Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Unfulfilled Promise of Liverpool's Ryan Babel

Ryan Babel signed for Liverpool from Ajax and immediately made an explosive impact in his first season. His 10 goals in 49 appearances for the Reds earned him the adulation of the Liverpool fans. He was named the Liverpool Young Player of The Season in 2007-08.

He had a bit of everything as do all Dutch players. He could spot a pass, beat people on the dribble and score goals. Babel could play in a variety of forward positions, left, right or as a second striker. He showed the Kop what he was capable of in his first season and more was then expected of the young 20-year old in future seasons.

This is Babel at his flying best during his Ajax days.

Fans' high expectation of a player who was then 20, proved to be too much for a fragile personality like Babel's. Coupled with the strict disciplinarian style of Rafael Benitez, it needed a much tougher (mentally) Ryan Babel to succeed. In his years as Liverpool boss, Benitez is best known as a brilliant tactician and strategist but not as a man manager. Ryan Babel's Premier League future could have been best preserved at Manchester United or Arsenal.

For me, it is clear that Ryan Babel's time has been blighted by a poor player-manager relationship and then a tactical change in Liverpool's play under Hodgson. These two factors have finally made the Dutch international time at Anfield untenable.

Yet, the Dutchman gave Liverpool fans some joy and brought the Kop to their feet on a number of occasions. This video is a celebration of Ryan Babel at his best for Liverpool.

Ryan Babel is an enigma, obviously. Some players are like that, and most of these players are so full of flair and talent. Perhaps the fact that they don't see the need to train hard nor be committed on the playing field. Perhaps they become so arrogant and confident of their God-given ability that they thought they were better than others. Or perhaps like Babel, they are fragile individuals who needed a loving coddle from their manager from time to time.

I think we have seen the best of Ryan Babel and it's downhill from now on. What a shame for the player once billed as the next Thierry Henry. To his credit, he has been a faithful and loyal servant to Liverpool FC. Wish we could have seen him mature in a Reds shirt.

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