"We all dream of a team of Carraghers, a team of Carraghers, a team of Carraghers...."
So went the song, and on the surface it could have seemed a bit odd. After all, a team of 11 Carraghers wouldn't be able to complete much more than two passes in a row. But that wasn't the point, was it? The point was that every fan of every club wishes their team could possess 11 guys at once who had the passion, determination, and commitment that Carragher showed every day on the pitch. It wasn't always pretty, in fact it rarely was, but it was a work of art in its own way. Fuck, if I could show half the passion toward a woman that Carragher showed in making a tackle in his own box, I wouldn't be so sure I'd die alone.
There haven't been too many people harder on Carragher in the past couple seasons, and it was admittedly unfair at points. After all, no one can fend off the ravages of time. If anyone could, it would be someone with the refusal-to-be-beaten that Carragher has exemplified at all times.
But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate and adore the man and what he has meant to the club and to us fans. And what was so endearing about Carragher is he did it with so little. There's a quote attributed to John Lennon, though I can't seem to find it, in regards to his guitar playing. "I don't have a lot, but I take what I have and make it sing." That was Carragher. He wasn't fast. He couldn't really play with the ball. It didn't seem like he could leap over a phonebook. And yet through sheer guts, he made it work. More than that, he was a force.
He also worked so hard to improve. He broke in at right back and at central midfield, and the worry was he wouldn't even ever be able to face the right way, such was his propensity to put through his own net. He couldn't untangle his feet. His nose bled when he crossed the halfway line. But eventually, under Houllier's four-centerback system, he became a rock. He was a huge part of the Treble in 2001.
But it didn't blossom until Rafa Benitez walked into the door, and seemingly didn't wait for his introductory press conference to end before shifting Carragher to the middle. And it seemed to flow only after a game or two. Sure, it was all last-ditch and frantic, but Liverpool's defense became impenetrable. Whether it was with Hyypia, or Agger, or anyone else, it was Troy's walls.
Every young defender should be shown the second leg against Chelsea in 2005 at Anfield. It felt like Carragher could have taken on The Blues 1v11 for a few hours and he wouldn't let them score. Hurling around his own box to block everything in sight and some that weren't, I can't imagine I'll ever see a performance from a defender more full of vigor and bloody-mindedness.
It might have only been topped by the Final, at least in the second half. On a groin that most certainly had already went, Carragher still kept Milan at bay just long enough.
Yeah, the recent years have not been the exit we would have liked. Those last-ditch tackles and slowing feet became too late instead of just in time (though his two recent performances in the league have been fantastic).
Today's announcement came just like the rest of his career. No fuss, no muss, move on. I'm glad. I could have never seen Carragher in another shirt, it just would have shaken my world. And it's obvious he didn't have long to go, and wasn't going to be in the plans after this year. This is best for everyone.
I already can't wait for the last game at Anfield, no matter if it has meaning in the season or not. It has meaning now. Carragher will get a sendoff from The Kop that we haven't seen in a long time. Fowler didn't get it. McManaman didn't. Owen didn't. Carragher's ovation will be thunderous. And it should be, because his play always was.
No one could possibly be missed more when he goes. Or more appreciated.