I’VE let the dust settle a bit. There have been hundreds of articles, quite understandably so, lamenting the forthcoming departure of Steven Gerrard for the sunnier climes of Los Angeles. The “Hollywood balls” are going home. The “quarterback” is jetting off to a place where the term actually means something. Liverpool’s brightest star is swapping grey Mersey skies for a different “Galaxy”. Well, that’s enough clichéd shite to last you a lifetime.
Let me preface the rest of this piece by saying two things. Steven Gerrard was, and remains, a Liverpool great. There’s no need for hierarchy; he’s up there with the best I’ve seen — Dalglish, Barnes, Suarez, Rush, Souness.
For 17 years though, I’ve watched him, marvelled at him, been in awe of him, but since his formative years never really warmed to him — despite 696 appearances and 182 goals. Why, you might ask? I realise I’m in a minority and you might argue with some or all of what you read here.
Like most Reds I was blown away by the emergent Steven Gerrard; the raw prodigious greenhorn we loved for derby-match goal-line clearances, outrageous lunges, and provocative celebrations that instantly nailed his blood-red colours to supporters’ masts. He wasn’t fussy on Everton was he? What’s not to like about that? To this day, I enjoy Gerrard most when he lines up against the Blues.
I loved his first Liverpool goal – a beautiful slalom through a mesmerised Sheffield Wednesday defence and concluding strike at Anfield that was so reminiscent of the great Emlyn Hughes. Old “Crazy Horse”, all shimmying hips and dropped shoulders, had scored a mirror image of Stevie’s goal at the same Anfield Road end some 25 years earlier.
I revelled in his progression, as the growing pains that stymied his early development gave way to the epitome of the modern footballer; all power, pace and energy but combined with the vision, subtlety and touch of so many Liverpool greats. The Treble season of 2000-01, under the watchful eye of his mentor and father figure, Gerard Houllier, ended with a trademark Gerrard hammer-strike in the UEFA Cup final. Falling over seats in delirium at Dortmund’s Wesfalenstadion, I never envisaged a time when I would fall out of love with the new Scouse icon that was Steven Gerrard.
During Houllier’s final year, Gerrard almost single-handedly dragged Liverpool to a Champions League place in 2004 before the madness that enveloped the Frenchman, in the wake of his heart problems, saw the Reds’ board look elsewhere for new direction. In the days that followed the appointment of Rafael Benitez, Steven set off for the European Championships in Portugal to join up with England colleagues; Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard et al.
No thought had been cast that Gerrard might have played his last game in a red shirt. We had seen Steve McManaman, another one off the local production line, abscond to Real Madrid under freedom of contract a few years earlier. Little did we know that Michael Owen — the little Welsh woollyback — was considering jumping ship without consideration of the new project under Benitez, but the last thing entering our heads was that the lad from Huyton’s Bluebell estate might follow suit.
Gerrard — who had signed for the Reds at the age of 8 — was Liverpool’s captain, so it came as a major shock, in the aftermath of the Euros, to hear that a transfer to the nouveau riche of Chelsea, and their new man, Jose Mourinho was all but done. Of course, there was a dramatic, last-minute change of heart and Steven stayed at Anfield. Huge relief was felt all round but it hurt, and it cast new light on our hero.
At this point, it’s worth delving into the mind of Steven Gerrard. At the age of 17 he completed a self-assessment by Liverpool’s academy top brass in which he admitted that while he felt he was “approachable” and “tried to get on with everyone”, he also wrote “I do tend to worry about certain things.” There’s no doubt Steven is a worrier, and at times over the years his demeanour, on and off the pitch, has betrayed a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. A deep-rooted insecurity — which would surface again a year on — that flies in the face of all his natural gifts, contrasted with a growing sense of his self-worth and if Liverpool couldn’t fulfill all his dreams, then maybe someone else could. Hence the barely fathomable flirtation with Chelsea, the money-driven antithesis of Liverpool’s traditional values.
Football being football, all was forgiven and the Benitez era began with Gerrard still in situ as captain and in the absence of the departed Owen, very much the Reds’ shining light. A partnership in midfield with the newly-arrived Xabi Alonso took time to settle and Liverpool’s form in the League and group stage of the Champions League was patchy at best. Progression in Europe came down to the final game against Olympiakos with Liverpool requiring a two-goal margin to qualify for the last 16 of the elite competition. On the eve of the game, Gerrard revealed to the press that “he didn’t want to wake up tomorrow morning in the UEFA Cup.”
