16 Jul 2012

'It was mad!' - Reds hero reveals LFC's '2 biggest jokers' from the Spice Boys era...

As many fans will remember, Ex-Reds midfielder Patrik Berger exploded onto the scene in 1996 with 5 goals in his first 4 appearances for Liverpool. The Czech star went onto to become something of a cult hero at Liverpool, and in his column for The Daily Star yesterday, Berger lifted the lid on the 'raucous banter' that defined the infamous 'Spice Boys' era.

Berger is one of the few successful left-sided midfielders to grace the Anfield turf over the last 25 years, and during his first few years at Liverpool, he was very much an integral part of the team, playing a major part in the club's glorious treble-winning 2001 season.

In his column, Berger - who also agreed that Andy Carroll would be better off leaving Liverpool - remembered:

"The dressing room at Anfield was extremely lively and there were daily pranks that would leave you in stitches.

"The majority of the more raucous banter came from Jamie Carragher and Steve Harkness, two of the biggest jokers I know.

"I have tried desperately to think of a tale to tell you that would be fit to print but sadly I can’t!

"That in itself gives you an idea of how mad it was during that so-called Spice Boys era on Merseyside".

Berger played alongside many top players during his time at Anfield, but who was the best?

"In the middle of the field Stevie G is without question the best player I ever played with but they need two top class additions alongside him".

Berger was less enthusiastic about the current Liverpool squad, and argued that wholesale changes are needed to take the club back to the top:

"I just think they need players, really world class players, everywhere and in every department, which at the moment, they don't have. Do they have a goalscorer? No, they don't. They need at least one [new player] in every department."

The signing of Fabio Borini is hopefully the start of a much-needed change-process, which will see technically gifted players regularly arrive at Liverpool over the next couple of years.

In the short-term, there's surely no way that Liverpool will be as wasteful in front of goal as they were last season, and with the addition of some new players over the next four weeks, and a new footballing philosophy, anything is possible.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. liverpool4life5657:21 pm, July 16, 2012

    Andy carroll must feel special! Last few weeks nearly all of your articles have been about him. We get the point you want him gone. But some liverpool fans want him to stay and let us see if he can adapt to rodgers tactics. Talksport done a very good article. Why we should "keep" andy carroll which was brillant to read. It said : to shine under his guidance...

    His form improved dramatically towards the end of last season
    Carroll did well to bounce back from the unfair ridicule and criticism he received last season as a result of an inflated transfer fee and the frustrating lack of first team opportunities. When a late substitute appearance against Blackburn in April 2012 led to a headed winner at the death, Carroll forced his way back into Kenny Dalglish's thinking and offered two outstanding performances against top class opposition in Chelsea. Again, he impressed with limited game time at Euro 2012 and deserves a chance to prove his resurgent form isn't temporary.

    Brendan Rodgers is a capable of coaching Carroll to greatness
    Any manager talented enough to inspire a team made up mostly of British players to promotion from the Championship and get them playing the type of stunning football to rival Barcelona in the possession ranks is also capable of nurturing Andy Carroll's huge potential. If Danny Graham scored 12 goals for Swansea last season, Andy Carroll - who poses a much greater aerial threat, is equally able technically and three years younger - can score twice that amount. Imagine what he could do after three years working with Rodgers!

    Liverpool need a 'Plan B'
    Everyone knows Brendan Rodgers will look to instill a free-flowing philosophy that may not suit Andy Carroll's attributes down to a tee, but the new boss must be prepared to play a more direct style when the opposition lines up to frustrate them. Last season, pundits rightly praised Swansea for superb performances against Arsenal and Man City but when the Swans came up against QPR, who were well drilled defensively, they were crying out for a more physical outlet in attack, capable of bullying defenders. They didn't have one and lost 3-0.

    It makes no sense financially
    With a long-term contract until June 2016, there should be no rush in moving a player on who, at 23, has shown enough form of late to suggest he will one day demand a fee much higher than the figures being suggested this week. With Liverpool on the way up under a bright young coach, utilising Andy Carroll effectively this season will only add to his value, especially given his late season form last year. Sir Alex Ferguson has proven for years that it's possible to keep big names happy while being selective about the games they play, and the same needs to happen at Liverpool if they wish to be successful.

