Rafa’s loyalty is commendable…but is it costing him?

Football FanCast columnist Scott McCarthy feels that
Jamie Carragher is past his best.

It may
only be October, but it looks like Liverpool have kissed their title
aspirations goodbye already. Six points behind Chelsea, and having lost
three games out of eight leaves them with it all to do to pick up their first
Premier League crown. The problem – Liverpool's squad. Their starting
eleven is good enough to compete, but when injuries and suspensions take
their toll and back up players are required, Liverpool find themselves in a
world of trouble. To win a title in this day and age you need four or five
world class players playing week in, week out. Manchester United meet this
criteria, Chelsea meet this criteria – Liverpool only have Fernando
Torres and Steven Gerrard, and thus they do not.

Part of
the reason for this is Rafa Benitez's worrying ability to spend large
amounts of money on players who have little to no impact on his team – Robbie
Keane and Ryan Babel are two big examples. The other part is his
loyalty to those players who are no longer good enough to be in a side that is
supposedly a potential challenger to the throne of champions of England – and
Jamie Carragher is at the head of that queue.

Being one
of only two scousers in the Liverpool side, this seems to make up for his
faults on the playing side with The Kop faithful. He was at fault for certainly
the second Chelsea goal on Sunday, allowing Didier Drogba to beat him far too
easily (even allowing for a shirt pull, which by some sort of miracle did not
result in Drogba going down in typical Platoon-esque fashion), and you could
arguably say he was partly responsible for the first although he definitely
wasn't helped by Javier Mascherano. Whichever way you cut it, Carragher has
been poor in recent months.

His lack
of pace at times is alarming, for a centre back he is isn't great in the air,
and without Xabi Alonso in front of him to offer a simple pass, his
distribution is being found out for what it really is – awful. He couldn't hack
it at international level because of the world class centre backs ahead of
him – John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell. He would have been even
further down the pecking order had Ledley King not become a permanent member of
the walking wounded club, so, realising that he was never going to be a first
choice England player, he quit.

Two or
three years ago, Jamie Carragher was good enough to be playing in a top four
club. But we are not in 2007 anymore. His two rivals for the centre back
slot, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, are in 2009 better, more complete players
and as such are the central defensive partnership not just for the future, but
for now.

seems to retain his place in the team because he is the local boy done good,
but if you went into The Kop at 2.35pm on a Saturday afternoon when Liverpool
were at home and picked a random fan to go out there and play centre back, they
would go out onto that pitch, touch the "This is Anfield" sign, give
110% and look like they were going to die for the cause. This doesn't make them
a world class player though.

Liverpool are going to realise their fans dream and finally lift that Premier
League title, then they need to realise that in the Premiership of 2009-10, the
likes of Jamie Carragher are not good enough to be playing week in
week out. It could be a long, long wait for English League title number 19

Is Jamie Carragher's past his best – CAST YOUR VOTE!



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