by Dave Usher for ESPN
The exciting impact of teenager Jordon Ibe in Saturday's otherwise drab Merseyside derby is testament to the bravery of Brendan Rodgers' management. Handing a 19-year-old only his second Premier League start is one thing; playing him in a position he's never played before in the cauldron of a local derby at Goodison Park is something else entirely, but it's typical of Rodgers.
Ibe was full of confidence and showed no sign of nerves as he took the game to the Everton defence right from the start. He beat them on the inside and he beat them on the outside. He defended when he had to, he drew fouls, he created chances and only the post denied him what would have been one of the all-time great derby goals. In truth, Liverpool didn't get him the ball anywhere near often enough, especially in the second half. If they had they may well have won the game as Everton appeared to have no answer to him.
Rodgers deserves great credit for having the courage to put his faith in the youngster when he had more experienced and "safer" alternatives available. The obvious choice would have been to retain Lazar Markovic, the young Serb who has played a significant part in Liverpool's recent upturn in form. He has been a little below par in his last few appearances and had hobbled off in midweek against Bolton, so Rodgers perhaps felt he needed to freshen things up a little on the right flank.
One option would have been to recall Glen Johnson, a vastly experienced international who has played as a wing back on countless occasions. Alternatively, he could have shifted Jordan Henderson out to the right and used either Steven Gerrard or Joe Allen in the centre with Lucas. All were more obvious choices than pitching in an untested kid fresh from a loan spell in the Championship and most managers would have probably erred on the side of caution. That's just not Rodgers' style though, he has never had any qualms about putting faith in young players and Ibe certainly justified that faith with a man of the match performance.
His display will not have shocked anyone who has seen him progress through Liverpool's youth ranks over the last few years, but the role he was deployed in will no doubt have surprised many. Ibe is an out-and-out attacker who usually operates on the wing or occasionally behind the striker. He could probably play up front at a push too, but wing back? Away from home? In a derby game? Most would see that as risky, but to Rodgers it was just a case of picking the best man for the job.
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