Opta Jury: Harry Kewell
By Duncan Alexander
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
When Liverpool won the race for Leeds United's Harry Kewell's signature in July 2003, ahead of the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, there was much jubilation on The Kop.
They foresaw the Australian flyer as the heir apparent to the likes of former Reds wingers Craig Johnston, John Barnes and Steve McManaman, and the final piece in Gerard Houllier's Anfield jigsaw.
But 2003-04 turned out to be Houllier's final season in charge of Liverpool and it was a campaign of disappointment and stagnation at the club. Kewell struggled in his first season away from Elland Road and was not able to win over the fans, who - rightly or wrongly - perceived a lack of effort from their Antipodean wide man.
Kewell himself pointed to a plague of injuries that have afflicted him since his move to Merseyside.
A quick glance at Kewell's scoring record at his two clubs is enough to understand the Liverpool fans' frustration. They believed their club had signed one of the finest goalscoring midfielders in European football, but he has undoubtedly failed to deliver in a red shirt.
2004-05 heralded the start of the Rafa Benitez era but Kewell was once again unable to make an impact. His season was encapsulated by a brief appearance in the UEFA Champions League final, when once again an injury forced him off the field, to the howling derision of the travelling Liverpool supporters.
A stark illustration of Kewell's difficulties at Anfield can be seen in the stats below. By picking one of his stellar seasons at Leeds, and comparing it to his entire Liverpool career, it is clear that he has simply not delivered.
|Harry Kewell||Leeds 1999-2000||Liverpool career|
|Minutes On Pitch||3199||4738|
|Goal Attempts|| || |
|Mins per goal||319.9||592.2|
|Passing|| || |
|Pass Completion %||66%||76%|
|Crossing|| || |
|Cross Completion %||23%||24%|
|Dribbling|| || |
|Dribbles & Runs||336||408|
|Dribble Completion %||57%||60%|
1999-2000 was the campaign when David O'Leary's Leeds team really started to get noticed.
A run to the Uefa Cup semi-finals and a third-placed finish in The Premiership was built on an emerging young team, led by Kewell on the left flank. 10 league goals (17 in total) and four assists was a sensational return from the Socceroos international. In contrast, he has not managed to reach 10 goals in two and a half seasons at Anfield, and his conversion rate has dropped accordingly.
But there are signs that Kewell may finally be emerging from his grim period.
Five appearances in The Premiership for Liverpool this season have yielded praise from his manager and with the World Cup finals looming large next June, Kewell has every motivation to recapture his past form and thus benefit both his current employers and the Australian national side.
What do you think? Has Kewell been a hit, a miss or is the jury still out? Send us your views and we will publish a selection.