10 Apr 2014

'I loved watching him': £30m Man Utd star admits LFC hero is his 'favourite' player

In a rather surprising admission, reviled Manchester United thug striker Wayne Rooney has revealed his admiration for one of the most exciting Liverpool players of the Gerard Houllier era.

When asked last night about his footballing role models, £30m-rated Rooney - one of the Premier League's biggest divers - told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"There are so many strikers that I liked, but [Jari] Litmanen is my favourite. I loved watching him play.

"He was not the fastest player, but he always managed to find space. I learned a lot from him"

Well, Rooney may have learned something about football from the imperious Finn, but he clearly absorbed nothing about sportsmanship, fair-play, or humility from Litmanen, a model professional, who always played the game in the right way.

My excitement level went through the roof when Liverpool signed Litmanen, though it seemed like a strange choice for Houllier, who had a clear preference for physically strong players, and valued stamina and graft above skill and creativity.

Unsurprisingly, Houllier wasted Litmanen’s talent by repeatedly dropping him, and never really allowing him a proper run in the team. Examples:

* 22/9/01: Scored a superb winning goal against Spurs at Anfield
* 26/9/01: Scored the winner against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League
* 30/9/01: Dumped on the bench against Newcastle

* 23/12/01: Scored against Arsenal
* 26/12/01: Scored against Aston Villa
* 29/12/01: Dumped on the bench against West Ham

* 02/03/01: Scored against Fulham
* 06/03/01: Dumped on the bench against Newcastle

* 19/03/01: Scored against Roma
* 24/03/01: Dumped on the bench against Chelsea

These are just Litmanen’s goals – he also provided a number of assists in various games, but this was not good enough for Houllier, who restricted the Finn to a mere 19 starts (all competitions) in 1.5 seasons, and regularly dumped him in favour of Andy Carroll's historical antecedent at Anfield: the lumbering, technically inept Emile Heskey. Litmanen stats:

* Total appearances: 43
* Starts: 19
* On the bench: On the bench 24
* Subbed: 14
* Goals: 9
* Assists: 7
* Subbed in 74% of starts
* Subbed/on the bench in 88% of appearances
* 16 goals/assists in 19 starts

Despite his momentum continually being disrupted, Litmanen still managed to score and create a number of important goals. Who can forget his fantastic long range effort against Spurs, or - after coming on as a sub - his vital individual goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League quarter final second leg?

The most galling thing about the misuse of Litmanen is the fact that Liverpool had the players to accommodate him in the team; Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Nicolas Anelka all at the club at the same time - just imagine the exciting possibilities!

Rooney is right about Litmanen: not the fastest player, but possessed an uncanny ability to find space, even in the tightest areas. He also made everything look easy, which is a hallmark of the true greats.

What a player. Sadly wasted by Liverpool FC.



  1. I couldn't agree more. Litmanen was pearls for swines as they say in Holland. One of my main frustrations with Houllier and one of the reasons I started to think the man should be out of the club sooner rather than later. "The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever" (horrible film - DeNiro was boss though)

  2. Litmanen was one talent that LFC never utilised and developed,
    to realise his full potential. I'm sure he would have one or two words to say if interviewed now about his management at LFC.

  3. Dutch broadcaster is NOS by the way..

  4. There was nothing left to develop. He was a genuine, bonafide, CL winning, genius.

  5. fuck liverpool

  6. Have looked at the goal. Doesn't say much for my memory. Not quite the goalies top left corner neither was it his left foot! Sadly father time has taken his toll. Anno Domini!

  7. One of my favourite players, though largely for his exploits outside of a red shirt, unfortunately.

    Tremendous player and I was always frustrated by Houllier's treatment of him. I could never tell whether it was symptomatic of his crap fitness or just an annoying chance by Houllier.

    One thing though: much as I prefer Jari to Heskey, in 2001 Emile was actually pretty good. Someone has to defend the poor fella!

  8. I always thought Jari Litmanen had excellent touches and could distribute the ball superbly. Hugely talented but seriously injury-proned, which caused him to achieve much less than what he was capable of. Anyway, If he had played regularly during his days at LFC, he could have become the Finnish icon of the club before Sami Hyypia. It was strange given his ability, yet being constantly ignored by GH, with reasons only known to the ex-manager himself. It was really puzzling to me till these days.

  9. Our new home shirst for next season. Thoughts?

  10. Thoughts? Another chance for LFC to fleece fans by releasing yet another pointless shirt. I don't get why the release of new shirts is such a big deal. Sites actually run articles about this nonsense. It's just a way to rip-off fans.

  11. So is it your opinion that it is pointless having a kit sponsor?

  12. Yeah, but that's not what Logan was asking!

  13. I love it! The new shirts just keep getting better and better. But now I've seen this one I am left feeling slightly empty and can't help wondering what the next one will look like in a few months time. Can't wait

  14. You have a marvellous ability to find things in a comment that just don't exist. Where exactly do I hint or imply I have a problem with shirt sponsors? I have a problem with changing shirts every single year. There's no need for it. Would the world collapse if clubs had the same shirts for two years in a row? No. It's just a way to rip fans off.

  15. He asked for 'thoughts'. I gave him my thoughts on the subject.

  16. The only way Warrior will make benefit from the deal is to bring out a new kits every season. The same goes for Adidias, Nike, Puma etc etc.

    That is the way these sponsors recoup the money from the sponsorship to the clubs i.e. shirt sales otherwise there is no point paying millions to LFC every season.

  17. So what? That doesn't stop it being a rip-off.

  18. I wear my shirts old and new with pride. Not everybody thinks purchasing merchandise is a rip off.

  19. Genius of a player wasted by houllier. On par with houllier's catastrophic decision to sign El hadj Diouf instead of Anelka!

  20. Yeah but while I absolutely agree with you the point Logan makes is valid unfortunately. The team benefits from sponsor and kit money, that's wages and transfers. To keep the best players and hire simialr quality the team needs that kind of money. Its late in the day to complain about it, This kind of nonsense has gone on a long while. Just slightly more frequently.

  21. I would vote you up twice if possible.

  22. Finland's greatest footballer of all time! I wouldn't compare him with Heskey but rather the person(after Litmanen left) who was signed right after the 2002 World Cup. Diouf, now he was crap. Always wondered what he was doing in Liverpool FC.

  23. One can never be too sure about a new manager, no matter who it is. I was not too sure about BR myself, but I was not one of those fans that wanted him out. I from the beginning was willing to give him time. We had to be honest with our position at the time. What did we expect a Mourinho, Van Gaal, etc these are rated to be top managers that would have wanted top wages (for a manager) for themselves first, they would have wanted a sizable transfer budget from the very outset. That was something the owners did not want to fund with our position at the time in mind and with what had happened with the previous regime with little league success. Hence Rodgers was appointed, an up and coming manager that will not have the clout or CV to demand the high wage and transfer funds. Rodgers was appointed as he had worked with limited budgets before, he had been in the situation recently where he knew what ingredients he had, what he could manage to get in with limited resources and then do the best he can do in baking his cake with what his got. As this stand today, so far in his short tenure, that cake is just rising nicely.

    There was a time when many Liverpool fans wanted him out. Now most are hoping don't want him to leave (Barca' rumours). Where are the haters now.

  24. BR was the perfect choice from the start, I was hoping for him or Roberto Martinez with a preference for BR. And BR has done perfectly fine in the transfer market, and even better with what he already had.