Understandable sentiments perhaps, but given the uncertainty over his future during the preceding summer, words that came across as a thinly-veiled threat.
With the Greeks leading 1-0 at half-time, and a disinterested Gerrard trudging round in midfield, his pre-match “rallying cry” appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, least of all his own. It was left to the lesser lights of Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor to drag Liverpool back into the contest while Steven remained on the periphery of a second-half assault on the Kop goal.
With 10 minutes left at 2-1, Gerrard suddenly became interested to record one of the most celebrated goals — in both senses of the word — Anfield has ever seen. Crowds fanning out of the old stadium that night left with one name on their lips, but it had been a subdued 80 minutes from the Reds’ skipper before that epic, clinching strike. History tells us that far from “waking up in the UEFA Cup”, five months later Gerrard would wake up next to the European Cup.
It would be churlish not to acknowledge his remarkable performance in Istanbul when, after a chastening first half at the hands of Pirlo and Kaka, his headed goal and surge into the box to win the equalising penalty were catalysts to Liverpool’s most famous victory. His manic celebrations on the podium, shaking old “Big Ears” to an inch of its life, were those of a Liverpool lad through and through and his tears of joy joined the rivers shed by thousands who had made the pilgrimage to the Ataturk.
Such was the euphoria and the adulation rightly afforded to Gerrard for his part in one of the great sporting comebacks of all time it is incredible, even with the benefit of hindsight that six weeks later Steven Gerrard would again be on the brink of signing for Chelsea. That he did was down in no small part to the muddling, complacent Rick Parry who failed to deliver a deserved new contract in the immediate aftermath. Gerrard sat at home, the sheen on the European Cup fading by the day, as paranoia and self-doubt encompassed his every thought.
Here was a man who 12 months previously considered an Anfield exit because the club appeared incapable of fulfilling his ambitions; not worthy of his prodigious talent. Now he was troubled that the same club, in the absence of an instant new deal, didn’t want him and, by proxy, that boss Rafa Benitez didn’t rate him.
Thankfully, the circumstances were rescued from the brink a second time. As soon as Liverpool became aware of Gerrard’s impending exit the contract offer came and he duly signed but not before we had been well and truly put through the ringer. I found it ridiculous that Gerrard, in light of what had just happened in Turkey, could even for a moment feel unloved. Despite the board’s procrastination it was absurd for him to think he wasn’t wanted and yet his insecurities convinced him, albeit temporarily, that a move away was his only option. Where now was the Gerrard of 12 months ago, who threatened to leave because Liverpool couldn’t realise his lofty aspirations?
Once again the fans, if a little humbled, put this treachery to the back of their minds. Benitez, conscious that Gerrard’s marauding runs weren’t best suited to his desire for the surest of midfield bases, deployed him on the right and what followed was a hitherto unparalleled season of Steven Gerrard whacking in 23 goals in 53 appearances. The last of these, to rescue the FA Cup Final against West Ham in Cardiff with a wondrous volley from 35 yards, rightly saw Liverpool’s eventual penalty shoot-out victory acclaimed as the “Gerrard Final”. A merited first PFA Player of the Year award duly followed.
A return to central midfield the following season saw a drop-off in Gerrard’s goal-scoring output but he played his part his part on the road to Athens and an attempt in vain to reclaim Liverpool’s European crown in the re-match with AC Milan.
The investment on arrival of Tom Hicks and George Gillett as owners saw the advent of Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid and a new position for Gerrard as a roving second striker. Benitez remained unconvinced of Gerrard’s preferred berth in the heart of midfield and masterminded an innovative role, devoid of defensive responsibility where he could operate at his destructive best. Gerrard struck up a telepathic relationship with the Spaniard and recorded 21 and 24 goals respectively in seasons 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Over these two years, Gerrard was unquestionably at the peak of his powers and arguably the best player in his position in Europe. Liverpool under Benitez had advanced from sporadic pretenders to perennial achievers in the Champions League and in 2009 it was tragic that a domestic haul of 86 points, conquered only by a relentless Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Manchester United, didn’t realise a longed-for League Championship. The Reds had delivered a brilliant campaign to match many that brought much greater rewards.
Gerrard, still striving for that elusive league winners’ medal, probably felt the heartbreak keener than most. Consolation for him came with a second PFA award recognising his transition from midfielder to devastating attacker, but only rancour followed for Benitez as many fans confused strife off the pitch — a by-product of the grand larceny of Hicks and Gillett — with the frustrations of missing out on the elusive domestic crown.
