Watching from the sidelines: a year of Jamie Carragher media highlights

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When Jamie Carragher retired at the end of the 2012/13 season he took the rest of Liverpool’s defence with him. At least, that is how it seemed at times over the months that followed.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 19, 2013: Liverpool's captain Jamie Carragher making his 737th and last appearance for Liverpool during the final Premiership match of the 2012/13 season against Queens Park Rangers at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thankfully, while Liverpool may have missed Carragher on the football field he didn’t disappear from our lives completely, giving us a whole batch of new highlights in his weekly column for the Daily Mail, and on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football with Gary Neville.

With the season now over let’s take a look back at some of those highlights, and reflect on the promise of more ‘Carra moments’ to come.

August 10, 2013

Carra’s first opinion piece was published for the Daily Mail, and it wasn’t what most Liverpool fans wanted to read.

With his former club battling to hold onto their star player, Luis Suarez, the last thing anyone wanted was an article by the previous season’s vice-captain explaining why the player concerned was too good for the club. Under the provocative (part) title “Why Suarez is too good for Liverpool (and Arsenal)…” he at least acknowledged in headline and content what the rest of us were thinking. Why Arsenal?

August 19, 2013

Monday Night Football returned on Sky with Carragher partnering former Mancunian nemesis Gary Neville. During an analysis of Manchester United’s win over Swansea, Carragher elaborated on Robin Van Persie’s movement master class, by explaining how the Dutch striker had similarly outplayed him at Anfield during the 2011-12 season.

This set up some amusing banter between the two pundits. When Neville observed that Van Persie’s movement was akin to having “a burglar in your house” Carragher quickly retorted that Neville would be hiding “under the bed.”

Not to be outdone, Neville quipped “You’d be the burglar” with obvious allusions to the thieving Scouse stereotype.

When the program’s focus switched to Arsenal’s performance against Aston Villa, Carragher’s summed up the gunners transfer policy with the dry observation that “There’s only one section of people overspending at Arsenal – the supporters.”

September 16, 2013

Despite winning rave reviews for their analysis, it was inevitable that Carragher and Neville would cross swords at some point.

When the pair were asked to rank three England legends (Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes), club loyalties were always going to come to the fore. When Carragher suggested that Gerrard and Lampard were better than Scholes, because of their impact in big games, it was hardly surprising that Neville might come out in defence of his old team mate Scholes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHVE8UBEdlE

Not exactly a highlight for the pair given the inane nature of the task but a memorable moment nonetheless. It was a moment however that was later eclipsed by Carragher’s finest quote as a media pundit.

After offering his view that full backs are either failed wingers or failed centre backs, his observation that “No-one wants to be a full back as a kid. No-one wants to grow up and be a Gary Neville,” left everyone, including Neville in laughter.

December 27, 2013

Christmas came and went, with Liverpool on top of the table, exceeding everyone’s wildest expectations in the process. Despite the club’s great form though the team looked anything but solid at the back. So, when Carragher revealed in his Daily Mail column that Brendan Rodgers had asked him, during preseason, to stay on one more year, Liverpool fans around the globe were left to wonder on the impact of Carra’s fateful decision to say no.

Even worse, under the title ‘If I knew Liverpool would be in the title race I wouldn’t have retired’ Carragher revealed that he had knocked Rodgers back not once, but twice (the first time when Rodgers joined the club and asked Carra to consider joining his coaching staff).

28th April, 2014

In the aftermath of the game that decided the title, Carragher and Neville received more applause for their analysis of Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Anfield. Carragher, for his part, acknowledged the Gerrard mistake for what it was (despite many fans and pundits attempts to downplay this fact), but followed up with the much more interesting observation that Sakho had the space to come forward and pass to Flanagan (instead of Gerrard). In Carragher’s view this is something that a more confident ball player such as Agger would have done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdmxV-7QvJ8

Another interesting insight was in the way that Chelsea distributed the ball in a direct manner from stoppages to avoid playing the ball into the midfield where Liverpool were so strong. Most importantly of all though he defended the Chelsea game plan and acknowledged that he himself had been required to do similar things when playing for Liverpool.

On the lighter side, a Neville speech “I have a thought process…” was quickly interrupted by Carragher. “You do?” he asked, “when did that happen?”

5th May, 2014

The title race was already over but many of us refused to admit it. At least, that is until Liverpool played Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and threw away a three goal lead. This collapse provided Carragher with the opportunity to analyse an area of the park that he knows best.

Alongside Gary Neville, the two former players dissected Liverpool’s shaky defence and the reasons for the capitulation. For Carragher, no one was spared. Our centre backs were weak mentally. There was a lack of leadership on the pitch. The decision making poor. Some players, Skrtel and Johnson, looked tired.

Perhaps the worst criticism though was saved for Mamadou Sakho whom Carragher observed, always seems to be going backwards in any match that he plays. The French international, Carragher admitted, is a player that always makes him nervous. Many Liverpool fans would probably agree.

What Next?

In partnering Carragher with Neville, Sky have created a punditry team that is sure to be gracing our TV screens for some time. While Carra’s column might not have reached the same heights – whether he is comparing Suarez to Cantona, offering his thoughts on Andy Carroll or advocating Rafael Benitez for Tottenham – his column is nevertheless worth a read due to the personal relationship he has with many of those he is discussing.

If that is not enough meat for your potatoes, you could always amuse yourself by reading the Carra hating comments, written by small minded Manc and Smurf fans, which generally follow any article containing the Carragher name. The man himself might not be playing anymore but rival fans vitriol has no such retirement date.

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