by Paul Grech
Jean Michel Ferri came, made a couple of headlines (Ferri Across the Mersey, Ferri Good…you get the drift) and left. There is hardly anything more to say about one of Houllier's first signings apart from that it is extremely difficult to find the reason why he joined in the first place.
When he signed from Turkish side Istanbulspor, Houllier built him up as a player of great experience and, perhaps more importantly, a leader. What Houllier failed to mention was that Ferri was also injured and at the end of his career.
To be fair, he had been a better than average midfielder, had won a couple of league titles with Nantes and in his prime Ferri was consistently one of the better players of the French league.
He signed for Liverpool at the age of 29 and should have been in the prime of his career, yet he looked and played like a man at least a decade older.
So why was he bought? There are a number of theories but in all probability it was simply a case of Houllier wanting to bring in a player he knew well. And it is hard to blame him. After all, this was a time in which an un-named Liverpool player – the famous Anfield 'mole'– was criticising the club via the press at every possible opportunity.
This is why Houllier needed someone like Ferri, someone who could identify the negative influences in the squad. Whether this was Ferri's role or not, only Houllier and the player himself will ever know. But there hardly appears to be a better explanation, especially as he was limited to a couple of substitute appearances in a red shirt before he was sold back to France at the end of the season.