Jamie Carragher has finally decided to hang up his boots at the end of the current season but by no means does this mean he will be walking away from the game he loves. After a 16 year playing for Liverpool and England, Carragher announced on Thursday that this campaign would be his last and called time on his career once and for all. The 35-year-old defender, who has played over 700 times for Liverpool and 38 times for England, was not offered a new deal by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers as he looks to build a squad for the future so Carragher made the move to finalize his plans in an effort to help Rodgers avoid the awkward questions about the veteran defender. Carragher announced to the press his intentions but was also quick to shut down further speculation about his next step:
“I’m making this announcement because I don’t want the manager to be answering questions when I’ve already decided what I am going to do. It has been a privilege and an honour to represent this great club for as long as I have. I won’t be making any further comment on this decision until the end of the season – all our focus and concentration should be on achieving the best possible finish in the league this season and trying to win the last remaining trophy (Europa League) we are competing in.”
The announcement from Carragher on his next move may be delayed until the end of the campaign but the speculation will continue. There are likely to be two options available to the player, both of which utilize his core skills. The first would be a move into coaching and eventually management, either with Liverpool or at another club. After spending his entire career with the club and becoming a legend in the process, it would be unjustified if Liverpool wasn’t able to offer Carragher a position within its backroom staff, either as a youth coach, developing the next batch of youngsters or as a first team coach working closely with the players he used to call his teammates. Reds managing director Ian Ayre has not shut the door on these options but in line with Carragher’s wishes is holding his cards very closely to his chest. Regardless if Liverpool offer Carragher a job or not, someone within the football community is likely to do so. As an Everton fan, his boyhood club may come calling with David Moyes always looking to add more experience to his backroom staff but the rivalry that exists between the two Liverpool clubs may prevent this move from materializing. Carragher may jump immediately into a management role with a team in the lower reaches of the English division setup but as a cautious man, he is more likely to want to learn his trade as a coach first before venturing into the management fire pit.
Another option open to Carragher is following former England teammate Gary Neville into TV commentary and analysis. Neville has been a surprise hit since hanging up his boots and moving to Sky Sports to take over as part of the analysis team on Monday night football. Carragher has already made guest appearances on several football related TV shows and spoke with authority and elegance which would appeal to a wider audience on a regular basis. It’s unlikely he would move to Sky as Neville has made that spot his own but with the BBC announcing a shake up of its format for next season as well as BT and Al Jazeera entering the market place, there could be openings at all three for an ex player like Carragher.
It is likely that the player and his agent are already in discussions about these options with a decision likely to be made within the next two months but true to his word, Carragher will make no further announcement until the season has concluded. Carragher, who has already had a glittering career at Liverpool, winning a selection of trophies such as the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup will want to end his career on a high by helping the club he loves to yet another cup success but the one trophy that he really wants is moving further out of reach by the day – The Premiership title. Liverpool’s form has not been good enough this season to keep up with runaway leaders Manchester United and Manchester City so the last chance to snatch the title is diminishing quickly for Carragher much to his disappointment. When he does hang up his boots at the end of the season and reflects back on his playing career, the lack of a Premiership trophy will hurt the most. But with the next chapter in his career about to begin, there is still an opportunity for Carragher to win one, not as a player with Liverpool, but perhaps one day as its manager.