Among the more disappointing aspects of Sunday's draw with Everton was the manner in which Liverpool generally approached their task--they weren't completely void of fight or spirit, but the typical blood and thunder of a Merseyside derby tie faded as the match wore on, and while it'd probably be unfair to question whether or not they were interested in, you know, winning (I mean they were, right?), it certainly walked and talked like the type of disaffected performances we've seen for a few years now.
That it came in Jamie Carragher's final derby doubled the disappointment; I'm not usually a huge fan of narratives unless they involve boy wizards or teenage girl detectives who help their private eye fathers solve crimes in a quirky California town, but the one surrounding Carragher and his final faceoff with Everton was one in which I let myself indulge.
Carragher wasn't complicit in the malaise, though, as he was again very solid in central defense, leading Steven Gerrard to emphasize the immensity of the chore that faces Brendan Rodgers in finding someone to fill the void that Carragher's loss will create:
"Of course he's going to be missed. You saw his display today. Since he's been back in the team he's probably been our most consistent player. I wouldn't like to be in Brendan Rodgers's position of trying to replace him."
Skill-wise it's not Sisyphean, but in terms of what he represented it certainly is, and Rodgers--in typically overstated fashion--heaped praise on the player's impact both yesterday and in the years leading up to Sunday's sparring match:
"Jamie Carragher was immense, he's a real colossal player and he's only got two games left for the club. His influence is superb, on the training field every day and in the changing room. He's so professional. You saw him out there at 35 and he was at the top of his game. He was absolutely outstanding - and having worked with him for so long, I can clearly see why he was one of Europe's top defenders for so many years."
"Immense" might be a bit much, but again, he was quite good in a match that placed defending--or at least not really attacking--at center-stage. It would have been wonderful if Liverpool sent him off in style, easing to victory and allowing for a more sentimental finish to a rivalry that means more to him than most. Sadly it wasn't to be, and Jamie Carragher will finish his career in Merseyside derbies on a sour, almost indifferent note.