28 Nov 2011

CARRA: Benitez and Houllier were long-ball merchants...

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has played under five different managers during his career at Anfield, and although he has great respect for both Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez, he argues that both managers set their teams up to play long ball football.

Carra, who is currently being kept out of the Liverpool team by Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, argued:

"Don't give me all this 'It's the fancy dan foreign coaches' who play all the great football, either. Of all the managers I've had at Liverpool, the ones who wanted to play the most football were Roy Evans, and Kenny Dalglish.

"I'm not saying the others wanted long-ball football, but they were more tactical and that meant doing anything to win, even if it meant hitting it early to the big man up front, Emile Heskey, who Gérard Houllier bought, or Peter Crouch, signed by Rafa Benítez.

"We would go to Europe, play 10 men behind the ball and get a result and we were very successful playing that way winning everything but the league title. It's not right to criticise that, either, but it has been like that in this country for a long time".

Despite Carra's protestation to the contrary, I think it's clear that he's suggesting Houllier and Benitez were not afraid to employ a long-ball strategy if it mean getting results.

The players tend to regress into hoofball mode whenever a big target man is in the team, and as Carra indicates, we've seen that over the years with players like Emile Heskey and Peter Crouch.

To be fair, the long-ball/target man approach often worked for Benitez and Houllier, who between them won 6 major trophies.

Thankfully, the outdated 'hitting it early to the big man' approach has been scrapped at Anfield. Pass and move is back, and it's hopefully here to stay.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. Ironic that this comes from Carragher.

  2. as opposed to backstabbers, and long ball easy get out long ball defenders, rafa's record speaks for itself won both big eu cups with inferior teams anf la liga with an unfashionable team. if valencia were long ball i'm an evertonian. he played to what he had having to sell to buy.

  3. it's not a coincidece we are more attacking without opposing half nosebleed long ball carragher.

  4. I'm totally agree with Carra's tactical point here. So many times Rafa employed long ball style. In my view it's not a form of discrediting Rafa, but the only Carra's aim is claiming that when it's needed, Rafa was the first Who did not dislike the long ball style, as well as Gerard Houllier.
    I think Carra's claim are only a reaction to all this "Foreign Manager & Players is top" modern tendency Who are ruining own identity of british football.
    I do want to say "british is better", or "overseas players & managers are better", but I think, excatly as well as Carra, that to many modern fans are idolising like divinities or icons anything come from Abroad. And That's what Carra is saying: "Benitez and Houllier both are good managers, but for example a fella from Bootle and one from Scotland They tries to play most football". It's a Carra's reaction against "british football, players and manager are disgraceful" culture of modern football fans. British & English football has to improve its own identity, not destructing its own identity. There's no succes trying to copy someone else models. You should read whole Carra's interview, not singled out a part.
    But immediately many fans jumped in defense of their iconic idle...... It's not surprising...

  5. Agree with Madness's view about the irony of Carra discussing this as he's the original hoof merchant. While true that Rafa or Gerard tended towards the long ball as a strategy, there's acknowledgement of tactical thinking and a winner's mentality.

    An example is our consecutive, ground out wins Vs MUFC under Houllier. We won and got three despite playing all men behind the ball. That contrasts massively with Evans' gung ho, highly entertaining but suicidal football.

    I suspect like what's covered widely in the press this conversation has a context in which such words were said and elaborated.

  6. Totally with you on this. Long ball is oversimplifying Rafa's philosophy. Even AVB called Benitez's 4-4-2 more dynamic than the English version, meaning Rafa the Red was also an innovator but more of a pragmatist with a track record of working with exactly what he had.

  7. It's simply disgusting that You've deleted my post. It was a pro Carra post which explained Carra's point of view in full with no insults for others but it's evident your willingness to remove any post against yourbigger picture, which must be negative at any cost. In Fact, sometimes I saw that You retain any post who includes any sort of insults against the manager, but when it comes a post Pro - Manager and Pro - Club, it's immediately edited by You. From this time my relationship with your blog it's over. You're a merchant of negativity.

