Barnes rejects Carragher’s criticism of ‘mentally weak’ Liverpool defence
EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool legend John Barnes believes the current Reds defence IS good enough to win the Premier League title
John Barnes has rubbished Jamie Carragher’s claim that Liverpool’s defence isn’t good enough to win the Premier League.
The 36-year-old heavily criticised the Liverpool rearguard after Brendan Rodgers’s side surrendered a three-goal lead in the final 11 minutes of their 3-3 with Crystal Palace on Monday night.
While we do want to improve at the back, it is a bit unfair to say with that defence we can’t win the league
The Reds, who will drop to second place if Manchester City beat Aston Villa on Wednesday, are the Premier League’s top scorers but have conceded more goals than West Ham United, Hull City and Palace this season.
Although the Liverpool legend accepted that Rodgers needed to tighten his defence ahead of next season, Barnes refuted Carragher’s suggestion that the current back four isn’t good enough to win a Premier League crown.
“Well, it is [good enough] because they can still win the Premier League title with the defence that they have,” Barnes told The Sport Review.
“This team is good enough to win the Premier League. You can’t say, ‘look at them losing the league on goal difference,’ because under different circumstances and with a bit of luck, Liverpool could have won it.
“Ultimately, do we have to tighten up at the back? Yes. But if we tighten up at the back and get better defenders, like Barcelona, we might not be as good on the ball. Will we score as many goals?”
Barnes added: “While we do want to improve at the back, it is a bit unfair to say with that defence we can’t win the league, because we still can.
“Put it this way, Carragher said that on Monday night. But if Villa draw against City and West Ham draw against City, Liverpool win the league – will he say the defence is good enough to win the league then?”
Mamadou Sakho, the £16m signing, came under particular scrutiny from Carragher as the former England international branded the France defender and Martin Skrtel “mentally weak” following the 3-3 draw.
The Liverpool manager has stuck by the former Paris Saint-Germain defender despite their recent winning run coming to an end against Chelsea and Daniel Agger’s return to fitness.
But Barnes, who won the top-flight title in 1988 and 1990 during a decorated Anfield career, refused to blame Sakho for the result at Selhurst Park.
“Sakho has done well, even in the Chelsea game,” Barnes said. “Brendan Rodgers says if you get in the side and you play well, you deserve to continue playing.
“As much as we may talk about Sakho and Agger, we have to respect the player. He’s done well enough to get Liverpool where they are.”
Barnes continued: “Ultimately, the Chelsea loss was a slip by Gerrard and it wasn’t because of the way we played – and we had Sakho. That’s just one of those things.”
England legend John Barnes and Charlotte Jackson are lending their support to YO! Sushi’s #TEAMTWO campaign, asking the nation to get behind Japan as their second team to be in with a chance of winning £1million if they lift the World Cup