    He would come back to haunt Liverpool
    There's nothing more dangerous than a young, hungry former player with a point to prove and it's no secret that strikers often come back to bite clubs they depart in acrimonious circumstances. Carlos Tevez has done it against Man United for Man City, Nicolas Anelka has managed it on numerous occasions and, at just 23, Andy Carroll would be desperate to get one up over Liverpool should they choose to offload him this summer.

  2. Berger is spot on . I think the quality of our current squad has fallen compared to what it was  a few seasons back. We don't have enough creative players and goal scorers . Our play is so predictable these days it is not even funny.

     I am overcome with a sense of excitement at the prospect of watching something akin to "beautiful foot-ball" coming from Liverpool. Foot-ball full of precision passing and wonderful movement off the ball makes for a beautiful ballet of sorts. To pull this concept off we will need a new class of players and sadly one or two in the current squad won't fit the bill. Mr Berger is 100% correct that we need more players with a certain set of skills to even begin to emulate the teams of previous seasons past. Rodgers has a lot of work ahead of him that is for sure.

  3. Jamie, whilst i do enjoy reading your articles and i do agree with 2/3 of what you say but i believe you are being very short sighted on the issue addressing andy carroll. It makes no financial sense to sell him when he is only 23 and has been working very hard
    Into form which i believe should be credited (albeit didnt score much but dalglish had no tactical awareness and stumped his progress every other game!). plus he should be given a chance just like aquamanj cole, hendo etc as he could adapt his game even if he may only be used as a impact sub this season (or first half depending on how he does) however i rather keep him and mabe we'll get a. Quality season in 1-2 years thus can sell him at a higher price whilst gaining his good performances as i do believe he will be good for liverpool (i hope sooner rather than later) but a fresh start,new manager you never know!

    Peace outtt

  4. I thought it was mainly hollow and full of hype, that article personally, akin to the musings of a tabloid journo or a BBC/ITV 'expert'.

  5. liverpool4life5657:50 pm, July 16, 2012

    Its true tho. Wewill need a plan B to play against more compact defence. That's where andy carroll will come in. And if we do sell him we will suffer which ever team he plays for. Scored 2 goals against us when he played for newcastle he made are defence look pathetic.

  6. Septimus_severus7:56 pm, July 16, 2012


    I think Berger is wrong we have at least 3 players that would would get into the Spain, German, Italy, Brazil and Argentina squads.

    Daniel Agger, again proved at the Euro Championships when he played against Germany was immense

    Luis Suarez IS world Class no doubt about that in my mind

    Steven Gerrard proved again that along with Ashely Cole in the England squad that they are the only 2 world class players England had at the Euro Championships.

  7. I don't agree that its 'true', certainly not to the extent portrayed by that article. 

    So all that hype, all that money, etc,......... for a plan B player, great(!) Rodgers showed last season that he is as stubborn as Wenger and as Barca, when it comes to sticking to their playing philosophy and not being tempted to resort to some direct plan B mode. He had Graham (this guy's movement is far better than Carroll's, hence why I disagree with those who come out 'if Graham can do it for Rodgers, so can Carroll) who is more than capable of playing direct but Rodgers, like Wenger, will stick with his plan A through thick and thin. I don't think Rodgers values a direct plan B as highly as you do or at least isn't as willing as you do shift from plan A to direct plan B.In my view, if you aren't good enough to be part of the plan A, than I couldn't give a monkeys if you can offer plan B or not, especially for all the hype. 

  8. liverpool4life5658:12 pm, July 16, 2012

    Fair point. But we don't know if carroll can play plan A if he never played that style. Let's see if he can. Then see what rodgers does.

  9. great article mate

  10. I personally don't think he can, on the basis of last season as I think his attacking movement in the last third is very limited. If KK's attacking style last season didn't suit Carroll, I don't hold out much hope of him adapting to a even more expansive playing style under Rodgers. In general, I think his attacking movement in the last third is very limited as he is rather static in that regard and technically, he isn't all that good either (especially for a side that aspires to be at the top end), hence why he failed to tune into KK's style last season and why I think he wouldn't be much use to Rodger's plan A. 

