24 May 2013

Hansen: Carra was 'definitely better' than 'brilliant' LFC legend. Insult...?

Over the years, a series of formidable central defenders have worn the red shirt with distinction, and recently retired Jamie Carragher is up there with the best of them. Liverpool legend Alan Hansen wrote the book on the art of defending, but in an interview today, he claimed that Carra was a better defender than Sami Hyypia. Is he right?

Speaking to the official LFC website, Hansen - who won 8 league titles at Anfield - observed:

"It [Hyppia/Carra] was a great partnership - they combined well, they played off one another.

"Their two great strengths combined beautifully; Hyypia was brilliant positionally, great on the ball and had great technique.

"Jamie was definitely the better defender, stronger in the air, stronger in the tackle and probably stronger mentally"

Hansen is perfectly entitled to his opinion, but in my view, his contention that Carra was 'definitely the better defender' is (IMO) so staggeringly inaccurate that it's hard to believe the view came from someone revered as one of the game's defensive greats.

Carra a better defender than Hyypia?! Absolutely no chance, and Hansen's reasoning is arguably an insult to the Finn, who is clearly one of the greatest defenders ever to grace the Anfield turf.

In what universe is Carragher 'stronger in the air'? Hyypia was absolutely imperious in the air; it was the standout feature of his game, and that aerial prowess has never been replaced at Anfield, especially not by Carra.

How many times this season have the Reds conceded stupid headed-goals from corners and set-pieces this season (an in previous seasons). Aerial ineffectiveness is one of the Reds major problems in defence, and Carra made no real difference to that.

Hansen may have a case that Carragher is 'stronger in the tackle', but 'probably stronger mentally' too? Based on what, exactly? I don't recall Hyypia ever picking up a coin on the pitch and chucking it back at the crowd, do you? Someone with supreme mental strength would not do something like that, surely...?

One prime example of Hyypia's mental strength is the LFC captaincy situation. In 2003 - two years after making Hyypia captain - Gerard Houllier handed the armband to the much younger Steven Gerrard. Many players would've seen this is an embarrassment, and a slight on their leadership ability, but not the Big Fin - he accepted the decision gracefully, got on with his job, and continued to perform with consistent brilliance.

You can count on the fingers of one hand the major mistakes Hyypia made during his 10-year career at Anfield. Indeed, it's hard to recall many mistakes he made that led to opposition goals.

Speaking to the official LFC site in April, Reds hero Dietmar Hamann - who played alongside Hyypia for seven years - outlined Hyppia's strengths:

"He [Hyypia] is Liverpool’s best signing of the last 15 years. Heading was obviously a big aspect of his game, but at the same time, his positioning, technique, and the way he passed the ball, was great. A fantastic player and a fantastic person as well"

Another former LFC defender, Gary Gillespie, added:

"I’ve been fortunate to play alongside Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen, two of the very best, but I’d put Sami up there alongside them"

Don't get me wrong - Carra was/is a superb defender, but he is not (IMO) in the same league as Hyypia, and since he left, the gaping void at the heart of Liverpool's defence - and at the heart of LFC itself - has never been filled.

The Reds miss Sami's commanding presence, organizational skills, leadership qualities and overall calming effect on the defence, and hopefully one day, he'll return to Anfield in a coaching capacity.


NOTE: Please stick to the Comment Policy (Click to read)


  1. shut up jamie!! that is his opinion... so in the same way, how can you say you don't agree... then slate him... idiot

  2. Hardly an insult, he complimented them both, and it's just his opinion

  3. Mike Aitcheson3:52 pm, May 24, 2013

    Love Carra, but absolutely NO WAY was he a better overall defender than Sami. Especially not in the air.
    Carra was a better organiser and tackler, but Sami was far better in the air in both boxes and better technically in all other departments. Witness some of his penalty box finishes with deft flicks and quick reactions even in Europe.

  4. Love them both but if I had to choose, it would definitely be Hyppia. Just can't lavish enough praise on that man. One of my favourite players ever.

