Unless you were opposed to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain signing for Liverpool in the first place, or you just haven’t been paying attention, it’s hard to argue that the England winger hasn’t done well for himself so far. Sure, he hasn’t earned a regular starting place yet, but he was always going to have a hard time with that given that his competition includes Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané (who’s still out injured), Roberto Firmino, and Philippe Coutinho. And let’s be real— with Liverpool’s luck as it concerns player injuries, it’s only a matter of time before Ox gets a shot as a starter.
But as a substitute in both the Premier League and the Champions League, he’s acquitted himself well enough. He scored his first competitive goal for the Reds this past week in the 7-0 thrashing of Maribor.
Sure, he hasn’t planted a flag yet. Progress could be faster. But he’s done fine so far, and there’s every indication he’s going to get better. Jürgen Klopp certainly thinks so, anyway.
But one Liverpool legend thinks it’s not enough.
Former Reds striker (and arguably the Creator of all things in Heaven and Earth) Robbie Fowler says that Ox needs to be contributing more. He also believes AOC’s slow-ish start is the result of a lack of confidence.
“Look he's had a bit of a tough start if we're all being honest,” said Fowler. “He's obviously a good player, he's played for a good Arsenal team and he's playing for good Liverpool team now. But I think he looks a real confidence player.”
Fowler continued: “I think he needs to go back to basics that got him to the level he was at and once that confidence grows, I think we'll see a much better Oxlade-Chamberlain. I think playing under Jürgen Klopp, he will get that confidence out of him.”
Fowler did not explain what “getting back to basics” means in this context.
I don’t know whether Ox is a “confidence player” or not. I’m sure that he, like any other worker, thrives in supportive environments where he is set up for success. I also know that I tend not to respond well to unsolicited and non-specific suggestions on how to do my job better.
I’m sure Fowler means well. But I think Ox would be better served by Fowler— and, indeed, the rest of us— getting off his goddamn back for a minute while he adjusts to his new team. If it’s March and he’s still not delivering results, then sure, it’ll be right to ask some pointed questions. But it’s not even November yet, and Klopp’s system takes some getting used to. Let’s all take some deep, cleansing breaths, yeah?
In the meantime, watch (or re-watch) this video of Ox driving a car while his Liverpool teammates do carpool karaoke. It’s good for your soul.