The club’s ailing financial health; debts brought about by the leveraged buy-out of the club by the American shysters masquerading as owners was a depressing backdrop to a subsequent season which saw the wheels fall off on the pitch to accompany the chaos behind the scenes. Throughout the period of Benitez’s tenure, there appeared an uneasy relationship between Gerrard and the manager. His insecurities and sulking presence which contrast with the bombast of his self-worth clashed with the cold, critical Benitez and his endless, unforgiving pursuit of perfection.
Gerrard railed against missing the occasional game through rotation and at times there were signs of open dissent at substitutions — most notably at West Ham in February 2008 when Lucas replaced Harry Kewell, and at Birmingham in April 2010 when a tiring Torres was subbed for David NgGog.
It was clear from the outside looking in that all wasn’t well in the dressing room. Relentless cries came from the media — and in turn the fans — to return Gerrard to “his best position”. A perfect media storm that threw the words “rotation” and “zonal marking” round like confetti allied with the toxic ownership situation concluded with the inevitable removal of Benitez from his post. To my mind Gerrard, who all but downed tools in Rafa’s final season and put in a series of sloppy, lethargic, borderline-unprofessional performances was complicit in an episode, albeit relatively brief, that accompanied some of the club’s darkest hours.
Roy Hodgson, as practically ordained by the London-based media, was the new man in charge and before you could say “apples and pears”, here were Liverpool, reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Steven Gerrard back in central midfield. During the Hodgson honeymoon (now there’s an oxymoron if you want one) Gerrard suddenly ran around like a blue-arsed fly in support of the alien cockney in the dug-out and put in some sterling performances. I have to say I hated him for that, but the ravages of Hicks and Gillett had taken physical and mental toll of the playing personnel and it wasn’t long before catastrophic results saw the “be more English” experiment abandoned in favour of more change.
Although Gerrard missed much of Kenny Dalglish’s second-coming through injury, he was on hand to lift the League Cup as captain at Wembley in 2012 after another shoot-out success against Cardiff City. Dalglish’s cup form which saw another Capital visit for the FA Cup final wasn’t enough to save him from the chop and see Steven Gerrard preside over a fifth managerial incumbent during his Liverpool calling.
Brendan Rodgers’ management, now into its third season, has seen the gradual dying of the light of Steven Gerrard’s career, culminating in the announcement that he’s off to pastures new. There is a certain inevitability to this but even so, when the news broke on January 2nd that he will leave the club at the end of the season it still came as something of a shock. At the very least, after 17 years, it will be strange not having him around. There’s also a sense that Liverpool are losing the last of the great icons. There’s no Dalglish – except in tenuous ambassadorial corridors – no Carragher, no Suarez, and no-one of real footballing repute in the management structure. One wonders how an ailing Liverpool, at the time of writing unlikely Champions League pretenders, will attract quality players beyond this season. At the heart of these concerns is replacing Gerrard in the team.
So, why is he leaving? Gerrard has conducted interviews with the club and the Liverpool Echo in which he clearly states that managed game time is a prime reason for not re-signing for Liverpool. He was offered a new contract and has turned it down. Gerrard also said that had he been offered a new deal in the summer he would have signed, which suggests he was offended by not receiving an offer earlier than November.
After the World Cup, when Gerrard took his leave from international football, he said he made this decision after talking with Rodgers to ward off the possibility of missing games for Liverpool if he was still playing for England. Now, it seems, the moment that managed game time, despite international retirement, has reared its ugly head; the “painful conversation” alluded to by Gerrard is the final straw. It seems that Steven Gerrard isn’t willing to accept being rested, but that’s not a new one is it?
If Gerrard really does back his ability to play every match, and not have his games managed, why isn’t he seeking a move to the relatively slower pace of Spain or Italy? He’s on record as saying there have been offers at home and in Europe, so why the flit to the footballers’ retirement home that is the American League? He reckons he couldn’t bear to play against Liverpool so that rules out a domestic transfer, but it didn’t stop him nearly making such a move when we were desperate to keep him.
