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Liverpool need a Litmanen, not Michael Owen
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