BARELY 10 minutes had passed since the introduction of Iago Aspas for the injured Philippe Coutinho than Liverpool ‘fans’ started slated the Spaniard for a perceived lack of footballing ability. ‘Is he even a footballer?’ was one comment I read after his first few touches.
By that stage of the match Liverpool were already under the cosh and, as I indicated in a previous article, were seemingly dropping deeper and deeper as the half wore on. As Shelvey nodded down for another Spaniard, Michu, to equalize for Swansea, it seemed only fair to find a suitable scapegoat for that specific predicament.
Step forward Iago Aspas.
It always seemed likely that Aspas or Alberto would fill the role that so many fans love these days, that of the hated member of your own squad; the player that gets endless stick, becomes the butt of jokes and has questions raised about his legitimacy as a footballer and, as the likes of Traore, Biscan, Kuyt and Lucas before him have been, it looks like we have our new contender for ‘flop of the season’.
A lot of it has to do with the fee, the overall prior knowledge of the player, the club they come from and – I sadly don’t doubt – whether they’ve done well for your team in Football Manager but it’s all bull, quite frankly. I mean, who knew Michu was going to be the signing of last season after 4 league matches.
The simple fact is we’re barely 5 games into the league season and the poor guy is already probably finished as a Liverpool player because we live in a time of instant gratification and football fans don’t seem to understand the concept of having to adapt to a new league.
If I’m honest, I’d never heard of him before we were linked with him in the summer and I’d much rather the money we put out to bring him here had been used to bring in a higher profile player but he’s a Red now and he deserves at least one season to get into the swing of things.
There have been players over the years that I’ve not been convinced by but I’ve always given them time, whether home grown or from abroad. I mean, I could see early on that Jay Spearing was not at the required level after 10-15 games for our reserves, never mind the first team but I gave him a chance and had to endure over 4 years of his first-team involvement before Brendan Rodgers saw sense.
Funnily enough, Aspas’s demise has come at a time when Liverpool FC’s new sweetheart, Philippe Coutinho, is relatively anonymous. His performances this season have looked somewhat tired and off the pace and he has yet to assist – or score – a single goal himself.
Yet, despite less game time this season Aspas has an assist to his name. So purely statistically this season Aspas is slightly edging it, wouldn’t you say?
Until his withdrawal against Swansea last night he may as well not have been on the pitch but nobody made a single comment about it. Yet the moment Aspas similarly makes a few misplaced passes or fails to take on several Swansea players he’s deemed to be having a ‘mare.
I noticed a lot of people jumping to Sakho’s defence early on too, after what was a pretty terrible debut for the Reds. He dived into tackles without thinking, seemed to be defending for himself and had the demeanour of a player with a lot to learn but the resounding message was that he’s new and still relatively young, hence he deserves time.
Oh, and he’s also from PSG and cost a fortune so he’s obviously going to become a great player. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
I also find it quite fitting that one of last season’s favourite scapegoats, Jonjo Shelvey, was phenomenal for Swansea on Monday night. In 90 minutes he showed everything that made him so great and frustrating to watch and it was ultimately a lack of patience to allow him to develop that led to his departure.
As this point, it should be made clear that I’m not saying that either Coutinho or Sakho are terrible players. To think that would be entirely missing the point: I think they’re both going to become incredible players for Liverpool and the early evidence from Coutinho is that he has the potential to be world class and I want him to develop here for a long time to come.
As for Sakho, he is clearly a good defender and a really good prospect. I’m excited to see him find his form and he’ll be given all the time he needs.
The same time and patience should be afforded to Iago Aspas. Remember his pre-season? He looked good. But then again, I remember a certain pony-tailed striker looking good in pre-season a few years ago too.
However, that’s the whole point: we’ll never know unless these players are all given equal billing and allowed to find their form. Too many players have been written off by our fans over the years and proven us wrong and it’s getting tiring.
We’re top of the league, yet to find our best form and once we do and have a fully-fit squad it’s likely that we’ll be a match for anybody in the league, home or away. So get behind every player in the squad, not just your favourites and the high-profile players.
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