  5. Love the way you say 'Hansen is perfectly entitled to his opinion' but then go on to say 'Carra a better defender than Hyypia?! Absolutely no chance' as if you're opinion is somehow more valid

  6. How could it be an insult when it's simply his opinion?

  7. The daftest thing I have heard for years, I have seen them all and Sami is number one. Cara great but not in top 5.

  8. Sami for the win. Wouldn't you just love Carra and Sami in the current team, just 10 years younger!!!

  9. Hansen was a great player himself but, just like Lawrenson he is often guilty of tailoring his opinion to fit the moment. Hyypia was such a rock at the back it was almost like he wasn't there, a very subtle defender, not afraid to chip in with the odd goal too. The two of them were awesome together and both were right not to outstay their welcomes at the club. overall Hyypia was probably the better of the two but Carra outplayed his talent in some huge matches so They're equal in my eyes!!

  10. Hansen has to say something like that, doesn't he. Carra has just retired and is a local lad, too. These are two things that, kind of, blinker the view here.

    I find the point about Carra being a better tackler interesting, indeed. Thing is, Hyppiä's positioning was so good, that he didn't need to make a (rash) tackle. With Carra's spectacular tackles I personally often thought that, while he executed them very well, the need to make them resulted from somewhat poor positioning/reading of the game. I definitely don't want to take anything away from Carra, he's had a great career, but I'd like to think that Sami was a much better defender, and football player all round. Just recall the goal he scored against Juventus back then, expertly taken.

    My guess would be that most of Hyppiä's mistakes came in one match, against Chelsea, when he was actually very sick, and should not have played.

  11. How about Henchoz and Hyppiä?

  12. Completely agree.
    JR when people take issue wih your view you (rightly) remind them you're just stating your view. But when others voice an opinion for some reason it has to be an insult.
    I love both Carra and Sami. But I guess as one of the best CB's Hansen is better qualified than most to give an opinion - particularly as he's watched most Liverpool games.

  13. As a 23 year old, I can't remember a better defensive partnership than Henchoz Hyppia at Anfield

  14. Hansen may have been a great defender, but like Lawro, he is a pretty bad pundit and based on his opinions I would say he would make a terrible manager, I wish the both of them would just shut up tbh!

  15. Jesus, what is wrong with people? It is my opinion that Hansen's opinion is an insult. This is crystal clear. I don't have to put IMO after every secind word. Stop sniping for the hell if it. Anyone else posts irrelevant stuff like this and their comment will be deleted.

  16. It may be his opinion but it's beyond comprehension how anybody having watched both careers at the club could come to this conclusion !!

    Hypia was the best defender to grace the Anfied turf in three decades .. bar none. The guy was a colossus and could score the odd goal too ! (22 to be exact)

    For such a great reader and exponent of the game himself , it amazes me how bad Hansen actually is at anaylsing the game ..

    Like this clip I've learned not to take his comments or opinions seriously.. like a lot of the so called 'experts' !!


  17. Carra had the heart, Sami had the raw materials. Both legends and equal in my eyes.

  18. hansen and lawrenson were sublime

  19. sami was better but lets not take anything away from carragher,but hansen was the best of them all

  20. lol the good mood did not last for long;-)

  21. Well, I am way beyond 23, but, too, think they were the best defensive partnership at least since the 80ies. Not sure whether Hansen and Lawrenson were better. Maybe not.

  22. lol hansen never got mucky even on a muddy pitch

  23. I not bothered at all by the comment from Alan Hansen. I only know if we still have a CB with the ability of Sami Hyppia, a top 4 finish is just formality sake.

  24. lawrenson is rubbish , why do people rate him honestly ? , without hansen he would have been killed .no way was he in the bracket of hansen,carra and hyypia and maybe if the latter 2 played with hansen we would win 7 champions leuge and 21 titles.

