• Wales international criticised on Match of the Day
• Liverpool manager says Allen has a 'special talent'
Brendan Rodgers has taken exception to Alan Shearer's analysis of Joe Allen and believes it shows the former England striker does not grasp how his Liverpool team operate.
The Wales international has been one of Liverpool's better performers this season but was recently criticised on Match of the Day by Shearer for being too safe in possession and not attempting enough penetrating passes. That has prompted a staunch defence of Allen from the Liverpool manager, who paid £15m for the midfielder to follow him from Swansea City to Anfield this summer, and a comparison to Paul Scholes's role for Manchester United.
"I saw someone recently criticising Joe Allen for not playing risk passes. Unbelievable. So-called pundits who don't know the dynamics of a team and how it functions," said Rodgers. "Joe's role is to keep the ball and that, in Britain, is a special talent. It is why Paul Scholes is still playing at his age. It is such a rare talent for a midfielder to rarely give the ball away."
The Liverpool manager is irked at the portrayal of Allen's conservatism when the 22-year-old has been moved into a defensive role as a result of injury to Lucas Leiva and for the balance of the team.
Rodgers explained: "Initially when I came in, we played with one holding midfielder and two advanced ones. I didn't feel that we had the guy that opened the door for everything so I played Joe in there because he knows how to control the game. He is courageous and will go and get the ball in any area. But our positioning ahead of that wasn't so good, because we were too open. We have switched the team to play with two holding midfielders and one further forward. That has been Steven more or less, because he is the one that can do everything."
The Liverpool manager is adamant Allen will play a more prominent offensive role when Lucas returns from a thigh injury next month. He added: "Joe, offensively, has more than what a lot of people have seen, just because he's had to play more of a sitting role. That comes when Lucas is back.
"Where we have been really pleased with Joe is with his tactical discipline. Maybe he's never going to score as many as Steven but he's certainly got quality going forward. But his tactical discipline to stay and keep the shape of the team, and offer the passing line, has been very good. He will have a long career here, he's a wonderful talent and over time people will see what facets he's got in his game. Over time he will prove an absolute bargain."