Jamie Carragher: What the Liverpool defender really thinks of Fergie, Neville and UnitedJamie Carragher has played 656 games for Liverpool and has fascinating opinions on lots of football matters. On the eve of Liverpool's titanic fixture with Manchester United, he agreed to share those views with Sportsmail's Dominic King, including his opinion on Sir Alex Ferguson, his pick of United's players, his favourite team-mates and why Liverpool beats Manchester hands down . . . for music.
Who are your top five players of the season?
Carlos Tevez (Man City)
For his goals - and the way he has become City's main man. They have had a decent season and it is looking like they are going to finish in the top four. He has been the stand-out performer and the type of goals he has scored every week has been terrific. I like his attitude; he is not the biggest fella, but he is a handful to play against.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Bale: Some of the performances he has put in this season have been mind-blowing. As an older professional there is nothing much you haven't seen before, but when you see what he does to certain players, he makes you gasp.
Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd)
I love him. He is there for his side every week, he is always putting his head in. He puts himself on the line. He's my type of defender. I think he is brilliant.
Nani (Man Utd)
Manchester United's best attacker and has come of age with his goals and assists.
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Baines: Has been playing better than the world's best left back. I trained with him before the World Cup last year and you could tell he was a class act.
Your top five United players?
He has retired but always had a great will to win and was the best right back in the Premier League. One of the best crossers of the ball in the top-flight. He's not the most popular fella with Liverpudlians - but that's football. I love the fact he loves his team so much. We've had some great battles and he was a very under-rated player.
I don't need five to explain this: we've got the Beatles. That's it. No 1, finished, argument over. It can't be beaten, can it? No matter what they do, they'll never beat that. No matter how hard they try, they'll never top that.
What are your three best results against United?
October 25, 2009 (Anfield): Liverpool 2 (Torres, Ngog) Manchester United 0
March 2, 2003 (Cardiff): Liverpool 2 (Gerrard, Owen) Manchester United 0
March 14, 2009 (Old Trafford): Manchester United 1 (Ronaldo pen) Liverpool 4 (Torres, Gerrard pen, Aurelio, Dossena)
The first one might seem a bit of an odd inclusion, but we were having a tough time.
A lot of people were saying that was it for me because I wasn't playing well. It was a massive game for the club and me. We won 2-0. I was just so pleased for everyone, so relieved everything had gone well.
I watched the League Cup final from 2003 on ESPN Classics. Michael Owen and Stevie Gerrard scored but I was just marvelling at Roy Keane's performance. He was unbelievable.
Why is the Merseyside derby bigger for you than playing United?
Any number of reasons. First I was brought up as an Evertonian. The derby was a big part of my life and still is now.
The rivalry with Man Utd is big because we are the two most successful clubs in England. The whole country is looking at this game. But, for me, I've never seen the derby as being against Man Utd. It's against Everton. When you get beaten by Man Utd, you don't see their fans.
What have been your greatest days as a Liverpool player?
Winning the European Cup in Istanbul; making my full debut against Aston Villa in January, 1997 and, lastly, my testimonial match.
How do you get a defeat out of your system?
I'm still trying to work that one out. It's very difficult when you lose. At one stage, I thought it was affecting me too much. About two or three years ago, I spoke to a couple of people about it, to see if I could find a way to get out of the moods. Family and friends rallied around to give me good advice.
What I came around to thinking is that it is what actually drives me on. It kills me when we lose. Everyone is different. Sometimes I have looked around a dressing room and wondered whether it hurts some of the others enough. It probably hurts me too much. It really upset me that we lost to West Ham. I hope I can use that to my advantage against Manchester United.
Which of your teammates have had the biggest influence on you?
Paul Ince was someone I looked up to. He was England's vicecaptain and played in my position when I got in the team. I was in awe of him, as I was with John Barnes.
As for Stevie, what can I say about him that I haven't already said? They'll build a statue of him outside Anfield when he finishes because he's done that much for the club. who has been your most diff icult opponent? Thierry Henry. When he ran past me, it felt like I was chasing a motorbike.
