Eight weeks into his first Liverpool campaign, Alexis Mac Allister has already faced his brother, played out of position and been sent off only for the red to be rescinded.
Despite looking slightly out of his depth in the No. 6 position, Liverpool supporters are still excited to see what is to come from Mac Allister.
While the Argentine will no doubt become integral to Jurgen Klopp‘s side, holding midfield is clearly not where he fits best.
With Wataru Endo also not starting games, the big question from the summer has again reared its head, who will play No. 6 for Liverpool?
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He has started just four games since his arrival, though, and Klopp has opted to play Mac Allister as the team’s most defensive midfielder.
Cope weighed in on the discussion, saying: “We clearly wanted a No. 6 and we didn’t buy one.
“Endo isn’t the player they wanted, is he? He was just ‘oh, he’s a good option to have in the squad’.
“I don’t think this is going to be a ‘he beds in for six months and then becomes our No. 6’.”
So, with Endo seemingly out of the equation as a long-term option, the pair looked at Mac Allister’s qualities.
Cope said: “I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Mac Allister, because I actually think he’s been really good even though he’s been playing out of position.
“And that’s why I think it’s really harsh to blame him for the [first] goal (vs. Brighton).
“Because, actually, the bit about him playing as the six which is good, is that he’s good in tight spaces, he’s good at moving the ball on, he’s got a good touch. That’s the strength of his game.
“The bit that people are complaining about with that goal being given away isn’t the weakness in his game. The weakness in his game is the other stuff around it that Fabinho and Rodri could do really well.”
The duo agreed that the Argentine had been given a tough job, and Cope explained: “I think being No. 6 in this side is right up there [with the hardest positions in football].
“When you’re the best player in the best form of your life, you’re doing well, and when we’re compact. But there’s so many times when that lad in our team is just expected to do so much.”
Going forward, Cope predicted: “I think most likely we buy Andre in January, when we can, and that’s what the game plan was.”
Paul Cope and Gareth Roberts are speaking on a new show from This Is Anfield and The Late Challenge Podcast.
There is a live show that airs each Monday at 5pm (UK) on This Is Anfield’s YouTube, with our second show each Wednesday (UK).
You can also listen as an audio show, here.