Kop’s new pop idol!
Elliott toasts thumping win over United with glass of homemade lemonade… now he wants to put more fizz into his season
HARVEY ELLIOTT emerged from the sanctuary of Liverpool’s dressing room 90 minutes after the previous unforgettable 90 minutes had ended.
He had a smile as wide as the River Mersey and had come armed with a drink in hand to toast the occasion.
While his father, Scott, was contemplating going home to open a bottle of red wine, his son was happy with his plastic beaker of homemade lemonade.
The intention was to go home and re-live every second of one of the most extraordinary games Anfield has witnessed, a 7-0 slaying of Manchester United that was so comprehensive it felt, at times, that the humbled visiting team had seen two of their men sent off.
It was an afternoon that nobody will forget in a hurry, certainly not Elliott. It seemed a big call on Jurgen Klopp’s behalf to select the midfielder, given Stefan Bajcetic’s excellent recent form, but it was evident within three minutes that the decision would be vindicated.
Elliott, 19, had Liverpool’s first shot of the day — a sweeping leftfoot drive that forced Lisandro Martinez to head away — and never looked back, buzzing around with menace and providing the graft and ingenuity that Klopp expects from his midfield.
‘A massive result,’ Elliott said. ‘United had been the most in-form team in the country. Everyone thought different (going into the game about Liverpool’s chances) because of recent results. But we’re still good enough: we can play these teams and beat them. We can’t doubt ourselves.’
Doubt is an interesting word. We live in an age now of knee-jerk reaction, teams being outstanding one moment and dismissed the next — the same sweeping assessments are made of players and that is something Elliott has come to terms with this season.
Having started the campaign with intent, there have been moments through the winter when the path has been a little more difficult to tread. It hasn’t helped, either, hearing how Liverpool need a phalanx of new midfielders if they want to start progressing.
Fortunately, though, doubt is not something Elliott entertains. It has been a life’s crusade to star for Liverpool, ever since Scott’s first request to get him a trial at the club aged eight was turned down, and in Klopp he has a manager who is committed to maximising his undoubted talent.
‘I just want the best for myself and I want the best for the team,’ Elliott replied when it was put to him there have been times when he has looked angry with himself. ‘I want to influence the game and I want to see the team win. I do get frustrated with myself when I can’t do that.
‘I hate it when I miss chances. I should be scoring but I don’t. That’s my only frustration. All these other things will come in the future.
‘I’m learning every day and I couldn’t wish to learn from a better manager. The team around me — the players, the coaching staff. There is no better place to be.
‘I’m taking everything on board every day and putting it into my game. I look at my mistakes to ensure they don’t happen again and that’s why I will keep going forward. It’s the mistakes I look back on. That’s what I concentrate on and how I can improve when I go into the next game.’
Those words will be noted by Gareth Southgate, who has been charting his progress, and there will come a point in the future when this England Under 21 international is elevated into the senior ranks.
Big things are expected of him for club and country — that Klopp started him against United showed the esteem in which he holds him — but Elliott is not flustered. This, he was eager to point out, is the time of his life and an opportunity he won’t let slip.
‘I wouldn’t say I had nerves — nerves are probably the last thing I had,’ said Elliott, who was the last Liverpool player to leave the pitch, after a long, lingering walk in front of the Kop.
‘This is my job. I’d more say it was a nice challenge.
‘You are coming up against players such as Casemiro and Raphael Varane, players who have been in so many big games and won so many trophies. It’s always a challenge and I try to take the most out of every game I can.
‘The different situations you find yourself in. That’s what I concentrate on and how I can improve when I go into the next game. It’s nothing to do with being nervous. I’m grateful for every opportunity and I’ll keep grasping it with both hands. I live the dream each and every day.’