Missing – Have You Seen This Man?
Posted by Craig Muncey | Published on April 25, 2016
It has not been the greatest few days for Liverpool FC, throwing away a two goal lead against Newcastle United plus the news of Mamadou Sakho failing a drugs test, which could easily mean a ban for the player. In three days Liverpool play Villareal in the semi final of The Europa League, fans are saying who will replace Sakho in the centre of the defence, Kolo Toure? Martin Skrtel? Lucas Leiva? Well there is another option, a player very rarely seen in the famous red shirt, an international centre back, and that man is Steven Caulker.
Caulker joined Liverpool on loan in January this year to provide cover for an area that at the time was under intense pressure, players were out of form, there were injury concerns and the team were leaking goals. Fair to say both Dejan Lovren and Sakho have raised their game in recent months, but do I find it puzzling that Caulker is not even mentioned when it comes to people talking about a replacement for Sakho.
People concentrate on how out of form and sorts Skrtel has looked, and it is still a recent memory his abject performance against Southampton. Kolo Toure, has in recent outings looked reasonably safe, but no doubt his best years are long behind him, and Lucas is a defensive midfielder, who lacks height and strength but has been excellent in my view the times he has played at the back for Liverpool, especially his performance in the League Cup final against Manchester City. Lucas may well be required for his defensive capabilities in midfield in the first leg in Spain as a safety net for Villareal’s attacking capabilities, so if that is the case why does nobody mention Caulker?
The only occasions we have seen the player has been when used three times as an auxiliary striker, when the team are losing, so had been thrown on to try to get goal, with good effect against Norwich City, when Caulker’s assist set up Adam Lallana for the winning goal. And one other appearance, when he started at centre back against West Ham United in a game that finished nil nil, which is not that disappointing a result for a defence to get a clean sheet. He has not played any first team matches since then, which was the end of January, so less than a month after signing on loan, has not played since.
Clearly Jurgen Klopp feels the player is not up to the levels of performance he is looking for, and who am I to disagree with the manager, but I would say Caulker must have fallen back a long way from the player I have seen play for Swansea City, Cardiff City and in the Olympics for Great Britain. As that defender, was decent on the floor, had a turn of pace and was dominant on the air, all attributes that would certainly aid the current predicament that the club find themselves in defensively.
Would be a huge risk to play him Thursday with so little gametime in last 3 months in particular, and I fully expect the centre half pairing on Thursday to be Toure and Lovren as it was on the weekend, but I do find it very strange that Steven Caulker is not even mentioned as a potential substitute even when so much negativity surrounding Skrtel. Caulker is registered for the Europa League, so where is he? I am not aware of any injury? Has anyone seen this man?