One of the more unfortunate narratives through last winter was the oversue of Joe Allen by Brendan Rodgers despite the midfielder's clear struggle to replicate the form he'd had earlier in the season. The young Welshman had started the season as one of Liverpool's most influential players, but too many minutes and the pressure of carrying the banner for his manager's brand of football saw his performances dip badly, with little signs of the player who'd been a revelation in the early weeks of the 2012-2013 season.
Rodgers' hand was forced as Jordan Henderson surged into the first team, and Allen later underwent shoulder surgery for an injury we discovered had been lingering since the early fall. For some it became another needle to prick the manager with, and while his handling of the midfielder was a bit irresponsible, it was far easier to see Allen as a sympathetic figure. The aforementioned pressure, the injury, becoming a father for the first time, getting caught in between positions--it was clear he'd been burdened with too much, and while injuries are never something we'd hope for, this one came at as good a time as any.
With an extended recovery and rehabilitation, Allen's been able to hit the ground running in the preseason, showing glimpses of the displays that had us so excited in the early fall last season. Smart on the ball, excellent use of his body in tight spaces, and clever distribution up and down the pitch, he's a versatile and responsible midfielder at his best, and he showed as much on Tuesday evening in Melbourne.
It's still the preseason, of course, but what we saw in front of 95,000 at the MCG wasn't too dissimilar to the type of display he turned in against Manchester City last August, and he added more going forward--his assist for Steven Gerrard's opener came after a lengthy run in possession--as he's no longer tasked solely with defensive duties. Where he'll fit in the new season isn't quite clear, but if he's trending back toward the form from the start of his Liverpool career, he's going to fit somewhere.
Video by AshTJay