And what about players you watch most across Europe?
I could go for the obvious ones of Messi and Ronaldo. But my favourite player in the world is Xavi, has been for four or five years.
He is the man for me. If you were talking about the best midfielders of all time, he would be coming into the reckoning.
I remember England playing Spain in February 2007 (Iniesta scored the winner) and I was on the bench. Everyone was swapping jerseys at the end and he came into our dressing room to give me his shirt.
I'm pretty sure Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia had told him but it was a really nice touch. He is just a great player. I love players who play for Real Madrid and Barcelona. We think we are under a lot of pressure as Liverpool and Man Utd players, but over there it is on another level with the scrutiny they are under. I'm a big fan of Barcelona's Gerard Pique, too.
Give me five key factors why Liverpool haven't won the title since 1990?
Lack of killer instinct
The transfer market
Other teams have probably had a better overall transfer record and then there is Abramovich.
Suddenly, two teams had money - United and Chelsea. Since Abramovich came, Arsenal haven't won the title.
People criticise Wenger but before, you only had to beat one team with more money. Now you have to get the better of two, even three.
You used to be able to get the better of one if they had an offseason but for two to get it wrong with their signings and poor form, is not going to happen.
The Manchester City situation is going to make things more complicated.
You have just got to have that belief. We have always got ourselves back into it. But you just look at things now, it's harder. City are eventually going to get into the top four. I always thought that someone would have to make way and I felt it would be us or Arsenal. At the minute it is us.
What gives you hope that Liverpool won't end up a backwater team, then?
I'd like to think we are a bigger club than Arsenal yet they are the ones still challenging United for the League. Wenger is undoubtedly another reason for us not winning the title.
When people talk about Liverpool not winning it in my time, it's important to point this out: we have been competing against the best-ever Manchester United with their best-ever manager. The bestever Chelsea with their best-ever manager and the best-ever Arsenal with their bestever manager.
I have been competing against the best those teams have ever had; they haven't been competing against Liverpool's best. There was a stage when Rafa was manager that we were in the top four or five teams in Europe. The only problem was that three were in the Premier League.
So, tomorrow ... can you beat United?
Yes . This is a massive game but it is not just a massive game right now. The top four is out the window really, but when you play you want to win. When you play for Liverpool, you want every game to be massive. You want the whole world to be watching you. Now this is a proper game, one that Liverpool should be involved in all the time. This is what playing for Liverpool is all about.
What do you think about Sir Alex Ferguson?He’s brilliant, isn’t he? Let’s be honest.
You can’t say you don’t respect someone or acknowledge that they are brilliant at their job just because of the rivalry. It’s not just him, it’s the players.
Don’t get me wrong, I want Man Utd to lose every time. But I still admire them if they achieve something. As a player, you know what they are going through to get there.
Who are top five defenders you have ever seen?
If you’re surprised that I have included John Terry in my five, don’t be. John Terry is just an unbelievable player. He gets a lot of stick but I would have him in my team all day long. He’s got everything as a defender: strong, brave, brilliant on the ball, commanding, fearless, great passer. What a player!
Who would you most like to come to your house for a dinner party?
I just think McCartney is brilliant. He is
funny, he’s the best musician in the world and he’s from Liverpool. I’ve never met him but I’d love to.
Tony Blair gets a lot of criticism over what happened with Iraq. I’m not clever enough to go into detail about what happened but I’ve read his books and the pressure on him to make decisions at different times was absolutely astonishing.
Mourinho? He used to love winding
Liverpool up but when you take a step
back and look at it, what he was doing
was very funny. To hear him talking about football, his ideas and methods, would be fascinating. He’s been that good and achieved that much, you’d just have to ask him “What’s the secret?” It would be great to have him talking football.
he said man u a lot of time, i just change to man utd. i don't think anyone will compaing anyway, just to clarify.
everyone loves vida, righ?
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