What Does Curtis Jones’ Performance Mean To Liverpool?

If one day the devil appeared in front of me and said that the only way I’d be able to save my life was to choose a team for Liverpool to play and the Reds would have to win, I’m fairly certain I’d ask for them to go up against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side. I’m an atheist, like, so I’m fairly certain that I’m never going to be presented with that situation, yet if I was I’d struggle to think of a more compliant team. They’ve been struggling lately, of course, so you have to take that into account, but apart from the time that we threw away a lead to hand them three points out of nowhere, they always feel like a team that Jürgen Klopp has got the measure of. That was very much the case yesterday, when most of the match played out like a training game. Apart from the departure from the pitch of Dejan Lovren because of an injury, it was the ideal preparation for our game against Salzburg in the week.

That the manager played down the Lovren injury after the full-time whistle made it even better. We barely had to get out of second gear for most of the ninety, putting the Cherries to the sword with ease. When our famous old rivals did us a favour later on that day by winning the Manchester derby it meant that we would end the weekend fourteen points clear of Pep Guardiola’s City side. Unlike some I’m not quite so dismissive of Leicester City, believing them to be very much in this title fight. Regardless, an eight point lead at the top in December is something I’d have bitten your hand off for at the start of the season, so I’d much rather be out in front than one of the chasing pack. Arguably the most impressive thing about our last two wins is the fact that we’ve racked them up whilst heavily rotating our squad. It was the appearance of Curtis Jones that pleased me the most, but what does it mean for Liverpool?

We’ve Finally Got Joined Up Thinking

For so long it felt as though there was a battle being waged between various managers in the dugout and the people in charge of the youth systems. Rafa Benitez wanted things to work one way, then Brendan Rodgers thought it should be something entirely different. There didn’t seem to be a link between the first team and the Academy, no path for youngsters to follow to give themselves the best chance of making it into the Liverpool team. Yes, youngsters have come through every now and again, with Raheem Sterling being one of the best examples of the modern era. Trent Alexander-Arnold also fits into that category, but they are both players that could easily be labelled as ‘generational talents’. Whether Curtis Jones turns out to be one too remains to be seen, but right now he’s a decent player showing the likes of Harvey Elliot and Rhian Brewster that there’s definitely a path through.

Perhaps even more importantly than that, though, he didn’t look even remotely out of place. Of course you have to bear in mind that Bournemouth were really poor and were demoralised to the point of almost having given up by the time he came on, but he looked like any other Liverpool first teamer during his time on the pitch. It’s a sign that there is joined up thinking in every sense at Liverpool Football Club right now. The Academy is training and playing in a way that means that players are able to slip into the first-team entirely seamlessly. Jones’ performance wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t need to be. As a midfielder in a Jürgen Klopp team his job isn’t to do the spectacular it’s to do the necessary. Keep things ticking over and allow the flashy lads to worry about doing more fancy things. The joined up thinking on display at the club right now was demonstrated perfectly by his performance.

United Had Plenty Of Lads Like Him In The Nineties

When I was a teenager I had to put up with watching Manchester United win title after title under Alex Ferguson. As if that wasn’t irritating enough, one of the worst things was that some of the players that ended up with titles under the Scot always seemed to be mediocre. Now as it happens I think Curtis Jones will develop into a really good midfielder, but there’s also a chance that it might just be the system that we’ve got in place that suits him in a similar way to how United’s system suited the likes of John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Nicky Butt. They were never terrible players, but their careers away from Old Trafford suggested that they were never that brilliant either. Yet what Ferguson did so brilliantly was to foster a sense of belief and a culture of quality at Manchester United that meant that players could come into the first-team without any major drop in quality.

It’s something that Jürgen Klopp seems to be repeating at Anfield. If the last two games are anything to go by then it doesn’t matter which players come in as long as they know the jobs that they’re being asked to do. Eight goals scored across one hundred and eighty minutes with two conceded suggests that the German has got his squad functioning in a way that we haven’t seen for some years. It was demonstrated perfectly by Jones’ performance and it was strong enough to make me confess that I won’t be concerned in the slightest if he features in any of our remaining games. It’s credit to the player that he’s worked hard enough to ensure that he’s likely to be in Klopp’s thinking moving forward and it’s a joy for the rest of us that another Scouser will be part of the setup in the future. His career could go anywhere, but he’s in the right place and with the right manager to mean it’s only like to go up.

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