There were some impressive performances from Sturridge, Coutinho and Henderson in the 6-0 win at Newcastle, but there was also another solid showing from veteran Jamie Carragher, who is enjoying a renaissance since the turn the year.
Ben Twelves explains why Liverpool must try to get Carragher to delay his retirement.
The end of a long and frustrating season is very much in sight, with only three games left for the Reds to play, one of which is the derby against Everton at Anfield next weekend. It is, as it stands, the last derby game in which club legend Jamie Carragher will line up in our back four and despite these games always being a fantastic occasion, it is sure to be even more memorable in the Carragher household. The unique feeling that derby games against those across Stanley Park produce will leave many supporters including myself, hoping that the buzz surrounding this fixture can help reverse his decision to retire at the end of the season.
After being out of the team for the first half of the season, with boss Brendan Rodgers preferring to go with the partnership of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, a loss of form for the Slovakian saw Carragher come back into the side and pick up exactly where he left off. The usual fully committed performances that we’ve seen so often, ensured Carragher would rightly keep his place in the team and getting his starting position back has helped him register over 30 appearances in all competitions this season.
Interestingly, since January, the same time as Carragher consistently regained his place in the side, the Reds have kept 7 clean sheets in only 15 league games, 13 of which Carragher started, whereas the same number was collected over a period of 20 games where he started only once. And he still shows the same level of desire every day on the training pitch, something Rodgers has praised him for a number of times this season To put it bluntly, Carra has still got it, as the amount of games he has played this season has proved.
Having Carragher set to bow out means Rodgers will without question have to find a new centre back seeing as Skrtel is out of favour and Sebastien Coates seemingly not in the manager’s plans. But, I believe that no matter what money he has available to buy a replacement, Rodgers will not find a player a better option than Carragher. This is the main reason as to why it is essential for Rodgers to make every effort at the end of the season to talk him out of retirement.
While Rodgers might find a more modern and perhaps more stylish central defender, something he won’t find is the sheer defensive ‘battle and scrap’ characteristics, desire to put his body on the line and never say die attitude that Carragher displayed in every single one of his appearances for us. This mentality is something you cannot teach. You’re born with it.
Sections of the support voiced their concern at times this season with how Carraghers ‘lack of pace’ could cost the team, but adapting is something that he has shown he can do throughout his career, having featured at right and left back as well as holding midfield roles from time to time when seeing games out. But the lack of pace isn’t a concern, as his game intelligence, understanding and defensive positioning, makes up for this ‘problem’.
One example of this that sticks out in my mind, is from the game away at Aston Villa recently, where Carragher found himself exposed in a 1v1 situation with pace merchant Gabby Agbonlahor but the defender came out on top as he used all of his experience to win possession back.
Carragher has arguably had his performances this season scrutinised more than ever before, due to some now being unsure whether he is still capable of starting games for Liverpool. But he has shown, with the amount of games he’s played, combined with the quality of his performances and the calming experience he brings to the back four, that there is still a future for Carragher as a player and those in charge at Anfield must do what they can to persuade the Kop favourite to delay his retirement.
What do you think? Should Carra play on?