30 November 2009

Team of the Decade – Centerback

Previous posts: Formation | Keeper | Right Back

I could fill out this list with names like Kyrgiakos, Paletta, or Pellegrino, but it’s not worth it. Pick two from these five, and I’m pretty sure I can guess which two it’ll be.

Daniel Agger (2006-present)
Appearances: 87
Goals: 6

I’ll admit it. Agger’s probably my favorite Liverpool player. And I still can’t bring myself to vote for him. On his day, Agger is Liverpool’s classiest defender since Alan Hansen. Composed on the ball, capable of bringing it out of defense, quick, and one of the better headers in the current backline. It’s little coincidence that Liverpool’s best defensive spells have come when Agger’s been fit. Which is also his main problem – Agger’s been far too injury-prone since his arrival, only featuring in 87 games since arriving in 2006.

Jamie Carragher (1997-present)
Appearances: 596
Goals: 5 (6 if we count Boro last year)

You know the routine. A Jack-of-All-Trades – centerback, left back, right back, and defensive midfielder – before Benitez arrived, he’s now the archetypal Scouser and the cornerstone of the team. The captain without the armband. Juventus and Chelsea at Anfield, and Istanbul, among many, many others. In four games, he’ll be the ninth Liverpool player to make 600 appearances, with an excellent shout to finish second all-time behind Ian Callaghan. 'We all dream of a team of Carraghers' doesn't come close to covering it.

Stephane Henchoz (1999-2004)
Appearances: 205
Goals: 0

Thank Blackburn for getting relegated after ’98-99, allowing Henchoz to leave for only £3.5m. His partnership with Hyypia was one of the smartest things Houllier did (along with developing Owen and Gerrard). Now best, and unfairly, remembered for keeping Carra out of the center, Henchoz was a typically reliable defender, and the Henchoz/Hyypia pairing helped turn the corner from the ‘all offense, no defense’ Roy Evans days.

Sami Hyypia (1999-2009)
Appearances: 464
Goals: 35

One paragraph won’t do him justice. We’ve missed Sami this season. Cost £2.5m, started for nearly 10 straight seasons. A former captain whose won the Champions League, UEFA Cup, two FA Cups, two Carling Cups, two Super Cups, and two Charity Shields. Countless crucial goals, including those against Juventus and Arsenal in Europe. Just an absolute colossus – the term Shankly used to describe Ron Yeats, and one I bet Shanks would approve of for Sami.

Martin Skrtel (2008-present)

Appearances: 65
Goals: 1

Almost didn’t make the list despite 65 appearances because of the class in front of him. But that’d be a disservice to Skrtel. With Agger out for almost all of ’07-08, Skrtel was bought in January – a then-record fee of £6.8m for a defender. By that point, Liverpool were out of the title race, having conceded the most goals in any of Benitez’s seasons in charge. Skrtel was crucial, utterly crucial, in solidifying the defense; Liverpool lost a lead, and dropped points, in five games before the Slovakian arrived. That only happened once after Skrtel signed. We haven’t seen enough progress since then, with Agger reclaiming his spot, but given Skrtel’s age, there’s undoubtedly more to come.


Mike Georger said...

Sami and Carra, this one probably wont be close. God I miss Sami, arguably the best defender of the EPL era and probably one of the greatest buys by any team, ever.

Mike Georger said...

Sami no longer at 100 percent.

Who didn't vote for him? Show yourself!

Abhiram said...

No doubt abt it. Sami and Carra. The will probably be even in the top 10 of best defenders in the world this decade.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't pick Carra, I'm too annoyed with his form right now. Not the right reasons to skip him but he has just be rank lately. Could it be anyone but Sami though? Sami is a legend.

nate said...

Not criticizing any votes (even the one that wasn't for Hyypia), but Carra hasn't been "bad" since returning from post-Fulham suspension (and he was excellent against the Mancs the week prior to that). Finally getting back-to-back games with Agger's certainly helped.

However, continuing to hold the first couple of months of the season against him is a different, and somehow more acceptable, rationale.

muffins said...

Hyypia and Carragher. No contest.

Anonymous said...

Hypia n Carra

drew said...

Hyypia's another one who might just make the bench on our all-time Best XI, Hanson and Lawrenson to start for me since I can't imagine them being broken apart--still that's Yeats, Smith, Thommo, Emlyn on occasion...tough call.

McrRed said...

in defense of Carragher, let's not forget Hyypia's had spells in the past where he's been poor but he's been able to play his way through them with a settled backline, something Carra's not had the luxury of this season...