Football

Carragher & Neville Explain Why Liverpool Couldn't Catch United In Early 00s

Carragher & Neville Explain Why Liverpool Couldn't Catch United In Early 00s

Despite coming close on a couple of occasions, Liverpool could never really match Manchester United at the turn of the century. They didn't have the players to keep up with Ferguson's side, and often failed to keep their stars when they did manage to close that gap.

After winning three cup competitions in the 2000/01 season, many expected that to be the catalyst to help Gerard Houllier's side to the next level. It seemed that would be the case, finishing above Manchester United in second place the following season.

However, they then dropped off massively in the next campaign. Much of that was down to recruitment.

Whereas Alex Ferguson would go and sign Rio Ferdinand for a record fee that summer, Liverpool signed the likes of El Hadji Diouf, Bruno Cheyrou, and Salif Diao.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher said this was ultimately the difference between the two teams.


Neville: For me, at Liverpool it felt like every time you got close you either lost players or you didn't recruit well.

Carragher: That was the story of that (00/01) team. The next season we bought one player in John Arne Riise. I think Gerard Houllier felt that team done so well that he didn't have to team change the team so much.

Then next season I think we actually finished above you in the league and Arsenal won it...

I just think at that time, if things didn't go well for you you had the ability, because you were Manchester United and financially, you went and signed Rio Ferdinand for £30million.

We spent that money, but probably on about four players. You kind of needed them all to work and it didn't quite, that was probably the end of Gerard Houllier's time looking back.

Neville: It always felt that you were kind of toying with it in the transfer market, that you wouldn't quite go for the best players.

There was a feeling that you couldn't quite go for the best players because you didn't have the money, or you couldn't attract the best players to come to Liverpool because Arsenal were better, we were better...

If the the market was at £15million, Liverpool were at £8million. If the market was at £25million, you were at £16million.

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It wasn't only Manchester United that Liverpool were trying to catch.

Arsenal were also at the peak of their powers at the time, but their success may have been even more frustrating to their players and supporters.

Whereas United could outspend Liverpool, Arsenal were recruiting far superior players at a similar price tag to what the Merseyside club were paying. Carragher feels that this was ultimately what cost Gerard Houllier his job.

Carragher: The big difference between Wenger and Gerard Houllier, I think Wenger was a genius in the transfer market.

I'm not criticising the players we signed here because they were actually very good players for Liverpool, but if you think we signed Emile Heskey for £11million, Wenger signed Thierry Henry for About £11million. We signed Nick Barmby for £6/7million, they signed Robert Pires for £6/7million.

You can see where I'm going with that type of thing. They also got Sol Campbell on a free. They were signing similar players fee-wise, but they became superstars where our's just became very good players...

Neville: You had that team that had Mascherano, Alonso, Torres, Gerrard, yourself, Hyypia, Reina in nets. That's the one point I thought 'that's a hell of a team, another one or two onto this and you have it'.

But then Alonso left, Mascherano left, and that team started to fall away. Torres left a year or so after that.

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Gary Connaughton

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