My Best Liverpool XI 

My Best Liverpool XI 

Some players in my best Liverpool XI pick themselves: John Barnes, Jan Mølby, Peter Beardsley and Ian Rush, for example. In the process of compiling this team, people would come up with names and ask: ‘Oh, what about . . . John Aldridge/Ray Houghton/Gary Gillespie/Steve McMahon?’ The list goes on, which just highlights to me how fortunate I was to play for that club at that time, but as I told everyone who asked why I could not find a place in my XI for this player or that one: I can’t pick everyone, and I played with a lot of good players at Liverpool.

Bruce Grobbelaar: Bruce was probably the fittest goalkeeper I ever played with, and he was incredibly agile, but bearing in mind he never did any goalkeeping coaching, you have to wonder how he got himself into that Liverpool side. He played in a good team, don’t get me wrong, but they obviously saw something in him in the first place – and he earned his status as Liverpool’s number one. Playing in front of a goalkeeper like Bruce, if you know they are going to be coming, then you can be prepared; it’s the ones who sometimes stay on their line, sometimes come out for the crosses, that can cause you problems. Fortune favours the brave, and I would always rather have someone like Bruce, who is going to come out and back himself. 

Rob Jones: He came in and made his debut in the 0-0 draw at Manchester United in the 1991-92 season – a game in which I played – and he was absolutely brilliant. He marked Ryan Giggs out of the game that day. Like myself, Rob’s career was cut short by injury, and I can only imagine what kind of career he could have gone on to enjoy had it not been for the injuries, because he was a better right-back than Gary Neville. Even saying that, he played nearly 250 games for Liverpool and won a handful of caps for England. 

Alan Hansen: Alan was a fantastic footballer, whose record of more than 600 appearances for Liverpool and haul of honours speak for themselves. I just wish he had taken the time to teach me a bit more in the three years I spent at Liverpool before his retirement, because as a central defender he was incredible.  I would say he was one of the best centre-halves I have ever seen.

Mark Wright: We got Wrighty from Derby County, where he had been excellent, and I think a lot of people will remember him for scoring the winning goal for England against Egypt in the 1990 World Cup. He played well in that tournament, and he was a good centre-back. We probably didn’t see the best of him at Liverpool, even though he captained the side to the FA Cup win in 1992. Who can forget him shouting ‘you fucking beauty!’ in front of the Duchess of Kent as he lifted the cup? 

Steve Nicol: At left-back would be Steve – and he would always be in my XI, because not only could he play anywhere, but he could do it well and without fuss. You really could have played him anywhere and he would have done a good job – and my guess would be that most players who played alongside him at Liverpool would put him in their best XI. 

Ronnie Whelan: Ronnie was very underrated but chipped in with his fair share of goals and assists and could also put it about when needed. Ronnie has done a few Liverpool legend shows for me over the years and has some great tales to tell. And he played in teams that scored a lot of goals. Ray Houghton was a very good and very effective player, too, but I can’t fit everyone into the XI, so Ronnie gets the nod in midfield.

John Barnes: John is the best player I ever played with, and is arguably one of the best footballers England has ever produced.  I played with a lot of good, very good and excellent players, but John was a true great. He would do things in matches, with his skill and close control, that would leave you open-mouthed. 

Jan Mølby: Jan was a supremely talented footballer, and he could have been as good as John Barnes. His range of passing,was on another level and he was an entertaining room-mate.

Steve McManaman: Steve really hit his peak after I retired, but when you look at what he achieved, a case could be made for saying that, at his best, he was as good as Barnesy. He terrified defenders when he ran at them and his emergence as a genuine top-flight star was one of the highlights of Souey’s reign as manager.

Peter Beardsley: I didn’t play enough times with Kenny Dalglish to include him, but Peter was the reincarnation of Kenny as a footballer: exactly the same sort of player, brilliant on the ball, and had a knack for finding Ian Rush with a killer pass. Kenny must have seen a lot of himself in Peter, who was simply a wonderful footballer. 

Ian Rush: Look at his record – he scored 346 goals in 660 games for Liverpool, which speaks for itself, and if you are picking an all-time Liverpool XI and don’t put him in, then you want to bang your head against the wall. Rushy was the master finisher – but he was also one of the first centre-forwards to close people down and put pressure on defenders in what would be referred to as pressing these days.  His game was about getting in and around the penalty box – and more often than not he would stick them away. He was a proper finisher and had an appreciation of what it was like to have to work your way up the divisions, having started out at Chester City.

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