26 November 2009

Team of the Decade: Right Back

Previous Posts: Formation | Keeper

Only four candidates for this position, which will be the lowest number. Should be one of the closest votes too; I went back and forth over who to vote for incessantly while writing this. I can make real arguments for picking any of these four. Remember, this is a 4-2-3-1 formation, so we might want to include attacking impetus in picking the fullbacks.

Alvaro Arbeloa (2007-2009)
Appearances: 98
Goals: 2

Somehow, Benitez turned Josemi into Kromkamp into Arbeloa for no additional money. Arbeloa made his mark early on, impressing against Barca in one of his first games, shutting down Messi from left back. It didn’t take long to establish himself ahead of Finnan. Like the Irishman, Arbeloa was arguably too defensive for a title-challenging club, especially with the way Benitez’s tactics have evolved. I still miss his goal celebrations, though.

Markus Babbel (2000-2002)
Appearances: 73
Goals: 6

Arriving on a free transfer in 2000, Babbel was crucial in the 2001 treble success, and would have been a brilliant right back for years had he not contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome. Just the right mix of attacking and defense, Babbel scored some crucial goals, including one in the UEFA Cup final against Alaves. After missing nearly all of 01/02 to the disease, he struggled in 02/03, playing mainly with the reserves, and was loaned to Blackburn the following season. If only.

Steve Finnan (2003-2008)
Appearances: 217
Goals: 1

It took Finnan a season to make the right back position his own, with Carragher still vying for time as a fullback under Houllier, but when Finnan claimed the spot, he kept it for the next three seasons. The Finnan-Carragher-Hyypia-Riise backline was the rock Benitez built upon, and Finnan was a huge part of it. He was my player of the season in 2006-07. Always described with terms like “reliable” and “consistent,” Finnan rarely offered enough going forward, which is why Benitez looked to replace him with the likes of Josemi and Kromkamp before an Arbeloa-sized crowbar finally pried him out, but it’s hard to find a more consistent defending fullback over that time period.

Glen Johnson (2009-present)
Appearances: 15
Goals: 2

It’s probably too soon into his Liverpool career to anoint Glen Johnson the right back of the decade, what with only 15 games, and not the best results from those 15. But he’s the type of player who changes games, and Liverpool certainly needs more of those. Two goals and three assists in his first five games demonstrate why Benitez was willing to pay £17m for a fullback. I truly expect great things from him, but he's been a starter for less than half a season, and it's been an ignominious half-season at that.


muffins said...

Finnan. Our crap defending of late has made me pine for the consistent defensive solidity of yore.

Who Knows... said...

i'd back Finnan too. Arby comes close, I certainly have a soft spot for him and he he def. had a superb season just before he left to sit on the madrid bench, but Finnan was calm, steady and an utter rock during his time at Liverpool. Its true that he wasn't too help in attack but you have to bear in mind that with Riise on the other flank, who wasn't exactly a flying brazillian fullback but def. offered a considerable goal threat, this wasn't such a negative as it might seem.ng

Shaun Loh said...

If the formation was 4-4-2, i would have chosen Finnan. But since its 4-2-3-1, i would like to see some overlapping, and there is no one better than Glen Johnson, who has the potential to make as big an impact, if not bigger, as Rob Jones.

drew said...

Folks are greatly underestimating how good Babbel was before he got sick. We'd never have needed Finnan if Babbel hadn't contracted a freakishly rare virus.

Finnan might shade it on steadiness and number of games in the red shirt, and I certainly hope Johnson will be our right-back on the best XI of next decade, but I can't overlook how consistently brilliant he was in his time here.

Apropos of the derby:

(Without that goal, Gary Mac doesn't get a crack on goal from 40 yards out)

Mike Georger said...

Definitely Babbel.

nate said...

Yeah, I'm not going to reveal my vote often as to not prejudice, but it's been long enough and Finnan's gonna win.

Again, you can argue for all four, but I gotta agree with Drew and Georger. I'm marginally disappointed more don't remember Babbel. He was as good as it gets that season, and losing him to illness was a key part in failing to build on success of 00/01, even if the purchases of Diouf/Diao/Cheyrou doomed the team more.

tobi said...

babbel for sure!
he was the most talented right back we ever had. so sad that we lost him.