Saturday, June 09, 2007 by Paul Grech
Daniel Agger: 7.5
Last summer, Four Four Two foolishly branded Agger one of Rafael Benitez’s misses in the transfer market. The Danish defender had joined the previous January and had hardly been given enough chances to impress. This season was different. After Sami Hyppia got caught out by Andy Johnson in the 3-0 derby defeat, Agger took his place and never let go. His ability at shooting from distance is an additional asset,
Xabi Alonso: 6
Given the high standards he had set in previous years, Alonso struggled to impose himself this season. A fantastic goal from his own half against Newcastle has to rank as the high point but otherwise his tendency to misplace passes and give away free kicks in dangerous positions proved costly.
Alvaro Arbeloa: 6
Signed in January only because Liverpool got the sell on from Milan Baros’ move to Lyon, Arbeloa quickly proved his worth by marking Lionel Messi out of the game against Barcelona. Eventually, however, his standards started to drop and he ended the season rather flatly. Still, he has shown enough promise to indicate that he could eventually take over from Steve Finnan.
Fabio Aurelio: 5.5
Just when he was starting to justify Benitez’s claims of being a better passer than Xabi Alonso, Aurelio got himself injured (for the second time in the season) forcing him to miss the rest of the campaign. If he could stay fit, Aurelio would really add depth to the squad. Sadly, it looks as if he’s too injury prone to add any value.
Craig Bellamy 5.5
One of the major disappointments of the season, Bellamy never adapted to Benitez’s rotation policy or to Liverpool’s playing style. The high point of his season was the equaliser scored against Barcelona that partially erased memories of the worst moment being his fight with John Arne Riise.
Jamie Carragher: 8
The emergence of Daniel Agger shifted the spotlight off Carragher yet he remains one of Europe’s finest defenders and a rock in Liverpool’s back line. Rarely put a foot wrong throughout the season and a great leader. My player of the season.
Peter Crouch: 6.5
This was a strange season for Crouch where, having apparently convinced the rest of the nation about his abilities, he suddenly found out that his own manager wasn’t that convinced any more. Or at least that was how it seemed going by Benitez’ team choices. That Crouch couldn’t score open coming on as substitute also hindered his chances.
Jerzy Dudek: 4
Sadly for the hero of Istanbul, his farewell season couldn’t have been much worse. Some shambolic errors against Arsenal and Galatasaray as well as ill-timed comments of Benitez treating him like a slave slightly soured relationships towards the end of his stay.
Nabil El Zhar: No Rating
When Steve Heighway declared that none of his young players would be allowed to make an impact, he probably had El Zhar in mind. It would be unfair to rate the young Moroccan who only played a handful of minutes but he hardly got a touch of the ball whenever he played and in any case looks too lightweight.
Steve Finnan: 8
The unheralded hero in Liverpools’ side, Finnan’s consistency both in defence and in attack marks him out as a one of Europe’s greatest.
Robbie Fowler: 6
When he signed there was the slight fear that, if not played, he would start complaining. Instead he always accepted Benitez’s choices and acted like the utmost professional. Pity that he couldn’t have signed off with a Champions League win.
Steven Gerrard: 7
By Steven Gerrard’s standards, this was a quite season and I’m struggling to recall a Gerrard moment: that single moment of brilliance that lifts the whole team. Being sidelined to the right of midfield didn’t help and, in all honesty, he’s been given half a point simply because of who he is.
Mark Gonzalez: 4
Hyped so much before he signed, it is safe to say that Gonzalez was a complete disappointment. He rarely showed the speed for which he was so famous for and struggled to adapt to English football. After scoring a goal just seconds after coming on, everything went downhill.
Danny Guthrie: 7
One of the things that I look out for when a young player comes in is his attitude and when Guthrie was given a chance he was immediately comfortable irrespective of whether he was asked to play in his favoured central position or elsewhere. That he immediately started for the ball – and always knew what to do with it – was equally impressing. Having seen quite a lot of him at Southampton where he spent the final couple of months of the season, I’m in no doubt that he is good enough for the Premiership.
Sami Hyypia: 7
Once his lack of pace had been brutally exposed by Andy Johnson in the derby and Daniel Agger slotted in so easily in the side, it was clear that Hyppia’s days as a regular were over. Yet he’s still an extremely important player, coming in whenever needed and playing as well as he ever has. Not good enough to displace Daniel Agger – but that is also due to the Dane’s great season – but certainly good enough to hold on to.
Emiliano Insua: 6.5
Another young Argentine who came in midway through the season and was given some games in the final few matches. He did enough to indicate that he’s got the potential to feature more regularly in the future.
Harry Kewell: No Rating
Anyone who had forgotten Harry Kewell’s talent got a reminder in his impressive cameo appearance on the final day against Charlton. Unfortunately, he spends too much time injured – and costs too much – to keep him if a good offer comes through.
Dirk Kuyt: 6.5
There’s no other player in the world who works as hard as Kuyt and it is always encouraging to see him plugging away. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to replicate anything like the goal scoring form that he showed at Feyenoord for the past years.
Luis Garcia: 6
Not always the most appreciated of players thanks to his frustrating inconsistency but when he’s on form, Garcia is just the kind of player you love to watch. Has great skill and perhaps the only player in the squad who can add that bit of flair.
Javier Mascherano: 7.5
There must be a reason why two of the brightest English managers opted not to use Javier Mascherano. But, whatever it may be, it is pretty hard to see why they would opt to forgo using a player as talented as the one who graced Anfield in the latter half of the season.
Daniele Padelli: No Rating
There have been few worse debuts than the one enjoyed by Padelli. He may be excused for letting a soft first goal because it was deflected but he was fully at fault for the second one and never looked like good enough to play top flight football.
Gabriel Paletta: 4
The Argentine defender struggled in pre-season but that was largely put down to him getting to grips with a new way of playing. However, he struggled terribly whenever called up and will require huge improvements if he is to make the grade.
Lee Peltier: No Rating
Peltier was solid, if unspectacular, during his couple of appearances in the League Cup. Doesn’t look as if he will make it at Anfield although is good enough to make it elsewhere.
Jermaine Pennant: 6.5
Pennant’s first few months at Anfield saw him struggle to meet expectations and shed off the feeling that he was Benitez’s second or third choice. On the pitch, performances were disappointing with him often struggling to get wide and deliver the crosses he had been signed for. Then, after scoring a goal against Chelsea, he seemed to find the belief that had been lacking earlier and ended the season in fine form, ending as one of Liverpool’s best players in the Champions League final.
Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina: 7
The goalkeeper’s start to the season was erratic but he quickly found his form breaking all sort of clean-sheet records. Showed his real worth in the Champions League semi-final games against Chelsea where he pulled off a string of excellent saves that were as important as any other player’s contribution.
John Arne Riise: 6
The questions around Riise remain the same: is he a left-back or a left-midfielder? The truth is that he is good at both without excelling at either. Personal problems probably contributed to a season where he was often below par although Riise can never be accused of lack of determination or commitment.
Momo Sissoko: 6
After a tremendous game away at Barcelona, Sissoko was hailed as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe but that was to be one of the rare highlights of his season. An injury in the League Cup had hindered his season and then lack of confidence – probably compounded by Javier Mascherano’s fine form – set in. Defensively there are few better players but Sissoko has to improve on his passing which is often erratic at best.
Bolo Zenden: 5
Zenden, as with other players in this Liverpool squad, tries hard and is committed. Sadly, the quality was too often lacking so it is no surprise that he is being allowed to leave.