Liverpool and former England defender Jamie Carragher is enduring a difficult season in the Premier League thus far and his sending off against Fulham at the weekend further compounded his misery. Carragher himself has insisted that he is not past it but does the centre back have the presence and determination to recapture his past form? Or are his current performances signalling the end of his spell in the top flight and has the time come for Liverpool to drop Carragher and allow him to see out the rest of his career at a lower level?
Jamie Carragher is now 31 years old and it appears that his age is starting to catch up with him. Carragher is a Liverpool legend, having been at the Anfield club since 1996 and made over 500 appearances for The Reds. But some fans have started to question his position in the side after being one of the first names on the team sheet for a number of years. The performance levels of the once Mr Consistent are starting to drop and criticism of him this season is starting to grow. But is Carragher just going through a bad run of form or are his best footballing days behind him?
Carragher’s desire and determination to do well for the club that he loves cannot be questioned. However, for a player that has never been the quickest in the league, his lack of pace is now becoming a major issue. He has been caught the wrong side of attackers more than once this season, and if his speed and positional sense are both lacking, then his game will be considerably weakened and it will be hard for him when he comes up against world-class strikers. There’s no doubt that he still possesses the intelligence required and can read the game well, but are these attributes enough in a league where players are getting quicker and stronger?
It will obviously be very hard for Rafa Benitez to drop Carragher, but the Spaniard cannot allow sentimentality to come into his thinking. Carragher himself will not want to be picked just on his past exploits for Liverpool, but he still feels he has plenty to offer the team. He told The Telegraph earlier in the season “I’m not playing well at the moment, I know that. It’s up to me to turn that around. I’ve got the strength of character to put it right. The reason I’ve been here so long is because I can deal with it and have the character to do that.” But is Carragher just delaying the inevitable fact that he is coming to the end of his career, or does he still have many years to give Liverpool?
Carragher’s deficiencies are probably being exaggerated by Liverpool’s poor start to the season but they cannot just be ignored. For a player who didn’t earn as many England caps as he should have and retired from international football in 2007, how long will it be before his Liverpool career is over? Many fans would hate to see a player who loves the club so much leave Liverpool, but any benefit of the doubt that they are currently giving him will disappear if his poor form continues. So is this season one too far for the Liverpool defender, and is Jamie Carragher past it?
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