After I came up with the Scousers XI squad, I thought I should look for a few other Liverpool XI’s, each with a particular theme. Just looking at all of the Liverpool born players that have played for The Reds over the years was enough to realize that I had a lot more than necessary for a full squad of eleven plus five substitutes on the bench. I also had more than a few coaching staff members to choose from and inevitably there had to be some hard choices made.
One thing that became clear was that a fair number of these players and staff are still playing, with a lot of them in other Premier League clubs following transfers away from Liverpool. That may explain why some of the ‘œobvious’ choices for the Scousers XI were missing.
THE idea then for this Liverpool XI is to select a complete squad of former Liverpool players who are still under contract with other Premier League clubs. Let’s see how this shapes up.
Unlike the Scousers XI where I had to look long and hard and effectively bend the rules a little, I have a choice of no less than three goalkeepers. These are David James at Portsmouth, Brad Friedel at Blackburn, and Chris Kirkland at Wigan. Knowing that Kirkland is often injured, I’ll rule him out for now and I’ll go with James in the starting XI and put Friedel on the bench.
It’s relatively easy to make up a back four, with some well known names of a few ex-Reds, a couple of whom were with us until last summer. In the middle we have Stephane Henchoz from Blackburn and Abel Xavier from Middlesbrough. On either side we have Stephen Warnock from Blackburn and Djimi Traore from Portsmouth.
If I’m not careful I’ll be forced into a 4-3-3 formation, which wouldn’t be my first choice but it just might have to do. If I can find enough suitable substitutes or bend the rules a little as I did for the Scouse XI then I may be able to change that ‘“ we’ll see. Some players may not agree, but there is life after Liverpool, and Danny Murphy from Tottenham finds a place here. Alongside him we have David Thompson, another graduate of the Liverpool Academy, who first went to Blackburn and is now at Bolton with a couple of other Ex-Reds. We also have ‘œder Kaizer’ Dietmar Hamman from Manchester City to take control of the middle, and at least allow us to have some confidence with only a three man midfield.
Now we have another dilemma with several players to choose from, with the Houllier favourite pairing of Emile Heskey from Wigan and Michael Owen from Newcastle, or we can go with Nicolas Anelka and El Hadji Diouf, both from Bolton. Actually, what I’m going to do is take Owen and Heskey as a partnership, put Diouf out on the right side of midfield as a winger, and then put Anelka on the bench. That now let’s me revert to a preferred 4-4-2 formation, even though some players may not be in their favoured positions.
We already have goalkeeper Brad Friedel and Nicolas Anelka on the bench, so we need three more. First I’m going to go with Patrik Berger of Aston Villa, but then I still need two. This is where I’m forced to bend the rules a little and once again invoke the ‘œthree non-nationals rule’, which allows me to add up to three former Liverpool players who are not currently under contract with other Premier League clubs. But, I don’t have to go too far as I can select some players from The Championship such as youngster Stephen Wright who made eleven first team appearances with Liverpool. He went out on loan to Crewe for two seasons before being transferred to Sunderland. He at least has some Premier League experience for Sunderland‘s one season in the Premiership, even though it was only two games. He may well be a player for the future, and he has played both centre back and full back, so he deserves a place on the bench.
If I’m looking to fill the squad with substitutes taken from The Championship then I can choose from Nick Barmby (Hull), Don Hutchison (Coventry), Neil Mellor (Preston), Salif Diao and Dominic Matteo (Stoke), and Darren Potter (Wolves). Out of all those, I’ll go with midfielder Salif Diao. That’s not because he’s a favourite of mine, but simply because I have places for some of the others in Liverpool XI’s still to come, and also because I want another midfielder so that I have a number of options from the bench.
It might be a bit of a cheat, but I’m going to appoint Paul Jewell from Wigan as manager. He was an apprentice and a youth player at Liverpool but never made an appearance with the first team. Still, that’s good enough for me so I’m happy to have him in charge.
Sammy Lee, the new Bolton manager but having been assistant to Sam Allardyce, was a former member of the coaching staff at Liverpool. He could be promoted to manager of the Ex-Reds if Paul Jewell is considered ineligible. We also have Terry McDermott at Newcastle ready to help out on the coaching staff so that may be another option.
Kevin Mcdonald played with the Liverpool side that won the double in 1986, and is currently the reserve team manager at Aston Villa. That’s useful, especially if we want to make up a reserve squad of all those players from The Championship (and other youth team players etc.) that were not selected above.
That gives us another respectable squad that I think would do reasonably well in the Premier League, which lines up as follows:
Xavier Henchoz Traore Warnock
Diouf Hamman Murphy Thompson
Subs: Friedel, Anelka, Berger, Wright, Diao
Manager: Paul Jewell
Asst Mgr: Sammy Lee
Head Coach: Terry McDermott
Reserve Mgr: Kevin McDonald
If we had all of those players available when they were in their prime, then that would be a pretty formidable squad.