The form of Liverpool pair Mamadou Sakho and Jordan Henderson has been put into question in recent weeks, but the criticism heading their way is proof of how impatient football fans are these days.
During the latter part of 2015, if most Liverpool fans were asked who the first three names on the team-sheet should be, both Sakho and Henderson would have invariably made the cut.
Sakho had been producing some magnificent performances during the end of Brendan Rodgers’ reign and the start of Jurgen Klopp‘s, with many of the belief that the Frenchman was one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.
Henderson, meanwhile, was deemed an enormous loss through injury, with the captain’s return seen as a potential turning point in the Reds’ stuttering season.
All of a sudden however, following some shaky form from the two 25-year-olds, there are supporters questioning the long-term futures of both.
It perfectly illustrates the short-termism of the modern fan.
First things first, Sakho has been really disappointing since returning from a knee injury in December.
His passing has often been shoddy and overly risky, his decision-making has left plenty to be desired and he has been outshone by an ageing Kolo Toure.
Despite this, Sakho has not simply become a bad defender overnight.
He is clearly struggling for rhythm since his injury – he appears to be someone who needs long runs of games in order to hit peak form – and it could definitely be argued that Liverpool’s defensive crisis saw him rushed back too soon.
Sakho remains the best centre-back that the Reds have in their ranks, and like any player, is just going through a mini slump.
Exactly the same applies to Henderson, who Klopp explained earlier this week is “not at 100 percent”.
The England international has more energy than anyone else in the squad, so for Klopp to substitute him early against Sunderland, Norwich City and Stoke is proof that all is not well.
That hasn’t stopped some vitriol heading in the skipper’s direction however, with some suddenly deciding that Henderson is not the player we thought he was.
Three months out injured – coupled with a chronic ongoing heel problem – is not exactly going to ensure you are at the top of your game, is it?
The 25-year-old is not blameless, of course.
His performance against Man United – full of desperate, inaccurate shooting – was naive, and he has not yet looked entirely convincing in his role as captain.
We all know Henderson can do better, but like Sakho, there are reasons why we are not seeing the best of him.
Firmino, Benteke, Moreno & Can
Roberto Firmino‘s slow start to life on Merseyside showed a classic example of the impatience of the modern football fan.
The Brazilian struggled to adapt to the pace and power of the Premier League during his first few months at Liverpool, and it did not take long at all for him to be deemed a “waste of money” by many.
All of a sudden, Firmino has come alive, scoring four goals in as many matches, and he is now the Reds’ attacking talisman.
Too many expected him to be an instant hero at Anfield, when there was every chance that he would take a while to adjust to life in a new country.
Suarez certainly wasn’t world class from day one, and neither were Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and many other sensational talents who have graced the Premier League.
Christian Benteke is another who probably deserves more time, with Rodgers saying recently that, “in this country, now, everything is very short-termism, isn’t it?”
“People look at it like, you’ve got to come in, get 20 goals in your first season or you might be deemed a failure,” he explained.
He is absolutely right.
Alberto Moreno and Emre Can are two other Liverpool players who are currently receiving plenty of criticism, and while some of it is justified – Moreno’s defending is hapless at times – it once again reeks of knee-jerk reactions.
Before this sounds like you are the bad guys and I am Mr. Perfect, I fully admit to being very guilty of this too.
I’m a modern football supporter, at the end of the day.
We suddenly expect Moreno and Can to be consistently good week in, week out, despite the fact they are still young players who remain raw in certain aspects of their game.
They have also been overplayed this season, due mainly to Liverpool’s dreadful luck with injuries, so a bit of fatigue from both should not come as a shock.
This is a wonderful age to live in, when it comes to being a football lover.
We have access to every major league on the planet, and are able to assess the performances of players in every single match they play.
While this allows for more conclusive analysis on how a player is performing, it can also become unhealthy in the way in which they are relentlessly judged.
If a player has one bad game, there are immediately voices questioning their ability, and three or four poor showings is not even worth thinking about.
Were the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff always in scintillating form? Absolutely not. Did Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo endure bad runs? Of course.
Football wasn’t so serious and judgmental back then however, and some uninspiring performances would be swept under the carpet.
There can be no denying that Sakho and Henderson have failed to hit top gear so far in 2016, but that is no need for alarm whatsoever.
Both are pivotal players for Liverpool going forward, and Klopp will no doubt see them as integral figures during his time at Anfield.
We need to stop being so quick to judge, with Firmino the perfect example of someone who required patience among fans.
Form comes and goes for every player – as do injury problems – and they need to be assessed over a long period of time, rather than a few weeks’ worth of games.