The season has barely started and already criticism in some quarters is suggesting that Jamie Carragher should not only be benched, but that he should retire. Carragher is not getting any younger at the age of 33, but he still has a lot to offer Liverpool, and deserves more respect than he has been shown in the last few weeks.
Carragher is Mr. Liverpool, he has been an ever present over the past decade, and one of the most consistent and reliable performers for Liverpool during this period, so this knee jerk reaction to his start to the season is uncalled for.
Carragher gave away the penalty-which on another day might not have been given-which saw Liverpool lose a tight game to Stoke, and he made an uncharacteristic mistake which saw them lose their clean sheet against Bolton, but he has been solid throughout Liverpool’s league games so far. As a defender your mistakes are always magnified, so you are more likely to come in for criticism than those up the field ahead of you. This seems a little unfair as other players could be equally to blame for Liverpool’s performances so far this season, yet Carragher is taking the majority of the flak.
Carragher’s still has a lot to offer Liverpool, his positioning is still excellent, and he is still a top tackler, he is also a leader on the field, and this is vital to Liverpool particularly in the absence of Steven Gerrard. Those suggesting that his legs are gone and that he is lacking pace, seem deluded as pace isn’t something he has ever possessed. The same goes for criticism of his distribution, again he has always been more of a hoofer, he has never possessed the passing skills of Xabi Alonso, and he takes a safety first approach. Playing Carragher alongside Daniel Agger who possesses pace and excellent distribution skills is the perfect foil to this.
It would be criminal to suggest that Martin Skrtel, Agger or Sebastien Coates are better than Carragher, but it might not be too long before they become the better option. However, at this time Liverpool should stick with Carragher. He has been consistently better than Skrtel over the last few seasons, unfortunately Agger is injured more often than not, and Coates is still young with plenty to learn, and will no doubt benefit from learning alongside the experienced Carragher. Carragher’s role will inevitably decrease as time goes by, but just like Giggs at United, Carragher can still do a fine job at the club. He has plenty to offer the reds, and his experience will be very beneficial to the youngsters at the club.
To be fair to Carragher he hasn’t started any of the last few seasons that well, but by the end he has been a rock in Liverpool’s defence. He was heavily criticised at the beginning of both last season and 2009, but he responded brilliantly over the rest of the year, and the criticism soon dissipated. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be dropped based on one or two errors in the opening five games. Nobody will be more upset about making mistakes than Carragher himself, but if he puts in a few good performances the criticism will soon disappear.
Of course there is no room for sentiment in football, but the judgement that he is only playing because he is a club legend is harsh, and Kenny Dalglish has been quick to state that he is picked on merit. He is seemingly just the scapegoat of the moment, and just because he is over 30 and makes a mistake it shouldn’t mean that he is past it.
Ultimately, Carragher will know himself when it is time to stand aside or retire. Nobody deserves their place on past glories, and he may not be the player he was a few years back, but he is still a first choice, and deserves much more respect for everything he has given and brought to the club than he is currently receiving.
Do you think the criticism of Carragher has been harsh? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below, or following me on Twitter @LaurenRutter for more comment and debate.
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