On so many occasions this season we have seen our Liverpool team stumble to either a disappointing or disastrous result. The recent dropping of Naby Keita has clearly left the Guinean international staring adoringly at the exit door. We know that both he and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be leaving (when their contracts expire in the summer), therefore it is understandable that he may be feeling less than committed.
To continue to trust in the legs of a 37-year-old Milner and the 32-year-old Henderson would be an unfathomable decision. I am not one of those that sees Harvey as a central midfielder, but what was so frustratingly visible versus Crystal Palace was Curtis Jones glued to the away bench for 94 minutes. This is a player that divides opinion, yet has never really been given a full run in the team. He has had brief patches that see him take up a spot (in the team), before disappearing back into the shuffle. Those periods occurred in times of success, but while we are searching for ideas and inspiration, I would fully back the academy graduate to make a more impactful series of appearances. To see a man that could immerse himself into the impending regeneration would make sense ahead of either one of the leadership group, or those about to depart.
When looking at the midfield area, it’s clear that certain entities require specific personnel alongside them. We struggled after Christmas due to the injury incurred to Virgil against Brentford. That game fell away from us (like so many have) due to his presence not being felt throughout the team. We need both he and Thiago in the side to be anywhere close to a functioning 11. Whereas the reintroduction of one has stopped the shipping of Premier League goals, the loss of the other sees us clueless in midfield.
It has become clear in the past few weeks that without our Spanish master we must look to his young apprentice to help regain control of that central area. It’s ridiculous that we are in this scenario, but it is now the harsh reality of the moment. With Bajcetic operating as the LCM, I would absolutely employ the energetic local lad, Curtis Jones, into the RCM role. This would allow Fab and Hendo to rotate as a defensive midfielders until our number former Barca man returns. At that point, we could at least start to implement the form players into the team. Until that happens, we desperately need energy and intensity, which is something that you will not get by putting both the skipper and vice-captain into the same starting eleven.
If in this current moment of inconsistency in midfield we are still unable to call upon Curtis Jones, then Julian Ward needs to immediately place this young man on the transfer list. This is a talented and raw talent, that could offer the unpredictability that has been sorely lacking. He will work tirelessly for this team, and though he will make mistakes, he will only be doing what all others have done before him. Though the 22-year-old is not the long-term answer, he is still a viable solution for today. We have a slim chance of making top four this season, and if we are to do so, our manager needs to start making the correct choices in his team selection.
The day of Milner and Henderson (in any starting line-up) needs to be put in the drawer and locked away, with new and intensified blood ushered into the limelight. Time will only tell how are manager reacts this weekend, but I hope he will finally make the calls that can see us come to life once more.