21 October 2009

Has there been progress?

In 2005-06, Liverpool finished 3rd with 82 points, the highest total under Benitez until last year’s team. A year after the Champions League trophy and the season Liverpool won the FA Cup, it looked to be the perfect launching point. But Liverpool couldn't finish higher in the next two seasons and regressed points-wise, treading water before last year. And it seems like this year’s model will struggle to reach 82 points.

With all the drama, failings, injuries, complaints, etc., I can’t help but wonder if people think Liverpool’s truly improved over the last four years. So I’m trying a poll out, the first one I’ve hosted on this blog. Hopefully we’ll get enough votes.

Admittedly, we haven't seen this year's "best team" thanks to injuries, but I reckon the question's still valid. I voted for this year's squad, but I'm also wondering if I've gone through the looking glass, and am too blinded by optimism (which would be the first time in my life).

Pick which team you like better, for whatever reasons. If they’re good reasons, leave them in the comments.

Johnson Carragher Agger Aurelio
Lucas Mascherano
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun

Bench: Cavalieri, Skrtel, Insua, Riera, Babel, Voronin, Ngog

Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Garcia Gerrard Alonso Kewell
Cisse Crouch

Bench: Dudek, Agger, Warnock, Sissoko, Hamann, Morientes, Fowler


Mike Georger said...

I voted for 05/06, hard to choose though.

GK: wash, dur. Can't really give it to them because of Dudek, when he got a chance that year I'm pretty sure he got a straight red in the first game he started.

Right back: Probably pretty even, though Finnan was a better natural defender. Can't remember if that was the year he blew up or not and was the top rated defender ACTIM wise.

Center back: Have to give the nod to Sami and Carra, just a fucking rock solid paring. Plus with Agger on the bench, you still have another goal scoring and passing threat. Love Skrtel, but homes is inept in front of net.

Left back: Current team gets it, I reckon Insua is Rafa's true first choice at this point, but either way, I've never threatened to kill Aurelio on here (not that I recall), same uh ... can't be said for Riise. One of my finer moments, ugh.

Midfield: The old team and it isn't close. Gerrard and Alonso, obviously, better than Gerrard and Lucas/Masche. But that was the year Kewell stayed healthy and was our second best player (behind Stevie, though Nate didn't Stevie play most of that year on the right?). Still think when he was healthy he was the best in the game at his position, such a fucking shame. Garcia and Yossi are essentially a wash, though Yossi doesn't have the wild swings Garcia did, outside of being afraid to pull the trigger. Still, he was bought to replace him, and he did. No offense to Kuyt, love him to bits, but that year's midfield was sickdiculous. Plus Der Kaiser and Momo before his dip in form on the bench? Christ on a crouton, speaking of which, has anyone else read that Didi is working with the club again?

Strikers: Well obviously Torres is better than them all. But their depth was a lot better. Still, have to give it to this year strictly on Torres.

Plus Pako was still the assistant back then.

Anonymous said...

Am in for the current team.

For me except for the Centrebacks the old team wasnt even close.If we look at Jhonson and Finnan,i guess everyone will agree that GJ is miles ahead of SF in terms of attacking prowess,and really,do you think that GJ is really bad at defending??I dont think hes made any glaring mistakes like cara has this season .Obviously hes more attacking and hence is bound to get get caught out,but then we do have 2 Dms to cover his ass, dont we??So i dont see a problem there.

Midfield:The one thing about Mike's post above is that he picks Alonso and Gerrard and says they win,but for me the most important thing is both of them have improved lots since that time.Xabi was a 11 million player the season before last and we wanted to sell him,while last year he was sold for 30 after begging him to stay.Xabi wasnt even half the player hes now, then..
And i think we can add Aquilani to the team as well now,hes already made his debut,so that must increase the bench strength.
As for the strikers,the bench strength was clearly better back then.But obviously Torres wins!

Mike Georger said...

Gerrard had 23 goals that season playing much further back than he did last year. Alonso had a great season that year too, as he was healthy, and that was the year that propelled him into the Spanish first team.

And I think you're shorting Finnan, he was our best crosser from the back, and was a consistent defender.

Mike Georger said...

Also, even if Xabi were half the player he is now, I'd still take that over Lucas.

Anonymous said...

Finnan had 4 assists the whole of that season while Jhonson has 2 goals and 3 assists already(just because you mentioned stats).And being consistent doesnt mean hes better.I think people have a preconcieved notion that if u are better at attack then you must be shite at defending..and Jhonson was what PFA right back of the year last year??Nothing against Finnan,but really no comparison there..

I dont know about Xabi having a great year then,but for sure i know Xabi had his best year in a Liverpool shirt last year.And obviously when you look back we assume that this was the Xabi back then too.Whatever,if you are saying that the Xabi then and now plays the same,then theres nothing to argue about,i give up.

Gerrard i would agree has had a very poor start to the season.

TBH, this poll should be put after Aquilani plays a couple of games,cos hes supposed to be a major part of this squad.

Mike Georger said...

Finnan was the highest rated fullback on the Actim Index in 2005/2006, and should have been PFA right back if they hadn't pussed out and given it to Chimbonda. He was a fucking rock that year, and even if he didn't rack up assists he still provided service. And yes, Finnan that year was a better natural defender than Glen Johnson has ever been. But that's just a part of why I would take that defense, Carragher and Sami were in their primes, and they're two of the best five central defenders this team has ever had.