If anything Rodgers has made a rod for his own back by playing Gerrard, in the twilight of his career, over the past two-and-a-half seasons in every game — for 90 minutes. There have been ample opportunities, with Liverpool coasting (alright, not this season) when Rodgers could have subbed him. No slight on his reputation, just an opportunity for an ovation and intelligent care of ageing limbs. That he hasn’t received the occasional rest or the hook on 70 minutes is madness, and blame must lie with the manager and/or the player. Thus, the first time his name didn’t appear on the team sheet this season in a League game — at home to Stoke — it gave rises to hundreds of column inches. Prior to that his exclusion, along with a host of other regular starters, in Madrid became the story of the season.
The recent Swansea game at Anfield when he didn’t appear might have been an eye-opener for Gerrard. Liverpool played with a pace and intensity and produced their best performance of the season. If this game sets a precedent to be repeated this season (and into next if he was sticking around) it’s fairly obvious that being “just another player” doesn’t really appeal, and there might be an element of protecting his legend in all of this. He wants to go out on his own terms and not ape the phased retirement that saw Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes gradually disappear from the regular team sheet at Old Trafford.
Rodgers has made Gerrard a key ally since he came to Anfield, perhaps understandably since he arrived with a flimsy managerial CV. Although I believe he has overly pandered to Gerrard, so that the revelation that he won’t play 90 minutes of every game when approaching 35 years of age is perceived as “painful” instead of common sense, Brendan deserves some credit for last season when Gerrard’s performances post-Christmas were a joy to behold. Identifying the withdrawn midfield role, with most of the game in front of him and willing runners to excuse his lack of mobility was a masterstroke. The outlets Suarez, Sterling and Sturridge offered were a perfect foil for Gerrard’s range of passing and a reminder of his supreme talents.
I felt for him at the end of last season. It was cruel that his mistake cost us the title. Instead of signing again in the summer, perhaps he should have called it a day then. Emotionally, it’s something he doesn’t seem to have recovered from and perhaps it’s no coincidence that he performed so well at Wimbledon this week. Announcing that he’s leaving might well have lifted some of that burden. A smile now creases the lips; something which can’t be said of much of his time in a red shirt.
Suddenly, the FA Cup seems a great way to sign off. His goals at Wimbledon smoothed our rocky passage into round four and Wembley in May on his 35th birthday would be one hell of a place to say goodbye.
As excruciatingly painful as it is to say it, and as it is to every Liverpool fan to read it, it must be remembered that it was (almost with a certainty) Stevie’s own mistake that cost him not achieving his own highest goal of winning the League Title last year. He had said beforehand that his biggest struggle was keeping his emotions in check. In that split second on the pitch something in him broke. He recovered immediately, but the damage was done, and it proved to be beyond his and the team’s ability to put it behind them as the remaining games played out.
In the minute it happened I told a friend I was concerned it would haunt Stevie and be permanently remembered afterward. He reassured me it wouldn’t, but it turns out it has, as rival fans continue to taunt him with it, even in games played that don’t involve Liverpool.
Had Stevie stayed, signed a new contract, this would only have increased and grown more toxic for him — especially when combined with ‘fans’ of his own club ranting every week on social media and in the pubs for him to be cut because his diminished pace is holding back the rest of the team.
He wants to end his career “with no regrets.” More and more that means to me that he wants to play his last games where people won’t constantly remind him of that fatal mistake, where he will be cheered and lauded and thought of as one of the greats, not as a 35-year-old mostly struggling to keep up with the younger ones and occasionally having a burst of greatness as he did against AFC Wimbledon. But that’s just paper over the crack. Sadly, in the end, in his heart of hearts, there will always be the regret, that split second when something broke inside him at Anfield.
Something troubles me here Ellie. I think it’s the terms ‘Stevie’s own mistake that cost him’ and ‘his fatal mistake’. I’m sure it’s only a question of semantics but if I slip at work they record it as an accident (and believe me, I’ve tried to have a few accidents). What they don’t say is he made a mistake. Ok, Gerrard took his eye off the ball but I think he’s mean’t to. The slip was out of his control though. It was just an accident. It wasn’t a decision he made that turned out to be the wrong one. Hope you don’t mind me picking up on such minor point but I got an image in the head of Gerrard in stocks and we were all throwing cabbages at him and shaking our head in disgust. Mike was at the front.
Robin, thanks, you’re right. The words I chose are probably a bit too strong. For about 2 months my Twitter TL was full week after week of people growing increasingly more vitriolic saying Stevie should be ‘cut’ or ‘rested’ because he was holding back the team’s pace. If things had gone on as they were, it would only have grown worse.
