He might not be Liverpool’s greatest ever defender, but he might be their most popular player ever says David Owens
It sums him up as a player, a man and his career… no nonsense, no airs and graces, straightforward. Jamie Carragher calmly announced his plan to retire at the end of the season when his Liverpool contract runs out – no big press conference, no massive announcements; just a statement to the point – job done.
So over the next few months, pubs across Liverpool and all over the Liverpool supporting world will be discussing and debating the question that will no doubt split opinion…… Where will history place Jamie Carragher in the pantheon of Liverpool greats?
I’ll say the answer now – that there is no doubting it will be very very highly…… Debating across the eras is one of the delights of the football fan’s life because we all have our opinions, and all base our thoughts on differing values and ideals. Of course you cannot really compare players from the different eras because it is a very different game now – as the 80s were compared to the 50s… and of course we can only base our opinions on what we have seen with our eyes…. Amazing to think we marvel over the Brazilian team of “the 70’s” or the genius of Pele based usually on the odd clip of a quality dummy of a keeper (when he missed the goal), a chip from the halfway line (which he missed), a header against Gordon Banks (which he missed), or a beautifully laid pass for Carlos Alberto (who scored)… all of which took place over 20 odd days in Mexico in 1970.
How different today – now we watch our greats over and over on TV – and you never can tire of watching Lionel Messi – or Ronaldo’s own goal last week!
Back to Jamie Carragher though….. Liverpool’s finest player? No, that in my eyes will always be King Kenny, but Stevie Gerrard is closing fast. Liverpool’s finest defender? Debatable but I think Alan Hansen just had a bit of something that sets him apart. Liverpool’s most popular player? Undoubtedly…. I would wager there are not many true fans of our game who do not admire Jamie Carragher, as a man, as an honest professional, and as a player who every fan can identify with as someone who in the modern era, and compared to any era, gave his all.
In a Liverpool fans eyes it is difficult to compare Carra to the likes of Hansen, Lawrenson and Emlyn Hughes, Tommy Smith, Rowdy Yeats, because not only are we comparing very different eras as already discussed – but the likes of Hansen, Lawrensen and Hughes et al played in successful championship winning sides who often had little defending to actually do. To be fair, Liverpool have been successful in the Carra era but not in the way the 70s and 80s team were… and it would be very fair to say that Carra and Steven Gerrard have pretty much carried the Liverpool team in the last 10 years or so.
Carra would be the first to admit he has never been as assured and comfortable with the ball as Alan Hansen, his pace has never been his best asset… but where Carra shines is commitment, determination, a never say die attitude, his ability to time a tackle, go in where it hurts, his desire and will to win. You’d want Carra in the trenches with you.
So what next for Jamie Carragher? Well, we’ll have more of an idea at the end of the season he says. My guess is, and it has been mooted, that a place in the BT Vision Premiership pundit panel awaits for the next 3 years… allowing him time to sort all his badges out for coaching which you ridiculously need these days. I cannot imagine Liverpool will let him leave the club totally – unless he wants to. It is fairly well known that Jamie is often at the Academy barking orders at the new generation – not in any official capacity, but because he wants to and he is made that way – he demands effort and commitment whatever the level… In truth, depending on the Liverpool board’s plans you wouldn’t find many fans who would be against the idea of Jamie becoming a future Liverpool manager. That is all for more speculation and the future. The here and now is that Jamie has 4 months of his playing career left, enjoy while you can because his like are rare.
Watch a video of him as a youngster in the 90s. Fascinating stuff
Pic from Wikipedia