We’ve had enough of them over time, but here is a definitive list of those who have played the part of foe at some point in their Liverpool career.
It should be stated firstly that this is in good nature. In fact, I’d go one further and say that if it is directed to anyone at all, it is the irrationality of football supporters as opposed to those named below.
As it is, we’ve decided to put together a list of the all time pantomime villain XI of Liverpool players. Some of the status’ bestowed is, by our own admission, slightly far fetched. But all those listed have in someways been painted as the baddie by either a very limited section of supporter or media during their time at the club.
And while love is rightly the message currently, we’ve done our best to try and offer mitigation and state why they should be absolved for their perceived Anfield sins. So sit back, relax and enjoy the current lineup, even if the Ole ‘s are slightly muted as Peter McDowell reads their name out pitchside after a bellowing “AND FOR LIVERPOOL”:
Goalkeeper: Loris Karius
Ah, this is harsh. The nightmare that would top being stuck in isolation with Pennywise and Piers Morgan was bestowed on the Reds’ then goalkeeper in the 2018 Champions League final. He should never be castigated for a human error, and hopefully one day can come back to Anfield (playing for someone else) to be absolved.
Right-back: Philipp Degen
My word, remember Philipp Degen? I’m not sure I can forgive the element of Rafael Benítez’ reign at Liverpool which meant he flooded the club with some of the worst full-backs in living memory. Let’s just be polite and say Degen didn’t fancy a tackle, and Jamie Carragher let him know enough times if you were ever in Anfield to hear it.
Left-back: Paul Konchesky
Honourable mention to the back end of John Arne Riise’s Liverpool career, but how can the accolade not go to a player who was cheered off the pitch and whose mum took to Twitter to attack the fans? Konchesky and Liverpool were a marriage made in Roy Hodsgon smeared-hell. I’m not sure anything can now right that particular wrong.
Centre-backs: Neil Ruddock and Dejan Lovren
Name me a more iconic duo, I’ll wait.
What a partnership this would have been. While Lovren can at least point to his man-of-the-match performances in Champions League and World Cup finals, Ruddock really doesn’t have any defence for his lack of professionalism which led to the whole “Spice Boys” ethos which defined Liverpool during the 1990’s.
Right midfield: Jermaine Pennant
This is some achievement, given he was also named a the best player in a European Cup final for Liverpool. Yet Pennant had a penchant for annoying certain elements of the fan-base at times for his lack of urgency on the pitch. His past discretions also seemed to leave an element of caution with supporters.
Left midfield: Raheem Sterling
Sterling is genuinely disliked by many, but the reason why is far from accurate. The perception among some that he is greedy and went to Manchester City solely for money purposes is untrue and unjust. Sterling has bowed to the role of villain ever since, letting his performances at Anfield in particular be affected.
Centre Midfield: Igor Biscan and Charlie Adam
And the award for the slowest midfield partnership to have ever graced the game goes to..
Biscan was a funny player, completely unconventional to the point of parody, leading to nobody ever really taking him seriously (apart from when he’d get himself sent off in massive games). Whereas Adam was uncomfortable to watch in a Liverpool shirt from the minute he identified row 48, seat 151 of the Main Stand as his favourite destination for a long-range pass.
Number ten: Phillipe Coutinho
This is quite a good team, all being said. It is improved further by having a player the calibre of Phillipe Coutinho playing behind the frontman. It’s a genuine shame his Liverpool career is remembered in this way by some, yet he is undoubtedly seen as both villainous and misjudged for wanting away from a Klopp side which everyone could see was going places. Glad it’s worked out for him at Bayern Munich.
Striker: Michael Owen
This one hurts a few people, none more so than Owen himself. On his day he was one of the best goal-getters this club has ever seen. He has won FA Cup finals on his own, but his move to Real Madrid and subsequent messing up of a return to Merseyside cost him. He eventually signed for Manchester United, and if there was any form of grace left, it emptied quicker than Goodison Park after a 75th minute opposition goal.
Sander Westerveld: It eventually got so bad the club bought two goalkeepers in one day just to make sure.
Stewart Downing: Someone once asked him if he’d ever gone missing in an elevator.
Joe Cole: Slumped over, hands on knees, shattered.
Carlton Cole: Hodgson never ended up signing him, but the sheer dreaded thought warrants a place on the bench.
TOP PIC: Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho both make the cut. (Image: Getty Images)