  8. What do you expect from Carra..aarsee licking two faced rat who quit his country because he wasn't good enough and then came running back through a little crack in the floor for the world cup...will do anything to get back in the team even if it means putting down foreign managers for the sake of it....rat....tomorrow he'll say sami hyppia wasn't all that...

  9. Is this the most brilliant example of your favourite posts Jamie...full of insults against the manager, the players and The Club. And obviously the post will not be deleted. Taka care of your great business. Good bye.

  10. Leonerick - this post was not deleted; it was held for moderation for some reason. And re another of your posts: to suggest that I allow posts to stay on the site that insult managers of LFC is completely and utter rubbish. One of the principles of this site is no personal insults against anyone, including players and staff, and I've underlined that point countless times. There are over 40,000 comments on this site; sometimes, it will take me a while to get to to posts that contain insults, but if I come across them - or they're flagged - I will delete or edit them.

  11. i hate to say it, as carra remains a legend at lfc but that's a bit rich seeing as hoofing the ball aimlessly long is pretty much his trademark these days!

  12. Jamie

    I have been long-time visitor to this site and i know how much you appreciate constructive crticism, so i'm sure you won't mind what i have to say :)

    I must admit, i have been quite disappointed with the adopted approach of this website in recent times.  I first started reading this site when there were almost daily articles with in depth analysis and view points that were extremely well contsructed, if not always to my own opinion.  Debates would rage on the comments which were almost as enjoyable as the articles themselves.  The topics that were discussed were not things being discussed anywhere else, hence why i would keep coming back.  In short, i thought the site was refreshing and entertaining in equal measure.

    However, there seems to have been a clear shift in approach.  there are now numerous updates throughout the day/week, most of which are simply interviews or stories from the press which you have simply added one or two opinions on.  To me, it seems to have lost it's edge from previous times. 

    I don't mean to be too critical because i fully appreciated the time and effort that went in to a lot of the previous analysis (obtaining and comparing accounts etc), but i did want to at least express my opinion.

    The other disappointing aspect of the recent articles, is the sensationalism attached with the headlines.  They go against everyting i associated with this website in the past.  This one for example, "CARRA: Bnitez and Houllier were long-ball merchants", is mis-leading in my opinion.  Especially when Carragher himself in the article says "I'm not saying the others wanted long-ball football....."  You even say yourself "Despite Carra's protestation to the contrary" which i think completely contracdicts your headline, would you not agree?

    I do understand your point in the article, but i just feel you are coming from a different angle than previous years, and i'm not really a fan of the tabloid style headlines.  To be honest, i come on here to escape that type of journalism and i for one would love to see you return to the prevuous types of articles for which the reputation of this website was formed.


  13. Hi Mraven,

    I'm sorry you feel that way. However, there is still lots of unique content on this site, and I still post stuff with a very specific viewpoint on things. Times change though; the site gets over a million visitors a month, and the number one request I get from visitors via email is to post more news stories. I have to keep the expanding readership happy too.

    This site is not like others; I don't just regurgitate stories posted on other sites; I actively seek out stuff that hasn't been posted elsewhere, and on many occasions, this site is first with important news stories (just check the timestamps on posts). Inevitably, other sites will post the same things, but there's nothing I can do about that.

    Take yesterday, for example: I posted the news about Bellamy pulling out of the Man City game before any other news provider (including the official site, the Guardian, Telegraph, Sky Sports etc). I also had the line-up posted a full 20 minutes before anyone else (due to inside info).

    This site also still offers an individual viewpoint on news that you won't find anywhere else.

    Re headlines: that's a matter of opinion. Headlines are not the story; they're just a tool, and they're basically irrelevant. What matters is the story itself, and the viewpoint taken.

