Allen a key piece in progressive puzzle


No sooner had he been appointed than the Liverpool manager turned to the men he had already tried and trusted. His rebuilding doubled up as a reunion and, in a bid to bolster the midfield, he bid for a former charge.

“He will be a very good player to bring into our team,” he said. “He is a player I know well, a player whose career I actually kick-started and I have followed him closely ever since.” The player was not Joe Allen, Liverpool’s £15 million signing from Swansea, but Christian Poulsen, the manager not Brendan Rodgers but Roy Hodgson.

That was the summer of 2010 when Hodgson brought in Poulsen and Paul Konchesky for a combined cost of £7.5 million; little by Liverpool’s standards, but excessive given their abject performances. Rounding up old friends can be a sign of laziness in scouting. In Hodgson’s case, it hinted at both a lack of funds and a fundamental underestimation of the requirements of a Liverpool player. Two years on, however, a successor has adopted a similar policy. Besides Allen, Rodgers has bought Fabio Borini. Between them, they have cost £25 million. Both were playing in the Championship in his Swansea side 15 months ago.

And yet, rather than nepotism, their arrivals are indications of the particular demands the Northern Irishman places upon his players. A legacy of Liverpool’s past dealings is that they are unable to sign cheaply, but the more pertinent element is the newcomers’ understanding of Rodgers’ philosophy.

“Because of my methods, I need a certain profile of player,” the manager had explained. “Technically the player needs to be strong, have the technical capacity to participate and learn the game, have the physical attributes to perform in a high-intensity pressing and passing game and the mentality and hunger to perform every day. These qualities won’t be here right from the start but I will work towards this vision.”

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