  11. liverpool4life5658:27 pm, July 16, 2012

    He didn't have confidence! Players need that. When rooney came back from the 2010 he had a spell where he didn't score. But when he scored then he scored a lot. Same with carroll at end of the season he scored vital goals which helped his confidence! When your confidence is gone it affects your game. An he movement is better than when he joined and is a lot fitter at running. An breden tactics is just pass the ball? And find space? Carroll can do that.

  12. Hello my friend, your support for AC is simply astounding though I beg to differ some of the points you mentioned. I really like to know apart from being younger, by what measure is AC that much better and has more potential compared to Danny Graham? Also I don't think it's good financial sense of any sort to keep our main striker who scored 11 goals in 56 matches for LFC and is on 80 grands a week? AC is 'worth' 35 mil pound simply because of the foolishness of the decision makers that signed him then, not forgetting the hype he's getting from the local presses. Sadly, he's not the 'big name' player till date and it'll be near impossible for him to ever justify that silly 35 mil pounds price tag. Personally, I would not put him in the same category as Carlos Tevez and perhaps, he can never produce what Tevez has produced so far. I've rather realistic expectation of BR as our new manager. I don't expect him to have that magic power to convert a 4-goal-a-season EPL striker into a fearsome scoring beast and it seems like he has reservations about AC fitting into his plans. So let's wait and see, of course I maybe wrong and I more than happy to eat my words if AC can become that fearsome scoring beast this season. But for now, it seems like the odds are stacked heavily against the boy. 

  13. I love the argument here  i wish the manager could actually read it. I would love see him as he get's one over on Liverpool when  he comes back to play against Liverpool. He would have finally become the player everybody knew he could always be. So leaving might actually be a helpful thing for  his career you never know. Don't think  the manager will want somebody around who couldn't fit into the system he will utilize more often than naught to be honest.

  14. I wasn't in his head at the time to know whether it was a confidence thing, to be fair. I judged by what I saw on the pitch, I saw a player that didn't have the attacking movement or technical ability to fit in with the style of football nor was he a player to help elevate this club.

    Rooney is simply inconsistent and that is why he isn't a world class player. He went 8 games on the trot without scoring last season. He always had these kind of ups and downs in performance. Even though his good attacking movement is always there, his touch also goes missing in spells. That isn't confidence to me, that is simply being inconsistent. technically questionable and not a top class player. Same goes to Carroll but to a bigger extent, as Carroll is worse technically and his movement is pretty bad.Generally, I think Carroll's attacking movement is rubbish for a player of his hype. A few decent games at the end, don't erase what has gone on before. At the end of the day, his so-called 'decent' games at Liverpool don't come anywhere near the performances he put in at Newcastle, where they played a direct style with him and Ameobi. I simply think his tactical awareness in relation to his attacking movement and his technical ability is rather worrying to say the least and I'll leave it there. We'll just agree to disagree on his attacking movement.

  15. I know it's difficult to tell already, but how do you think Fabio will do with us Jaimie?
    Personally, I've always been of the opinion that LFC needed a quick, instinctive, snappier, shorter striker in order to get results - I think Kenny really missed a trick by not realising this and playing 4-3-3 last season.

    From what I've seen, Borini is a player we've been crying out for and I'm excited at the prospect of him replacing Carroll and finally giving Luis the quick-witted, fleet-footed and character-filled partner he needs.

    Genuinely looking forward to next season for the 1st time in 3 years.

  16. *by 'shorter', I mean short in comparison to Carroll. A striker of Torres's abilities and physical attributes would have been great too. Borini though seems to add a bit of spirit and hunger. He has something to prove. It's gonna be ace.

  17. liverpool4life5658:51 pm, July 16, 2012

    I didn't write it. Talksport done a article which is true. Carroll is betterthan graham. Carroll confidence is sky high now after his goals for us an england. He can score more than 9 goals next year if he given the chance. An if he does go he will make us suffer and another team would benefit. Whivh would be a kick in the teeth for liverpool. Carroll has a bright furture let's make use of him upfromt in a front three with suarez and borini.