Alonso led our team in assists that year, he was immense. Yes he got better last year, and the two seasons before that were not good. Last year he found his old form, and improved. He was a cheaper player two summers ago because he had two mediocre years, but his 05/06 season was pretty damn good, and was the reason people wanted him that summer even after two years of injuries and dips in form.

Gerrard was PFA player of the year in 05/06, that was his best season before last year, and he did it actually playing in the midfield which is even more impressive.

So yes, I would take that combination over what we have now.

Nevermind the fact that Kewell in his 05/06 form after he missed the first quarter of the season following the injury in Istanbul was lightyears better than any of the left sided players we have now.

Mike Georger said...

Ah I see what you thought I was saying with Gerrard. I don't mean Gerrard was better then, even though he hasn't been right this season; just that the combination of him and Alonso that year is better than the combination of him and Lucas/Masche this year; that's more about Lucas and Masche than Stevie. Stevie could be playing like he did last year of in 05/06 and I still would prefer the older paring, because the other two have been leaving the central midfield open big time.

Plus, the depth there was better with Momo in his best form, and Didi still the competent backup.

Mike Georger said...

And yes, it's a bit skewed to not be able to include the most expensive midfielder we have ever bought, as in theory he ought to be (pleasepleasepleaseplease) relegating Lucas to the reserves.

Mike Georger said...

Speaking of Aquilani, and sorry for the triple post Nate; but Gillet was at the reserves game tonight. That struck me as odd, considering fans don't really even go to those games.

Guessing he wanted to see his investment in action for the first time, but still, nice to see them actually appear to give a shit.

Chris said...

/end mike geoger show

So--yeah. The one thing I'd say about those squad choices that makes it a bit unbalanced is Fernando Torres. Everyone loves him and with good reason. I, however, voted for the retro squad because I want a TEAM that can win something....anything...a cooking contest...just something.

I think now we have better players, but a weaker team. Rafa has turned us into Valencia, but not the one that won La Liga, unfortunately.

On a side note, thanks for continuing to be the best Liverpool blog around. I know the money from the site is awesome and might buy you a case of beer a year, but little guys like me appreciate everything you do.

Anonymous said...

I agree that maybe Finnan was better at defending than Johnson,but Johnson is way better at attacking.Or forget it we played different systems then and now so lets maybe simplify it into defense and attack rather than going individual.
The 05/06 defense might be better if we just look at the back 4 and goalie,but now we are kind of playing with 2 holding midfielders so,okay with Aquilani coming back just 1,which is enough,and also the goalie is better now.So i would think its pretty much even,and this defense has the potential to get better if carras problem is just a dip in form.
Even if we played Didi/Momo it was still 4-4-2 then.
And the attack,really no comparison there,other than maybe the left wing which was better with kewell for Riera.And the full backs do contribute better now.The Gerrard-Nando partnership :).And on the whole the current team works harder,lots of lazyboys in that team,garcia,kewell,cisse.Now its defending from the front.
The only prob now is the link between attack n defense :P,should be sorted out with Aquilanis arrival.

Anonymous said...

"I think now we have better players, but a weaker team"

Harsh!I think its just too early to judge,lets just wait until atleast half a season,and maybe bit of luck on our side i would like to think this will be the year.

nate said...

Long night last night, huh Georger?

My head to head:

GK: This year's Reina
RB: Johnson, but barely. Liverpool needs attacking fullbacks in this system, but Finnan was one hell of a defender
CB: 05-06 easy.
LB: Now, but barely. This was the beginning of the end for Riise. Aurelio/Insua/Dossena is probably the deepest LB tandem in the Prem
RM: Kuyt's consistency beats Gerrard/Cisse/Garcia splitting time, but only barely. Gerrard was great out there, with 20+ goals, but no one made the position their own.
CM: 05-06. Gerrard/Alonso/Sissoko/Hamann was the inspiration for the "Best Midfield in the World" song for a reason.
LM: Yikes, Kewell/Zenden/Garcia in 05-06, even if it was Kewell's one consistent season. Ithink the position's better now - definitely deeper with both Riera and Benayoun - even if it is a position where Liverpool could improve.
ST: Torres. That is all.

So the spine was better in 05-06, especially the D, but the flanks are better now. Hmmm.

The "I think now we have better players, but a weaker team" line definitely hits a little too close to home.

nate said...

Also, I didn't include Aquilani for two reasons. One, we haven't seen him and don't exactly know where he'll play. Two, I'm dumb and just plain forgot to include him.

nate said...

Third comment in a row, going for Georger's record...

Thought I'd throw in a vote update, since I noticed that the poll doesn't have the vote totals.

As of this moment, we've had 49 votes. 38 have voted for this year's squad, and 11 have voted for 05-06.

I'll update the numbers here in the comments if it changes enough.

Mike Georger said...

Such is the joy of a grad school schedule where you only have classes Monday and Tuesday. Also, I can't count, that was four posts in a row.

I forgot about Zenden, probably for a reason, that reason being, he blows dick. Losing to a team he plays on hurts more than losing to Chelsea.

I will say this: our reserves and youth team are so much better now than they were four years ago.

Matt said...

I'll say it. I miss Sir Harry.

muffins said...

Great conversation, everyone!

Nate, this is why your site is one crucial destination for this Red.