Liverpool need a Litmanen, not Michael Owen

December 17, 2008

Rafa Benitez needs to pull a rabbit from the hat again in the New Year but if Liverpool are going to end that long wait for a title they need a more creative player than Michael Owen.

If Liverpool fans with longish memories have faith that the coming of a striker can make the difference you can understand why. The last time Liverpool were champions, back in 1990, their successful run-in was inspired by Ronny Rosenthal, an Israeli forward who arrived seemingly from nowhere on or near deadline day (my memory’s a bit fuzzy).

Gerard Houllier tried to repeat the trick by signing Nicolas Anelka in 2002 and Benitez tried Fernando Morientes in 2005 before bringing back ’God’ himself when he signed Robbie Fowler at the start of 2006. None of them did the required business.

Even though Liverpool could presumably pick Michael Owen up on the cheap, given that his contract at Newcastle is up at the end of the season, I believe the temptation to bring back another striker should be resisted.

Liverpool don’t need an out-an-out goalscorer, even if it’s true that they have struggled to find the net this season. Benitez has enough options up front as it is, even if Torres isn’t fit. Ryan Babel is eager for opportunities, David “Wash” Ngog has potential and Robbie Keane… well, presumably he’ll start scoring regularly soon.

What Liverpool need, as they have done for a long time, is more creativity in midfield. They need genuine inspiration, a player who can bring gasps from the crowd and give opposition defences more, much more, to worry about.

The last Liverpool player who could do that was Jari Litmanen, signed in January 2001 by Houllier but injured for much of the rest of that season and left on the sidelines for too much of the following campaign. Here’s Liverpool’s official website verdict on the Finn:

“Litmanen’s career at Anfield will go down as a case of what might have been. Despite his undoubted skill and creativity many supporters will say he was underused at Anfield.” Says it all, really.

In recent transfer windows Benitez has made really useful defensive signings like Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel. Now it’s up to the coach to prove he can show the same eye for a creative midfielder.

I assume Franck Ribery, Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not for sale at any price, but there must be players out there who could give Liverpool’s midfield a bit more of the wow factor. Who do you think he should go for?

PHOTO: Liverpool’s Michael Owen (L) and his team mate Jari Litmanen celebrate a goal against Bayer Leverkusen during their Champions League quarter-final second leg match in Germany, April 9, 2002. REUTERS/Michael Dalder


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Im not sure how Steven Gerrard would react to another creative midfielder. Ive always liked Alonso but his confidence must have been affected by Benitez making it clear he could leave last summer

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Alonso is a good, ball-playing midfielder with a good shot on him but with so many neat midfielders ni the squad I think they need mroe. Call him a second striker, if you want, but they need a Ribery, or if not maybe they could take a chance on Diego of Werder bremen, or even Saviola. Is he still benchwarming at Real Madid?

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Well I would say that go for Tim Cahill or Michael Arteta from Everton; they are those kinda players which can change the course of game. No Doubt ALonso is having an amazing season but with Arteta, Cahill and Gerrard up front; Mascherano at back …. wht else u want ?

Posted by Naveed Umar | Report as abusive

Plus …
I would say bring back Michael Own and let Robbie Keane go. Owen is KOP Legend and he will click anyway with his old team mates with the flavor of new alongside with him now

Posted by Naveed Umar | Report as abusive

michael owen is the best player of liverpool ever
and liverpool needs to contrac him

Posted by valon | Report as abusive

I think Liverpool should go for the Turkish wonder kid, Arda Turan from Galatasaray. Have you seen this guy play in Euro2008 and lately for Galatasaray. This kid is the WOW Factor!

Posted by Kaan | Report as abusive

写得好啊~~ 支持

Posted by 滕飞 | Report as abusive

No thanks, I’m not in favour of Owen coming back. Although matured greatly, his gameplay is still somewhat one dimensional relying too much on that one through pass and pace, something which he doesn’t have and that’s why he has fallen from grace.

I’ve always admired Joe Cole and he could probably be that spark needed. He’s warming the bench in Chelsea right? :)

Anyway, we can debate all day and even if every reader and Benitez comes to a conclusion on who we need to buy, the fact will still be that we cannot afford anyone with the stooges still in charge. Paupers we are… sigh

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

I think that Owen is a good player for newcastle and should not leave.

Arda Turan sounds a great idea for Liverpool, and I think Joe Cole could be very interesting as well.
I think Benitez has been looking for skilful attacking players but not much, apart from Torres, has come off yet. Riera was a decent addition to the squad but he certainly doesn’t provide the wow factor. Babel could be outstanding, but there are still too many players like Jermaine Pennant who have not been as influential as the fans hoped.

As Five Times said, money may well be a problem for Liverpool at the moment. Maybe that means Owen *is* the only option… We’ll see…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Im a big fan of michael owen and he must come back as he is the best player liverpool ever possessed!!!!

Five Times: Why would Joe Cole want to take a step down by going to Liverpool?

Posted by KG | Report as abusive

I see Rafael van der Vaart has fallen out of favour a bit at Real Madrid. He might be the sort of player who could do something different for Liverpool.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

KG: Why would Joe Cole stay in a club with no Champions League trophies and league titles you can count with one hand and still have fingers to spare?

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

KG: Why would Joe Cole stay in a club with no Champions League trophies and league titles you can count with one hand and still have fingers to spare?

======================================== ======================================

Good ol’ liverpool fan; always giving the history lessons.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

We, on the other hand, need no one because we are the champions of England, kings of Europe and emperors of the world. The rest can sit in disguise and ponder.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

ryan babels 1st touch is awful.dont think we need much.get fernando back fit and we will win league.riera better option than babel at the minute.19 on its way

Posted by rob ritchie | Report as abusive