Joe Allen didn’t have a great first season at Liverpool, which produced 21 Premier League starts sprayed with inconsistency and a shoulder injury which kept him out of the final part of the season.
It can’t be considered a success but the beauty of football is that there is always another chance, another game to impress and when Allen gets that chance next season he must take it.
His role in the team is a little confusing to understand at the moment because there are three players all ahead of him in the pecking order; Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho.
He’s around the same sort of squad status as Jordan Henderson at the moment who is another player who could quite easily make it into the side ahead of him based on his form over the final part of last season.
The most obvious route into the team for Allen is defensive or holding midfield but that is not a position which suits him.
He’s a small player, not physically equipped to do the enforcer role in Liverpool’s team or any other side for that matter.
The problem that creates is that he’s seemingly holding out to play the same position in the current side as Lucas, but the Brazilian was outstanding in the central midfield role after returning from injury last season.
He needs a little bit of luck to oust Lucas from that position in the form of an early injury or simply just playing out of his skin when Brendan Rodgers gets the nod to play him there.
He’s not going to be preferred as an attacking midfield player to either Gerrard or Coutinho who have both proved they are the main, consistent and productive forces in that position.
There is also the possibility that he could play wider if he’s willing to do so but even that is laced with problems, which would hamper his chances of holding down a regular place.
Take your pick of the players who can play down either flank for Liverpool; Stewart Downing, Raheem Sterling, Suso, Jordon Ibe and even Henderson played left midfield on a couple of occasions last season.
There is no easy way in but that means there is no reason for Allen to change his style of play or try to alter his best position.
He’s a central midfielder, who’s at his best when he’s on the ball linking the defence and the attack, benefiting from the protection of a bigger player in some sort of holding role.
His main threats next season are Lucas and Henderson, but Rodgers has shown with the latter, he will always give his players a chance, even when they think their career at Anfield is done, he will always give them a chance and that’s how Allen gets into the team next season.
Where do you think Allen should play next season? Should Liverpool hang onto him?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald