When I say the name Ross Barkley, stop and consider what thoughts, highlights and assessments instantaneously appeared in your mind. For me, I remember 2013/14 when a bullish young English midfielder would receive the ball, lift his head and run. His playstyle wasn’t about grace or technique, but more so the desire and willingness to forcefully break lines. This young player was my favourite kind of midfielder at the time: a ball carrier. Thinking back to his goal against Liverpool only makes me wonder what could’ve have been; or, just maybe, what might be?
Ross Barkley could in any capacity become a top player in a league winning side, but that sounds outlandish to believe mainly due to his mental fragility and lack of self-belief. When Barkley receives the ball in certain moments, it’s clear as day that he is already panicked about the consequences of losing it, and subsequently plays it safe or makes a mistake. Barkley’s lack of confidence severely affects his performance, because when he otherwise begins games in a positive fashion, he then tends to grow as the game progresses. Take preseason for example: Barkley had nothing to lose and suddenly turned the volume to max with the bass booming – he was one of Chelsea’s best players. Even when he plays for England he has an uncanny ability to perform well, and this is because of the great faith that Southgate has in him.
So how could we extract the consistency from Barkley? The truth is I’m not sure. With volatile personalities in football, it is hard to just change. What is evident, though, is if the coaches are able to instill the right belief in him, then they can find a player who on his day can be unplayable. When playing in front of crowds, you can easily feel the energy in which people are directing towards you. We as fans get slightly worried at times when Barkley is on the ball, as if he’s going to make some type of error. However, when he channels this energy into his “purple patch” period, the worry is negated, hence why he can go on a string of games where he looks a new man. Hopefully, the more he sees this energy, the more likely he is to start the game with that fire in his belly. As the season is closing and injuries are rife, how ironic is it that the man who got too confident and fired a penalty over the bar – a penalty that could be the cause for a second-place Champions League group stage finish – could need fans and coaches to help him summon his inner confidence to take us to the Premier League finish line to ensure another season in the Champions League?
Written by: ChatsonFooty