September 21, 2012 by Socrates
Considering that Jamie Carragher grew up an Everton supporter, few could have believed the way his career has turned out. After making over 700 appearances for the Reds, winning 3 league cups, 2 FA cups, the UEFA cup and the champions League, he has established himself as one of Liverpool’s most iconic players. But it isn’t really the trophies that Carragher has won at Liverpool which has made him so revered by the Anfield faithful. Carragher has in fact played through one of the least successful periods at the football club, with hardly a genuine challenge to win the premier league in over 20 years. Instead, it been the manner in which he has played for his team that has bought him admiration and legend status. Given his form over the last few season though, this will surely be his last campaign as a player at his beloved Liverpool.
At his peak Jamie Carragher was a highly effective footballer. Not gifted with exceptional technique, blistering speed or great athleticism, ‘Carra’ carved out a career as an invaluable defender. Basing his game on positional discipline, committed tackling and an ultra-competitive mentality, he soon became renowned as a formidable full-back. In his early years he was tested by the top wide-men in the premier league (Ryan Giggs, Marc Overmars, David Ginola) and showed his capability to defend on either flank. Over the last 8 or so seasons he has more often been utilised as a centre-back – his partnership with Sami Hyypiä saw Liverpool win the Champion’s League in 2005. However, despite his obvious strengths as a player and his determined displays over the years, the 34-year-old has unfortunately been unable to finish his career as he would have hoped.
Looking back at his England career, Carragher will feel that he failed to really deliver the performances that he would have liked, and did not achieve the standards that he set of himself. Largely kept out of the full-back position by the ever-present Gary Neville, Carragher was only able to win 38 caps over 11 years for the national side. That’s 21 caps less than the epitome of mediocrity Phil Neville. The likes of Southgate, Keown, Campbell, King and more recently Terry and Ferdinand limited his opportunities at centre-back. Rather unfairly, it was in the 2010 World Cup that Carragher got the chance at the heart of the defence on the world stage. His best years behind him, he was brought on as a substitute against America. Outplayed and outpaced by Altidore and Findley, Jamie was booked by the referee and looked far from comfortable. Carragher then struggled in the next game against Algeria, picking up another yellow card. He was promptly replaced by Matthew Upson for the following matches.
Unfortunately, in the last few seasons for Liverpool, Jamie Carragher has looked increasingly troubled at the back. Finding himself slower than all of his opponents and at only 6 ft 1 in, he’s hardly a towering centre-half. Carragher has often played on the limits of what is legitimate, but his blatant clambering on strikers and cynical fouling from the first moment he is on the pitch will rarely go unpunished. Fans of the player will find it hard to watch him play. Each performance now is one of total desperation to keep his man from running riot. The three goals shipped at Young Boys will have confirmed any suspicions Brendan Rodgers had about the player. There is no doubt that Carragher will find himself at the bottom of the pecking order at centre-back, and Rodgers will be praying that he will not have to use him in the premier league. Even the young Romelu Lukaku of West Brom, appeared surprised by how easy it was against him.
It is great shame that such a dedicated professional will not have the swan song he deserved. After winning the League Cup there would surely have been a temptation to retire. He played the extra time in the final against Cardiff, and ultimately helped the side lift the trophy – even if it was another suspect performance that has become so typical of his recent form. Instead, the feeling that there is still work to do be done at Liverpool has kept him there for another season. However, it does not look as though Jamie Carragher is the solution to Liverpool’s woes and there is certainly no room for sentimentality in the premier league.
A great player who has been a tremendous servant to the club, but this definitely will be his last season. Hopefully there can be one last performance he can be proud of before his time at the Reds ends.