Early in the season it became clear that Brendan Rodgers was going to offer Liverpool's younger squad members a chance at first-team football--he wasn't left with much choice after the summer window left them shorthanded, and in the opening months of the Premier League season it was not uncommon to see more a handful of fresh faces in the starting eleven. Suso, Andre Wisdom, and Raheem Sterling were regularly involved, and combined with the more "established" Fabio Borini, Joe Allen, Jonjo Shelvey, and Jordan Henderson, Rodgers oversaw a Liverpool squad that was among their youngest in years.
As the season wore on we saw less and less of them, though; Suso was the first to drop off, Wisdom came next, and Sterling held out until his body couldn't, eventually taking most of the spring off for rehabilitation and rest. Philippe Coutinho carried the torch for the youngsters after his arrival, though his performances on the whole weren't reflective of someone who could be classified as green in any way, and for the most part Liverpool's eleven was both settled and more mature than we saw in in the fall.
We had to wait until the season's final day to get another taste of what Liverpool's youth setup had to offer, when 17 year old Jordon Ibe got the nod on Liverpool's left wing. After traveling with the squad on the North American preseason tour, Ibe spent nearly the entire season in the youth ranks, impressing at every stop along the way and cementing himself as one of the club's most exciting prospects. If his display against QPR is anything to go off of, that status is well deserved.
Aside from the odd wobble, Ibe looked right at home at the top level, showing none of the tentativeness or uncertainty you'd expect from someone of his age. He earned an assist on Philippe Coutinho's goal (which wasn't really about anything other than the quality of the strike), but his most impressive moment came starting at 3:10 in the video below, when he snuffed out a QPR break by tracking back some 40-odd yards to win back possession and kill the threat.
He started here:
And then was here:
And finished here:
Even though it--along with his performance on the whole--was wonderfully encouraging to watch, none if means he's in the mix for a starting role ahead of the new season. Cup competitions, maybe, but with Liverpool looking to add squad members ready to make an impact on a consistent basis, it's not likely that Brendan Rodgers will be calling Ibe's number too often on the weekends. Against a relegated QPR side in a lame duck finale that was more notable for the exit of Jamie Carragher than the actual football, he fit perfectly. The rest is still up in the air.
I think it's fair to add him to the mix, however, and his development will make for exciting viewing over the next few seasons. One for the future to be sure, and during a run-in that demanded we find silver linings when there was nothing else to play for, Jordon Ibe answered the call.
**We'll be doing a disorganized and irregular season review series over the next few weeks and months to pass the time. Those interested in submitting a guest post or a featured Fanpost as part of the series please get in touch at email@example.com or in the Fanposts section.**
Video by i7Comps