20 years of Premier League: Liverpool’s Best Eleven
The Premier League announced their 20 Years award nominations this week, with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard bizarrely omitted from the best player vote.
Here we bring your our Liverpool FC Team of the Premier League (so far).
A few factors have been taken into account when selecting this team; number of appearances, trophies won at LFC, contribution to the club’s success and whether they hit their ‘prime’ for LFC during the Premier League era. For instance, John Barnes and Ian Rush played in the Premier League for Liverpool but their best years were pre-Premier League.
Goalkeeper – Pepe Reina
Probably the easiest choice; let’s be honest, we’d hardly been blessed with keepers before Pepe arrived in 2005. The Spaniard became the quickest goalkeeper in Liverpool history to keep a half century of clean sheets and won three golden glove awards in succession from 2006 to 2008.
Right back – Steve Finnan
A close call between the Irishman and Markus Babbel. The fact Finnan was such an integral – and reliable – part of the resurgent Reds under Rafa Benitez gives him the nod. A steady, solid defender who could also get forward and supply good crosses. Did you know, Finnan is the only player to have played in the World Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, all four levels of the English league football and the Football Conference.
Centre backs – Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher
These two together could stake a claim for Liverpool’s greatest player of the past 20 years (had it not been for that pesky Gerrard and his superman skills). Think back to 2005 when these two were both in their prime, the performances en-route to Istanbul were worthy of their inclusion here alone. The only player who may have given Carra a run for his money here is Danny Agger, had injuries not stolen him of consistency until more recently.
Left back – Rob Jones
Ah, the problematic left back area. John Arne Riise is the only other contender really, but had Jones not suffered from ultimately career-ending injury, he would have gone on to become England’s first-choice right back and one of Liverpool’s great defenders. He still served seven seasons in the Premier League, and switched to left-back after we signed Jason McAteer in 1995.
Right midfield – Steven Gerrard
We’ve hardly been blessed with wingers and in all honesty, Gerrard has never really been a consistent centre midfielder, so we’ll play him on the right – where he had his best season in terms of goals scored in 2006.
Centre midfield – Didi Hamann and Xabi Alonso
This is a midfield partnership described by one word; solid. Any team looking to carve their way past these two would have their work cut out. Hamann working laterally to break up play, Alonso pinging passes and getting forward. The two of them both scored a few decent goals themselves in their years at Anfield; Didi’s volley against Portsmouth and Xabi’s half-way line lobs will live long in the memory!
Left midfield – Steve McManaman
Another problematic position over the past two decades. Perhaps a controversial decision to put McManaman in after many supporters still feel aggrieved by the way he left under a Bosman deal, but the truth is – the club turned down £12m from Barcelona the previous summer, knowing he wasn’t going to sign a new deal. We were victims of the first big name Bosman deal and no club will let that happen again – well, until we did similar with Owen. Macca would add some flair to the team, pulling defenders out of position for the likes of Gerrard, Fowler and Torres to profit.
Forwards – Robbie Fowler and Fernando Torres
One word; goals. These two hardly need explaining their inclusions. Forget the circumstances Torres left under, remember his goals in 2008, 2009 – an absolutely stunning footballer who scored, similarly to Fowler in the mid-nineties – all types of goals; tap-ins, volleys, headers, stunners from the edge of the box. Both these had everything in them and their work-rate was also top class.
Manager – Rafa Benitez
Rafa managing this side would be immense. Giving Gerrard license to roam inside, McManaman likewise from the left, knowing that Alonso and Hamann would keep it tidy in the middle.
Subs – Sander Westerveld, Daniel Agger, John Arne Riise, Danny Murphy, Luis Garcia, Dirk Kuyt, Michael Owen.
Notable mentions – Jerzy Dudek, Markus Babbel, Stephane Henchoz, Lucas Leiva, Patrik Berger, John Barnes, Luis Suarez.
Agree? Disagree? Post your team of the past 20 years in the comments below…