Time catching up with the Defence?

by James Baker

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Over the past few years Rio Ferdinand and Jamie Carragher have consistently been in the top 5 central defenders in the Premier League. In fact, I make Rio the best bar none for the past 5 years. I watched two games this weekend and Ferdinand and Carragher both looked as though the landlord was getting ready to call time at the bar.

Ferdinand seemed to be moving awkwardly all through the game yesterday. He was never at his fluent best and his was a very rusty performance. I know it was only his second game of the season because of injury but the injuries seem to be coming thick and fast for Rio. He spent the last few months of the previous season on and off the pitch and was touch and go for the Champions League final.

I hope it isn’t true. Rio instantly became a favourite of mine when he started making his way for West Ham all those years ago. His assurance at the back, his reading of the play and his pace shone like a beacon. He was so graceful and could play anywhere across the back and occasionally, in midfield. He was prone to the odd lapse of concentration in his younger days but rectified this as he matured. His error yesterday that nearly cost United the game was a throwback to those old West Ham days when his concentration would occasionally lapse.

Lot’s of people band John Terry’s name around as the best central defender in the country.
I would agree that Terry is a proper old fashioned centre half and would be someone you would love to have in your defence because you know he will back you all the way and throw himself in front of everything. I do think though, that Terry is limited in his attributes. Ferdinand has them all. I really hope we are not seeing the decline of one of my favourite footballers and he will be back to his imperious best come South Africa in June next year.

As for Carragher, well let’s just say I am not a big fan of the bloke. He is a good player and has consistently produced the goods for Liverpool over the past five years or so. However, I think his attitude towards playing for his country is a disgrace and is one whose view of the world is fogged by a scouse sense of injustice.

I was at Upton Park on Saturday and time definitely looks to be catching up with him. Carlton Cole smashed him off the ball numerous times. Little Zavon Hines, making his debut for West Ham, ran circles around him. Indeed, Carragher was guilty of a couple of very poor mistakes, His first in the second minute when he was caught in possession and the ball arrived at Hines feet with only Reina to beat. Beat him he did but he struck the post. Later in the first half, Hines took Carragher on and beat him on the outside as he ran in to the box. Carragher sent Hines sprawling and it was a penalty. I don’t think Carragher could have any complaints.

What must be worrying for him and Liverpool fans is the way he was given such a torrid time by a 20 year old making his second start for the Hammers and Cole. Liverpool conceded again at a set-piece and they look vulnerable every time they have to defend a set piece. Is time catching up with Jamie and Rio? I couldn’t care less about Carrgaher but let us all hope that Rio can defy the years for a few more seasons yet.

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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I think you’re reading to much into it James, he’s still the best center back we’ve got by a long way. He’s only human after all, I can’t remember the last time I saw him make another mistake.

    As for Garragher, it’s about time he got punished, as cheats go, he’s been getting away with shirt pulling for years now.

  • Jack

    Ferdinand is the best centre back in the world…he is twice the player that terry is…he has just come back from an injury…in a few weeks he will be back to his dominant best and virtually unbeateable

  • Matt Quinn

    Ferdinand is still our best centre back- and one of the best in the world- but im a bit worried about the injuries he seems to keep picking up. I hope he doesnt go the way of Ledley King. That would be a travesty…. King would be England first choice centre back if he had functioning knees. Him and Ferdinand together would have been brilliant.

    Ive never rated Carragher. A trier and a grafter at best.

  • Iain

    Carragher still has a couple of seasons in him yet. Sure, he struggles against the pacy defenders, but he is there to out muscle and out jump the big target men, while whoever is playing next to him should be looking after the spaces. Granted Carlton Cole gave him some problems, but he’s just out of form, not out of shape.

    He’s doing a lot more covering for Glen Johnson, too, which will take a while for him to adapt to. Alvaro Arbeloa was never a marauder down the wing, and didn’t need too much backing up.

    Give Rio a few weeks off to get himself back to full fitness. United have plenty of cover and their next few games are not really going to trouble Utd. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens, in fact.

    Carragher needs to play himself back into form though, particularly given that he doesn’t have many options next to him.

    We’ll remember both fondly once they have hung up their boots

  • dexylongshot

    He’s an unpatriotic cheating scouser who’s getting on a bit and did look a bit shaky on Sunday. Fair point about covering for Johnson though.

    Rio is the best in the game on his day, i can’t remember him making a mistake for long time now and him and Vidic were brilliant last season. I’m hoping his injury troubles do go in time for next summer.

    Terry is good but as captain of England, he is pretty much guaranteed a starting place, the thing is, I think he does have competition from the superb Upson and even Woodgate & Ledley if they could remain fit (which will never happen).

    Never mind there is always Lescott chuckle chuckle!

  • Patrick

    Ferdinand is definitely the best we have. Sure, he was shaky on Sunday but he’ll bounce back (with Alan Partridge). I bracket Carragher and Terry in the same mould – brave, put the head in where it hurts, not that great on the ball. Terry is definitely the better of the two but I think there are better defenders out there such as Upson and King if he were ever able to stay fit. Lescott is not all that great defensively and he should only be used in extreme circumstances. Woodgate could be an option is he returned to fitness and stayed fit but that’s not too likely given his record over the past few seasons.

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