The Welshman has had his share of criticism since becoming a Liverpool player.
It is safe to say that Joe Allen hasn’t had the time at Anfield he will have wanted or imagined when he signed from Swansea City for £15m in 2012. During his time he has had his share of injuries – and there seems to be a little uncertainty on where he operates best within the Liverpool make-up. The debate on that front seems to be should be sitting in a deeper midfield position or playing further up the field?
In his initial performances, the reaction towards the 23-year-old Welshman would have made you think he was the best thing since sliced bread – notably with his performance in the 2-2 home draw against Manchester City.
Now, however, he has been labelled ‘a crab,' probably because some statistics indicate that his pass completion is pretty high, and some making the point they haven’t really been effective in terms of the outcome of the game.
It’s funny – it sounds a lot like the debate surrounding Lucas Leiva when he first came into the Liverpool side.
Allen looks like a different player to Lucas – though he could perhaps play in the more defensive position the Brazilian occupies, Allen’s game seems to be more focused on him with the ball at his feet.
To me it looks as if Allen should be played further forward, there were certainly encouraging signs from the Welshman during the pre-season games. His introduction against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield last season when Liverpool were trailing 2-1 allowed the home side to exert some control on the game that was perhaps lacking, as Liverpool enjoyed some more possession in key areas of the field.
That’s not to say that Allen was directly responsible for Liverpool’s 3-2 victory that day - but his performance showed he has useful qualities and isn’t a mere ‘crab.’
If you would like another example just watch Liverpool’s Europa League tie with Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield. When both he and Jordan Henderson were withdrawn from the game, Liverpool’s control and grasp of the game seemed to slip away from them. Allen had a lot to do with Liverpool performance in the hour he was on the field – though admittedly Luis Suarez’s free-kicks that night had a lot to do with Liverpool being so near yet so far that night. But he and Henderson didn't allow the Russian sides midfield to function properly with both their pressing and their work with the ball.
Allen hasn’t played in a glamorous position so far for the Reds, it’s probably why some people call him a ‘crab.’ Maybe people need to cut him some slack and see how he goes when he eventually gets his opportunity again this season?
image: © Ben Sutherland