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Jamie Carragher: It's time for a title challenge

Jamie Carragher: It's time for a title challenge

Jul 24 2007

by Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo

Jamie Carragher

IT’S easy to mock the mass hysteria which greets Liverpool when they arrive in the Far East, but it’s not so dissimilar to the atmosphere on Merseyside during every pre-season.

While the Chinese display their fanaticism with squeals of excitement and quaint banners, at home the summer frenzy appears to be more conservative, but beneath the surface is equally out of control.

No matter how stern the warnings, or how often supporters have been burned by their recent experience, few are able to resist building up Liverpool’s title hopes.

Even as the players try to maintain a sense of realism, they’re dragged – not always reluctantly – into the annual July festival of over-zealous Premiership predictions.

Skipper Steven Gerrard tried in vain to keep a lid on expectations yesterday, but his sense of ambition and determination still won the day as he confidently suggested Liverpool would be a key component of a more open title race.

His vice-captain, Jamie Carragher, has seen so many rampant summer hopes fade into winters of discontent, he recognises the need to balance optimism with caution.

It’s compulsory for every Liverpool player to talk openly about winning the biggest prizes in the game, but Carragher knows if the wait for the title is to end this season, the team will have to take several leaps forward from last year’s disjointed league campaign.

“I’ve got a lot of experience now and I’ve seen this situation many times before,” says Carragher.

“Every summer this signing or that is going to make all the difference. When I first got into the team it was a midfielder who puts his foot in which was going to take us up a level.

“Then it was a couple of centre-halves we were missing. Then it was attacking full-backs, then wingers and now it’s goalscorers.

“It’s understandable people think this way because we’re all so desperate to win the league. It’s natural for supporters to get carried away when we make big signings.

“That’s football and it’s because we’re all so passionate about the game, everyone wants to feel excited about a new season.

“I’d rather that than people saying we’ve got no chance.

“Hopefully this year will be the year we’ve got all the players we need, but no-one can be under any illusions. It’s going to be very, very difficult.

“There are three other top sides and I see Tottenham as a major team this season too.

“What we want first and foremost is to make a decent fight of it.

“Chelsea and Manchester United are great sides with great managers. They’re not going to wait around for anyone to catch them.

“United won the league and then went out and improved their squad again. To say we have an automatic right to catch them because we’ve spent some money is nonsense.

“What it has done is given us the chance for a fairer fight.

“What we are expecting now is more of challenge to them. I just want to be in with a chance with ten games to go.

“I’ve only had that once in the ten years I’ve been in the team, when we finished second behind Arsenal.”


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