Matthew Sinton wonders why Jordon Ibe is getting so much heat in light of his decision to leave Liverpool.
Let me get this straight, I’m a fan of Jordon Ibe. But even his biggest fan wouldn’t be able to deny that last season was one of ups and downs for the winger – some might say mostly downs. In recent months I’ve seen a lot of negative comments concerning him, including many fans who would rather have him out of the club, and many more who couldn’t care less where he is come September 1st. But is the hate really deserved?
I watched a fair bit of Ibe in the first half of the 2014/15 season when he was on loan at Derby; as an 18-year year old he was very impressive and I was looking forward to seeing him play regularly in a Liverpool shirt. After his performances there it came as no surprise that he was recalled from his loan. He had a promising second half to the season without setting the world alight, but the talent was there for all to see. The Englishman was, after all, still only 19 years old.
The departure of Raheem Sterling in the summer of 2015 put more pressure on Ibe to perform than ever before; as you would expect, the ‘next Sterling’ tags were immediately being thrown around. You could see that he was desperate to make an impact at the club when he returned from the off-season for early training sessions with Kenny Dalglish.
Then came the start of the 2015/16 season. The first few premier league games saw some poor performances from him, leaving a lot of fans confused. But in the three months following Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool he appeared to have blossomed. He played particularly well in our 6-1 demolition of Southampton in the Capital One Cup; fans were loving him. It seemed Jürgen was loving him too. You may remember after the Rubin Kazan game when Ibe scored the winner, he ran towards him shouting “Ibeyyyy!” which was followed by a signature Klopp hug.
For some reason, though, from the end of January this year Ibe was finding game time increasingly difficult to come by; this was when I saw fans really begin to turn on him. When he would come on for 2 minutes at the end of a game, he would still – in many instances – be used as a scapegoat for the poor result that followed. From here he never really got a look in until late April, when Klopp began to field some significantly less experienced sides in the league as we were focusing on the Europa League.
I think he put in some good performances when given the opportunity, creating both goals in our 2-1 win over Bournemouth and scoring a brilliant individual goal against West Brom. These were glimpses of what he can do, and this should only become more regular with age, and especially with Klopp’s guidance, a manager well known for turning young or unknown players into some of the best players in Europe.
I saw an interesting stat a few days ago: in the minutes equal to 20 games, Ibe completed 60 Premier League take-ons, more than Pedro, Sterling and Memphis Depay. Pedro, though he didn’t have his best season, has been a Champion’s League winner at Barcelona. Sterling was the man he was meant to replace and, I have to admit, failed to live up to (in most aspects). As for Depay, he came to Manchester with a huge reputation following an excellent season in the Eredivisie, and was labelled by many as one of the world’s best young talents. Ibe played less league minutes than all three of them. While none of them enjoyed world-class seasons, they are all known for their ability to take players on. Therefore it’s strange that I saw many fans take to Twitter or other social media to complain that he couldn’t or was ‘too scared’ to beat a man.
I think I’ve said enough for now. My question is, why do so many fans want Ibe out of the club but want to give Lazar Markovic, who was bullied in both England and Turkey and is 2 years older, another chance?
I was reconsidering writing this article when I found out that a £15 million bid from Bournemouth had been accepted for Jordon. The thing is though, why do we slate players the moment they are linked with other clubs? The lad has loads of potential and there is a buy-back clause in the deal with Bournemouth. Who knows, maybe he’ll turn out to be a bigger star than Raheem Sterling…