Summary: Liverpool - Wolves 2:2 (Sport 1)
The mood of Liverpool fans is not promising at the start of 2023. The year began with two embarrassing league losses to Brentford and Brighton that relegated the Reds to the center of the table and put qualification for the Champions League in great doubt, and in addition the team almost surrendered at Anfield to Wolves in the cup.
The defense looks like a strainer at times, Virgil van Dijk is injured, and the link is also not functioning, but in the midst of the crisis there is also one bright spot.
Jurgen Klopp is taking advantage of these weeks to give playing minutes to a particularly exciting player who may become a key figure soon.
Scottish Ben Doak just celebrated his 17th birthday in November, and looks even younger than at first glance.
He is just a boy, but a boy wonder in every sense of the word, and the German coach is happy to take him under his wing.
You should have seen how Klopp hugged Doak before sending him on his Premier League debut on Boxing Day, the first round after the World Cup break.
The winger was sent to the grass only in the 88th minute at Aston Villa's stadium, but managed to make the entire crowd rise to their feet with his first touch of the ball.
In fact, it wasn't even a touch, but a deception.
When Doak received a pass on the right wing, he let the ball go between his legs, causing the experienced French defender Luca Dinh to dive for an unnecessary slide, and ran away from him.
There was so much pure talent in this sneaky move that it became the highlight of the entire game.
Since then, everyone has been looking forward to seeing him on the pitch again, and you can hear the excitement in the crowd as Klopp prepares the substitute.
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A move that brought his name to the headlines.
Doak passes Dean (Photo: GettyImages)
Of course, it is still very early to talk about Doak in terms of a potential superstar, but one thing is for sure - he is creating expectations on his own, on his own merits, and not because of a monstrous price tag and excessive public relations.
Darwin Nunes is struggling to acclimatise at Liverpool after being paid a huge fortune to Benfica, and in general the prices are completely out of control - how can they be taken seriously when Chelsea agreed to a price tag of 100 million euros for Michail Modric.
On the other hand, Doak arrived last March from Celtic for only 600,000 pounds - the fixed "improvement" price paid by the Reds to the Scottish champions. This is a kind of theft, which Celtic could not have prevented because the player had not signed a professional contract due to his age, and fans in green - White felt enormous frustration in the face of his decision.
Because at Celtic they predicted a bright future for him and wanted to promote him quickly already a year ago.
Doak made his debut on January 29, 2022, and at the age of 16 and two months was the second youngest player in the history of the Scottish League.
Coach Ante Postecoglou incorporated him in the 68th minute in the challenging home game against Dundee United, which was very important in the championship fight.
Celtic had a hard time breaking through the visitor's rear, and then also remained at a numerical disadvantage following the dismissal of Nir Biton.
Luckily for her, Liel Abda made it 0:1 with one of the most important goals in his career at the club in the 90th minute, and Duak was a part of that.
The youngster burst into the box and raced to the near post when the Portuguese Jota's cross came in from the right.
He attracted the attention of two defenders, and the Israeli star found himself relatively free in front of the net.
And when the whole stadium exploded with happiness, it was Duak who first embraced Abda in celebration in front of the stands.
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Starred at Celtic at a particularly young age.
Doak after the victory over Rangers (Photo: GettyImages)
After a few days, Postecoglou gave the skinny diamond a few minutes even in the derby against Rangers, in order to convey a clear message that the club trusts and builds on him.
However, it was this game that made Doak want to run away because of all the commotion around.
His agent, former defender Jackie McNamara, said that the boy received far too many inquiries about tickets, turned off his phone completely, and felt too much pressure.
This was the moment when he felt that a change of atmosphere was required, and it was not difficult to find the new destination.
Leeds did their best to sign him, but Liverpool's offer was hard to compete with.
A personal meeting with Klopp, who used all his charisma, decided everything.
"I heard about you," said the German - and Doak was elated.
He wanted to work with him.
This is how they received the boy at Anfield whom the Celtic players compared to Levine Rooney, and even called him 'Wazza' in training.
McNamara himself defined his client as "Scottish Ronnie", and it is not certain that this is the most appropriate nickname in Liverpool - after all, the original Ronnie is associated with both Everton and Manchester United.
So Doak was quick to say that he admires Mohamed Salah's style, and some see him as a potential future successor to the Egyptian star.
He enjoys dribbling against opposing players like himself, doesn't shy away when he sees two defenders in front of him, and his creativity knows no bounds - as the drill he did to Luca Dean showed.
In addition, he has also been tried at Celtic as an attacking right back and as a playmaker, and the varied abilities may certainly help him get more playing minutes.
The role model.
Salah (Photo: GettyImages)
First, he was assigned to the club's under-19 team, where he impressed in the autumn as part of the UEFA Youth League, with 4 goals and 4 assists in 6 games in the group stage, where Liverpool finished at the top ahead of Ajax, Rangers and Napoli. The most beautiful and important performance The most was against the blue representative of Glasgow - a brilliant goal that gave a 3:4 victory, and along the way he also greatly pleased the Celtic fans who are not in a hurry to forgive him for "betrayal". It was also the game that convinced Klopp to give him a chance in the first team here and now, and after he participated In training, Doak made his debut in November, in a meeting in the League Cup against Derby County.
He then shared 16 minutes, but no player made more dribbles than him, and the jubilant coach.
"Ben Faltan is very active, smart and has wonderful control of the ball. He is fast and knows how to use both feet. He does most things naturally and instinctively, which helps a lot. It was a successful performance," stated Klopp, and therefore after the World Cup Doak is already an integral part of his plans.
The short performance against Aston Villa was warning, on Saturday he left a positive impression even in the defeat at Brighton.
Raise Liverpool to the next level in the FA Cup?
Doak and Elliott (Photo: GettyImages)
In between, Doak also tasted the FA Cup when he replaced Salah, his role model, in the battle against Wolves that ended in a dramatic 2:2 draw.
Therefore, tonight (21:45, Sport2) the rematch will take place in the fortress of the wolves, and this time, too, "Scottish Ronnie" is expected to get his minutes.
Not only Liverpool fans are waiting for this, because this is a particularly enjoyable player, and if the development continues at the current rate, he will bring happiness to football fans everywhere for many years.
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