In less than a year, Liverpool's squad has been turned completely upside down. If you were to hand me the current squad list back on January 1st, I'd have stared blankly at it for a while and then told you you were barking. With such a plethora of new faces around Anfield, every game seems to turn into an exercise for the fans to assess and analyse the performances of our new stars. Some are making the fans jump for joy, some are causing a great deal of angst, it's fair to say. So I thought it might be useful to take a moment, a step back, and try and put everything in context, away from the emotions of matchdays and consider who make up what I consider to be, Liverpool's top 10- and why.
I would like to take this opportunity to allay fears that I might not support the team as a whole, and that I'm more interested in individual superstars than the collective. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is purely a bit of fun- I love all our players!
10. Craig Bellamy
Bellamy seems to only be getting better with age. Into his thirties now and he can still bomb down the flank as fast as lightning. In my opinion, he is a better winger than he is a striker. I would fancy Bellers to take on just about any right back in the world and he can deliver a peach of a cross too. Just two seasons ago, Bellamy was the star-studded Manchester City's best player (maybe barring Tevez), but was forced out because of his lack of a flashy foreign name. Their loss...
9. Andy Carroll
Andy has struggled to adapt to life at Anfield so far, however recently there have been signs that he's just about starting to click with us a bit more. Going on Liverpool performances alone, he perhaps wouldn't make my list, but I don't think you can deny that his outstanding attributes are still there- we just need to draw them out of him in a Red shirt! His heading ability is awesome, but for me what's most exciting is his shooting. You will never see Andy blaze a shot miles over the bar; his accuracy is outstanding, and the power he can generate is unbelievable.
8. Glen Johnson
As technically gifted as English footballers get. The way he can supplement attacking play is wonderful, and he's even started to address his defensive frailties- though sadly, they do still exist. I would love to see Glen get a proper right winger to partner up with.
An inauspicious start to his Liverpool career, but as with Andy Carroll, it is clear that Downing is an incredibly skilled footballer. He has come exceptionally close to opening his Liverpool account on more than one occasion, but so far the woodwork has proved his nemesis. He is forming a terrific partnership with Jose Enrique, turning our left flank- what was our weakest area of the pitch- into perhaps our most exciting. All he needs is a goal or a couple of assists, and the fans will be purring. I'm sure it's not long in coming.
6. Jose Enrique
I don't think I'm the only Liverpool fan who is so surprised by the blistering start Jose has made to his Liverpool career. How did this guy's talent pass me by all these years whilst he was at Newcastle? Quick as lightning and strong as an ox, I'm pretty sure I have not yet seen anyone get the ball past him when he's been back defending his flank. His dribbling is brilliant and he has already whipped several dangerous balls into the opposition box. For me, he has been playing like the perfect full back.
5. Daniel Agger
Similar to Glen Johnson, Daniel is such a techinically gifted footballer. I believe he is as underrated as it gets in world football. He is defensively fantastic- strong, commanding, positionally astute and aerially dominant. What really sets him apart from the rest though is his ability to play the ball from the back- truly an attribute to treasure. If only he wasn't so injury prone...
4. Pepe Reina
Has a special place in the hearts of all Liverpool fans, and for good cause. He is a terrific goalkeeper, and the way he organises his defence is brilliant. He is criticised by some for his inability to deal with crosses and corners, however I feel this is unfair. That was perhaps true at one time, but I think he has corrected that now. Aside from his one or two mistakes a season, he truly leaves nothing to be desired as a goalkeeper.
3. Lucas Leiva
It has taken time, but Lucas has developed into one of the most accomplished all-round midfielders going. It is well known that Lucas is well adept at adopting the defensive midfielder role, breaking up play and launching tackle after tackle. But what often gets overlooked is his passing ability. He makes many short, tidy passes- crucial to our pass-and-move philosophy, but also makes some terrific defense-splitting passes more often associated with the likes of David Silva and Luka Modric. An asset to be proud of.
It seems almost ridiculous to not be putting Steven at number 1, and certainly a couple of years ago he would have been, undisputedly so. But injuries, age and the brilliance of my number 1 have pushed him down the list. Nonetheless, Gerrard is still a colossal footballer. The way he can dictate football matches- and his mastery of the football itself- he's like Neo in the Matrix.
1. Luis Suarez
Had to be. He's being criticised recently (by Manchester United and Everton, it must be stressed) as a diver. Perhaps he does go to ground too easily- no one likes to see that, for sure. But I implore, do not let that distract you from the genius of his play. Every match, for 90 full minutes, he gives the opposition hell. His skill-level is through the roof. To put it simply, the most gifted footballer I have ever seen wear the Liverpool shirt.
And with that, I thank you for reading. A shoutout to some players who maybe deserved recognition- Jamie Carragher and Dirk Kuyt in particular, but that's the downside of producing a list such as this. I would love to hear what you think of my list, and what your top 10 would be.