Former Liverpool defender Conor Coady said that his departure from the club was the “best decision” that he has made in his career.
Having been unable to break into the first team at Anfield, he went out on loan to Sheffield United for a season before signing permanently for Huddersfield and moving on to Wolves, where he is now the club captain and has played every single minute of their Premier League campaign this season.
In Sky Sports‘ Off Script series, the 27-year-old admitted: “I knew at some point I’d have to come away from Liverpool to really experience being a first-team player. It was the best decision I ever made, and Brendan Rodgers was great for that; he pushed that to send me on loan and try to improve my game.
“Even being on loan at Sheffield United (in 2013-14), I loved the season and it was a great club for me to go to, coming back I still knew it was going to be tough. Liverpool were always getting better, they were always improving, and the players in my position were ridiculous. But I just wanted to play football. I knew where I was at, the type of level I was at, but I just wanted to be part of a first team, playing in games which meant something, playing against men.”
Coady’s decision to move on from Liverpool was very much justified from his perspective. By the end of the 2012/13 season, he had entered his 20s and had made just two first team appearances for the Reds, one of which was as a stoppage time substitute in a 3-1 Premier League win at Fulham towards the end of that campaign. Having played 50 times on loan for Sheffield United the following season, he had a taste for regular first team action that he naturally wanted to maintain, electing to do so by leaving permanently for Huddersfield rather than bide his time at Anfield.
While Jamie Carragher was one of the centre-backs blocking Coady’s path to the Liverpool first team at the start of his career, the Sky Sports pundit retired the week after the current Wolves captain made his final Reds appearance. The following season, with Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho as Rodgers’ centre-back options, the Merseysiders conceded 50 Premier League goals despite narrowly missing out on the title, shipping three goals in games against the promoted trio of Hull, Cardiff and Crystal Palace. Even though Coady felt that he was up against a high standard of central defender at Liverpool, the Reds’ brittleness at the back poses the question as to whether he could have emerged as a regular first team presence in 2013/14 in the same manner as Jon Flanagan.
Liverpool’s defensive issues weren’t quickly resolved, either. The Reds conceded 48 and 50 goals in the following two league seasons, during which Coady was playing regularly at Huddersfield and then Wolves. He has become a near-constant presence in the team at Molineux, chalking up 224 appearances in nearly five years at the club and forming a key part of one of the Premier League’s sturdier defences.
While it is very easy to say with hindsight that Liverpool should have done more to try and keep him at the club at a time when they had clear defensive deficiencies, it’s hard not to feel disappointed that Coady didn’t remain at Anfield for another year or two, even if his career trajectory since his Liverpool days justify his comments.
Liverpool fans, are you disappointed that Coady left Anfield so readily or did it feel like the right decision at the time? Comment below with your views!