    Using your example: the headline is not sensationalist - Carra absolutely suggests that Houllier and Benitez used the long-ball approach; he even names the players employed by each manager to institute this style of play.

    Just because Carra tries to argue the opposite doesn't change the meaning of what he's suggesting.

    I still post analytical articles, but there just isn't the time in the day to research 5 of those a day (!)

    You're more than welcome to be critical - I have no problem with that. Thanks for visiting, and I'll try keep the site on track.

  14. Nice to see that I made an error. I'm sorry. Apologies to You.

  15. Carra is probably bitter because benitez kept him in his place as a defender and at best 4th or 5th choice for England..

    Whilst Evans played him as a midfielder and made him out to be something he never was...if souness had been around he might have sold Rushie after 1bad game and Carra as his replacement.

    All the same he has been a good servant for the club so credit to him but he ain't no legend ...

  16. But that wasn't what Carra was suggesting: that they were long ball merchants. I, and many others, would read that to suggest that this was Houllier and Benitez's preferred style of football when Carra merely said that they weren't afraid to use it. Totally distorts the tone of the interview. Maybe they weren't afraid to use it when they were one nil down in the last 5 minutes. Maybe they saw it as an option against a smaller defensive pairing. But by sensationalising and using the words long ball merchants you put your own spin on it (that it was their primary tactical approach) and misrepresent the interview. The exact same thing you were criticising tabloids of doing to Hicks and Gillett (shovel in the ground?).

  17. No, I just have a different interpretation to you. Your interpretation is not absolute. Deal with it.

  18. Nothing wrong with those long balls and tactics. We are all here to win.

  19. In my view this is a generic opinion with no supports or basis. It was really unfair England's pecking order, because at his best Carra was surely far far superior than Ferdinand and Terry.
    I read all Carra's interview, and from what I can learns He didn't say that Rafa and Houllier were long ball merchants, but that They did not scare to use long balls because They opted to use anything to win the game.
    Carra only says that the modern cliché "British Manager alias anti - football manager" it's only an outdated cliché. He's defending himself, because He's already planned a long managerial carrer after the game. Carra showed great football aknowledge, leadership qualities and an open minded. He's planning to study training methods inside & outside England.
    He's a custodian of british own style Who wants to implemente & improve british own style. I think He ticks all the boxes required to become a great manager. Is Carra a Legend or not? If Carra He's not a legend of LFC; then I don't Know WHo can be considered a Legend........
    Could I ask you a question? Why You love Liverpool Football Club?

  20. Rafa >>>> Carragher "hoof"

    Kanwar poo stirrer

  21. What's your interpretation of a long all merchant?

  22. Because to me a 'merchant' implies someone that regularly and primarily trades. Hence long ball merchant suggests a manager that regularly and primarily utilises the long ball. The question is whether Carra actually says that, or even implies that, or if your headline is wilful spin. Being that Carra specifically states that that isn't his implication I'm going with the latter.

  23. I've been a Liverpool fan since 1986. For me personally, although Houllier and Benitez did win more titles, watching the team under Roy Evans were far more entertaining. I don't think it's fair to say Evans' way of playing did not bring success. We should remember in the four full seasons he managed, the team finished COMFORTABLY either 3rd or 4th. That would mean Champions League qualification every single year. That wasn't the case back then. The joy of watching Liverpool for me as a school boy in the late 80's was to watch a team that played the game the beautiful way. That was the model that even here in Malaysia, coaches at different levels tried to immitate. Houllier and Benitez ruined that. Under both of them, we were too methodic and boring. It hurts me to hear from ManU fans jibes about Liverpool's boring game while their team evidently continues to play a fast and free-flowing game. King Kenny is bringing us back to our roots. I hope he stays on for many years, long enough to establish a legacy and groom the next generation of coaches at the club who believe in the same philosophy.       

  24. How much money was needed to develop that Valencia team again btw??

    Liverpool fans shouldn't be using lack of money as an excuse for our failure to win the league.