Plenty of emerging players have been burdened with the near impossible tag of the ‘next Steven Gerrard’.
Jay Spearing, Jordan Rossiter and even Jack Rodwell have all slipped off the radar in recent years after promising starts to their careers.
But one of Gerrard’s disciples is taking the unconventional route to the top.
Conor Coady managed just one minute of Premier League football as a Liverpool player back in 2013.
A product of the Reds’ youth academy, the box to box midfielder immediately drew comparisons with Gerrard and the club had high hopes for him.
The irony behind the ‘next Gerrard’ label was the Liverpool hero’s sustained brilliance ultimately ensured Coady never broke into the first team.
A loan spell at Sheffield United was followed by a permanent move to Huddersfield back in 2014.
But instead of fading into the abyss like a number of Liverpool’s promising youngsters, Coady’s move to Wolves a year later would eventually help propel him back into the limelight.
At the start of Wolves’ dominant title-winning Championship season, manager Nuno Espirito Santo moved Coady from his traditional central midfield position back into a defensive role.
Different surroundings, but Coady quickly became fully ingratiated with his new role.
Wolves had the joint best defence in the Championship as they cantered to promotion – and it’s safe to say they’ve taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water.
A seventh-placed finish is the highest position a promoted club has registered since Ipswich in 2000/01.
Only the top four have conceded fewer goals then the Black Country side, with Coady a mainstay of Santo’s plans by starting in every single game.
In fact it’s testament to Wolves’ conditioning that eight of their regular starting 11 have played at least 30 games in the Premier League campaign
For Coady, the season finale has added sentiment.
Wolves go to Anfield later today hoping to spoil the party, with Coady having to put any childhood allegiances aside.
“Every week I look at Liverpool and hope they win. I supported them growing up but I’m playing for Wolves now, and no matter who we are playing against, we go there to win and that’s the mentality we’ll all have,” he told the Express and Star.
“My mates are all season-ticket holders there and keep saying a few things about it. I supported Liverpool growing up but I play for Wolves now.”
And you wouldn’t count against them.
In a ‘big-six plus Wolves mini league’ this season, Santo’s side would sit third behind only City and Liverpool having beaten all four English European cup final representatives across all competitions.
Coady’s long range passing – in true Gerrard style – is his finest attribute while his positioning is improving with every game.
With Ruben Neves pulling the strings in the Wolves side there’s no demand for Coady to replicate Gerrard himself.
It seems a formality now that he will eventually follow in his idol’s shoes by representing his country.
But, if he gets his way, he might well finish the day the least popular Scouser on Merseyside.
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