The Curse of Liverpool's Left-Back Takes Another Victim in Jose Enrique

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2013

Jon Flanagan - next to try fill the cursed spot at Liverpool?
Jon Flanagan - next to try fill the cursed spot at Liverpool?Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool's left-back position has taken yet another victim with the injuries suffered by Jose Enrique this season—the latest in a long list of names to have tried to solve the problematic position at Anfield.

As noted by B/R's Karl Matchett, a left-back is Liverpool's most pressing need in January; Enrique faces two months on the sidelines, on-loan Aly Cissokho has been far from impressive thus far, so much so that Jon Flanagan is likely to start the Merseyside derby.

Flanagan has seemingly worked his way ahead of Martin Kelly in the manager's plans. “Whether Jon has played at right-back or left-back he has never let the team down" he told The Liverpool Echo.

It's a bizarre situation that perhaps sums up Liverpool's left-back woes—one has been sidelined with injury for the majority of the season, another is on-loan and far from impressive, while the other isn't a left-back.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates with Jack Robinson at the final whistle during the Capital One Cup third round match between West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool at The Hawthorns on September 26, 2012 in
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Jack Robinson—a natural left-back—is out on loan to Blackpool.

Many Liverpool supporters, myself included, would be happy to see Glen Johnson at left-back temporarily, as he was for some time a couple of seasons ago—but the lack of depth at right-back is equally problematic.

Rodgers tried Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho as full-backs against Southampton. It didn't work.

Many have arrived at Anfield to solve the problem down the years, from Julian Dicks to Paul Konchesky. Most of the names are ones you'd rather forget.

Even Stewart Downing was given a brief opportunity to provide the solution last season.



Top Two


Arguably, there have been two times when the left-back position had been temporarily solved. The first was when Jamie Carragher deputised there under Gerard Houllier in 2001—making up part of the treble-winning defence that featured four centre-backs.

The other was John Arne Riise, who made over 300 appearances for the club—although even then plenty had their doubts about his defensive ability.

The curse got Riise in the end.
The curse got Riise in the end.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Riise's Liverpool career came to an end in 2011, shortly after his Champions League semi-final own goal against Chelsea. It's synonymous of the problems that have befitted Liverpool's left-backs of late.





There were times when some young players appeared to be on the verge of making the position theirs.

One such time was in a Merseyside derby in 2001 when Frenchman Gregory Vignal lined up at left-back and Riise started on the left of midfield. Vignal started the Reds' next five matches, including a Champions League tie at Borussia Dortmund.

The nail in Vignal's proverbial coffin arrived in the shape of a League Cup defeat to Grimsby Town. Vignal never appeared again that season and featured just four times the following campaign and eventually left the club after a series of loan spells.

Then came local lad Stephen Warnock, who made 60 appearances between 2004 and 2006 but fell massively out of favour with Benitez and was sold to Blackburn in January 2007. His form there earned him an England cap and the club's player of the year in 2009.

Insua perhaps could have been the solution.
Insua perhaps could have been the solution.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Another youngster who many thought could be the answer was Argentine Emiliano Insua. He gradually worked his way into the first team under Rafa Benitez and made 44 appearances during the Spaniard's final season in charge. He was then loaned to Galatasaray that summer, with Hodgson instead opting to re-sign injury-prone Fabio Aurelio and sign Paul Konchesky. Cheers Roy.

Insua is now at Atletico Madrid—who paid Sporting 10 million in January for his services.



The Flops


Then there were the major flops. Not least Christian Ziege, who signed for Liverpool from Middlesbrough for £5.5 million in 2000. So poor were his performances at left-back though that Houllier instead used him in midfield before selling him to Tottenham a year later.

Dossena could lob keepers - shame he couldn't defend.
Dossena could lob keepers - shame he couldn't defend.Clive Mason/Getty Images

Benitez splashed £7 million on Andrea Dossena in 2008. The Italian scored memorable goals against Real Madrid and Manchester United—in the same week, both times as substitute—but failed to make the left-back spot his. He left for Napoli two years after arriving, making just three starts in his final season.



The 90s


Travel further back to the Roy Evans era and you recall the likes of Julian Dicks, Stig Inge Bjornebye, Steve Harkness, even Dominic Matteo was tried at left-back.


Who could solve the curse of the Liverpool left-back? Answers on a postcard to Brendan Rodgers c/o Liverpool FC.


    Jordi Alba: Finding Another Messi? That's Tough

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Jordi Alba: Finding Another Messi? That's Tough

    via Goal

    Benched Bale More Isolated Than Ever in Madrid

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Benched Bale More Isolated Than Ever in Madrid

    J. L. Calderón
    via MARCA in English

    Revealed: Messi & Aguero Love Fortnite & Reggaeton 🎮

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Revealed: Messi & Aguero Love Fortnite & Reggaeton 🎮

    via Goal

    Concerns Grow Over Alexis & Pogba's Mental State at Man Utd

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Concerns Grow Over Alexis & Pogba's Mental State at Man Utd

    James Ducker,
    via The Telegraph