As the decade comes to a close, social media and sports columns are full of ‘Best of the decade’ XI’s.
Everyone has a go, with different clubs or Premier League teams sparking plenty of debate online.
However, as Liverpool have backed up becoming European Champions in June with their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign, it is a bit tricky not to just pick all the lads who currently play for Liverpool. Especially as so much of the decade that preceded it was false dawns and disappointment.
So instead I am picking a worst Liverpool XI of the decade, just to be different and to remind everyone of the roller coaster ride Liverpool have been on to get to the brilliant stage they are at now.
Court cases, ownership battles, title challenges, spectacular implosions. It’s been a mad decade at Anfield. Here are the players who best sum up how bad it got.
GK: Brad Jones
The position with the most competition, by far. Adam Bogdan managed to stay on Liverpool’s books for four years despite being absolutely rubbish, which sort of gives hope to us all.
Loris Karius cost Liverpool a European Final and seemed more interested in his Instagram account than his goalkeeping. He also once kicked a goal kick out for a corner. Simon Mignolet was better than them, but probably annoyed everyone the most, while Pepe Reina saw in the decade by putting two stone on and forgetting how to use his hands.
But, Brad Jones still takes the crown of the worst goalkeeper to play for Liverpool in this decade. Despite being deemed not good enough for Middlesbrough, Liverpool paid over £2m for the Australian. He lost his first game against Northampton Town on penalties in the League Cup and was sent on loan to Derby before the season was out.
That should have been it for Jones at Liverpool, but bizarrely he managed to not just get back into the Liverpool squad, but had a decent run under Kenny Dalglish – including winning an FA Cup semi-final against Everton. He was even given a new contract. But then under Rodgers, he would occasionally get thrown in whenever we thought there couldn’t be anyone worse than Simon Mignolet, only to discover there very much could be.
A particular ‘highlight’ was a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford, where he dived the wrong way for two of the goals
RB: Philipp Degen
Less obvious choices at right-back, but I am reliably informed that Philip Degen’s Liverpool career made it into this decade, so I am going for him.
A man who saw right back as more of a concept than a position.
If he didn’t fancy playing there any more, he’d just run off and play somewhere else. Badly.
LB: Paul Konchesky
Ah Paul. The man who came with Roy Hodgson from Fulham and was just as disastrous.
But at least Roy’s mum didn’t call Liverpool fans “scouse scum” when he started to get abuse online for his abject performances. I mean fair play like, if her son had shown similar levels of fight he might have done a bit better. Instead he was sent on loan to Nottingham Forest.
Still, recently Paul Konchesky said he “enjoyed every minute” of his time at Liverpool. Well I’m glad someone did mate, because it was absolute graft watching you.
CB: Sotirios Kyrgiakos
Ah I feel bad putting Soto in because he did alright, but it’s more the transfer rather than the player why I wanted to include him.
Rafa Benitez spent the summer of 2009 thinking he had a certain amount of money to kick on from a second-place finish in the Premier League and try and go one better, only to be told he actually only had £1.5m left to buy a much-needed centre half come August. To which he presumably replied, “then why the hell did you let me spend £18m on Glen Johnson?”.
The story goes, Rafa Benitez only realised that any contract improvements came out of this transfer budget when it was too late. So the best he could do was Kyrgiakos, who for £1.5m actually did alright, but he never should have played for Liverpool, really.
The fact that he started this decade as being voted Liverpool’s player of the month just shows how absolutely rubbish we were in January 2010.
CB: Sebastián Coates
In contrast to Kyrgiakos, who came with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever, Coates came with a decent reputation and for a sizeable fee for a centre half after winning ‘Best Young Player’ at the Copa America that summer.
I’m not sure what pace that tournament was played at (maybe it was up in the mountains in Bolivia) because unfortunately once he arrived we saw that he couldn’t really run.
Which was a bit of an issue playing in the Premier League, especially under Brendan Rodgers who tended to give centre halves about as much protection as a chocolate condom. Still, he’ll always have his goal at QPR.
CM: Christian Poulsen (c)
Everyone assured us that Christian Poulsen had been a very good footballer, and his list of previous clubs was certainly impressive.
However, it quickly became apparent why Juventus had absolutely bitten Liverpool’s hands-off for the £4.5m we offered for the Danish midfielder. He was only 30 when he arrived at Liverpool, but he played like he was 60.
It wasn’t like he didn’t know what he should be doing, it was just that his legs couldn’t do it. When Kenny Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson he bombed him out for Jay Spearing and at the end of the season Poulsen went to Evian.
Presumably in the hope that the water would give him eternal youth. Something must have happened there, because he went on to win the league with Ajax. Maybe we should all go.
CM: Alberto Aquilani
A lovely footballer on the eye, but unfortunately very rarely a lovely footballer on the pitch.
Always had it tough as the replacement for Xabi Alonso, who many Liverpool fans had felt had been forced out of the club, and it didn’t help that he was injured when we signed him. But, that proved to be very much a sign of things to come.
Every time he looked good for a few minutes, he’d then be out for a few weeks. Liverpool used to sing about having the “best midfield in the world” as the previous decade finished, with Alonso, Gerrard, Mascherano and Sissoko.
They were as tough as they were talented. None of their replacements lived up to the standard, but Aquilani was the most disappointing.
RM: Oussama Assaidi
Again making it in for the story as much as the player. Assaidi signed in the summer of 2012, as Liverpool looked to start a new period of the club with manager Brendan Rodgers and a lot of exciting young talent.
After a good performance away at Stoke City in the League Cup early on, Communications Manager Jen Chang apparently bounced round the tunnel telling any journalist who would listen that it was him who had identified Assaidi as a signing for Liverpool. Which seemed somewhat outside the remit of a comms man.
Jen Chang knew no boundaries, of all the blaggers taken in by FSG when they were too green to know better, he was the greatest. Chang presumably quietened down on his amazing scouting abilities when Assaidi went on to only make four league appearances for Liverpool before being moved on after a year.
Still, he lasted longer than Chang, who was sacked after less than half a year in his big new job for threatening the owner of a spoof Twitter account who he accused of leaking secrets from within the club. Honestly, the early FSG years were wild.
LM: Milan Jovanovic
I don’t know what else to say about Milan Jovanovic except that he was absolutely dreadful.
Made Markovic look like Maradona.
Apparently scored two goals for Liverpool. I’m very sceptical.
CF: Mario Balotelli
He might have done well at many other clubs, but he was awful at Liverpool.
Forget all the crazy stories about his character, or off the field shenanigans, I have never seen a football be in the wrong place so often as Balotelli was. When the midfield would want him to run left, he would run right. Or more likely, not run at all.
The amount of crosses into the box that he would watch from outside the penalty area was remarkable.
Apparently, our famed transfer committee offered Brendan Rodgers a choice of Balotelli or Samuel Eto’o as our new marque striker. At least Eto’o would have been a laugh.
CF: Rickie Lambert
Again, this might be mean. He tried his best, which is more than can be said for Balotelli, and he might have only scored three goals for Liverpool, but that was two more than Iago Aspas.
But, as a friend of mine put it, we sold the best striker in the world and replaced him with a bricklayer from Kirkby.
When you had spent the last couple of years watching Luis Suarez tear up the league, it was so painful to then have to watch a fella who needed two minutes warning if you wanted him to run.