It’s been a whirlwind month for Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson. The highly rated Welsh International has been making spectacular headlines on some of the biggest stages.
His top class free kick for Derby against Man United at Old Trafford stunned our fierce rivals in their League Cup exit. He subsequently followed that up with another pearler against Republic of Ireland in Dublin last week.
These wonderful goals coupled with a few frustrating injuries to the first team has seen heads turn enthusiastically in his direction. There have been some fans openly calling for his return to Liverpool citing Welshman’s obvious natural abilities as a remedy to some of our less fluid displays.
While a return to his parent club is unlikely, Klopp does need to manage this situation.
There is massive expectation and hope that Wilson could well be the future. At such a crucial stage in his development, Klopp will know he has to encourage the lad, whilst also keep him grounded. It’s crucial for Wilson, and for Liverpool, that any talk of him returning and having a first team role this season remains background music and not over-eager interference in his development.
We have been here before with Wilson. Just weeks ago, when the summer window remained as wide open as Moreno’s left flank, there were grumbles as Liverpool completed a £12 million deal for Shaqiri.
A few fans saw his arrival as unnecessary. We had Wilson ready and able, he’d been good in pre-season and looked a natural fit in Klopp’s side, they said.
He could get forward with pace and skill, create chances and hit a mean set piece, they said.
Their logic to that end was sound, but they had forgotten the crucial thing that worked against Wilson and for Shaqiri.
The expectation and pressure on Liverpool this season is immense. The fans and club need to see a serious assault on the title. If a youngster is going to make it as a first team regular then he must be exceptional.
Look at Gomez and Trent thus far. Both of the young players are in the team with the heat very much on. However, they have both been outstanding, playing way above the average level of their junior years. That is the only way to guarantee your starting berth in the first team at that age.
With the expectation on Liverpool this season to challenge, virtually every game is a must win. In such an environment, there is little room for a rookie still learning his trade. Wilson is clearly a lad with bags of talent, but if he were to return and thrust into a first team role, the pressure could break him.
His experience going into the new season was also questionable. A good loan stint with Hull, peppered by a handful of caps for wales and a brief spell at Crewe were all he had to his name. Again, with so much riding on the season, and the need for a little extra flair, Wilson’s experience was simply not practical and could have been costly to us at big moments.
During Liverpool’s win at the weekend over Huddersfield for example, there were very few clear cut opportunities. When we did have the one chance, running at a retreating back line, we had the crucial quality in Shaqiri to force a breakthrough.
The weight of the pass to Salah had to be perfect, if Wilson is in that position does he make the pass? Worse still, if he doesn’t does it chew up his confidence for the next game and the next time he is in that position?
Salah had a similar chance in the second half with Sturridge and Shaqiri ahead of him, the Egyptian in that instance picked the wrong pass and the chance was gone. However you know Mo can take it on the chin and not let it bother him, so vast is his reservoir of confidence.
Wilson is currently playing at a decent level, building up this confidence and finely tuning his game. He must be allowed this time to crack on and learn with Derby. A year expressing himself at a top end Championship club could do him the world of good.
Injuries are never kind to Liverpool, but in Lallana, Shaqiri, Keita and Gini we do have some options to get us through.
The January window is also an option. It may seem demoralizing and unfair on Wilson to see yet more first team competition arrive at Anfield. However it’s surely better for him in the long run that Klopp ignores the noise and sanctions his return next summer, with a full season and even more confidence under his belt.