Liverpool and the number 10

Image for Liverpool and the number 10

Coutinho LiverpoolTHE number 10 is an essential number for me in a footballing context.

Not because it’s connected to a specific childhood hero or anything like that; there’s no single incident or person that makes it special to me.

It has to do with what it represents and the nature of the players I have seen over the years; players who represent the very essence of what football is to me.

Not necessarily the number 10 shirt, but the role and what that role means. The one genius that turns a good team into a great team; the provider of moments you remember, whether it’s an important game or just a semi-dull bread and butter game.

When I grew up the number 10 actually was the number 10. Except at Liverpool, where the number 10 was number 7 and the actual number 10 was a left winger! It was all very confusing for a young boy trying to figure out how things worked.

We talk about Kenny Dalglish, we talk about Kevin Keegan and Peter Beardsley. Our spiritual number 10s from the past; the special players who provided something extra. Suddenly the conveyer-belt stopped though – at least the way I saw it.

For the bigger part of the last twenty years, with the exception of Steve McManaman, Liverpool FC either haven’t had this player or they haven’t used him properly when having him. Jari Litmanen most certainly falls into the latter category, and I still feel a bit miffed when thinking about it.

Many a time have I been casting envious looks at other clubs in England and abroad, cursing what I felt was a missing piece from many a Liverpool team. Fransesco Totti, Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio, Michael Laudrup, Ronaldinho, Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona; ‘everyone’ but LFC seemed to have one of these majestic wizards who turned football into something more and elevated it into an art form. Strong individualists who blended perfectly into the team structure, with mesmerising ability and the intelligence to back it up. They were the players I loved watching and none of them played for Liverpool – which has been hard to take over the years for a purist.

It’s obviously difficult to know exactly why this seemed to be a never ending story – of Liverpool never really finding that magician with the 360 degree vision and the magic feet. I’m guessing it has to do with a long line of small but crucial decisions; of sacrifices that had to be made due to other squad needs needing to be addressed. We had Jari Litmanen, albeit not at his peak, and we had Luis Garcia; a player I think we loved so much because he was so badly needed, but most of all because of what he and his ilk represent: the unpredictable. Still though, he wasn’t at the level of the aforementioned artists.

And along came little Philippe Coutinho; a modern day fantasista, but not necessarily a trequartista – and a return of a realĀ  number 10 at Anfield, as discussed here at length over on the excellent fantasista10.co.uk. He’s small, he’s from Brazil, he plays the game almost as if he’s still playing futsal instead of football – and he wears the number 10 shirt. What’s not to like?

Finally, I feel complete. Every team should have one.

Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at live4liverpool@snack-media.com

Follow us on Twitter here: @live4Liverpool and ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Share this article


  • shola says:

    I love this article… short and precise without derailing from the main topic… Coutinho is a fantastic player…

    • ian says:

      I second that, nice short article.

      I hope Couts will be the player we all hope he can be, still young so some way to go, will see how he copes against better teams and players as that crops up.

      For now he’s good to watch, just hope we can see him more in the natural 10 position rather than the wide 10 he’s often been deployed.

  • TaintlessRed says:

    Nice read.

  • zicodinho says:

    nice article this is

  • Bull S. says:

    Every time LFC drop points there are some people keep mentioning we have the #10. And our #10 is the best of the universe. Come on. Stop writing the BS every time we are dropping points.

  • Diego 'Digger' Souness says:

    Collymore sort of played that role for a few years playing with Fowler, Stan had the capabilities, pity didnt last long. Roy Evans apparently tried to sign Sheringham and Batistuta back then too, both would have been excellent.

  • Diego 'Digger' Souness says:

    I think Morientes could have been that player too but hardly got a chance.

Comments are closed.