The Fans View

Why Jay Spearing won’t come up short in the Premier League

  • Gareth Roberts from ‘Well Red‘ looks at why some fans are writing off the latest product of Liverpool’s youth academy – and argues it’s time to give the player a chance.
Liverpool's Jay Spearing

Liverpool's Jay Spearing

GIVE ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile, so the saying goes.

And in the myopic world of football analysis it couldn’t be more true. It seems that once a criticism is put out there everyone jumps on it and repeats it ad infinitum, regardless of the evidence.

For Jay Spearing it’s height.

Look at almost any Liverpool FC forum for a discussion on the 20-year-old and it will be there: “He’s too small.”

But too small for what? To play football? Well it’s played on the floor isn’t it? And when have you ever watched a football match and thought ‘If he was a inch taller he would have scored that goal/made that tackle/won that header’?

And that’s all we are talking by the way – an inch.

Because Javier Mascherano, also a midfielder of course, is 5ft 7ins – and no-one seems to mention his height as being a problem, so why pick on 5ft 6ins Jay Spearing?

It seems to me some people are happy to find the smallest excuse to be negative about anything connected with LFC but – in this case – size doesn’t matter.

If Spearing was to go down the Michael Owen route and produce a marketing brochure about himself it’s unlikely it would include the phrases “commanding presence in the box”, “capable of towering headers” or “literally head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch.”

But that’s not a criticism. My point is why keep slating him for being small? He’s not a centre half or a centre forward so why does it matter?

If he were to produce that brochure it would more likely say “tough tackling midfielder”, “good passer” and “capable of threading that killer final ball”.

Fernando Torres doesn’t seem to mind. In the summer he stated that Liverpool needed “small players with quality”.

Admittedly he was talking about Valencia’s David Silva, Juan Mata and David Villa but also name checked Paul Scholes, Carlos Tevez and Yossi Benayoun.

It would be a bold man that suggested Spearing will ever be in that class – but who knows?

In his cameo appearances as a sub against PSV Eindhoven and Real Madrid last season – and his full debut at Leeds last week – he has done well.

Spearing’s wanted the ball, found space, moved it on. He’s unfussy, hardworking and clearly with ability.

If there was any doubts over his potential he would have been on his way by now, not signing a three-year contract in the summer.

Rafa Benitez has regularly displayed his ruthlessness with players, particularly promising youngsters – think Paul Anderson, Adam Hammill, Danny Guthrie.

So he must see something in Spearing, the Wallasey lad who joined the club at eight, skippered the youth side to the 2007 FA Youth Cup and was part of the reserve team which won the league in 2008.

Steven Gerrard certainly likes what he sees.

After Spearing’s impressive showing against Real Madrid last season he said:

“I was delighted for Jay because I think a few people will have been surprised by the way he performed but I wasn’t one of them.

“First of all, you have to give credit to the manager for giving a young player a chance in such a big game and Jay certainly did not let him down.

“I see him in training all the time and he has got a good touch, he passes the ball well and he keeps things simple and it was good to see him show what he is all about in a game like this. He certainly will not let anyone down if he is given more chances in the future.”

For now Spearing will wait for his next chance, hoping to add to the 120 minutes (yes, that’s all) he has so far clocked up in a first-team Liverpool shirt.

And while he waits for that chance, maybe some Liverpool fans should give him a chance – however small.

SEVEN OF THE SMALLEST – THE PREMIER LEAGUE’S POCKET ROCKETS

Javier Macherano 5ft 7ins
Steven Pienaar (Everton) 5ft 7ins
Leighton Baines (Everton) 5ft 7ins
Aaron Lennon (Spurs – smallest in the league): 5ft 5ins
Jermain Defoe (Spurs): 5ft 6.5ins
Nick Barmby (Hull): 5ft 7ins
Geovanni (Hull): 5ft 7ins

Read more from Gareth at his Well Red LFC blog: robbohuyton.blogspot.com

  • Suareiles

    Jay is a good young player but if we want to get back to the very top then we need great players who are much better than Jay is right now.

    I’m sure Jay will continue to improve over the next couple of years but it remains to be seen if that improvement will be enough to keep him at Liverpool.

