Jamie Carragher has described centre-back as “the most demanding position on the pitch” in today’s game, doubting he could have played in Liverpool’s current system.
The Reds find themselves in a tough situation at centre-back this campaign, with injuries seeing a merry-go-round of stand-ins at the back as Fabinho takes up a regular role.
There have still been times when the likes of Fabinho, Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have been caught short given the nature of Liverpool’s high line – most notably for Louie Barry’s goal in the FA Cup third-round win over Aston Villa.
This has made the Reds’ pursuit of a new centre-back more difficult, with Carragher assessing the role as the “most demanding” in football due to how multi-faceted players are required to be.
“Centre-back now is the most demanding position on the pitch,” he told the Training Ground Guru Podcast.
“We expect a centre-back to be able to start attacks, play great football; we expect our centre-backs to be able to defend on the halfway line with space in behind, so you’ve got to be quick.
“Can he defend one-vs-one, because full-backs push on?
“So we ask so much from centre-backs at this moment in the game.
“Would I have been comfortable playing on the halfway line every week? I don’t think I would.
“I don’t think I was that type of defender, I would have had to have adapted to the modern game. You always believe you can adapt, I think most players feel that. But who knows?”
Carragher, therefore, has doubts over whether he could have slotted into a high defensive line such as that deployed by Klopp today, having spent the majority of his career operating in a more traditional role.
Of his 737 appearances for Liverpool, the No. 23 played 326 times for Rafa Benitez and 258 for Gerard Houllier, with 43 outings at the start of his senior career under the attacking Roy Evans and 38 in the season prior to his retirement under Brendan Rodgers.
This showed Carragher the “extremes” of the centre-back role, but he continued to suggest he largely flourished due to the outlook of his two long-term managers.
“I played for two managers in Rafa Benitez and Gerard Houllier, who I won most of my trophies with, and they were certainly not managers who wanted their back four on the halfway line and pushing up as much,” he said.
“We used to look to counter-attack opposition at different times as well.
“We played lots of different ways with different managers I had.
“Going from the extreme of the Boot Room with Roy Evans, total football, and finishing my Liverpool career like that with Brendan Rodgers, and in between having two foreign managers, Houllier and Benitez, who favoured maybe more of a defensive side of a setup.
“I got both sides of it, really.”