Is Martin Skrtel really Liverpool’s best option at the back?

Despite the current 2015/16 campaign somewhat surprisingly going down as Martin Skrtel’s ninth league season on Merseyside after signing in the winter of 2008, certain question marks still seemingly surround the Slovakian international and his supposed ability to lead the Reds back-line this season.


Under the management of Brendan Rodgers, Skrtel has apparently been transformed into a more than solid Premier League defender with all the tenacity and ability required to play out a successful career amongst the English top-flight. That’s one particular view on the subject at least…


Other lines of thinking would simply outline the now 30-year-old’s clear lack of technical prowess with the ball at his feet, as well as his very obvious habit of making key mistakes just when his side need to keep things tight at the back, above all else in the defender’s game. Although his equally calamitous defensive partner – Dejan Lovren – admittedly proved the most at fault in Liverpool’s embarrassing 3-0 defeat at home to West Ham last time out, Martin Skrtel wasn’t exactly in fine form either.


So then, in light of the continued discussion surrounding the no. 37’s overall credentials in the modern era, is a player of Skrtel’s overall quality really the best defensive option for Liverpool ahead of the 2015/16 campaign?


Well, although the former Zenit St. Petersburg defender has certainly represented Brendan Rodgers’ side enough times to deserve his place in the starting XI at Anfield, the uncompromisingly tough centre-back has arguably been a weak link for Liverpool ever since he first established himself within the club’s first team plans.


For everything Martin Skrtel has to be proud of in terms of strength and sheer bravery in the face of the opposition, the Slovakian international simply lets himself down in the field of concentration and through his wavering inability to read the game effectively enough. The widely recognised Liverpool centre-back has been caught out so many times throughout his career, it’s almost become second nature for external fans to expect more and more mistakes from the defender going about his business.


When it comes to keeping track of his runners for the entire 90 minutes, efficiently clearing his lines from set-pieces and long-balls alike, as well avoiding the temptation to play an unforgivably misplaced back-pass every now and then – the 30-year-old Reds defender has simply committed one offence too many to be truly recognised as one of the best centre-backs currently operating in the Premier League.


No player can ultimately walk away with their reputation firmly in-tact after scoring as many own goals as Martin Skrtel has throughout the years – regardless of how well received he may currently be among the loyal Anfield faithful.


Strangely enough though, several Liverpool fans have nonetheless sung the praises of their bolshie no. 37 with almost every passing season, often singling out the Slovakian as one of the most integral members of Brendan Rodgers’ preferred back-line. Whilst Skrtel has undoubtedly improved a great deal since first being introduced within the Premier League back in 2007/08 – is he really the best first choice defender Liverpool could have sourced in today’s current transfer climate? Of course not.


Martin Skrtel is potentially made to look a great deal more assured only in light of the seeming incompetence he is forced to play alongside. The likes of Dejan Lovren, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho simply offer their club nowhere near the level of quality Liverpool require if they are to finally cement themselves back among the Premier League’s top-four once again. The 30-year-old Slovakian is admittedly more useful than all the aforementioned names among the Reds’ back-line, but that simple notion arguably says more about the overall standard of defending at Liverpool Football Club more than anything else.


If the Anfield faithful were issued with the chance to be truly honest with themselves in the cold light of day, no Liverpool fan could ultimately paint Martin Skrtel out to be the ideal man tasked with leading their last line of defence this season. As Brendan Rodgers has seemingly proved rather inept at signing the right players for the right price across each respective summer transfer window however, perhaps the Northern Irishman is better off sticking with the players he already knows, rather than attempting to implement another over-hyped talent within his first team set-up once again.


Either way, Martin Skrtel is by no means the worst Liverpool player currently operating within the somewhat star-studded ranks at Anfield this season – but as he makes far too many errors to be considered a wholly reliable asset in the modern game – the no-nonsense Slovakian brawler isn’t exactly a stand-out option for Brendan Rodgers either – regardless of how Liverpool fans chose to back his often oblivious defensive approach.

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