One thing I like about blogging is that I’m not time-bound. By that I mean if something happened today, yesterday, last week, last month, last year or last century I can blog about it without being pressured to be ‘current’. This is useful when I join the various other words written about Steven Gerrard’s decision to leave Liverpool Football Club at the end of the season.
Believe it or not, as a Liverpool fan it’s a genuine struggle to be glowing in my praise of the player. True story. I see the headlines, I see the rave reviews, I recall his performances and vital goals. He has been a dedicated servant of the football club all his playing career. He had opportunities to leave, richer and larger clubs wanted him, he had his wobbles, but he stayed the course.
His goals helped inspire the club to win some memorable games and big trophies. His commitment on the pitch was not in question. He has good technique, a tremendous shot, an eye for the cross-field past and in his prime he was one of the best midfielders in Europe.
He accumulated over 100 caps for England, different managers entrusted him with the captain’s arm band for the country. He is the longest serving captain of Liverpool. His game has evolved somewhat and he has played almost everywhere for the club that he loves. Pundits hail him, lot of fans rave about him and rate him the greatest Liverpool player of all time. He would certainly win the poll for the best Liverpool player in the Premier League era.
The script informs me at this time I should soberly consider what life will be like football wise without his presence at the club. The script suggests I should mourn the fact that no one can ever replace him and with the loss of Suarez last summer, we will be in a dreadful position when he leaves in the Summer.
That is what the script suggests. The general script adopted by certain members of the media and Liverpool fans.
At this juncture I go off-script to state how I really feel about the decision. It’s the best decision Gerrard has made and the best thing he’s done for Liverpool since the FA Cup win over West Ham. In as much as I acknowledge what he has invested in the club and the legendary status he will now have among the Mighty Reds, I have wanted him or someone in management to help make this decision a lot sooner than he has.
For the last few seasons I’ve observed the style of football Rodgers wants to play doesn’t really make the most of Gerrard. His position as a deep lying playmaker would be fine if he had an enforcer next to him and if the nature of our play was slower not requiring that much in terms of pressurising the ball when not in possession. Even saying that, I’ve not been overly convinced of Gerrard’s capabilities as a quality deep lying playmaker. Indeed in his absence I got the impression the fast-moving, hard pressing game seemed a lot more liberated. A playmaker could be found a bit further up, or the playmaker could come deep on occasion to start things going.
In essence I think Gerrard has been more of hindrance than a help.
Sure, I won’t be in the overwhelming majority with that view, but that is what I see. That is not Gerrard’s fault as such. He is the captain, he takes pride in that position. He’s the senior figurehead at the club, that’s important for him. He doesn’t want to stop playing and following how close we got to the title last season, he evidently feels he has a pivotal role to play to help us realise those dreams. Yet it is clear that he’s not the answer in midfield.
We have needed a defensive minded midfielder and although he plays that deep, he has not been that strong to help the sieve that remains our defence.
C. L. J. Dryden