Jamie Carragher has been a fantastic servant to Liverpool Football Club. He boasted an almost unparalleled ability to read the game at his peak and the way he’s held the club’s back line together, seemingly on his own at times, is worthy of our admiration. However, this season the words cart and horse come to mind when thinking of the club’s vice-captain and it may be time to put the club’s vice-captain out to stud, for he’s in danger of becoming the root of all the club’s defensive problems.
So far, Liverpool have conceded 7 goals in 5 league goals. A not too worrying statistic, for it the exact same amount as the club have shipped in their previous two seasons from the same number of games. But just how many of those goals is Carragher personally responsible for?
The consolation goal in the 3-1 home win against Bolton came via a helpful knock on after a missed interception. He also gave away the penalty that proved decisive in the 1-0 loss away at Stoke. This isn’t to mention the penalty he gave away in the Carling Cup victory against Brighton.
Against Spurs, Carragher was absolutely torn apart. Not helped by having to constantly monitor new signing Sebastian Coates, he also had to help Martin Skrtel out on occasion to combat the threat of Gareth Bale. Adebayor time and time again beat him in the air and when the ball was played on the floor in and around him, he was all but lost at sea, with the famed positional awareness now a thing of the past. While not personally responsible for any of the goals, his overall performance would have to charitably be described as ‘abject’.
To put it another way, if Carragher wasn’t a local lad, born and bred in Liverpool, based on his recent performances, would he be so assured of a first-team role? Very unlikely.
The injury to Daniel Agger and uncertain performance of Coates against Brighton should ensure him a stay of execution, but at 34 years of age, it doesn’t promise to be a long one. Only the lack of real alternative is currently keeping him in the side.
In Rafa Benitez’s final season at the club, he tried to play a more open and expansive type of game to accommodate the attacking instincts of the newly acquired Glen Johnson. This resulted in playing a higher line whihc in turn would help to press the opposition higher up the pitch.
The result was a similar cataclysmic drop in form from Carragher. Team’s exposed his chronic lack of pace and simply put the ball in behind him, which resulted in some truly terrifying moments. Benitez had to revert back to type simply to accommodate Carragher and the experiment was over before it had even begun.
While I wouldn’t wholly condone dropping Carragher from the starting eleven for the foreseeable future, it’s clear that a change has to be made looking at the long-term and that he can’t be relied upon to perform to the high standards that we’ve all become used to seeing from him. He should still be considered a squad player, but his days as a nailed on starter have to be numeberd due to nothing more than damage limitation.
As sad as it may seem, a once great defender is in real danger of becoming an openly targeted player by the opposition and with it, a liability. The glaring errors are becoming more frequent by the season and the exceptional performances are now more of a surprise than an expectation. It is by that damning indictment that Carragher should slowly see himself ushered into a backroom role at the end of the campaign and his first-team role reduced somewhat from hereon in.
You can follow me on Twitter @JamesMcManus1
Playing the Lottery has just got fun, especially as your odds are a damn sight greater.