I was looking at The Times’ Premier League team of the decade and it got me thinking as to who would make my Liverpool team of the decade and how they would fit together into one team. I’ve seen a few Reds “team of the decade” which have omitted wingers in midfield completely. I know we haven’t had many over the last ten years but I have tried to incorporate them into the list below. Here it is:
GK – Pepe Reina – I don’t think anyone will dispute that Reina has been a class goalkeeper since his arrival from Villarreal. Fantastic shot-stopper, excellent distributor of the ball and he just edges out Jerzy Dudek because I believe he is a better all round keeper. Dudek may have saved those penalties against Milan in 2005 but he would put in a clanger now and then during a match which Reina would not do. All in all, if you were going into another Champions League final I would choose Reina over Dudek every time.
RB – Steve Finnan – Struggled a bit during his early days at the club after his transfer from Fulham but gradually found a consistency which made him one of the most reliable right-backs in the Premier League. He was not shy from going forward either to distribute a good cross or provide a long range shot. A stalwart in Liverpool’s defence in the Red’s march towards the final in 2005, and it was perplexing to me when he was sold to Espanyol, even if he did have injury problems.
CB – Jamie Carragher – Don’t have to say much about this one. Carra started off the decade playing either left back or right back under Gerard Houllier but he has developed in his later years to be a truly world class defender. Under the guise of Benitez, Carragher is a leader on the field, yelling orders to his defence and making last ditch tackles regularly. Heroism, hard work and passion are the adjectives which describe the centre-backs play and all are reasons why Benitez has stuck with him through his 5 years as manager at the club.
CB – Sami Hyypia – Another no-brainer really. Sami is a giant of a man and had a magnet on his head to attract the ball in the air. Whether clearing the ball from his own area or heading in a goal in the opposition penalty box, Hyypia was equally adept into getting in the right positions. 10 years of service to the club and there is no doubt that without him, Liverpool’s defence would have been far weaker. We could use his experience at the back at the moment and he his demonstrating his class in Germany where his Bayer Leverkusen side are top of the league.
LB – John Arne Riise – Riise was solid defensively and would always put a shift in at left back, but it was his attacking displays which always caught the eye. His trademark free kicks were the most memorable part of Riise’s stay on Merseyside, and none more memorable than his thunderbolt free kick against Manchester United. The Norwegian full back would still now start ahead of the likes of Insua, Aurelio and Dossena.
RW – Luis Garcia – A bit of a controversial selection probably due to his short stay and the omission of Danny Murphy, but Garcia managed to have a massive impact in important games. Whether that was his goal against Juventus in the Champions League quarter finals, his goal in the FA Cup semi final a year later, or most memorably that goal against Chelsea in the Champions league in 2005, he would deliver in those crucial moments, moments that helped to bring that special trophy back in 2005.
CM – Xabi Alonso – I am still angry about his sale but let’s leave for another time. Alonso controlled the midfield during his time at the club. Whether delivering pin point 40 yard diagonal balls or providing short incisive balls for Steven Gerrard to set up attacks, Alonso was the lynchpin of the midfield and is sorely missed. Let’s hope Rafa has got it right with Aquilani.
CM – Steven Gerrard – A leader by example, Gerrard has dragged his Liverpool side, on more than occasion, back into contention in matches. His first goal in the remarkable comeback against Milan in 2005 typified the man as he still believed that Liverpool had a chance of winning, even at 3-1 down. He loves driving with the ball from midfield and regularly comes up with crucial goals in crucial moments, none more so than his goal against Olympiakos. Has continued to stay loyal to Liverpool and will no doubt be remembered as a true legend at the club.
LW – Albert Riera – Now this is the most controversial inclusion. Riera has only been at the club over a year and has been plagued by injuries this season. But I implore you to think about the other left wingers Liverpool have had over the last ten years. The only two I can think of are Patrik Berger and Harry Kewell. Yossi Benayoun can play there but he is not a left winger by trade and both Kewell and Berger were struck down by injuries during the current decade and it’s hard to argue for their inclusion. At least Riera contributed to a second place finish last season and provided some width. Can you think of a better one?
ST – Fernando Torres – A truly world class player and a snip at just over £20m. Has all the attributes a striker should have, pace, skill, strength, shooting ability, heading ability and composure to score in crucial moments. Will surely be up there with Rush, Hunt and Fowler if he finishes his career at Anfield and stays fit for a good deal of that time.
ST – Michael Owen – Have a bit of an issue with his inclusion, considering his later move to Manchester United but no one can deny Owen’s goal record. A natural finisher who had pace to burn, his movement would scare the life out of opposition defences, contributing to him scoring 158 goals for the club. He would have made a great partner for Torres and he now probably regrets leaving Liverpool for Real Madrid considering his times on the bench both in Spain and at United, while having a nightmare time at Newcastle.
That’s my Liverpool team of the past decade, do you agree, or have there been any glaring omissions?