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Football News: Were Rafa's Runners Up Better Than Klopp's Hopefuls?

Were Rafa's Runners Up Better Than Klopp's Hopefuls?
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Were Liverpool Better Ten Years Ago?


Watched highlights today of our 4-1 win against manutd in 2009, and then coincidentally have not long read that sir david moyes thinks that team is better than our current team now. Ed001 I highly respect your opinion on all things liverpool and was wondering if there was any chance you could compare, player by player the both teams please. - Walkon79

That is the message that launched this article, though I also want to look at what Moyes said about this season's Liverpool not being good enough to win the league as well. Sorry I did not quite go player by player, but Rafa's squad was huge and bloated with dross that do not deserve remembering and it is difficult to compare player by player two teams with differing styles.

2008/09 Liverpool Squad:

Pepe Reina (25) 51 appearances, 40 goals conceded, 25 clean sheets
Charles Itandje (25) 0 appearances
Diego Cavalieri (25) 4 appearances, 6 goals conceded, 1 clean sheet

Jamie Carragher (30) 54 appearances, 2 assists
Daniel Agger (23) 26 appearances, 2 goals, 2 assists
Martin Skrtel (23) 30 appearances, 2 assists
Sami Hyypia (34) 19 appearances, 2 goals
Fabio Aurelio (28) 33 appearances, 3 goals, 6 assists
Emiliano Insua (19) 13 appearances
Alvaro Arbeloa (25) 43 appearances, 1 goal, 3 assists
Philipp Degen (25) 2 appearances
Stephen Darby (19) 2 appearances
Martin Kelly (18) 1 appearance

Javier Mascherano (24) 38 appearances, 2 assists
Xabi Alonso (26) 47 appearances, 4 goals, 7 assists
Lucas Leiva (21) 39 appearances, 3 goals, 4 assists
Jay Spearing (19) 2 appearances
Damian Plessis (20) 5 appearances, 1 goal
Steven Gerrard (28) 44 appearances, 24 goals, 13 assists
Andrea Dossena (26) 26 appearances, 2 goals

Ryan Babel (21) 42 appearances, 4 goals, 6 assists
Albert Riera (26) 40 appearances, 5 goals, 5 assists
Dirk Kuyt (27) 51 appearances, 15 goals, 11 assists
Jermaine Pennant (25) 18 appearances, 5 assists
Yossi Benayoun (28) 42 appearances, 9 goals, 5 assists
Nabil El Zhar (21) 19 appearances, 1 assist
Andriy Voronin (28) 0 appearances
Fernando Torres (24) 38 appearances, 17 goals, 7 assists
Robbie Keane (27) 28 appearances, 7 goals, 5 assists
David N'Gog (19) 19 appearances, 3 goals, 2 assists
Krisztian Nemeth (19) 0 appearances



Both teams are extremely lacking in the back up department, Itandje and Cavalieri were both terrible keepers and Mignolet is no better for the current side. It is in the first choice that the real difference lies. Alisson is a step up in class over Reina, though Reina was a very good Premier League keeper, Alisson is a step up at least. Alisson is simply better than Reina in every aspect of goalkeeping. He commands the box better, deals with crosses more forcefully, sweeps up behind the backline with more proficiency and his distribution is as good as I have ever seen. Winner - Now.


Right Backs

Arbeloa was a very underrated right back, though he did not offer much getting forward, defensively he was exceptional. Degen was, to put it frankly, an abysmal back up, so the main cover was often down to Carragher or two unproven youngsters. However none of the options offered much of an attacking threat. On the other hand this season's team has Alexander-Arnold as the main man, who is a youngster but fairly proven and offers a genuine attacking threat, though is nowhere near Arbeloa's quality defensively, he does offer lightning pace to cope with attackers as well as get forward. Gomez offers a good pacey cover with, as we have recently discovered, an attacking threat from his long throws. Plus there is experienced back up in the shape of Clyne, though he is not up to much as a starter, he is decent cover. I really liked Arbeloa, but he was not at his best in a team dominating the ball and going out to win matches from the kick off, rather than defending deep and hitting on the break. Alexander-Arnold offers much more overall as well as being incredibly pacey. Winner - Now, just.


