Jan Molby

Allen needs to give Liverpool a bit more

Joe Allen has been targeted for criticism after Liverpool's defeat at Manchester United on Sunday and there's no doubt he had a difficult afternoon at Old Trafford.

It seems to me that he hasn't really progressed since joining Liverpool from Swansea for £15 million in the summer. When he first arrived he did really well but playing for a team like Liverpool is a big challenge for a young player.

However, I do think there is more to come from him. How much I am not sure, but there is room for improvement. Liverpool are looking for him to take the next step and I know Brendan Rodgers has faith in him.

Liverpool also think he can play a bit further forward but I am not sure. Allen is what he is - he gives a nice balance, keeps the ball moving nice and quick - but don't expect him to be a matchwinner on a regular basis.

I think Joe is a great player for getting rhythm in your team, getting the passing moving, but in terms of the things that win you matches - a final pass or a goal - that isn't his game, and it is never going to be.

The fact Allen doesn't score a lot of goals or produce killer passes means he is a bit of an easy target at times. In that respect he is a bit like Michael Carrick at Manchester United, and while Sunday's game mainly bypassed Allen for the time he was on the pitch, Carrick was instrumental in United's 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.

I find it incredible that people still don't rate Carrick and don't see his contribution to the team. People perceive his style to be lazy and slow, but there's nothing sluggish about the way he sees the game and sees a pass. When the ball is on, he sees it as quick as anyone.

I've always liked him in that deep-lying role: he only does what he has to do and just waits for his moment. It is an English thing to criticise him for what he doesn't do, and Andrea Pirlo would probably have been told he was lazy if he played in England rather than Italy.

Allen suffers from a similar stigma and I think with his qualities he should play alongside Lucas, with Steven Gerrard pushed on in a more advanced role. Having Gerrard in an advanced position is what creates goals - because if Allen is in that situation his thinking process is completely different.

Liverpool have a very specific way of playing and that is down to the manager. Great teams like Barcelona or Manchester United play what they see, or what they feel - they are flexible. Liverpool are more set in their ways and as long Brendan Rodgers is focused on a possession-based game, then I think Joe Allen is a very important player.

It was a surprise to me that Nuri Sahin couldn't become a prominent part of the squad though.

I liked the Sahin who was at Dortmund, but he went to Real Madrid and had his problems. Liverpool made quite a song and dance about signing him on loan so I was surprised they didn't offer him more of an opportunity in the starting XI. They didn't even really give him the chance to get the pace of the Premier League.

On a couple of occasions he looked short of confidence and short of positional strength, and he struggled with the tempo of the English game. I think the fact that Liverpool didn't even persist with him for another six months tells you that they had make up their minds that the Premier League wasn't for him.

Dortmund will take their time with him because they are not desperate for him to play - their side is very settled - and I just hope for the boy's sake that he finds his form again because he is a proper midfield player when he is at it.