  • matty ingo

    he is so good i love im wish he was at everton

  • CT

    Good article. While I don’t think height should prevent him I must admit my heart was in my mouth at the Leeds game. At one point Spearing was near the back post marking Leeds centre back. Wisely, somebody waved him away to the edge of the penalty area.
    In football while not the be all and end all, height is clearly a major advantage.

  • Matthew Cain

    I agree that Spearing isn’t too small. But when you’re defending zonally, it’s important to have a bit of height. And we’re currently not a particularly big team.

    There’s no way that he shouldn’t get a chance because of his height – but a pairing of (say) Spearing and Mascherano might lead to problems at set pieces.

  • Dave B

    Too small!! what a load of crap. If he was a centre back then yeah fair enough. Spearing is much better than Lucas. He should be given a few chances to play this season, he seems to get better and better every time he plays. Give him a chance, hes a fantastic prospect, he could be the future.

  • tombo

    Each minuite he gets on the pitch he gets better and better If mach still wants to go then let him, Jay could replace him no bother and go on to become even better.

  • Mulls

    Spot on – don’t think people talk about 5′ 7″ Lionel Messi being too small and I think Sammy Lee was just about big enough to pick up his European Cup winner’s medal in 1981! And he’s all of an inch shorter than a bloke who wasn’t bad for us – Kevin Keegan.

  • Keiran

    I always like to champion the under-dog! Former favourite reds have been Nigel Clough and Pongolle! Jay made some nice defence splitting passes against Leeds and I’m praying that Rafa gives him more chances like he has done with Insua. With Mascherano looking disinterested with life at anfield I’ll be intrigued to see if Rafa gambles. Games like Hull, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Stoke etc. it would be great to see Spearing show what he can really do if given the chance. As long as he doesn’t play at centre back or defend deep in the box then height definatly does not hold a problem for him because his qualities on the floor are very encouraging!

  • Dave Swan

    He had a great cameo against Real Madrid, although the tie was effectively over and Real had given up the game. At Leeds I don’t think he stamped his authority on the game as much as I was expecting.

    From his now defunct Facebook page he clearly enjoys the nightlife – maybe it’s time he knocked some of his ‘hanger-ons’ on the head and focussed 100% of his energy on attempting to muscle in on the Liverpool midfield.

    With Aquilani on the way to fitness the task is going to be much harder for him. When he gets these chances in the League Cup etc he MUST show much more.

  • kopite1892

    Great article.

    Jay Spearing is the best young Red I’ve seen in a while.

    I’ve been regularly watching the Reserves for the last couple of years, and from what I’ve seen, there are barely a few youngsters that have caught my attention. Kelly, Nemeth, and of course Jay Spearing. Those three seem to be in a different class from the other average players we produced the last years.

    I was impressed by his cameo appearances in the Champions League last year, he was so good against Real Madrid that his name was sung on the Kop. He’s solid and consistent, tough in defence, and his passing is decent. Actually he reminds me of Danny Murphy at his best.

    Him emerging from the Academy comes with the new CL rule for homegrown players, so that makes him an essential in the Liverpool squad at the moment. The likes of him could spare us millions, in an era of economic crisis.

  • James McGuire

    Good article. While I don’t think height should prevent him I must admit my heart was in my mouth at the Leeds game. At one point Spearing was near the back post marking Leeds centre back. Wisely, somebody waved him away to the edge of the penalty area.

    In football while not the be all and end all, height is clearly a major advantage.

    • Length Boy

      The best players of all time: Diego Maradona, Pele and Juninho, none of them were over 6ft. Being small can be an advantage, lower centre of gravity, balance, turn quick. Claude Makelele was 5 ft 6 and he was outstanding, likewise Edgar Davids.

      Height has nothing to do with it. You’re either good enough (based on all your attributes) or your not. Same goes for pace, strength etc. It’s the whole package of attributes, not just one.

  • JAKE

    I agree – I think Jay be given more chances in PL matches in the last 20, 10 mins of games. He holds the ball up well and is a good passer.

Post your article on Anfield Online Send your submissions here