Centre Backs

An ageing Hyypia, added to Carragher, Agger and Skrtel is a very solid backline but lacking in pace severely, which requires a deeper line. Skrtel was never a favourite of mine, he was rash and not the best defender. The other three were good defenders and decent distributors of the ball, particularly Agger, however only Carragher could be relied upon to stay fit, which led to a lot of changes. The modern team has a similar problem keeping players fit and they also have a weak link in the shape of Matip but they have power and pace, which allows the team as a whole to push further up the pitch and utilise the excellent sweeping up of the keeper, something the earlier generation could not do to its best. While the older generation has the edge in defending, that lack of pace is, for me, the key difference, the one which gives a tiny edge to the modern side, particularly this season with van Dijk and Gomez as the starting pair. Winner - Now, just.


Left Backs

Aurelio was an incredible player, but struggled to stay fit, his biggest issue was that it took him a while to refind form after an injury and then he would just get going before picking up an injury again. This was probably his best season in a Liverpool shirt but even then his understudy, a young Insua, was needed in more than a dozen games. That was the problem, Insua was half the player, if that and Aurelio could not be trusted to stay fit. While a peak Aurelio is one of the best left backs Liverpool have had in many years, he only played at that level a few times during the season. They also had the possibility of using Dossena as cover, though he was not that good. Robertson is far better than Insua and as good as anything but a peak Aurelio. Unfortunately his back up, Moreno, has shown he can be a complete liability as often as he can be good. However this is a comparison of the best of the two eras and Aurelio at his best is better. Winner - Then, just.


Central Midfielders

Both teams played this differently, Rafa liking two sitting and one in an attacking role, Klopp likes one sitting and two with more freedom in a box-to-box role. Which is more effective is arguable, unless Klopp's variant goes and wins the league title this season, and it makes it difficult to compare the two. When you have a midfield which has Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard in it, then there are very few that can be even close to comparison. As superbly as Milner has started the season, this is one area of the pitch that has a clear winner, though Fabinho and Keita getting it together and reaching their potential will make it close, there is no doubt that Rafa's team have the advantage in its first choice. However if it is overall depth of team then it would have to go to today's team, as they have genuine options and back up. Over the course of the season, that would probably give them a slight edge overall. Winner - Then, just.


Left Mid/Wing

The options of Riera, Keane, Babel etc are uninspiring to say the least. Not one is even close to Mane or the option to put Firmino and Keita there. Even Moreno would be equal to them. This is a clear victory to today's team, in both first choice and back up options. Winner - Now, by a distance.


Right Mid/Wing

Kuyt, Pennant, El Zhar, none of them are top class, for varying reasons, none are even close to Salah in terms of quality and threat to the opposition. Then there is the back up factor of Shaqiri to be considered. This is again not even really a close comparison as today's team wins in both strength in depth terms and quality of first choice player. Winner - Now, by a large distance.



Torres was fantastic in that season but his back ups were woeful, N'gog deserved his nickname of No Goals as he was hopeless. That left Kuyt as the main back up and he worked his backside off for the team but lacked the quality of the options Klopp has at his disposal. Salah being moved central, Sturridge, Solanke and Origi are a potentially better pool of players than Kuyt, N'Gog, Keane, Babel and Voronin. Tough to compare Firmino and Torres, two totally different players, playing a totally different way, though it is interesting to note that Firmino had not just 10 more assists, but also 10 more goals last season than the out-and-out goalscorer Torres. Partly that is down to having the better quality in wide areas alongside him, partly down to a more attacking style of play but he also must take some of the credit for his performances were excellent. Torres was brilliant, but Firmino might just actually be better. Arguably. Either way, other than Kuyt Rafa's team had a severe lack of quality in terms of back ups. Like it did in almost every area of the pitch. I am still torn on who to give this too, but I think the strength in depth just gives the edge to today's team. Winner - Now, by the tiniest of margins.



The first team's are arguable, very arguable, in terms of who is better, there is very little to choose between the two and it will come down to what exactly Klopp's team will achieve this season as to who truly wins the argument. However, over the course of the season, the much better strength in depth of Klopp's team is a big plus and the edge has to go to today's team because of that. There is no comparison in terms of back ups, Rafa's team had been padded out with a lot of players that did not deserve to be earning huge sums in the Premier League, such as El Zhar, who was on the kind of money most of today's players would envy but was barely League 2 quality. That padding is why the team of today, to be more exact squad, is the winner overall. Any injury to Rafa's team saw the quality dip massively, whereas the back ups for Klopp create very little drop off.

Finally just a final word on Moyes' pronouncement. He is, quite simply, wrong. The team and squad have the quality to win the league. However they are one of three teams that do, so it is no guarantee they will.

Written by Tris Burke October 11 2018 13:38:54


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