When he made his announcement, all of that negativity evaporated and instantly turned into worldwide praise for his greatness and devotion to Liverpool since age 8. I think his decision to announce was a master stroke — whether it came from him or his ‘handlers’. It turned the tide, removed the distraction that had to be affecting the entire dressing room.
He can now focus on enjoying his last 5 months in Liverpool. I think this will lift the entire team’s morale and confidence and the result will be evident on the pitch. If I’m right, this will be Stevie once again leading by example, once again showing how much more there is to greatness than what a footballer does with his feet.
Yeah, I do too (think that the last 5 months are gonna be good). I’m back to the stage of saying ‘the Villa game is huge’. Exciting times. I’m praying we go on a brilliant run. I think we’re capable of it. Remember how well Coutinho and Sturridge linked up last season? With Coutinho in this kind of form and Sturridge desperate to make amends it’s gonna be great. Gerrard will be like a man possessed. I think we’ve won every game since the announcement and Gerrard’s made a mark in all of them. We’ve now got 3 more good players in Markovic, Sakho and Can. Henderson knows he has to start taking the responsibility now and looked good in the first half today. I’m well confident. You may have seen the article on here the other day saying top 4 is finished. I had a look at our competitors results, Southampton took 22 points from their first 10 games and 14 from the second 10. I don’t think they’ll go the distance. Then we’re 2 points behind 5th. The biggest thing for me is the chronology of Rodgers reign. I measure in half seasons and this will be Rodgers 6th. If we get this 4th place then it has to go down as a brilliant half season, especially as we’re still in 3 cups. So the timeline of Rodgers half seasons would say – Awful – Better – Good (but too many frustrating days thrown in) – Unbelievable – Diabolical (for well documented and legitimate reasons) – Excellent. Further proof that Liverpool are moving in the right direction.
Long way to go but I think that’s better for us.
I normally like your stuff, Mike, but I find this unnecessarily churlish. I love our club, but sometimes our sense of entitlement embarrasses me. It’s the only thing that pisses me off about our fans. Only at LFC can a player who joins at 8 and leaves when he (as near as dammit) retires be accused of disloyalty. And yes, you didn’t use the word, although you did everything but. “Treachery”?
And why would you think it “absurd” that someone like Gerrard – who you concede was perennially wracked by self-doubt – would imagine the club may not want him in the summer of 2005? We had a new manager who clearly had different ideas to Gerrard about where he should be played, Alonso was now in situ and the club had yet to cough up a contract. If during such a period Gerrard hadn’t contemplated the possibility that his aspirations may be better met by the cash-rich London club that were the new champions of England, led by their all-conquering, enigmatic new coach, then he’d have been insane. He’s not insane so he did, but what matters is not that he flirted with the idea, but that he eventually ditched it. If the worst he can be accused of in 17 years at the club is thought-crime, I think he’s done okay.
As much as I love Rafa – some of his substitutions in the 09/10 season were batshit crazy. If you’re telling me you weren’t watching those games aghast at some of the changes made by Rafa (and the time he made them) you were in a very small minority from what I can recall.
Wanting to play in your favoured position for the full 90 is the minimum I expect from a professional footballer. To criticize Gerrard for not appreciating the fact his wishes were not always accommodated is not realistic. He was/is better than his team-mates, but he’s as human as the rest of them. The test is not whether he grinned like a demented cat when he was deployed out right or rotated, but rather whether he continued to spill his guts in the cause when this happened? Given his most prolific seasons (06, 08 and 09) came when he was playing everywhere but CM, we know the answer to that question is “yes”.
You’re bright enough to realize that you’ll miss him when he’s gone without a no-mark like me telling you that, but along with a non-trivial number of other LFC fans I think you’re guilty of unrealistic expectations where Gerrard is concerned. When/if you’ve been married for 17 years, write down all the things that piss you off most about your partner. I’ll bet it’ll come to a longer list than anything you can justifiably lay at Gerrard’s door.
Then remind yourself how much you love your partner.
Spot on mate
Bang on. Nothing more to add.
A very complex, well-articulated article Michael which adequately mirrors the deeply complex man called Steven Gerrard. Gerrard undoubtedly displays some of the personal uncertainties to which you refer, who doesn’t, but who can ever doubt his contribution to his Club, team-mates and fans over the 17 gruelling seasons that are now coming to a final conclusion.
For many of these seasons he captained the side and was expected to carry the burden of his Club’s expectations when a more perceptive management might have recognised that perhaps he was not the best person to fulfill the captaincy, especially so in his latter years when he needed all his waning powers to concentrate on his own performances.
