A quick glance at society today will show that we are a generation that demands instant gratification into whatever our desire happens to be. Want some food? Go to McDonalds. Want some information? Go to Google. Want the news? BBC 24 hour channel. Our wants can be met within seconds, why bother being patient? Couple this with the phenomenon that is Twitter where opinions are expressed in 140 characters or less, and increasingly opinions are based on instant ‘bite-size chunks’. Everything is either black or white, there is no room for grey as that takes too long!
Imagine if you will, Kenny brings in a promising 19 year old, spending what is a record fee for a teenager who then initially only makes sporadic appearances in the first team and takes a year to score his first senior goal. What would happen to this lad? Would he be given time? Allowed to settle in and mature in a red shirt? Looking at the way some have talked about Lucas, Henderson and Carroll I would suggest not. Well it is a good job Bob Paisley thought differently as that 19 year old was Ian Rush and we all know what he did next!
Looking back at Liverpool players that have been brought in to the club there are stand outs who have hit the ground running – the likes of Torres, Suarez, Barnes, Alonso, Dalglish – and became instant hits which in an ideal world would be the case with every signing. Likewise with players coming through the ranks – Gerrard, Fowler, Owen and Mcmanaman – who wowed immediately, and again in a perfect world this would be a regular occurrence. As we are all well aware though this is not a perfect world and players react differently to situations, some needing time to adjust to a lifestyle change, some adjusting to life at a club with the stature of Liverpool and some with the transfer fee paid for them hanging like a millstone around their neck. But what is it that warrants a degree of patience from the fans? What factors have an effect? Age? Price tag? Nationality? Reputation?
Case study 1; like for like: Andy Carroll vs Peter Crouch. £35million vs £7million. 22 year old vs 24 year old. 42 goals in 91 games vs 54 goals in 172 games prior to signing for Liverpool. Despite an injury that delayed Carroll’s debut, he scored a brace early on against a team the stature of Manchester City and past a keeper the quality of Joe Hart. In comparison, Crouch didn’t score until the December of his first season against Wigan. Both were (and still are for Carroll) lambasted in the media yet only Crouch received unwavering support from the majority of Reds fans where there are cries for Carroll to be cashed in, that he is rubbish. What is the difference here? Would Carroll be allowed more time simply if he had cost less? Is it perhaps the (alleged) off-field antics of Carroll that makes him less amiable than the much loved Crouch? My personal opinion on Carroll is that he is good enough, and given support and a style of football to suit him, could evolve into a very important player for Liverpool. We have seen glimpses of this already, most recently THAT chance he created for himself against Newcastle before that sniper took him down. Ahem!
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Case Study 2; have we learned our lesson?: Lucas Leiva vs Jordan Henderson. £5million v (estimated) £20million. 19 years old vs 20 years old. Under -20 international for Brazil vs full England international. For a number of years Lucas was the focal point for many Liverpool fans as being not worthy and the epitome of what was going wrong with the club, regularly being slated on forums and even booed by his own fans (which should never ever happen to a player in the famous red shirt). Yet Lucas has risen like a phoenix from the ashes to being one of our most important players and arguably his injury the reason why our early season form has dipped so dramatically. This is a young man uprooted from everything he has known and moved halfway round the world and took time to settle. Henderson has a number of similarities with Lucas in terms of the steady growing resentment within the fan base, but also with his on the pitch attributes. He has a high work rate, conducts himself on and off the pitch in a very professional manner and has shown flashes of what he can offer in the future. But again, is it the price tag that has given delusions of grandeur in what he can offer in the present? My personal opinion is that his form has suffered through being played out of position, but I have seen enough of the lad to believe that he will grow at this club and mature into a very good player.
What is it that I am trying to say? Well, history has shown that patience and support can allow a player to battle through that settling-in period and flourish. The younger a player is the more imperative it is to fully get behind them. The club will not sign genuinely bad players as there will be a belief by those within Anfield that players they have identified can come in and improve the squad, but for whatever reason players may not settle and a combination of factors can see top, top players fail to make it – Morientes is a stand out example – but whilst they wear the Red of Liverpool they will get my support. YNWA
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