Matt Sproston looks at Liverpool’s lack of experience throughout the club.
The word “legend” is thrown around all too freely (I’ve heard reds on Talksport use it to describe Stan Collymore for crying out loud) but Ronnie Moran is a full-blown Liverpool Football Club legend in his own lifetime. So it was great to see photographs of Ronnie Moran at Melwood a couple of weeks back. I read that he has had some health problems in recent years but it is good to see him looking well and being around the club.
As a player, Ronnie was a no-nonsense defender, a talker, a shouter and a one club man. When time and injuries caught up with Ronnie he was offered a position on the coaching staff. Shanks had seen something in Ronnie that he could use. Ronnie went on to serve the club in pretty much every role on the coaching staff for another 30 years.
This weekend another no-nonsense defender, talker, shouter and one club man hangs up his boots. Unfortunately that is where the similarity ends. Carra and his 18 years of service and 700 plus games will say his farewells and slip away quietly. No job in the Academy. No role with the senior coaching staff. All that knowledge and passion for the game (and the loudest voice in Anfield) will be going to work for Sky.
Maybe the club offered him a job but the fact that Carra is leaving means they didn’t offer it hard enough. Our club is in no position to lose its biggest chunk of the most priceless commodity in the game. Experience.
Think about this. Who made Houllier’s team tick? McAllister. Who made the difference at half time in Istanbul? Hamann. Whose return to the side this season brought about an upturn in form for the team? Carragher.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that we are assembling a fabulous young squad. In 2 or 3 years time I truly believe that they will challenge but for now we need to reinforce the squad with some maturity and hold on to the likes of Reina, Agger and Johnson.
I read a stat that said that we have the youngest average age in the Premier League coming in at just over 23. Arsenal, another under performing squad, come in one place ahead of us with an average age of 23.4. Spurs, United, City and Everton are all mid table at around 25. Chelsea are a bit higher at 26.5.
Like I say, 2 or 3 years time but rather than the squad gaining experienced, quality players it seems that we are destined for more early 20s signings with potential. Cash flow may dictate this to a certain degree but where would the harm be in bidding for Alonso, Villa or even Lescott!
But its not just on the pitch where we lack the ex(perience) factor. Off the pitch Brendan Rodgers has the least number of top flight games under his belt of all of our rivals’ managers apart from maybe AVB. So it was reassuring to hear him admit that he will come back next season as a better manager for the year experience that he has had. Certainly Rodgers seems to be growing into the role and the baffling team selections from earlier in the season have been largely resolved.
You can delve deeper still into the club to find a lack of experience which has hampered us this season. Of all of the clubs that finished in the top 7 this season, Liverpool have the least experienced owners and administration in terms of time spent at their respective clubs. Who will forget the debacle of the summer transfer window which left us severely short on attacking options. The experience gained from the embarrassing period (when we were scrambling around trying to buy Clint Dempsey on the cheap!!) certainly stood us in good stead for the winter window which was an undoubted success.
So an inexperienced squad, an inexperienced manager and inexperienced owners have contributed to a season of “transition”. The owners and manager we cannot and should not change, particularly when many of our rivals will be entering a period of potential instability under new management. The players though can be changed and I hope that we find the right balance to replace the quality footballer but also the big gob that will be working for Sky.