by Paul Kennedy
Up until the past few weeks, it's doubtful many people would have had any idea who Bobby Duncan was.
The 18-year-old was on Liverpool’s books, but following a very public spat between his agent and former Reds defender-turned-pundit Jamie Carragher, he left and will now play in Italy.
ARRIVEDERCI: Bobby Duncan was seen as not good enough for Liverpool’s first team and has left for Italy. — Photo Liverpool FC
His agent accused Liverpool of mentally bullying Duncan, accusations Liverpool strenuously denied.
I must admit I knew quite a bit about this young striker having seen him play at the age of 14 in a tournament in the Caribbean.
At the time he was wearing the blue of Manchester City representing their under 15s in a competition they won, with Duncan scoring more goals than any other player.
Not long after, he left City to join Liverpool, a team where his older cousin, Steven Gerrard, had made quite a name for himself.
It was no doubt the perfect fit for Bobby.
Joining the club he supported with dreams of following in his cousin's footsteps playing at the highest level for club and country.
There seemed to be only one slight problem. Bobby Duncan wasn’t good enough.
This summer he played, and scored, in one friendly match against lower league opposition before joining the first team on their pre-season tour of the US.
Reading up this week on stories from that training camp, it appears Duncan was well and truly out of his depth playing with the Liverpool elite.
And really that’s to be expected.
But instead of knuckling down, working hard, and doing his best to push on, it seems Duncan, and most certainly his agent, got itchy feet and forced a move elsewhere.
I really hope he succeeds with Fiorentina, and I hope in the not too distant future I am made to eat my words when he comes back to England as a world-beater, but something tells me I’m not wrong.
Let’s face facts here, if he was as good as his agent thinks he is, would Liverpool have sold him?
In May 1996 Liverpool played Wimbledon away from home in a pretty meaningless end of season game.
Liverpool were trailing 2-0 when on 57 minutes they brought on a young kid called Michael Owen for his first ever game in the Premier League.
Less than 20 minutes later, Owen scored. And although it wasn’t enough to change the eventual outcome of the match, it set the tone for what was to come from this young striker.
He went on to score 156 times for Liverpool before playing for Real Madrid, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke City.
Now I get the game has changed remarkably since the fresh-faced Owen made his Liverpool debut, but there’s an old adage that still rings true.
No matter your age, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
Raheem Sterling is good enough. He made his Liverpool debut at 17 and went on to become one of England’s best players.
Marcus Rashford is also good enough, again making his debut for Manchester United at the age of 17 and is a regular now week in, week out.
So the message here is simple. If you are good enough to play, you’ll play. It’s that easy.
Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool coaching staff have obviously looked at Bobby Duncan and determined he is not ready yet for the first team.
Duncan, or most certainly his agent, disagreed and off he’s popped to Italy.
I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of Bobby Duncans the world over. Young players on the cusp of greatness who may, or may not, make it as a professional footballer.
Most won’t. That’s the cold hard truth.
But if you are one of those with a chance to succeed hard work and effort is the way to do it, and not public rows on social media sites. — VNS