In an excellent article in the Times, Jonathon Northcroft meets Jamie Carragher and gives us a fascinating insight into life at Anfield under the new boss Rafael Benitez.
The article immediately shows you just how happy and grateful Jamie Carragher is to be a part of the Reds Rafalution, as he tells us: "Just this morning, driving in to work, people were beeping their horns. For the next couple of days, everywhere you go, you’ll get people you don’t even know giving you the thumbs-up. I was in the shop buying the papers and this woman came in and you could tell how happy she was. She was made up talking about the game." This was said at Melwood the morning after Liverpool had overcome Juventus on aggregate.
Carragher is more than pleased with the result: "It was right up there with anything I’ve ever been involved in. We did well in Europe under Gerard Houllier and didn’t concede away to Barcelona and Roma, but Juventus were better than those teams and that was three years into Houllier’s reign. This is the manager’s first season. It’s incredible."
Liverpool’s success through the sixties, seventies and eighties came from having coaching staff that lived and breathed football. Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley backed up by the other members of the bootroom to ensure success came Liverpool’s way. When the bootroom was demolished during the Sounness years, Liverpool’s successful era had come to an end. Now Liverpool have a new coach that thinks of football first and foremost according to Carragher. Benitez seemed to be telling Carragher off after the Turin game was over. So what was he saying? Carragher reveals: "He was telling me I had to be careful about Ibrahimovic coming off me and getting in behind. It was as if the game hadn’t finished! That’s the way he is. I’ve never had a conversation with the manager about anything other than football. We love him for that. It’s what sets top managers apart. There’s got to be something different about them, something special. Benitez has got football on his brain constantly."
Carra also talks about his friendship with ex-red Michael Owen. The two were friends from their academy days and still keep in regular touch: "I speak to him probably twice a week and he texted me after Juve. He’s delighted for Liverpool." Jamie is also trying to get him to come home, without luck so far: "I tell him to come back every week! Seriously, he’s been a bit frustrated at times this season, but I think he feels right now that he might be about to get a run in the team. He scored against Barcelona and the manager dropped Figo to let him play. He’s banging in goals for the biggest club in the world, so at the moment he’s happy."
Carragher is certainly not the type to be flashy about his money and his success – and it’s easy to see why. His mates wouldn’t let him: "I remember I got a wallet once and got slaughtered for that. Just a normal wallet. Where I’m from, you carry money in your pockets, and I got slaughtered by my mates. I’d never had a wallet before and they thought I was trying to be someone I’m not. I got rid of it. Never had one since."
Carragher is now 27, and is certainly pencilled in as the next captain of the Reds. If Gerrard stays then that obviously won’t happen, but otherwise he’s really only got competition from maybe Alonso for the role.