Russ Wareing discusses the stigma of giving new players old numbers on their shirts, case in point Emre Can and Carra’s number 23.
Should we as fans hold on to the legacy of shirt numbers or is it best to rightly remember but move on?
So it was revealed that Emre Can has taken the number 23 shirt for Liverpool FC and the news was greeted with a mixed response; some want the number retired in honour of Jamie Carragher, others like the fact a young prospect could continue the number’s legacy and some think it is a ballsy move by the player who has willingly taken on the added pressure.
But why, surely it is just a number? Well no, it isn’t “just a number”, we have associations with squad numbers and great memories but should we as Liverpool fans have an affinity to squad numbers? I personally don’t think we should, as we’d have no numbers left. You only have to look at the long list of legends that have worn numbers on their back with a Liverpool crest on their chest to realise that if we retired numbers in honour of those players, then our squad numbers would have to start at about 20.
Back in the day, players did not have a shirt number, rather the position on the field did, but we can look back at the likes of Keegan and Dalglish wearing the number 7, Phil Neal owning the number 2, Clemence and Scott with shirt number 1, Tommy Smith’s number 4, the famous number 9 upon greats like Rush, Hunt and Liddell. Barnes with the number 10, Hansen with the number 6, the list could be endless.
It’s nice having a tradition of great number 7s or 9s but I do not think it is a big deal anymore. I do not expect any more from Emre Can because he has the number 23 on his back, I just expect him to do the best he can for Liverpool. If he becomes the star his potential indicates then great, it wouldn’t give me an added satisfaction that he did it with Carragher’s number on his back.
With squad numbers, I much prefer them to indicate the player’s position on the field than previous players to have worn the number. I like my defenders to have 2, 3, 5 and 6 because it just looks right, it is frustrating seeing players like William Gallas wearing number 10 at centre-back and Asamoah Gyan wearing number 3 as a striker.