most liverpool fans still know good players from bad ones

    Reply
  • tony t
    1 year ago

    The purchase of a player of Allens limited quality was poor judgement
    The price Rodgers paid was ridiculous
    But the worst is the fact that we have all seen how poor he is , he leaves a huge hole in our midfield ecery week , and unbelievably he doesnt get dropped , is he blackmailing Rodgers or something ?

    Reply
  • TaintlessRed
    1 year ago

    Tim, I think your Stat regarding Allen winning back possession is a fair one and showcased, in particular, his early season form in the Lucas position. However, I think it’s also indicative that we haven’t maintained possession well or won the ball higher up the field. Other players in this list are mostly from smaller teams. This isn’t Allen’s fault of course, but he is not so efficient at making tackles or clearing aerial balls (both due to his small and slight stature), which are key aspects of playing in that position.

    Although Lucas has only played 4/5 games a comparison of percentage stats are interesting.

    Percentage duels won:
    Allen:50.3
    Lucas: 55
    Gerrard:55.1

    Percent Aerial duals won:
    Allen 40.1
    Lucas 66.7
    Gerrard 54.9

    Percent Tackles won:
    Allen 62.5
    Lucas 83.3
    Gerrard 75.6

    Allen’s stats are significantly worse than Lucas (whose played in the same position) or Gerrard (whose played as many minutes).

    To be a massive 26% worse in aerial duals vs Lucas and 20% worse in tackles puts us at a significant disadvantage. Lucas and Gerrard both judge their challenges better and know how not to give away unnecessary free-kicks better than Allen. Allen is now further forwarded but his goal scoring record for Swansea is poor. He’ll need to create a lot of chances to be worthy of his place over better offensive players like Shelvey or Suso.

    Reply
    • tony t
      1 year ago

      come off it , stats are totally irrelevant . I remember years ago when we had Hamann and Gerrard in midfield . Hamann had a hugely high percentage of accurate passes for the season 91% or something , Gerrard 72% i think

      Hamann used to get the ball and pass it square 10 yards usually , Gerrard would look up and try to find the killer pass . Dont get me wrong i loved Hamann , he was a brick wall defensively but not half the player Gerrard was 10 year ago

      thats just 1 of a million stats that either lie , or simply dont describe the whole picture . We know Suarez is a great player but because of all his dribbles and nutmegs he tries i bet you he loses the ball probably more than anyone else in the league . A Southampton goalie will have worse stats than a Stoke goalie ,not because he is playing worse but because Southampton are more adventurous and less defensive

      Stats are silly , and have no relevant place in football

      Reply
      • tony t
        1 year ago

        ps . im not defending Allen – I think he is total rubbish

        Reply
      • TaintlessRed
        1 year ago

        Tony, I certainly agree that Stats can be overused, and often are, but I don’t think they have no place in football. For example I think a goal every 2 games is still a good yardstick for a successful striker (though a goal every 180 minutes, rather than just appearances, is better as it adjusts for sub appearances).
        The only reason I use stats in this comment is because Tim used an Opta Stat to indicate Allen had been doing very well in an aspect of his play, while I wanted to show he hadn’t done quite as well as Tim’s Stat indicated.

        Reply
        • Tim Williams
          1 year ago

          I think my role in this has been blown somewhat out of proportion. I am certaily not trying to suggest that Allen is perfect and asnt set a foot wrong, in fact i think he started very well but has seen his form slip somewhat as the season has progressed.

          Mostly my interaction in this piece and use of statistics have been in direct response to some of the ridiculous comments about him being ‘utterly useless’ and ‘worst player ever seen at liverpool’.

          For me you can only truly judge whether a player was worht the money spent on them once they have left the club. Itandje for example cost consdierably less than Allen but every penny was a waste. Mcallister and Degen set the club back only wages and in terms of value there is only one winner. To write off Allen after 16 league games is appalling considering his age, considering his start to the season and most importantly considering that barring the odd player the whole club is finding its feet as to be expected under new management. To single one player out for abuse is daft.

          Constructively criticise is one thing, like you have done, but some of the stick he has taken on this piece is crazy!

          Reply
        • tony t
          1 year ago

          yes taintless , ratios for goals , percentages of games to goals can be ok sometimes .

          Although even then i think of Andy Cole for man u a few years ago , 30 goals a season , nearly all easy finishes from 5 yards , being supplied by two of the best wide players in Giggs and Beckham – putting them on a plate every game , whereas Shearer for Newcastle had to work 10 times as hard for his 30 including many screamers and solo goals

          Stats wise Cole topped all the charts – shot conversion , goals per game etc , but Shearer was always twice the player

          Anyway everyone knows Opta stats are total nonsense , they cant be used seriously

          Reply
    • Tim Williams
      1 year ago

      Taintlessred, a few people who read this site should not only read your article but also responses like this on how to rationally argue a point.

      Nike others I don’t think stats are pointless although they can be misleading. Winning possession back is an interesting one as it shows his ability to read the game and as you say a clear nod to his early season form.

      I’m not surprised by Lucas and Gerrard winning more tackles, it is a more natural part of their game, they bring a physicality that the side needs. The fact that allens tackling stats are not as high adds to the theory surrounding his reading of the game.

      Some need to step back and see the bigger picture, Allen is part of a team, a team being setup to play in a certain way, and for any team to be successful it is for each player to bring their specific skill set to the fore. In a 3, Lucas will provide the steel, disrupting the play, Allen will provide that ability to retain possession and recycle which is crucial to how we set up to play, and both these aspects combine to allow Gerrard to play more freely, be dynamic and spray the ball about.

