Fowler; Owen; Suarez; Liverpool fans have seen some top quality players over the last 20 years. But, then again, they’ve also seen Bernard Diomède.
The extreme variation in quality is largely thanks to Gérard Houllier and Rafael Benítez – successive Liverpool managers who prided themselves on having an eye for a bargain. Though they both turned up some crackers – Houllier’s signings formed the basis of the team that won the Champions League under Rafa in 2005 – they also bought a lot of rubbish. For every Fernando Torres there has been at least one Djimi Traoré.
Both Houllier and Benítez managed Liverpool for six years. Houllier brought in 40 players, spending £125million. Rafa brought in 59 players, spending £230million. Reds fans, try not to shudder; £17.1million of that was spent on Alberto Aquilani.
Of course, the transfer market is not an exact science. Liverpool fans were gutted to see Fernando Torres leave – some even staged a protest by burning his shirt – but part of the £50million received from Chelsea went on Luis Suarez. Looking back, they definitely got the better part of the deal.
But enough chit-chat. Let’s wade through two decades’ worth of off-cuts, also-rans and couldn’t-runs who pulled on the famous red shirt. You’ll never walk alone… unless you’ve alienated everyone by being consistently awful at football.