I agree that the Gerrard-less side v Swansea played with a high tempo and relish which has been missing for much of this season and this attitude will need to continue when Steven has eventually gone, others will need to breathe deeper in his absence and deliver. For deliverance is one thing that we came to expect of Gerrard, to get us out of a hole so many times, and his achievements in many games are evidence of his steely determination.
Whether we see his final game at Anfield or Wembley, one thing will be certain, there will be many games to come when we think…………if only Gerrard were still with us.
Nothing churlish about your article, mate!
I agree with practically every single word in it, and find your tone ‘just right’.
Extremely churlish . Talk about writing an article about nothing really. Author sounds like he’s trying to picture Gerrard as some sort of whining traitor.. Grow the fuck up. He’s been our best player for the past 15 years he deserves more respect than that.
The people who come on here and offer nothing but ridiculous empty criticism of TAW’s top-quality writers, in barely more than Tweet-length comments, are nothing but laughable.
Write something worthwhile your own damn self that shows you have a functioning brain cell, can actually use English grammar and spelling correctly, and have a scintilla of critical thinking. Then possibly someone will listen to what you say. Otherwise, you’re a waste of space.
brilliant and bang on…great player but there was 2 people in 1 player..steve gerarx and stevie me…he and carra made rafa last season a nightmare with their media buddies …
I don’t agree with all your points but I do agree with most of them
He has been great for the club but his best years are long gone and it’s time to move on
I don’t see why Rodgers thought it was necessary to manage carragher and not stevie
I would argue that if we kept Jamie another season we would have won the league because he is a natural leader and although stevie always gets the credit for dragging Liverpool to win certain games for me it discredits the likes of Jamie .
Stevie has been on borrowed time and Brendan should have managed him better and more effectively instead of trying to keep him happy
It has cost us points and will continue to do so
Brendan brought stevie back in for the Leicester game and pushed Jordan out of position to accommodate stevie
We dropped points that we shouldn’t drop
You can point out that stevie scored the 2 goals but in reality both were penalties that glossed over his performance
This has happened far too often in recent years
Yep, I blame the guy who got two goals. Not the other 7 midfielders who realistically compete with Gerrard for a midfield spot who, with 100 collective appearances between them this season, have contributed 13 – count them – 13 goals.
We played well for ONE HALF against Swansea. We played very well, but it was one half. We played well for 2 halves away at Spurs in what in any other circumstances would be considered our “best performance of the season”, but we can’t say that given ‘Stevie Me’ played, so please forget I ever mentioned it.
A superb article, full of common sense, truth and realism.
Highlighting, among other things, Gerrard’s vile lack of effort in Benitez’s last season, as well as his unprofessional public reactions to substitutions, won’t go down well with the fanboys who will not accept a single tarnish on the reputation of Mr Liverpool and will make every excuse under the sun for the departing captain.
It says so much that it has only received a few comments while other pieces on Gerrard have received dozens.
Excellent article. Very informative when pieced together like that. Respect for giving your honest opinion bearing in mind many people won’t like any hint of Gerrard being questioned. I believe too many people say what they think they’re supposed to say, and I’m talking in life rather than LFC related. The good thing about the articles on here is they often make you see things in a different light. I’m starting to realise the only way you get to the truth is by stripping emotion out of the equation so in some ways, I can understand Gerrard wanting to leave in the past. The truth is, we couldn’t match his aspirations. He gets one short career, is it all about him or us?
We’re Liverpool fans, Robin. Of course it’s all about *US*.
Haha, I’m saying nothing because I probably think it is.
And ‘Steve Me’? We can’t even think up our own slights and have to borrow those created for us by our fiercest rivals. FFS.
I suggest if a ‘Stevie Me’ had ever existed, he’d have left LFC on one of the estimated 10 times he was openly courted by the biggest clubs in Europe, probably going to Chelsea in 04/05 and then Madrid in 09/10. ‘Stevie Me’ would be retiring this year as probably the most decorated player in British football with at least twice as much in the bank as Stevie G does today. Meanwhile, the counterfactual LFC would have spent the 2004-2014 period redefining what it means to be mediocre, spending each year fighting it out with Villa for 10th.
‘Stevie Me’. What a bunch of self-entitled wankspangles.
The question of why America over Europe is a simple one. He is going to have his sperm washed a la Beckham. The hints are there, talking about family experiences. We should rejoice, in 20 years time we will have another Gerrard to cheer.
