If we’ve learned one thing from watching Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, it’s that failing to break into the first team at Anfield doesn’t make you a bad player.
After spending the second half of the 2017-18 season on loan at Hull City, Welsh youngster Harry Wilson has made a temporary move to Derby and picked up exactly where he left off, taking the approach of “why score normal goals when you can score worldies on a regular basis?”
It’s as if he knows exactly what will get the most eyes on him, and can we really blame him for cracking football’s code at such a young age?
Wilson’s goal against Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day was his 10th of the season, and when we look at a run and drive from the edge of the box in the third minute as uninspiring by his usual standards, you know he’s been tearing it up.
If you want to boost a stunners only policy, scoring one of your best goals at Old Trafford will always help, and Wilson’s strike in the League Cup tie against Manchester United was arguably his best from a dead-ball situation.
The presence of a World Cup finalist in the opposite goal wasn’t going to deter Wilson from hitting the free-kick as if there was no goalkeeper in the way – after all, if you find a spot where no keeper can reach then it really doesn’t matter who is tasked with keeping you at bay.
As soon as Wilson lets fly, Sergio Romero is teleported to his sofa at home, watching with admiration before realising “wait, I was meant to do something about that.”
With so many eyes on him, Wilson will have known he couldn’t live forever on that one goal. However, the quality of the others he has scored might leave him with unrealistic expectations in the other direction. Either that or he’s just that good already.
His goal against Sheffield United in December demonstrated the cup strike was no fluke, but at what cost? On this occasion it was Dean Henderson stood there motionless as the ball flew past him, accepting any attempt at a save will leave him looking stupider and so doing nothing.
It’s one thing to embark on a game of wills with the opposition goalkeeper from the first minute, but Wilson has beaten Henderson before even stepping onto the pitch.
You might be tempted to bring up the fact that Derby lost the game and claim the goal is less meaningful as a result. To which we say, have you seen this goal? Seriously, watch it again. Then again. What was the final score? That’s right, it doesn’t matter.
This is the point at which you come for Wilson, claiming he’s little more than a free-kick merchant, only to be reminded that to reduce him to his dead ball deliveries is to embarrass yourself.
You know who else he has embarrassed this season? That’s right, Swansea City and their goalkeeper Erwin Mulder.
What? You didn’t think he was going to limit himself to Manchester United-affiliated goalkeepers, did you? Sure, it was a nice brand for the Liverpool loanee to have, but he’s moved on.
It’s a two-swear kind of goal – the first four letter word arrives as he lines up the shot, and the second when you look around and see where the ball has ended up, without even noticing it go past you.
To say he uses Joe Rodon as a marker to help him fire the ball beyond Mulder doesn’t give a ton of credit to the Swansea man, but might still give him too much: it feels as though we would get the same outcome, with or without Rodon closing Wilson down.
Harry Wilson might have to wait for his chance at Liverpool, but he has already been showing he has the flashes of quality needed to light up the Premier League.
We’ll see some players loaned out to the Championship, witness them score hatfuls and still be left with reservations about their ability to translate it into top-flight quality.
Rams manager Frank Lampard has spoken highly of Wilson, and that’s unsurprising when you consider he’s among the highest-scoring wide players in the division this season. At just 21 years of age, he has the perfect platform on which to build.
By Tom Victor