Jamie Carragher's sense that Liverpool saw his future at the club as a coach rather than a player has led him to end a 26-year association with the club and retire from football.
The defender, who turned 35 last week, has revealed in his outstanding performances at Arsenal and Manchester City in the past two weeks that he could potentially continue to play 20 games a season for Liverpool. But though the manager, Brendan Rodgers, has said he feels Carragher could play on, keeping the player at a respectable level within the club's pay structure would have been difficult in a new rolling deal. His current £80,000-a-week package was agreed by the former managing director Christian Purslow in 2010, before his own departure from the club.
Carragher told Rodgers of his decision to retire last week and appeared ready to announce the fact towards the end of the season. The announcement was brought forward because he sensed news of his decision was about to leak out. After more than 700 appearances for Liverpool, Carragher wants at least a year outside the game, during which his family – he and his wife, Nicola, have children, James and Mia – can dictate the course of the household's plans. But after quickly growing into a very successful studio analyst's role for ITV at last summer's European Championship – in which he was kept on beyond the initial group stage work he had signed up for – Carragher has a TV opportunity in the offing, mirroring the course that Manchester United's Gary Neville has taken at the end of a long one-club career.
Carragher, who had no desire to play for another club, has already completed his Uefa B coaching licence and said in August that he hoped to conclude his A licence this summer, leading on to the Pro Licence which is mandatory for Premier League and Champions League managers.
There would appear to be a value for him in working at clubs other than Liverpool to secure his qualification, leaving his son to progress under his own steam at Liverpool's Kirkby Academy. Carragher has always said he has not wanted to interfere in James' progress.
Carragher's decision is a heavy blow to Rodgers, at a time when the defender has demonstrated that he still has a colossal role to play in a squad which has been short of leadership and warrior spirit. Martin Skrtel was unhappy to have been left out of the Liverpool starting XI to make way for Carragher, since his own poor performance at Oldham in the FA Cup, but Rodgers' decision has been comfortably vindicated.
Carragher, who was restored to the side after the dismal 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford last month, has slipped behind Skrtel and Daniel Agger in the pecking order but is arguably still more dependable than Skrtel.
There is no suggestion Carragher can reach the levels he recently attained at the Emirates and Etihad every week. His solitary Premier League start in the current campaign before the turn of the year left him with energy levels which would be hard to match if he played week in, week out. But it is no coincidence that Carragher was a formidable presence for Liverpool at Chelsea, in November, as well as in the last two games.
He has started 11 times in competitions other than the Premier League but recently admitted that the Premier League would drive his decision on when to retire. "The Premier League is the most important thing for the club and the players. We all want to play in that and I'm no different," he said last month.
He added in a statement: "I'm making this announcement now because I don't want [Brendan Rodgers] or the club to be answering questions on my future when I've already decided what I am going to do. I will be fully committed between now and the end of the season to doing the very best for Liverpool Football Club, as I have done my entire career since joining aged just nine years old."
Number of appearances Jamie Carragher has made for Liverpool so far in his career.
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