Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher included six of Liverpool’s Premier League-winning squad in their Monday Night Football team of 2020 on Sky Sports.
Goalkeeper Alisson was joined by defenders Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Jordan Henderson and forward Mohamed Salah in the XI, although Sadio Mane was left out.
After their bright start to the season, Tottenham had two players included with Son Heung-min beating Mane to the left side of attack with Harry Kane chosen as the centre-forward.
Liverpool dominated Monday Night Football’s team of the year with six inclusions in the squad
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville had little argument over who to include in their team
Conor Coady was included after a great year in which saw him receive an England call-up
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes made the cut in midfield after his impressive start to life in England while Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne completed the trio.
Wolves ace Conor Coady was the other defender picked by the Sky Sports pundits after another stellar 12 months that saw him break into the England squad.
And the main point of debate in the studio after Chelsea’s 3-0 win over West Ham on Monday night was over the inclusion of the Wolves centre-back.
Neville said: ‘I put into contention Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Conor Coady, Aymeric Laporte and Tyrone Mings.
‘Coady to be fair with Wolves’ defensive record, breaking into the England team and his stats were as good as any of the rest. Laporte’s missed games, it just became a choice.
Carragher added: ‘There’s always that question until you’ve played at international level or European football.
‘I think making the step up with the international team and his personality in defence as well he deserves to get in.
‘We talk about keeping clean sheets, his passing from the back is as good as anyone.
Neville said he had just chosen Coady ahead of four other Premier League centre-backs
‘There is possibly only Virgil van Dijk in the Premier League who is better as a centre back. That back five almost picked itself.’
The other point of contention in the team was over who should be picked next to Kane and Salah in the front-three.
Neville said: ‘You cannot criticise Son or Mane. There’s no negatives about them and every club in the world would want Son or Mane playing for them.
‘But when you plug the goals and assists in Son has done better in a team that’s not done as good as Liverpool but that’s no reflection on Mane.’
Carragher agreed with Neville as he added: ‘I love Mane but he’s going through a spell at the moment with one goal in nine games and Son has been off the charts you can’t not pick him.’
Carragher stated that he chose Son Heung-min over Sadio Mane for their difference in form
What they said about each position
Goalkeeper – Alisson
Neville: ‘He was the best (goalkeeper) by a mile. Ederson was outstanding for a couple of seasons but his standards have dropped the last 12 months.
‘We’re really harsh on goalkeepers but when you’re an outstanding goalkeeper the difference it makes is off the scale. From a good goalkeeper to a great goalkeeper the points that keeper wins you is huge.
‘Alisson does that week in, week out. Even the Crystal Palace game at the weekend, Palace had a few a chances where if a goal comes in things can change and he makes save after save.
‘They’ve gone from number two in the Champions League and Premier League to number one. You’re never going to win the league with the previous goalkeepers they had. Not in a million years.’
Carragher: ‘The big thing for me was him (Alisson) being out at Aston Villa where they lost 7-2. Liverpool were just as bad, certainly in the first-half against Fulham. The difference was he (Alisson) was in goal.
‘I think more often that not people say Van Dijk made the difference at Liverpool but I think it was equally important when he came in.
‘When you look at results with Van Dijk out people feel Liverpool will drop off but they’re still the best team in the league and a few points clear and it’s because he is there.’
Liverpool had problems in the goalkeeper area until their 2018 signing of Alisson from Roma
Defenders – Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Conor Coady and Trent Alexander-Arnold
Neville: ‘I do want to mention Robertson at left-back, who is unbelievable.
‘For three to four years to do what he’s doing, the intensity, quality and the big thing he shows for me is consistency.
‘Trent Alexander-Arnold is a star, it mesmerises me to think that’s what a full-back can do. But if he wants to look anywhere as to what he can become in the next five years, it’s the left-back he plays with.
‘To get as good as him defensively, as consistent, as intense in every minute of every game.
‘Trent Alexander-Arnold has got the perfect person in the team to look at to get him to a level and go even better than he is now, which is some level.’
Neville advised Trent Alexander-Arnold to use Andrew Robertson as an inspiration to improve
Midfield – Bruno Fernandes, Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne
Carragher: ‘ You look at Henderson who was involved in Sports Personality of the Year the other night, footballer of the year, De Bruyne pipped him for the PFA award and if Fernandes signed in the summer rather than January he’d have been in running for player of the year as well.
‘It would have been those three fighting it out. For me De Bruyne is the best player in the league, I think he’s going to be a Premier League great when you look back at his time at Man City.
‘Jordan now it’s just when you see that Liverpool team, the best way to describe it is that it doesn’t feel like the same team when he’s not there.
‘There’s something missing, he gives you that presence and authority in the middle of the pitch.
‘And Fernandes, I had a debate with Roy Keane debating how far Manchester United were away from winning the league. Sometimes one player just sparks things. For us it was (Fernando) Torres and (Luis) Suarez when he came in so you’re never as far away as you think and I think Fernandes has done the same at United.’
Carragher claimed that De Bruyne will go down as one of the all time Premier League greats
Neville: There’s Pogba, De Gea, Maguire who’ve all been captain and Bruno is leader of the team, leader by example.
‘He’s a leader for what he does when gives ball away he runs after it. He looks to play a pass that matters, he’s transformed the club.
‘If he doesn’t play it’s a huge issue. And that’s a problem when you’re almost relying on him. Fernandes has been an absolute sensation at United he’s the leader of that team even if he’s not wearing the armband, he could be.
Bruno Fernandes was praised for his leadership qualities by ex-Manchester United man Neville
Forwards – Son-Heung Min, Harry Kane and Mo Salah
Carragher: ‘When I think of it the left side of attacker is arguably the strongest position in league right now.
‘You’ve always had Mane and Sterling as good as anything in the world. Hazard has just dropped off at Madrid, Neymar’s obviously a top player but Marcus Rashford and Son have both jumped up, Son has got the edge but we’ve got the best in the world at that position.’
Neville: ‘I thought Salah would always leave Liverpool, I said it a couple of years ago maybe prematurely. I always thought he would want to explore playing in a different country so it doesn’t surprise me (about rumours of him wanting to leave the club).
‘The reason I’ve always chosen him over Mane is Salah is cold-blooded. Mane is a team-player but Salah is cold-blooded which is not negative but it makes Liverpool vicious as a team.
Neville said he is not surprised Salah might want to seek new adventures and leave Liverpool
‘He’s the type who will do it again and again and not stop. That’s maybe why Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG whoever is after him is probably interested. I don’t think Liverpool at this time will be forced to sell.
‘There will be a decision in next 18 months about what to do with him as if he doesn’t sign a new contract either you have to let his contract run down which they won’t do or cash in on him and bring in someone else.
Carragher: ‘Even when Man United were top dogs and (Cristiano) Ronaldo went to Real Madrid, it still only just felt like a step up as Real Madrid is Real Madrid. But I think the two Spanish giants have fallen so far I really do.
‘He’s got two and a half years left to go on his contract. I’m not seeing it as too much of a problem because Real Madrid spent a lot of money on Hazard at that age of 28 or 29 and Salah’s just getting to that age now.
‘I just think when you want to spend really big money on a player you want them to be more 25 or 26 to get that real value for them so if he did go it would be massive money for Liverpool. I just think his time right now has sort of gone for the age.’