For the past 10 years I’ve been struggling to put my finger on what went wrong.We were so great;we had it all.And then it all fell apart over the last 10 years.
I think the expression is “nail on head” sums it up.I was thinking it might have had something to do with Hicks and Gillette.I also thought that Moore’s didn’t help much.And as for Parry and Purslow…..well….
But now I understand.It was all Steven Gerrard’ s fault!
Thanks for clearing that up.
From the off, your thesis rests on an incorrect assumption: Stevie did indeed say that had a contract been offered in the summer, he would have signed it. You wrongly take this to mean that to wait till November (presumably, because they wanted to monitor his performances) was a bridge too far for him. He’s on record as saying that in the time between the end of last season and November, the talk with Brendan took place, and he realized that he would have to agree to be slowly phased out if he was to remain a Liverpool player. That’s what made his decision for him, not the lateness of the contract. He would have signed in the summer because back then there had been no talk of managing his game time, simple as that.
Steven Gerrard could have worn Chelsea blue or Madrid white, or indeed, a rainbow of colors from all over Europe, and beyond, and collected trophies every season. And despite twice flirting with the idea, he never left. To be forever second with Liverpool was, to him, preferable to winning with anybody else. As a supporter, that means more to me than any clash with any manager or any amount of self-importance on his part.
What Ricardo said.
I lost all respect for him when he named Glen Johnson as the best right-back he has played with at Liverpool.
“Welsh woollyback”. I’m embarrassed to read that. Was Ian Rush a Welsh woollyback? What’s being Welsh got to do with anything? A lot of our fans are a Welsh. It’s near Liverpool. A lot nearer than Spain, for example.
Forget the bickering, the insinuations, the “what might have beens”, all the self-recriminations, you’re all getting too philosophical. For me Gerrard carried the LFC red flag against the real enemies of the Blue Shite and MUFC.
Tell you something, the first thing that any opposing manager or team looked for in a hard-fought important game v Liverpool FC was Gerrard’s name on the teamsheet.
In every game against these arch rivals he gave us what we, as Red fans wanted, 100% commitment allied with consumate skills and the winning mentality. I’ve got my memories, admittedly fading as are Gerrard’s abilities, but I only hope the new-comers from Italy, Brazil et al have the same tenacity as a lad from Huyton.
I admire and respect Steven Gerrard tremendously, but the club’s mantra has long been that no individual player is bigger than the club. Putting emotion and sentiment aside, as suggested in a comment above, it begins to feel like Stevie did want his own interests and desires placed above what everybody else — the fans, the media, the manager — had come round to realise.
I think it was not a matter of Brendan poorly managing Stevie. I think Brendan tried respectfully to give Stevie chances to see the reality and reach his own conclusion about his situation. When Stevie was unable to do that Brendan took needed action and the fateful meeting occurred that forced Stevie to look at the truth.
This is man management grounded in respect and honour and decency. Unfortunately, Stevie is not ready to accept that he’s entered into a period of transition. All he’s ever known his entire life is the dream and desire of lacing up those boots and pulling on that red kit. He does not want to go gently into that good night that is faced by all people nearing retirement from what they have devoted their lives to and hope to prolong as far as possible. But the day will come. Inevitably.
It’s sad that day will be in a place where its meaning won’t be fully appreciated, and it will mean little to the fans in the stands. And I earmestly hope the tide in Liverpool will not turn in a way that changes prospects for him to one day return in another capacity. But time marches on, and Stevie will soon learn what he has given up and risked for a few more chances to walk out of a tunnel in a foreign land that happens to have nice weather — because that’s what Los Angeles is, and Stevie will soon come to realise it.
“it begins to feel like Stevie did want his own interests and desires placed above what everybody else — the fans, the media, the manager — had come round to realise. ”
Leaving aside the presumption that you’re speaking for a majority of fans (or the media), imagine that, eh? After 16 years of unquestionable commitment to his boyhood club, putting himself and his family first? The selfish fucking bastard.
“Stevie is not ready to accept that he’s entered into a period of transition.”
He’s probably taken a look around him at the mediocrity that constitute the rest of the midfield and come to the same conclusion as many others, which is that whilst his powers are waning, he’s more than good enough to play in this team.
I make no presumption whatsoever — except awareness of the ranting by fans on social media, calls-ins to talk-shows on broadcast media, pundits and commentators hinting at it during and after games, articles in print media week after week for the past 2 months stating outright or implying that Stevie should be ‘cut’ or at least ‘rested’ or his playing time ‘managed’, and the fact that the manager dared to try to ‘rest’ him a few times.
