There has always been the resounding criticism towards the business of football that footballers are out tune with reality with fancy sports cars, ballooned wages and the vast array of public affection (and hatred) clouding players’ minds.
What is often seen with this privilege that footballers enjoy is, exaggerated egos, societal attitudes that places themselves above anyone and a greed that is usually unparalleled. Faced with this reality, fans are usually out of touch with their footballer counterparts and this can usually be seen on fan comments towards players on various social media platforms.
Yet for all the negative press, there are some stories that bridge this gap between the two realities and this will be the focus of this piece. This comes in the shape of Danny Ings, the reds £10m striker who at one point, just before the appointment of Jurgen Klopp was seen as Liverpool’s number one striker. Injuries have somewhat halted this, but it is Ings’ desire and superb attitude that will see him granted his chance.
It was not all Melwood facilities and Anfield for the Winchester born striker, as surprising to most he successfully balanced his education alongside his football, progressing through Bournemouth’s centre of excellence whilst still attending secondary school, following the players release from Southampton.
Having progressed into the first team he was to be hit with an injury that saw the striker loaned out to Conference South side, Dorchester Town to attain match fitness. Gone was the bubble of academy facilities, Ings was thrusted into the cauldron of non-league football and the certain challenges that come of this. Of course, Ings duly impressed with an impressive four goals in nine games, for the side. Although impressive, in reality Ings was playing Conference South football whilst Liverpool were battling for Premier League supremacy.
A move to Burnley shortly followed after impressive displays for Bournemouth and with a rising profile, that included team of the year appearances, player of the month accolades and an impressive ten goals in a Premier League season, Ings landed a dream move to Liverpool, June 2015.
Lightning strikes twice
Due to the failure of Christian Benteke and injury plaguing Daniel Sturridge, the striker was seen as Liverpool’s leading front man following a string of impressive displays off the bench, with additional praise coming after his goal in what was the player’s Merseyside derby debut.
But as happened in his Bournemouth career, Ings was blighted with a long term injury, coming in the form this time of the ominous ACL injury (anterior cruciate ligament injury), sustained in non-other than Klopp’s first training session, which would see him ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Now such as in a regular workplace, and especially in the workplace of football, you wouldn’t be mistaken to think after a year without work Danny Ings’ time at Liverpool was over.
In actual fact it was not, and certain credit must go towards manager Jurgen Klopp, who was ready to give Ings a chance to prove his fitness and become an integral part of the team. Yet, part of this agreement between the two was for Danny Ings, a one-time prolific and sort over individual, to play more football for our U23 side.
In an era where Mario Balotelli refused to mark from corners in training and where Mamadou Sakho has acrimoniously fallen out with the Anfield hierarchy for attitude over fitness issues, the willingness for Ings to travel with the first team squad for a game, only to not be involved and then score goals on U23 duty is commendable.
Did Danny Ings envisage playing reserve team football once rehabilitated? Absolutely not. Would Premier League clubs leap at the chance to sign the forward? Certainly. But the strikers desire to earn the respect of Klopp is as previously said, commendable.
Imagine in the workplace, upon arrival from a term of absence you were sent to perform a lesser duty than what was once previously expected, whilst watching others succeed ahead of you. This for Ings is certainly a test of mental strength and attitude.
Certainly this test is not for everyone as players have refused this duty, most will remember Stan Collymore spectacularly refusing to play a reserve game when ordered to, during his time with the Reds. But Ings has and will pass with flying colours.
But now what?…
With two goals this past week at Prenton Park vs Sunderland and a hat trick at Ipswich, walking past defenders and most importantly smiling again, it is clear to see the Englishman is made of the right stuff, and Klopp will notice this. The test of character has been answered, and not only will this put him in good stead for a healthy Anfield career, it shows that within the game tainted by corruption charges and inflated egos, there are decent hard working workers, waiting for their chance to impress the boss – very 9-5.