WITH the monumentally sad news that Jamie Carragher has announced his retirement, I can’t help but write a few words about the motor-mouthed Bootle lad who has gone on to etch his name forever in the Liverpool FC history books and into our hearts.
In August after a Europa League qualifier against FC Gomel, a game in which Carragher played his 700th match for Liverpool, I wrote the following:
“But looking back over 700 games…what a career, what a servant. He might not reach 800, I don’t know how long he intends to play on for and he’s probably not first choice currently. Time might be catching up with Carragher but he has had an illustrious and fantastic career with Liverpool, winning every medal apart from the one we all want him to have. Carra is a fantastic reader of the game, brave, committed and passionate about Liverpool Football Club.
“So happy 700 JC – thanks for everything so far, and let’s hope there’s more memories to be made in the near future.”
With his contract expiring this summer, I had long had a feeling that JC was reaching the end of his time as a first team player. At 35 he isn’t necessarily the oldest, but he isn’t first choice now and hasn’t been all season. He is the veteran, the experienced stand by. I’m not going to eulogise him right now at this moment in time, I will do that with a very heavy heart in May.
But what I do want to talk about is how he can still play an important role in our quest for European football next season. I thought that Carragher was absolutely superb in both of 2-2 draws last week. It was almost like he was never out of the team; he was making intelligent interceptions, making top class blocks, organising the defence, encouraging youngsters…
Some of these skills aren’t things you get taught, you either have them or you don’t. And Carragher has them in abundance.
In games where we will defend deep, like at Arsenal, Carragher can play and be of vital importance. His last ditch defence and his ability to read the game is crucial when defending in such tight spaces. I think it was inspired by Rodgers to pick Carragher in the two games that he did, as well as necessary as Skrtel’s performance at Oldham was a total embarrassment and he deserved to be launched onto the bench.
The biggest thing we can use Carragher for now? Experience. This lad has won all but one major medal in club football. He has played over 700 matches. I expect, no, demand, that every young player speaks to Jamie Carragher about his life and about his career. He can’t teach them the instincts, reactions and gut feelings that a centre-half relies on so much, but he can tell them about how to communicate as part of a defensive unit or about the mentality of seeing out tight matches.
I am sure that Brendan Rodgers is all over this already.
But above all, Carragher is going nowhere until May. To his credit he has ended the speculation and is now openly leaving the club. He has three months left as a player. Let’s send him off on a high note, as I’m sure he wants to do with us.