      All this talk of starting the likes of suso and shelvey instead of Allen make little sense as they are players further up the pitch. The direct competition for me is with sahin. Unfortunately a big problem Liverpool have is no competition/cover for Lucas.

      Has allens form dipped from in my mind an impressive start? Yes, he has played a lot of football and being asked to fill the large Lucas boots as well as his own role, which is a lot for a young man. With Lucas back he should be freed up more and hopefully interchanged with sahin more to allow him time to rest

      Reply
      • Gabriel Darshan
        1 year ago

        Tim, I don’t believe Allen is the worst player we’ve ever bought, not by a long shot. Neither do I believe he’s the worst player we’ve bought when taking into account the price-tag. I mean, Diouf was around £10m in Houllier’s day! Keane was circa £20m as a 30 year old!

        However I don’t think Allen has so far lived up to the hype (which is partly because BR lauding him to the high-heavens, partly because of the price tag, but mostly because varying performances).

        Part of the reason BR said he bought Allen was not only to keep the ball but because he said Allen would help win the ball back early, the old ‘hunt in packs’ methodology that so few teams are able to employ consistently. In this sense he does need to be able to tackle effectively, though I agree not as much as say Lucas (who has founded his reputation upon it) or Gerrard (who is basically good at everything). Like you say, my Stats point more to the fact that he has significant deficiencies as a holding midfield player (but that is where he’s played so where he can most effectively be assessed). Interestingly, our best performances for me have been when we have been able to win possession back quickly.

        I don’t agree that starting Suso/Shelvey instead of Allen doesn’t make sense because they play further up field. Playing further upfield is one of the characteristics (or I should say behaviours) that I would like to see in our team, as it is likely to lead to more goal chances. This is especially so as Gerrard isn’t able to get up and down as much as previously. Shelvey especially can play a number of positions in midfield. His England debut came as the deepest midfielder and he’s done well for us as false-9! Shelvey can certainly play with Gerrard and Lucas, whether it be a 2-1 in midfield or a 1-2 with Lucas sitting. I take your point with Suso as he really can only play in a 2-1 with two midfielders behind him, but Suso (though raw, has an urgency, vision, and offensive threat that I’m yet to see in Allen.) When Suso played for the Championship winning Spain U-19 team, it was when he played centrally with license to roam, even picking the ball off the centre-backs, that he controlled the game for Spain and looked a real class act. Out wide he still had quality but Spain didn’t benefit from his range of passing, timing and understanding of tempo. I do agree that Sahin is closer in type to Allen than Shelvey or Suso are, though Sahin himself considers himself best in Lucas’ role!

        I want every Liverpool player to be a success. But when some are struggling and others are playing well I’d rather the better performing ones play ahead of the struggling ones. That for me means Joe needs to spend some time on the bench. Do you think he should start ahead of Sahin, Shelvey, Henderson and Suso?

        Reply
        • Tim Williams
          1 year ago

          In all honesty as it stands at the moment I think Allen could benefit from a break, it needs to be remembered that he is a young lad who has made a big step up. I think bringing Sahin into the ix to play alongside Lucas would be very interesting indeed. I think Henderson has done very well coming from the bench in recent weeks as his energy and work rate have really troubled tiring legs and he has made a real impact. For me Suso either needs to be employed off a striker or in that forward 3, but like Sterling we have to manage his progression and expectation very carefully as they remain vulnerable at their age. Shelvey I view as the natural successor to Gerrard, I recognise a lot of attributes in him that I saw in Stevie those many moons ago. He needs to learn his game and build on week in week out.

          Im glad you seem entirely rational compared to others as he clearly isnt the worst player to play for or sign for liverpool. What needs to be remembered is that Liverpool is evolving its play to Rodgers will, like him or not he is here to stay and this is how he wants his team to play. It was never going to be an overnight success and there were always going to be dark days, as it is under any manager coming in and implementing a new style, Shankly and Rafa found this. It was different for the likes of Paisley as they were afforded a successful, winning side and improved it. Rodgers came in to a club in disarray and dire form. I think ultimately we will see that high press ‘hunt in packs’ mentality which is something i love to see, and clearly an Allen on form will be an asset.

          I want to thank you for the replies as this is what the site is all about, people discussing the game and club they love free from abuse and name calling, arguing their own points and providing reasoning! Hope we talk more in the future

          Reply
      • TaintlessRed
        1 year ago

        I’m always happy to discuss football Tim, so no need to thank me just for engaging in some healthy debate. That’s what L4L is for after all! We may not agree completely on Joe Allen, but if we all agreed football would be pretty boring!

        Reply
  • Gary
    1 year ago

    Blah blah , stats or no stats , i believe my eyes and i have seen every game , and without doubt Allen is the worst , most useless player to play regularly in many a year

    Reply
  • simon
    1 year ago

    is Allen value for money ? yeah right . He is up there alongside Aquilani and Carroll for the biggest waste of money ever

    its embarrassing watching him being dominated every week

    Reply
  • kirbyking
    1 year ago

    FFS – My biggest surprise reading these comments was that any Liverpool ‘fan’ would defend such a bad player

    Have our standards dropped so low that we tolerate a player like Allen , who would struggle to make our reserve team 4/5 years ago

    Reply
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