You might have heard many times over the years that Liverpool have simply relied too much on Steven Gerrard to carry them out of trouble. Despite spending a huge amount of money on different midfielders, he is still their best midfielder. However, over recent seasons, his form has dipped significantly and he has failed to remain consistently fit. It is not that he is a bad player, far from it – and Lucas’s absence is almost certainly a bigger reason for Liverpool’s continuous bad results than Gerrard’s return to the side. But could it be that Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard is not the solution but the problem? Could it be that age has caught up with one of the best midfielders the world has ever seen? Is it time for Liverpool to start phasing out Steven Gerrard gradually?
The answer to that for me is that he is one of the best midfielders in the game and any team having Gerrard in it would be much stronger than the opposite. A fit and hungry Stevie G is better than millions and millions of dollars. He has been awarded with a large number of individual awards both by the PFA and in Europe and that has happened for a reason. A one-club man, Stevie G has really established himself as one of the best creative midfielders of Europe who is known for scoring important goals at crucial times. None serves a better example of that than the match in which he captained Liverpool to an incredible Champions League win in 2005. His impressive goal scoring record from midfield make him a very dangerous opponent to face and that’s the reason why he is regarded as one of the finest midfielder in Europe. Having said that, what is wrong with Stevie G now? Why has he struggled in recent times for Liverpool?
Could it be that the great Steven Gerrard is no longer interested in giving his all and is merely concentrating on prolonging career and not thinking enough about Liverpool? Is he being selfish? The answer to that is a definite NO. Gerrard has always been loyal to Liverpool and is a natural leader. He has always been a whole-hearted and honest character and that’s what makes him a perfect leader. Former Reds manager, Rafa Benitez is a great fan of the Liverpool skipper - “Whatever you ask him to do, you will get 100%. If he needs to play in goal he will do it. And there is more to come from him. He can be an even better player.” That’s right, Rafa!
One might argue that Liverpool now plays better without Gerrard and he is simply not good enough for Liverpool and needs to retire as Liverpool did not play well last season when he was in the team. But Gerrard will always be an inspirational figure for Liverpool, and Rodger’s toughest task will be to motivate the team to do well without him, and make them believe they won’t need him anymore. So for now, it is important for the team to have Gerrard in the side and let him lead from the front.
Now the answer to Gerrard’s struggle has clearly been constant injuries and the fact that he has not played in the right position when he started games for Liverpool last season. Regarding his constant injury problems, apart from a few adjustments in training, nothing much can be done and it remains to be seen whether age has caught up him with him and whether it really is time for him to retire. Knowing Gerrard, he will simply hang up his boots when he feels he can no longer offer something to Liverpool and immediately retire. With the injury woes out of the way, the main thing for Liverpool right now would be to find a position for Gerrard where he will be at his best and build a team around that formation which will help the Gaffer enormously in his attempt at solving the Liverpool puzzle.
It is for the new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers to find out where Gerrard exactly fits in his setup and how exactly will he get the best out of him. For me, Gerrard is at his best when he’s let loose without giving him defensive responsibilities because maybe at his current stage, his legs might give way sometimes when working extra hard for the team. Brendan Rodgers lines up his team in a 4-3-3 formation and where Rodgers sees Gerrard in that formation will determine the success for Liverpool this season. The midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Lucas has the potential to be solid and very effective. While Allen and Lucas will play in a slightly withdrawn role, Gerrard will be allowed to play in a relatively free role further up the pitch. The Gaffer will be counting on the skipper’s experience and intelligence along with his natural ability to lead and thus make an impact in this season and fire Liverpool into top 4.
In his prime, Gerrard was able to make lung-bursting runs and score goals and assists from all kinds of positions and have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Now, he lacks the ability to save the Reds as much as he once did. However, he is still a world class player and a leader who leads from the front and no matter what happens from now, he will be remembered as one of the best midfielders of all time and the best that Liverpool ever had.