22 December 2009

Team of the Decade – Center Forward

Previous posts: Formation | Keeper | Right Back | Centerback | Left Back | Central Midfield | Right Midfield | Left Midfield | Second Striker

Yes, I realize this poll and the previous one are mere formalities. I appreciate you indulging my idiosyncratic need for completion.

I could have included eight in this list and still left out players that were better than some in other polls. But as we’re considering a lone striker, names like Anelka, Ciise, and Bellamy missed out.

The team so far:

Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Alonso Hamann
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun

Milan Baros (2002-2005)
Appearances: 108
Goals: 27

Tantalizing youth product and excellent goalscorer for the Czech Republic, but Baros never made the impact at Liverpool that Houllier had hoped. He never stopped running, but he never looked up either, leading to charges down blind alleys and an utter refusal to pass. Continuing his form from Euro 2004, he played well through the first half of ’04-05, but unsurprisingly, Benitez got rid after one season.

Peter Crouch (2005-2008)
Appearances: 134
Goals: 42

Certainly could do with having Crouchy in the team now, but he wasn’t content playing second fiddle to Torres. They only started seven games (three in the league) together – 4-2 Reading, 0-1 Marseille, 4-0 Bolton, 1-3 Reading, 5-0 Luton, 3-0 Sunderland, and 4-2 Arsenal – before Crouch was sold for £11m. Still, he was a valuable signing (despite taking until December to break his duck), and his perfect hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Arsenal still stands out.

Robbie Fowler (1993-2001; 2006-2007)
Appearances: 393 (108 in 2000s)
Goals: 186 (33 in 2000s)

As the stats suggest, Fowler of the 2000s was not the God of the 90s. As much as it hurt, Houllier probably sold him at the right time, and Fowler never hit similar heights with either Leeds or City. But he was welcomed back with open arms in January 2006 as much-needed fourth attacking option, who worked his socks off to get in shape, chipped in 12 goals in a season and a half, and went out the way he should have the first time.

Emile Heskey (2000-2004)

Appearances: 223
Goals: 60

Houllier loved him, Owen loved playing with him, and he drove the fans crazy. Never an out-and-out goalscorer, Heskey bullied his way through backlines, making space for Mickey. That Ivanhoe (his actual middle name!) was Liverpool’s most expensive transfer until Cisse shows the promise he came in with, but with increased competition from Baros and a continuing inability to score regularly, Houllier sold him to Brum not long before being sacked.

Michael Owen (1997-2004)
Appearances: 297
Goals: 158

Dirty Judas Mercenary Manc. Thanks for the 2001 FA Cup, though, Mickey. And introducing me to the club.

Fernando Torres (2007-present)
Appearances: 101
Goals: 61

So, that Fernando Torres is pretty good at football, no? 33 goals in his first season, and "just" 17 last season during an injury-hit campaign. And still struggling with knocks this year, he’s scored 11 in 17 games. He has the best goals-per-game ratio in Premier League history, and not one of his strikes has been a penalty or direct free kick. He’s not “arguably the best striker in the world.” He’s the best striker in the world. Period.

Despite Friday's holiday, I should be able to get away from family long enough to post a Wolves preview around the normal time. Merry Christmas.


Neel said...

Micheal Owen - .... And introducing me to the club.

Well, nice to know there are others who followed the same route as me :) I was a post WC98 Owen=>Liverpool Fan.

Feels kinda embarrassing watching him play for United. He left Liverpool for supposedly greener pastures but was a total flop-show and hasn't won a cup since. What a loser :P

nate said...

Well, nice to know there are others who followed the same route as me :) I was a post WC98 Owen=>Liverpool Fan.

This blog has taught me there are more than a few of us.

What makes me the happiest is we're all still devoutly following the club more than five years after he left.

Mike Georger said...

Same here. And he can rot in hell after dying of gonorrhea, Dan Marino style, for all I care.

Kind of shocked he didn't get more votes.

Bilal said...

I can kinda understand the Owen votes, and although he had lost his magic in the 2000's I would always have a soft spot for God, but hold on, someone voted for Crouch for Forward of the Decade? Really? I think the freakishly tall one is a good player and one I'd absolutely love to have at the club now, but reeeeeeally? Did he shine thaaaat much someone voted for him over God, Judas or Torres? I'm mystified.

Mike Georger said...

The Crouch vote was probably from this guy.

vinnie said...

perfect description for michael judas, nate! that inspires me to print my 98-00 jersey with no.10 and the name JUDAS

drew said...

So this is my problem with Owen, and ultimately the reason I went with 4-2-3-1 for the formation in a decade when we played mostly 4-4-2:

If you have Michael Owen in your side (and I'm talking World Player of the Year Owen here), you have to jigger everything so as to get Michael Owen into situations where it's him against a defender and goalkeeper for pace. And that means having a big lug partner up front (Heskey, mainly, leaving Litmanen out in the cold); it means long balls launced up from defense; it means speculative blasts from midfield players, etc. etc. And while that can be made to work--spectacularly at times, see THAT GOAL against Argentina, THAT FA CUP FINAL against Arsenal, or even more to the point his one-man demolition of Germany in Sven's England--there are so many other times when it does not work, and the whole rest of the team flaps about like a useless appendage because their entire reason for being on the pitch has been taken away.

I don't think I have to convince anyone Torres is the better player, but his sheer physical presence is the foundation for a much more sound side than the pace of a speed-merchant like Owen.

(And for context here, I came to this whole mess in the early 90s, right when Liverpool stopped winning league titles. *sigh*)

nate said...

Admittedly, I was too mean to Mickey. He did some great things for this club. But Drew pretty much nailed it spot on. That and 'once a Manc, never a Red.'

Oh, and Georger, what would you say if the Dolphins were my NFL team, and I still have an autographed photo of Marino (given as a gift) around here somewhere?

Mike Georger said...

I would say I have the exact same thing sitting next to a Marino jersey.

Mike Georger said...

Well, maybe not the same photo, but an autographed one given as a gift. Along with two tickets to a Dolphins game. Shit yeah.

Anonymous said...

Torres of course but Owen n Robbie too

yowie said...

there was only one answer but some of the other choices did some good things for the club i must say.
and even though he is blasphemy, i'm surprised he didnt get more lovin'.
and like u guys, he was the one who brought me to liverpool