Tributes but no tears as Carragher bows out on a high
No one is bigger than Liverpool FC but there are those whose presence has elevated and preserved their stature.
Jamie Carragher waved goodbye to the Kop having become part of such an elite. Once a successor in the central defensive bloodline of Ron Yeats, Emlyn Hughes, Tommy Smith, Phil Thompson and Alan Hansen, this was the afternoon he became their peer in the ex-player legends lounge.
There were no Carragher tears to water the Anfield turf here; just the lingering stains of 16 years of blood and sweat on every blade of grass and the final throaty instructions to team-mates, bellowed out as if this last appearance was his first.
He was the width of the post from the most memorable of goals too, a 35-yard half-volley rebounding to safety with the stadium ready to erupt.
How Liverpool will miss him. As is the Premier League trend, he was granted a guard of honour. A legion and 21-gun salute would have been more appropriate.
Incessant chants in tribute followed ("one more year"), as did a mosaic and plenty of banners; there is a school of thought they should be retiring the 23 shirt too. It was Robbie Fowler's before Carragher's. Good luck to the next occupant.
"My biggest regret is I've not had longer to work with him," said Brendan Rodgers. "He's played 16 league games since he come back into the team, and we lost one. He will be difficult to replace."
The game seemed an afterthought. Already down, QPR were here for little more than the ceremony and there was a testimonial pace to proceedings.
Rodgers handed a debut to 17-year-old Jordan Ibe, a much-needed nod to the future on the day Liverpool sent another icon into the realms of nostalgia.
Ibe grew in confidence as the game progressed, but more immediate promise comes in the form of Phillipe Coutinho, whose sale by Inter Milan for just £8.5m looks more perplexing by the week. If Liverpool are still linking him with Luis Suàrez next season, you can forgive the familiar pre-season positivity that will emanate from this place in August. The 20-year-old is thrillingly good.
Coutinho would have had two in the first half if he could have convinced the Premier League to introduce goal-line technology a game early. The Brazilian's second-minute header from Stewart Downing's corner crossed the line before Armande Traore's clearance, but the officials did not see it.
Coutinho got his reward on 23 minutes, however, accepting Ibe's pass 25 yards from goal and firing low to Robert Green's right.
For QPR, the clear-out can now begin in haste. "I wouldn't want to come back if I couldn't get some good lads in," said Harry Redknapp.
"I don't need to come to work every day and have aggravation. One player got fined more this month than he did in wages – and he earns plenty of money."
This was all about Carragher, however, subbed to a prolonged standing ovation five minutes from the end.
"I've had lots of great times and have got lots of great memories and that is down to Liverpool Football Club and the supporters who have dragged us over the line many times. Istanbul, Cardiff; you've played your part," he said in an on-pitch interview.
There were no tears from him, but the Liver bird on his chest will weep as its heart starts to beat with less verve in his absence. (© Daily Telegraph, London)