22 November 2009

Team of the Decade – Keeper

Previous Posts: Formation

Okay, a bit of a change in the calendar. Depending on when/if there’s a midweek match posts in this series will go up on Sunday/Wednesday or Monday/Thursday. And since I’ll have the preview for Tuesday’s match up Monday afternoon, I’d like to give these polls a bit of time at the top of the blog.

4-2-3-1 ended up running away with the formation vote. So the positions up for selection will be GK, RB, CB (pick two), LB, CM (pick two), RM, LM, Second Striker, and Striker. I’m not listing every player to have played for the club, just those with a marginal chance of winning. Gerrard will only be listed as a second striker because he’s best in that position in this formation, and he’ll win the poll in whatever position he’s listed. I also reserve the right to reuse some of the same players across the line of three in attack if they don’t win the vote for the previous position (specifically, players like Benayoun, Smicer, and Luis Garcia).

I’ll have some relevant stats and a short paragraph from my memories of each player. If it seems worthwhile, we may also have a vote on the bench from those who don’t make the starting XI. If there are any other suggestions on how you’d like to see this poll run, I’m all ears.

Scott Carson (2005-06)
Appearances: 9
Clean Sheets: 2

Okay, so goalkeeper is one of the toughest positions to fill out. There’ll be no other positions where a player in contention’s only appeared nine times. But Carson delivered a couple of memorable moments, specifically the first leg against Juventus on the road to Istanbul. A late away goal took the some of the luster off, but a 19-year-old Carson deputizing in a 2-1 win over Juventus in only his third start (his first in Europe) was utterly immense.

Jerzy Dudek (2001-07)
Appearances: 186
Clean Sheets: 74

Do the Dudek! Without the big Pole, Liverpool probably wouldn’t have won their fifth European Cup. But Dudek never truly inspired confidence during his time as keeper, and no one seemed too bothered when Reina was bought after the 2005 CL Final. Not quite “Calamity” Jerzy, but still far too mistake-prone to be a true great. Yet, he’ll always be a legend because of Istanbul.

Chris Kirkland (2001-04)

Appearances: 45
Clean Sheets: 12

My fondest memory of Kirkland came not for the club, but England – his father winning almost £10,000 when Kirky won his first international cap – which probably says enough. Still, he was an able deputy for three years, only prevented from securing the starting job due to a string of unfortunate injuries, and he’s turned into a serviceable keeper for Wigan (postscript: I wrote this 12 hours before he let in nine goals at Spurs).

Pepe Reina (2005-present)

Appearances: 224
Clean Sheets: 109

At £6m, Reina’s arguably been Benitez’s best pound-for-pound signing. Three Golden Gloves (for most clean sheets) over his first four seasons, Pepe’s improved every year. He was sketchy on crosses for his first couple of campaigns, but has gotten better with age, and continues to be an outstanding shot stopper and a peerless distributor. I’d consider him the best in the league even if he weren’t a Liverpool player.

Sander Westerveld (1999-2002)

Appearances: 103
Clean Sheets: 42

The keeper for Liverpool’s 2000-01 treble run, Westerveld was on his way out after Houllier signed both Dudek and Kirkland, prompted by the erratic play that’d plagued all Liverpool keepers since Grobbelaar (who you could arguably include in that category). Still, Sander’s role in the best season under Houllier can’t be overlooked.


drew said...

Be interested in seeing where people put Pepe in terms of Liverpool's all-time best XI. At the moment I have him beating out Brucie for the bench, and maybe 3 or 4 more seasons like the ones he's already had to challenge Clem.

Sucks for him that for the national team he's stuck behind maybe the greatest shot-stopper since Yashin--though Reina's distribution is so good it almost makes up the ground between them. The only way I can imagine the Barcelona of last year being even greater of a team would be having Pepe between the sticks.

Rahul said...

No Brainer!

Abhiram said...

No poll needed. Like Rahul said its a no brainer.

CB is pretty much settled- Carrra and Hyypia. RB and LB will be up for a choppy poll. Midfield as well. Far too many players to contend with. Gerrard and Alonso will be sure make the list. The rest are debatable.

If we consider the 4-2-3-1 formation, the lone striker role will be El Nino's. No brainer again.

nate said...

This is kind of why I wanted to do 4-4-2, because we'd have more room for debate (Gerrard+??? in midfield, the other striker with Torres, etc), but 4-2-3-1 won. And it's probably the best formation for these players. Still, CB and Striker (along with GK) are the only positions seemingly set in stone.

And yeah, Drew, I'd put Reina on the bench in the all-time XI as well. But quit giving Barca ideas.

Anonymous said...

Got to be Pepe Reina!