  25. Of course it's possible to insult somebody with your opinion..

    If a woman told you, simply as a matter of opinion, that you were good but another guy was better, You telling me you wouldn't feel a little bit insulted !! :-)

    To question if you can insult somebody with an opinion is, well insulting to intellegence,your's and our's. :-)

  26. Hyypia all the way. Carra a fine CB indeed but Hyppia was better than Carra in almost every single aspect. Seemed to me that he fared better in defending against variety of attacking situations/attacking players, which is what sets him apart, imo. Carra owned Hyppia comfortably in one department though, that was scoring goals against LFC! ;)

  27. Mr. Point Of View7:50 am, May 25, 2013

    i vote for CARRA, coz carra package come handy he can play several place . BUT cant deny hypia is best in his post. Specially he a scorer and a threat to opponent.

  28. Taking absolutely nothing away from Carra, He was an amazing player for LFC but Sami for me all the way.

  29. Sami was a better organiser and tackler as well as far as I'm concerned - he made players like Henchoz look good, and arguably may have elevated our opinion of Agger beyond his actual talent level.

    Hyppia is one of the true great defenders of the Premier League era, along with Stam, Campbell, Ferdinand and King. The likes of Terry, Vidic and Carragher are all at least a rung below them imo

  30. lol @ the clip - saddest thing is that most of it plays like an actual conversation on MOTD, just with exaggerated facial movements!

    On topic though, yea totally agreed - there's no way that anybody (that had a little knowledge of playing football) that watched both at LFC for any sustained period of time, could honestly believe that Carragher was a better CB than Hyppia.

    It's sad that Hyppia doesn't get the general recognition that he deserves as one of the very best defenders of the Premier League era.

  31. I hear what your saying.. but I thought the way the question was posed by you was a bit dis ingenious..

    Fact is that opinion's can be insulting to people.. which was your question..'How can it be an insult if it's someones opinion' ? I don't need to remind you that Hitler was of the opinion that Jews should be exterminated .. or that people were of the opinion the world was once flat..

    This argument or defence that somebody's 'opinion' comes with a ring iron fence of infallibility simply because it's their opinion is nonsensical.. Someone's opinon can not only be insulting but insulting but also wrong.

    I'm not saying Hypia would or has taken it personally as an insult, doubt he even read the comments, but I certainly take umbridge with Hansen's so called expert 'opinion' that Carra was better than Hypia ..

    And with regards to my question about your own personal performance .. you're either being totally dis ingenious or totally impervious to the feelings that accompany personal judgement.. which I very much doubt.

    We all engage in a competitive manner at all levels of human existence.. Our placement and acceptance in society has profound effects on people.. except sociopaths !! :-)

    You engage in a highly intellectual manner .. I doubt your able to engage the neanderthal part of your brain at will ..

  32. Agreed ..

    It's not even funny ( well it is) how much the real guy's have become parody's of themselves..

    And totally agree that Sami is our best and one of the PL's very best defender's. Carra was great but Sami was something special..

    Love to see him manage the club some day.. After BR's delivers the title of course :-)

  33. This discussion is getting far to specific and philosophical for two blokes who know nothing about each other. I mean what I said, but if it doesn't entirely make sense then that's just because I think about these things differently to you. This isn't the forum for me to explain my views on life, they are what they are.

    It's not a disingenuous comment, I still want the "insult" POV to be explained. I just didn't bother wasting space with anything more than a short question. If that comes off as "sniping" or provocative then I suppose I can understand it, but you still have to read plenty into it to come to that conclusion. Seems to me like JK just ended up in a bad mood and interpreted my genuine question as an attack. That's not my doing.

  34. Fair enough..

    opinion + positive comment = compliment (your shirt is nice)

    opinion + negative comment = insult ( your shirt isn't nice)

    opinion + positive comment + negative comment = bit of an insult ( your shirt is nice but not as nice as Dave's)

    Apply above formula to Hansen's comments and QED.

    Hope this clears things up mate :-)

  35. Not sure if you're just taking the piss now or what. So you think it's insulting to say that one person is better at something that someone else? Seriously? You'd be insulted if I said that Steven Gerrard was a better footballer than you? I can't deny you that, you can feel whatever you like, but it seems a bit nuts to me.