Times are tough on the red half of Merseyside, but Liverpool legend Dietmar Hamann has told JMU Journalism good times may be just around the corner for Brendan Rodgers’ struggling side.
A morale-boosting 5-2 win at Norwich City at the weekend brought Liverpool their first victory of the Premier League season, but they still find themselves languishing in 14th place with only five points from six games; eight adrift of city rivals Everton in second spot.
Pre-season hopes of Champions League qualification appear to be fading already, with another mid-table finish seeming much more likely on early form.
JMU Journalism caught up with Liverpool’s influential former midfielder ‘Didi’ Hamann to get his verdict on the Reds’ disappointing opening weeks of the 2012/13 campaign.
The former Germany international said: “Liverpool haven’t had the best of starts, but then they’ve played some very good teams. We’ve just got to hope they can start picking some points up. At this stage of the season one result can make all the difference.”
Hamann explained that the squad lacks balance, adding: “Of course the transfer window played a big part. They lost [Craig] Bellamy, a lot of experience in Maxi, [Dirk] Kuyt and [Andy] Carroll. It was obviously difficult for everybody at the club and I expected at least somebody to come in and replace them.”
The 39-year-old added: “With hindsight it probably was a mistake [to let Carroll go]; he gives you another dimension, another option. Unfortunately no-one came in, no centre forward, so they will have to work with what they’ve got and make the most of it.”
Hamann, who played 283 times for Liverpool between 1999 and 2006, remains positive and confident in the club’s ability to turn their fortunes around: “Not many teams at the moment are looking unstoppable. Once you win one and another one, confidence builds.
“At the start of the season I said that if they are in contention for a Champions League place with five games to go, I think that would be a good season. I wouldn’t write the season off just yet, there’s a long way to go, still points to be gained. That’s not really changed. If they are in contention come March/April, I think they’ve done really well.”
Hamann joined Liverpool from Newcastle United for a fee of around £8 million in the summer of 1999, ahead of former boss Gerard Houllier’s first full season in sole charge of the side.
He fast became a first team regular and fans’ favourite, scoring 11 goals and collecting no less than nine pieces of silverware in seven seasons, including the treble of 2001 and a Champions League winners’ medal in the unforgettable 2005 victory over AC Milan in Istanbul.
Hamann, who is currently unemployed after a management spell at Conference National side Stockport County last year, told JMU Journalism about his affectionate connection with the city of Liverpool.
He said: “You have to appreciate the people, the culture, the sense of humour. I found out pretty quickly how much the football club meant to the people of the city; how unique the atmosphere is. It’s a unique bond.”
Hamann sealed his place in Liverpool folklore by coming on at half-time when Liverpool were 3-0 down against AC Milan in that epic 2005 final and helping the Reds to one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history. He said: “To win the Champions League with any club is fantastic; it’s the biggest prize in club football. But to win with it a club that made its name in its history made it extra special.
“At half-time nobody really gave us a chance of pulling it back, but somehow we did it. To experience all the emotions of being down and then lifting the trophy, coming back to Liverpool with so many people on the streets, that was something I think everybody at the club will always remember.”