Cody Gakpo a bright spark in Liverpool's stuttering season
Patience is something that is important in football and something that has increasingly disappeared in the modern game.
Players are written off too soon, managers are sacked before they get a chance to prove their worth and everything is about the here and now.
This certainly applied with Cody Gakpo in his early weeks in a Liverpool shirt, having joined from PSV Eindhoven during the January transfer window.
Rather than acknowledge that the Dutchman was coming into a new league midway through the season, and into a team where confidence was at its lowest ebb, many instead decided to criticise him from the off.
Some questioned the need for another attacker when a new midfielder was needed – a fair comment, in truth – while others felt he was the wrong fit for Liverpool from the moment he made his debut.
There is no question that Gakpo struggled to begin with, often resembling the squarest of pegs in the roundest of holes, but that was to be expected, given how many signings can take time to adjust to a new system and playing style.
Just look at the likes of Fabinho and Andy Robertson, among numerous others, and look at how they were given time to adapt before becoming mainstays of the side.
Gakpo wasn’t afforded that luxury, however, due to injuries to Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, and Roberto Firmino, and he found it difficult to make his mark, not scoring in any of his first six appearances.
From the moment the 23-year-old fired home the opening goal in the 7-0 win over Man United, though, he hasn’t looked back, all of a sudden looking like a class act who can be a valuable player for Liverpool for years to come.
Blessed with underrated pace and power, and an ability to knit the midfield and attack together, Gakpo’s influence has only grown, to the point that Jurgen Klopp is now choosing him to start every game and leaving Darwin Nunez on the substitutes’ bench.
It appears as though the manager believes his newest signing has adapted faster than his teammate, despite arriving one transfer window later.
Gakpo was again influential on Wednesday night, firing home a ruthless equaliser at West Ham, taking his tally to six goals in 20 appearances, with one assist also coming his way.
That is a good return after a slow start, and with each passing game, the more he looks like he could end up being the tailor-made Firmino replacement Liverpool so crave.
Granted, they are not identical footballers – Gakpo is bigger and quicker, but not quite as relentless off the ball as Bobby at his peak – but there are clear comparisons when it comes to their subtle influence and all-round impact on the team.
The Netherlands international can do more and needs to do more, of course, in order to become a genuine Anfield star, but what was a much-criticised signing at the time is now slowly looking like it could be a masterstroke.
After Wednesday’s game, Gakpo said “I feel like this is home” when referring to Liverpool, and he and the club could end up being a match made in heaven.
A strong end to the season will only silence the early doubters further and prove that patience simply has to return to the mindset of the modern fan, instead of hysterical short-termism.