Ian Rush: Harvey Elliott Return Like A New Signing For Liverpool
I was made up for Harvey Elliott marking his comeback from an awful injury with a lovely goal against Cardiff last weekend. To score your first goal in front of the Kop is something special but to do it in the manner he did gave it that extra little bit of beauty.
Harvey has always been a big Liverpool fan so I know he will have been dreaming of that moment for most of his young life and the fact that it came on his first game back after five months out must have been an amazing feeling.
I was at the game myself and I saw the reaction of his dad, Scott, so I know it was an emotional occasion for the whole family. For Harvey to come off the bench and make an impact like that, it almost felt like we’d signed a new player and he’s put himself in contention to start against Leicester on Thursday night.
Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI will always be influenced by what he sees in training and at the start of the season Harvey was in the side, and deservedly so. He might be lacking a bit of match practice, but I don’t think Klopp would have any hesitation about throwing him in if he’s seen enough behind closed doors.
With Luis Diaz now competing for a starting place too, plus Mohamed Salah coming back – and Sadio Mane soon too – suddenly there’s bags of competition in attack and Klopp will have his work cut out selecting his teams from here.
But that’s what makes a good manager and there’s no one I’d rather have making those decisions than Klopp. He’s also got Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi – when he’s fit again – to call on, but with Liverpool fighting on four fronts I’d expect them all to get some game time in the coming weeks and months.
What works in Harvey’s favour is that he’s very versatile. His best position is arguably on the right, but that’s Salah’s flank, although I think the two of them actually link up pretty well when they’re on the pitch together.
His talent is one of the main reasons Klopp was willing to let Xherdan Shaqiri go last summer – he got £9.5million for Shaqiri and already had a better replacement in his ranks with Harvey, so that just goes to show you how much Klopp believes in him.
Salah and Diaz in Contention
There’s a chance Salah could start against Leicester, but I have my doubts. He was back at training on Tuesday and the game is on Thursday, but travelling can take its toll on the body so it wouldn’t surprise me if we see him on the bench.
You have to be very careful with players when they come back having done a lot of travelling because the body can get very tired and that’s when you’re vulnerable to injuries. Maybe Salah will be on the bench and could get on for half an hour or so if we need him.
It was a similar situation with Diaz against Cardiff – he had made a long trip back from South America and hadn’t done much training with his new team-mates, but he got half an hour off the bench and I thought he played well enough to warrant another place in the squad against Leicester.
It was a good introduction for him to the Anfield crowd but it can take some getting used to and Thursday night’s atmosphere should be electric, so he might have to be content with a seat on the bench to get another feel of the place.
Rodgers Under Fire
Brendan Rodgers knows all about Anfield and he’s under a bit of pressure coming in to this game. He’s very experienced though and he probably learned how to deal with barren spells from his time as Liverpool manager.
At Swansea and Celtic he never really had to come through rough patches, but with Leicester in 10th spot and having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest at the weekend, he’s getting some heat in the press.
It’s funny how football works. It wasn’t long ago Rodgers was being touted as the next manager of Manchester United or even Manchester City, but now he finds himself as the favourite in the sack race. That’s football all over – it’s ruthless – but I expect him to come through this situation.
It’s possible Leicester are victims of their own success, after winning the FA Cup last season and having spent a lot of the last two years floating around the top four. But judging by what Brendan has been saying in his interviews, it seems as though some of his players believe they’re better than they really are.
Liverpool Quadruple Chances
When you get to this stage of the season and there’s still four trophies to fight for, talk of a quadruple naturally develops. There is a reason why no English team has ever won the three domestic trophies plus the European Cup – it’s because it’s incredibly difficult to pull off.
But Liverpool enter every competition with intent to win it and that hasn’t changed even as the games pile up at this stage of the season. What the League Cup and FA Cup have shown is that Liverpool have some great young players and a better squad than given credit for.
Manchester City have won the League Cup four times in a row, not because they have the better team but because they have the better squad, but Liverpool are closing that gap in terms of who has better depth.
It’s nice to see Liverpool taking those two cups seriously again because it’s been too long since we were in a final at Wembley, but it’s going to be very difficult to complete a quadruple. In 1984 we won three trophies – the league title, the European Cup and the League Cup – and we thought that was amazing.
Since then, we’ve seen Manchester United do the ultimate treble in 1999 and Manchester City were the first team to do the domestic treble in 2019. So you can see these sorts of achievements don’t come around very often, and a quadruple would be another level.
Then again, given the points tallies Manchester City and Liverpool have been recording in recent seasons, the standards are higher than ever, so who knows?
Made Up For Mane
I was absolutely thrilled to see Sadio Mane win the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday after a difficult start to the match for him. Missing that early penalty in normal time could have thrown his game off but he recovered well and redeemed his miss by hitting the winning spot-kick in the shoot-out.
Both Mane and Salah were a credit to their countries throughout the tournament and I hope the final has helped raised the profile of Liverpool FC in Africa.
It was sad to see Salah on the losing side, but there could only be one winner. Both players are very inspirational off the field too, they’ve never forgotten where they came from and that’s one of the reasons why they are so adored in their home countries and by Liverpool fans.
To see the scenes back in Senegal was amazing, it must have filled Mane with pride. It’s something he and the people of Senegal will remember for a long time.
Best Ever Premier League Team?
Finally, I see SportBible conducted a poll on who is the greatest ever Premier League team but I have to say I don’t take much notice of these outcomes. For a start, football didn’t start in 1992, so any poll focussing on the Premier League era alone automatically overlooks all the great teams gone before.
The other problem is that it is essentially an online popularity contest, and there are evidently a lot of Manchester United fans online as their 2007/08 team won the vote pretty clearly.
But if you really have to narrow it down to the Premier League era, then I suppose the 07/08 United team would have to be up there. However, I don’t see them as being any better than the Liverpool team who stormed the league in 2019/20 or Pep Guardiola’s Man City team who got 100 points in 2017/18.
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