  18. liverpool4life5659:09 pm, July 16, 2012

    You can tell carroll lacked confidence. You don't need to be in his head. Carroll is goner be better next term hopefully it be for liverpool not any other team! No point taking a big loss on the big.man

  19. No, i just think he looked a mediocre player he is, rather than a case of lack of confidence. That is subjective of course I admit my take, just like your view. 

    His potential departure? I'll fear him as much as I feared Heskey's footballing prowess after he left us, i.e., I'm not all that fussed as Carroll could easily turn out to be a Heskey or a Duncan Ferguson, a mid-table player and I don't want that standard at this club. Considering the low standards he set at the club last season, he is bound to be better. Though I agree, it won't be nice the big loss, obviously. Should never have been bought in the first place.

  20. liverpool4life5659:24 pm, July 16, 2012

    How can compare carroll to heskey? Carroll is WAY better than heskey for his height and age he is the best for the player he is. He a proper tare man and can play on the floor and can score with his feet. Your comment their was stupid.

  21. I compare Heskey to Carroll because like Carroll, Heskey impressed early at a (with all due respect to Leicester and Newcastle) lesser club, got the media hyping him up and was bought by us. Like the early impressions of Carroll, Heskey was aggressive, strong and powerful but in the long run, he turned out to be rather mediocre. So that is how I compare Carroll, as he could easily follow the same development as Heskey. Carroll is no better than when Heskey was at Leicester or Liverpool, so far. In terms of form, he hasn't been any better than Heskey. Don't see anything stupid about that, makes sense actually if you compare the earlier parts of Heskey's career to Carroll so far. If you can't see that, you should look closer to home for stupidity before accusing others. Of course he can play with his feet as he is a bloody footballer after all but is all that good? For the hype, the money, etc, not really. I think he is cack, for the hype he gets. Drogba or Llorente is what you call a proper 'tare' man, not someone one-dimensional like Carroll who is poor technically and has the attacking movement of a donkey most of the timeAnyhoo, you rate him and I don't. 

  22. Simply put AC is not good enough its like trying to put a square peg in a round hole it just doesn't fit. For those of you who actually support AC, have you watched him play? If he could't fit to the style employed by KD what makes you think he can adapt to BR more complexed style of play? as much as I hate to say it I just think Liverpool will be better served by taking a loss on this one and move on without him.

  23. I think Pepe Reina would probably get in the Spain squad.

  24. IT make sense but in a wrong place....this web is full of criticsm and there no point u debate for Carroll...The writer is 1 of them...u may remove this comment but that true fact...

  25. I think I recall a certain Stanley Victor Collymore commenting on the "raucous banter" from Steve Harkness........

    Luckily, he took it in the spirit it was meant.

  26. Reina IS in the Spain squad. 

  27. It's called being deadpan.

    Or "an arse" if you are Alan Davies.......

  28. He's 23 give a man a chance ,anyway Rodgers you are the manager make him a goalscorer ,now when you have Suarez and Borini ,Caroll can be a last touch one the ball into the goal, manager can not throught th 35 mil man just like that without giving him at least time until january.

  29. even if we sing Dempsey we still need big Andy,because Clint can play just behind the striker and do very good job.

  30. Berger should be shot for writing for that shit rag it's in the gutter with the Scum.Any LFC who even touches it should be ashamed

  31. I have trouble understanding this so called plan B. Craig Bellamy is a better plan B. He proved it vs Man City as lone-man up front. Andy Carroll played well towards the end of the season. But what if its the same deal again after his break from football? He hasn't been involved in pre-season training. What if it takes him the whole year next season to hit any decent form. His ball retention and control still isn't up there with the best. Andy Carroll being a great Liverpool player is pretty much a over hyped fairy tail ATM. As fans we all want assurances, I would give Carroll a chance out of pure sentiment but the risk is too great next season. Top 4 needs to be reattained.