The world of the Europa League and matches against Young Boys seems like a different galaxy than the English Premier League, but Liverpool can still find more than one positive from their dramatic 5-3 win in Switzerland, warming up for their ultra-important rivalry match against Manchester United.
There was nothing tactical or smart about how Liverpool played, giving young players like Andre Wisdom, Ouassama Assaidi, Dani Pacheco and Jesus Fernandez Saez a run in the first team, with Wisdom scoring one of the goals. But it was exciting, and fresh, and fast at times, despite the defensive problems when fielding a team that has Jamie Carragher as one of the back four.
The biggest plus? Jonjo Shelvey scoring two late goals, coming off the bench 29 minutes from time and coming up with the goods. The 20 year midfielder has been used sparingly off the bench by Rodgers’ predeccesors in the previous two seasons. This season, he’s already played in a total of six match at home and Europe. It may have something to do with the Lucas injury and Nuri Sahin taking his time with finding his form, but Shelvey is Liverpool’s best attacking option from the midfield at the moment.
Because there’s nothing about Joe Allen that even remotley implies a threat at the opponent, and Steven Gerrard is struggling no matter where he plays at the moment. He’s always a danger, but not a very threatning one at the moment. Shelvey has his problems – his first touch could be better; his speed isn’t top notch; his tackling could have better timing. But he’s constantly looking for a shot, playing behind Suarez or whoever it is leading the Liverpool front three.
The Rodgers system requires an organizer, which is Allen, and someone who can carry the offensive load and help the front trio become four and five in their efforts. A defensive midfielder? The depleted Liverpool side is lacking one at the moment, with Lucas injured again. Allen is trying to fill that spot, but it’s not made for him. Gerrard could have done it a couple of seasons ago probably, not anymore. Maybe Jordan Henderson, who has been tried in multiple positions at Anfield, might finally find a role he’s comfortable with.
Shelvey isn’t that man, but his future looks bright, even if Liverpool’s present is a rather depressing one. He’s still very rough around the edges, but he’s booming with confidence every time he’s on the pitch. Maybe after he scored his first goals of the season, also his first ever in European competition, things will start looking better for him and for the club in the league, still looking for their first win.