From 2001 – 2002 the no nonsense childhood and youth Liverpool supporter Jari Litmanen from Finland played for Liverpool. He was very unlucky, as he had been a great player both for Finland, Ajax and Barcelona before he joined his favourite club, where he became injury prone. Litmanen’s Liverpool statistics 26 games and 5 goals. A brilliant forward, but unfortunately injury prone. Jari Litmanen remains a living legend in Ajax and Amsterdam where he really was the one-of-a-kind Dalglish type of player he always wanted to become.
There are two great Liverpool supporters we could (and should) have signed.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær:
Born: 26 February 1973
26 April 1996: Norway plays a friendly against Spain. Roy Evans is watching the game at Ullevaal in Oslo. Evans is there to scout a player: Ole Gunnar Solskjær. The friendly game ended 0-0, Solskjær got a goal opportunity but the shot went over the cross bar. Spain’s defence was strong at the time. Evans for some reason seized taking and interest in Solskjær, who had scoed a massive 31 goals in 38 matches for Molde when he was signed by Manchester United, having been linked to clubs like Manchester City and Cagliari when Alex Ferguson went along a signed him in the summer of 1996.
A most humble and modest lad, Ole Gunnar Solskjær talked to a Norwegian TV journalist after the match against Spain that had been watched by Liverpool manager Roy Evans. Solskjær confessed it would have been a dream come true if he were signed by his favourite club, but added: “They already have forwards like Collymore and Fowler, so it’s a long way to go for me.”
The essential thing is, Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær could certainly have been the perfect Robbie Fowler partner. Problem is, Fowler and Solskjær are about the same age and were very similar as players. Evans may have thought he needed a Collymore type of player to be Fowler’s partner up front. He signed Patrick Berger in 1996, then signed Karl-Heinz Riedle in 1997. Meanwhile Alex Ferguson had a host of great forwards, Eric Cantona, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Jordi Cruyff, Ted Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær to name a few. Cruyff, Solskjær, Yorke and Cole were all very similar in style and stature, but Alex Ferguson relished the idea of having them all in training and play each and every one of them at will.
Liverpool F.C. could easily have done with a Solskjær at Melwood and Anfield back then, no doubt about that.
Born: 2 February 1970
Roar Strand was an extremely good and solid central midfielder who played for his home town club Rosenborg from 1989 to 2010. His club total of games is 642, total goals scored 125. Liverpool has signed three Rosenborg players: Stig Inge Bjørnebye, Bjørn Tore Kvarme and Vegard Heggem. I’ll suggest we left the best and most needed option out: Roar Strand.
The Liverpool supporter Roar Strand won 16 Norwegian league titles and played 42 games for the national team from 1994 – 2003. Strand has played more than 100 Champions League games for his club Rosenborg, and also is named in the record books: Strand shares a European record with Ryan Giggs of scoring in 21 consecutive top flight seasons. That equals Pelé, but is behind Romario, who scored in 23 consecutive seasons.
Roar Strand could be seen as a type of player Liverpool would have needed in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. He was very skilled, he was tough and fast, a brilliant box-to-box midfielder. One of Norway’s most respected football experts Arne Scheie in 2006 said it was a pity Roar Strand never played abroad, Scheie naming clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool, where he could have been a great asset. I do agree.
If I should name some Liverpool legends Roar Strand reminded me a bit of, midfielders like Jimmy Case, Graeme Souness and Ronnie Whelan come to mind. Strand was right up there in their class of players, but at the same time Norway also had a great midfielder like Kjetil Rekdal who Egil Olsen preferred to play for Norway in the typical Roar Strand role.
Written by @magneleokarlsen