There are a lot of players to go through when looking at Liverpool’s worst team of the decade. Both Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez have made some howlers in the transfer market and here below is my worst eleven of the last ten years.
GK – Charles Itandje – After the departure of Scott Carson on loan to Aston Villa, Rafa Benitez was desperately trying to find a cheap back up goalkeeper for Pepe Reina. He came up with this Frenchman from Lens, and he has been an absolute shocking buy. His footballing abilities were not great as he flapped at crosses and dropped easily taken balls, but his disrespect at the Hillsborough memorial by laughing and messing around, puts him in my bad books. Was suspended for his antics and hastily put out on loan to Greek side Kavala.
RB – Abel Xavier – With bleached blond hair and beard, Xavier has always been an eccentric. He became only the third player to switch from Everton to Liverpool in 67 years and secured a three and a half year deal at £25,000 a week after rejecting an extension from Everton. He played only 14 league games for the club and was loaned out to Galatasaray. Abel went on to fail a drugs test in 2005 and has no retired from the game after a stint at LA Galaxy.
CB – Frode Kippe – Kippe never played for Liverpool in the league. As Gerard Houllier’s second signing as manager after Jean-Michel Ferri, the Norwegian centre-back was expected to play some part in Liverpool’s first team but he lacked pace to succeed in the top flight and was loaned to Stoke twice in 1999/2000 and the 2000/2001 season. A massive mistake for a signing and so has to feature in the worse team of the decade.
CB – Mauricio Pellegrino – The Argentinean defender played only thirteen games for Liverpool and it was clear that he was well over the hill after Benitez signed the player in 2005. A stalwart of Valencia’s defence under Benitez, winning league titles and helping the club to two Champions League finals, by the time he came to Anfield his age had taken its toll on his abilities and he quickly returned to Spain.
LB – Djimi Traore – I’m sorry Djimi, I know you played in a winning Champions League final but you were never a decent defender. That terrible own goal against Burnley really summed you up as a player. Like Bambi on ice sometimes, you could never control a ball, you could tackle somewhat but it never made up for your shortcomings.
RW – Antonio Nunez – Came to Anfield as part of the deal that saw Michael Owen move to the Bernabeu, Nunez was never good enough for the top flight of English football. As a winger, he lacked pace and guile to go past defenders and never found a first team place at Anfield. Went very quickly back to Spain, and now actually plies his trade in the Cypriot league for Apollon Limassol.
CM- Salif Diao – A useful tackler and a hero for Senegal for his performances during the 2002 World Cup, Diao never lived up to expectations when he moved to Anfield. After making 61 appearances in three years, he was allowed to move after Rafa Benitez decided not to renew his contract. Houllier had faith in him but the Spanish manager did not and he found himself playing in the Championship with Stoke. He played well at that level but he certainly did not have the quality to play for a team like Liverpool.
CM – Bruno Cheyrou – The ‘New Zidane’ he certainly was not. Cheyrou never lived up to the hype that was unfortunately hurled his way by Gerard Houllier. Although Cheyrou could be useful on the ball, he certainly did not have the deftest of touch like Zizou and he wanted too much time to pass. He scored a famous goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but injuries consistently made establishing a first team place difficult. Played well at the end of Houllier’s last season in charge but that was that. Benitez shipped him out, and he now plays at Rennes.
LW – Bernard Diomede – Diomede is on this list as he only played three league games during his time at Anfield. He looked like a bargain after Houllier bought him for £3million in 2000 for he had played three games in France’s World Cup winning side in 1998. Injuries and a lack of effort meant Houllier rarely picked the player and he was sold back to France in 2003. After 18 months without a club, Diomede announced his retirement from football in January 2008.
ST – Erik Meijer – During his 17 month spell on Merseyside, the Dutch striker played in 24 league games and did not manage to score once. He scored two goals in a League Cup tie against Hull but theses were his only contributions as a striker at Anfield. Although he was nicknamed “Mad Erik” for his never say die attitude and became a bit of a cult hero after drinking with Liverpool fans before the UEFA Cup final in 2001, he failed fundamentally at his core purpose as a striker. Loaned out to Preston North End where he also didn’t score, before ending his career in Germany with Hamburg and Aachen.
ST – El-Hadji Diouf – The Senegal striker cost £10m. What a mistake that was. Despite being named African player of the year twice in a row and starring at the World Cup in 2002 with Senegal, Diouf failed to live up to expectations while on Merseyside. Despite scoring twice on his debut at Southampton, Diouf only scored six goals in the entire season and was hastily moved from his favoured striking position to the right wing. The Senegalese went fourteen months without scoring a goal for Liverpool and a spitting incident against Celtic in 2002/03 UEFA Cup made him a controversial figure. Diouf was sent out on loan to Bolton by Rafa Benitez and now has reunited with his old Bolton boss Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers.