By Rob Stewart
Liverpool defender Jose Enrique has been backed to thrive for his new club when the Reds face Arsenal on Saturday by his former Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce after proving his doubters wrong.
As the Spanish left-back prepares to head to the Emirates for the biggest Premier League game of the weekend, he was given a ringing endorsement by Allardyce, who brought him to English football four years ago during his reign as Newcastle manager.
There were concerns over the 25-year-old’s aptitude for English football as he initially struggled to impress on Tyneside but West Ham United manager Allardyce is adamant he will prove to be a big hit with the Merseyside club.
“When a player moves to a club of Liverpool’s stature it is a great for him but it is also a move that Liverpool will benefit from greatly,” Allardyce told Goal.com.
“I am very pleased that he has proved my judgement to be right because from the very start I had faith in his ability to make it in the Premier League.
“Jose has an excellent temperament, a great work ethic and on top of that he is a first-class defender. Not many wingers have got the better of him since he found his feet in England and on top of that he is a real threat going forward as Andy Carroll will testify from his own days at Newcastle.
“There will be another adjustment period but Newcastle is a big club in its own right because let’s not forget they attract crowds of 50,000 for most home games and the demands are great from the supporters that follow that great club.
“It is the same at Liverpool. He will feel relatively comfortable in that atmosphere but Liverpool being what they are there will be even greater demands on him now and everybody will be looking at him to see if he can take the step up to the next level, but I have every confidence in his ability to do so even on the biggest occasions such as the Arsenal game. Massive matches like Arsenal are the reason he moved to Liverpool and I bet he can't wait."
Valencia-born Jose Enrique joined Liverpool in a quest for the European football that had proved elusive at St James’ Park and his £6 million move to Liverpool has vindicated Allardyce’s judgement in a player brought to England for £6.5m (€7.5m).
“It is nice to see a player that we brought in from Villarreal do so well and really kick on but then again he came from one of the top clubs in Spain so we always knew he would do well,” Allardyce added.
“But he had to be given time. When he came to Newcastle it was like it is for every foreign player and it is even more difficult for young foreign players to adjust immediately to life overseas and conclusions are drawn very quickly by everybody.
“You have to try to protect them from that because people can almost start writing them off before they have even started. As time has gone and Jose has got used to the change in culture and the change of environment he has grown as a footballer and as an individual and has gone on to show what a talented player he really is.
“Of course as you have seen in the last two or three seasons, he has really excelled at Newcastle and that has sparked the interest of one of the biggest four or five clubs in England."