Thursday, 31 December 2009

Noughty but nice: LIVERPOOL FC's team of the decade

IT'S bye bye to the Noughties tonight, so what better time to shamelessly pinch everyone else's idea and pick my Liverpool FC team of the decade? Here goes...

Sports - December 16, 2007GOALKEEPER  
PEPE REINA: No contest. Jerzy Dudek will always hold a place in the heart for his Champions League final heroics but unfortunately for the error-prone Pole, that was the exception rather than the rule. Sander Westerveld? Less said the better and Chris Kirkland, good but injury prone. Reina, the three-time Golden Gloves winner, is Anfield's Mr Consistency and just seems to be getting better. His distribution is second to none and his shot-stopping excellent. Plays with pride and has embraced Liverpool as his home.
SOCCER 2009 - UEFA Cup Press ConferenceMARKUS BABBEL: The dependable Steve Finnan runs the attack-minded German close but Babbel nicks it for his role in the 2001 treble season. Arriving on a free from Bayern Munich, the defender arrived with a big reputation and was soon showing his class. Scored in the 5-4 UEFA Cup final win and notched a memorable goal at Goodison when his trademark energy saw him run the length of the pitch to get on the end of an attack seconds after an Everton move had broken down. 

Football - Liverpool v Aston Villa Barclays Premier LeagueCENTRE BACK                     
JAMIE CARRAGHER: Keeps on proving the doubters wrong and recently clocked up his 600th appearance for the club. Scouse as you like and the embodiment of a fan's passion on the pitch, Carragher always gives it his all - the prime example being his heroic display in Istanbul when he battled cramp and injury to launch himself into block after tackle when many other players would have waved the white flag. It will be a sad day when he hangs up his boots at Anfield - his type are a dying breed in the modern game.
Sports - November 28, 2007SAMI HYYPIA: Never mind team of the decade, Sami was signing of the decade. A mere £2.5million left the Anfield coffers to bring the Finn to Merseyside and he repaid the Reds with 10 years of service. It's testament to the 36-year-old's abilities that most fans would love to see him return to Liverpool, who have undoubtedly missed his aerial ability at both ends of the pitch. In November, Hyypia, now at Bayern Leverkusen, was voted the best defender in the Bundesliga for the first third of the season.
Chelsea v LiverpoolLEFT BACK
FABIO AURELIO: Tough one, as it's been a problem position for Liverpool over the 10 years. A lot of fans have gone for John Arne Riise but I wasn't a fan. Yes, he did well initially but he could never truly defend and decent wingers always caused him problems. I've gone for Aurelio because, while he is injury prone, he is also a quality footballer. His touch, passing, crossing and set-piece delivery are far superior to Riise's.

FA Cup: Liverpool And Everton Face ReplaySTEVEN GERRARD: Like left back, another position that has posed problems for a decade! Gerrard would never thank me for slotting him into this position, but as we have an embarrasment of riches in the centre, he's going to have to take one for the team. The truth is Gerrard could play almost anywhere, don't forget he started off in the first team as a very good right back. Winging it is not a problem for a man who can beat players, deliver a quality cross and score goals.
Football - Huddersfield Town v Leeds United CocaGARY McALLISTER: Bit of a curve ball here, but it's my team after all! I loved McAllister and while everyone continues to wax lyrical about Xabi Alonso, I actually think the Spaniard's Anfield career has been overstated. He was superb in his last season but he had a couple of average campaigns. Like most people, I was a bit surprised when Gerard Houllier signed Macca, then aged 35. But the Scot, who Houllier later described as his 'most inspirational signing', was superb for the Reds and key to the 2001 treble. I always noticed how he would talk Gerrard through games and I'm sure if Stevie was asked he would say McAllister helped him progress. He scored some vital goals too - the penalty winner in the UEFA Cup semi against Barca, the memorable free kick against Everton (44 yards!) and a goal in the 5-4 UEFA Cup final win over Alaves. 
Sports - September 24, 2007DIETMAR HAMANN: Another favourite of mine and another stalwart of the 2001 treble. Also key to the 2005 Champions League final comeback in Istanbul and scored a penalty in the shootout, as he did in the 2006 FA Cup final win. Has to be the best player I've seen at winning free kicks to take pressure off the team. When 'The Kaiser' craned his lanky frame over the ball and stuck his arse out, no-one was getting the ball by fair means! His German-tinged Scouse accent is also impressive and he wins extra brownie points for not sticking the knife in on his old club as an occasional pundit.
Football - Atletico Madrid v Liverpool UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday Three Group DLUIS GARCIA: Was tempted to opt for Paddy Berger but plumped for Luis just for his knack for scoring vital goals at the right time. Box of tricks and impossible for defenders to pick up, his talent was offset by an infuriating habit of giving the ball away in his own half by trying a fancy flick instead of gettting rid! Scored the 'ghost' goal against Chelsea in the Champions League and also hit memorable strikes against Juventus, Chelsea again in the FA Cup and Everton, when he helped 10-man Liverpool to a comfortable win at Anfield. His unpredictability in the final third - and the option to use him from the bench - is still missed.
Liverpool v BucharesFORWARD
While Robbie may not have been at the peak of his powers in the noughties, he still made a vital contribution and enjoyed his most successful season with the Reds in 2001. He scored a peach of a goal against Birmingham in the League Cup final, came off the bench to score in the UEFA Cup final and hit two goals in the final league game against Charlton to seal a Champions League place that year. He might have been behind Emile Heskey and the unmentionable one in the pecking order but he still scored 17 goals that season. And there's no way he would have ever signed for the Mancs!
Football - Liverpool v Arsenal Barclays Premier LeagueFORWARD 
Who else? By far, Liverpool's best striker in the last 10 years. Ridiculously clinical finisher, super control, pace, power, striker in the world, end of. It's not often 20 million quid can be described as a snip, but in Fernando's case, it was. Vital that the club keep hold of him no matter what and, despite what scaremongering hacks are saying, that is exactly what will happen.

 Happy New Year!

Other posts on Well Red:
Alberto Aquilani: A flop after 203 minutes
Liverpool FC: Plenty to admire in the win at Villa
Where's the respect for Rafa Benitez?