Burnley bulldozed into Harvey Elliott time and time again but NOTHING was going to knock him off course… Jurgen Klopp gave the 18-year-old gave him a chance and he took it with both hands
- Harvey Elliott, 18, started Liverpool’s Premier League clash against Burnley
- The youngster was hoping to settle into the game by taking a good first touch
- However, the 18-year-old was clattered by Burnley’s Josh Brownhill instead
- Then Dwight McNeil bulldozed into the Liverpool player just moments later
- Nevertheless, Jurgen Klopp was impressed with Elliott’s ‘mature performance’
You are 18 years old and learn that you are about to start a game for Liverpool at Anfield – which is expectant and packed to the rafters – for the first time.
In your mind, you will have a few things that you would hope might happen in the early exchanges to help settle your nerves: a good touch to cushion a team-mate’s pass, the first ball you play finding another red shirt; perhaps a generous ovation from The Kop.
For Harvey Elliott, however, it was something much more agricultural and blunt.
Harvey Elliott started Liverpool’s Premier League clash against Burnley on Saturday
Barely two minutes were on the clock when Elliott, the teenager with the distinction of being the Premier League youngest player when he played at Fulham, was clattered by Burnley’s Josh Brownhill.
He rose to his feet, gingerly, with a wince. It would have been naive for him to expect anyone to go easy on him, wanting protection due to his age, but at least he knew what was coming. Over the course of the contest, plenty of Burnley’s players followed suit.
Dwight McNeil bulldozed into him moments later. Sean Dyche, arms outstretched and bellowing at referee Mike Dean, saw nothing wrong with the challenge. Ashley Barnes thundered into a tackle after Elliott hesitated on the edge of his area. A duel with Charlie Taylor left him hopping in pain.
He was hoping to settle into the game by taking a good first touch or playing a good pass
However, the 18-year-old (left) was clattered by Burnley’s Josh Brownhill (right) instead
There was a point in the second half when, after Johann Gudmundsson had dumped him to the floor, Liverpool’s fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer and video analyst Peter Kraweitz began arguing with Burnley number two Ian Woan over what they perceived to be overzealous treatment.
Jurgen Klopp and Dyche defused the situation, as tempers ran high, but 10 yards away the only reaction that mattered was from Elliott. Again, he rose to his feet, shook his legs and got on with things. Nothing was going to knock him off course.
Elliott isn’t a total novice in terms of games played – he spent last season at Blackburn and played 41 times in the Championship – but his first experience here of the most demanding division in the business was striking primarily due to his confidence and courage.
Burnley’s Dwight McNeil (left) bulldozed into the young Liverpool player just moments later
Nevertheless, you could see Elliott relished being given this opening from boss Jurgen Klopp
You could see Elliott relished being given this opening from Klopp and everything he produced against Burnley showed why there has been such a buzz around him this summer. Liverpool sensed he was going to be ready for this for some time and their judgement was spot on.
Apart from his durability and willingness, Elliott is also an extremely talented footballer, one with great touch and the vision to play slick through balls. It is no wonder Liverpool would not entertain the prospect of him leaving on loan again – and why they are prepared to sell Xherdan Shaqiri.
Some would have raised eyebrows to see Klopp opt for Elliott and change last week’s winning side at Norwich but the decision was richly vindicated. One thing you have to do when getting an opportunity in a team like Liverpool’s is make a difference and that is precisely what Elliott did.
Only a linesman’s flag prevented him leaving the pitch with an assist – he rolled a beautiful ball into Mohamed Salah’s path in the first half, one that he meant he didn’t have to break stride, but the Egyptian timed his run fractionally wrong.
Liverpool would not entertain the prospect of Elliott leaving on loan again – and that is why they the club are prepared to sell Xherdan Shaqiri (above)
Klopp said that Elliot had a very ‘mature game’ and that it comes as no surprise to him
It was not the end of the world, though. Elliott saw out the contest and at the final whistle, he walked around the pitch on his own before standing in front of The Kop, beaming from ear-to-ear, and shaking his fists. He and they knew his efforts had been of the required standard.
‘It was a good performance and Harvey was part of this,’ said Klopp. ‘Everyone wants to speak to me about him. When an 18-year-old plays such a mature game, everyone is asking but, honestly, this is not a surprise to me that he plays like this.
‘He played like this for six or seven weeks since he was back from loan. Yeah… it was good!’
A short appraisal, perhaps, but one that was to the point. He was good; he was tough and talented, too. It was his first experience of being inside Anfield. We can safely say it won’t be his last.
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