Brendan Rodgers has launched a defense of Joe Allen against ‘so-called pundits’ who question his role in the Liverpool side.
The Reds boss does not mention Alan Shearer by name, but it was the BBC Match of the Day pundit who wondered about the value of a midfielder who does not take risks to create chances.
The £15million signing from Swansea has created just three chances for his teammates in seven Premier League appearances and yet Rodgers is comparing the Wales international with Paul Scholes.
"I saw someone recently criticizing Joe Allen for not playing risk passes. Unbelievable. So-called pundits who don’t know the dynamics of a team and how it functions," said Rodgers.
"Joe’s role is to keep the ball and that, in Britain, is a special talent. It is why Paul Scholes is still playing at his age. It is such a rare talent for a midfielder to rarely give the ball away.
"Initially when I came in, we played with one holding midfielder and two advanced ones. I didn’t feel that we had the guy that opened the door for everything so I played Joe in there because he knows how to control the game. He is courageous and will go and get the ball in any area. But our positioning ahead of that wasn’t so good, because we were too open.
"We have switched the team to play with two holding midfielders and one further forward. That has been Steven more or less, because he is the one that can do everything."
Rodgers is promising more attacking intent from Allen when Lucas Leiva returns from injury.
"Joe, offensively, has more than what a lot of people have seen, just because he’s had to play more of a sitting role. That comes when Lucas is back.
"Where we have been really pleased with Joe is with his tactical discipline. Maybe he’s never going to score as many as Steven but he’s certainly got quality going forward. But his tactical discipline to stay and keep the shape of the team, and offer the passing line, has been very good. He will have a long career here, he’s a wonderful talent and over time people will see what facets he’s got in his game. Over time, he will prove an absolute bargain."