I also started my comment by saying I respect and admire Steven Gerrard tremendously. His contribution and loyalty to Liverpool Football Club are unparalleled and will probably never be matched in our lifetime. Sadly, OptaJoe doesn’t do ‘Loyalty’ stars.
Apart from that, every player must recognise at some point that he has to begin a transition. Stevie has chosen not to accept that yet. He has to write his own script then for the rest of his playing career.
People will come to watch him in the U.S., but nobody there will love and revere him as he is loved and revered in Liverpool. He never left Liverpool out of loyalty — and no doubt because they met his financial expectations and he was always assured of being played fully for every game. Clearly he’s not ready to give up the limelight, though it’s been said his wages of about £72,000 will apparently be 172nd in the MLS hierarchy, and his base wages will be far less than 20-year-old Raheem Sterling. So it’s clearly not about the money then — except for all the endorsements — ah, the endorsements — the lifeblood of elite American athletes.
Oops… Typo — meant to say ‘Loyalty’ stats (not stars)
Well said Ellie (regarding your reply below), it has become somewhat tiresome to see Brownie repeatedly jump on anyone who dares to comment on Gerrard in any way which can be construed as negative. We each have our opinions on Gerrard and you are as entitled as anyone to post yours on this open comments area.
Yes, if the professionally outraged cockwombles phoning into 606 aren’t representative of LFC fans, who is, eh?
Nodoby knows the details of what was discussed with Rodgers, but there is managing games and managing games. If Gerrard is told he’s still considered a mainstay of the side and will play in our most important games but will likely sit out cups and the odd Burnley at home, that’s one thing. If he’s told he’s playing one in three, that’s another. I’d agree a move towards the former is inevitable and I dare say Gerrard would have had no problem with such an arrangement, but something approaching the latter is not going to be acceptable, not least because it is predicated on the notion that the rest of our current midfield is superior to the fading Gerrard, which it is not and it is this view that is shared by most journos, pundits and fans I listen to, including fans of other teams who – if you ask them – are yet to be convinced that the Lucas-Hendo-Allen-Can axis has done anything like enough to see Gerrard relegated to the bench most games.
Your last paragraph is just more of the snidey crap I’ve remarked on earlier, all based on a presumption to know the mind of someone you’ve never met.
Why are you having a go at me? This is an open Comments area associated with a TAW article. Express your thoughts and let others express theirs. I respect your opinion and your right to have it; please try to show me the sane respect. It’s not a competition, so chill dude. Go off to your local and down a pint to take the edge off.
I’m not having a go at you, Ellie. I’m having a go at what you’ve written. I don’t know you but on the basis on other comments I’ve seen from you I’ve got no reason to think you’re anything other than a decent person.
I’m nearly as chilled as my bottle of Riesling.
“…so why the flit to the footballers’ retirement home that is the American League…”
I’d take issue with that statement as it’s pretty outdated now. Gerrard the exception, most “big name” players are coming to MLS nearer 31-32 (Keane, Kaka, Villa, Henry, etc…) and the league’s emphasisnow seems to be to shun those names unless it’s a good deal, and spend the mega bucks going for young exciting prospects from South America or lower leagues.
The standard isn’t as good, but the pace of the game is Premier League level almost – similar style (direct, move the ball forward quickly), so his ageing legs will be tested. If he wanted a stroll, he could’ve gone elsewhere.
And average attendances mean it is the 8th best supported league in world football.
Considering it wasn’t supported much when the world cup went to the states 20 years ago, becoming eighth in two decades shows which way the wind is blowing.
8th best supported in world football, perhaps, but that must be seen in context of the fact it is only the 4th most popular professional team sport in the U.S., with only 8.2% of TV sports viewers — hugely eclipsed by American football’s 38.8%. Compare that to 46% of UK sports viewers who watch Association Football. (Source: Wikipedia)
Until they start building stadia that can seat 300 million people, so what? The U.S. is a big place. The point is that this view that the MLS is the equivalent of a testimonial league played out in front of a handful of bewildered Americans is about 40 years out of date.
Really good article and paints a more balanced picture of the Gerrard years than a lot of the other articles I have seen in the last week or so.
For the record, I think his is the right time for Gerrard to go. He can’t play forever and his continued presence will stop the wider team from developing. You only need to look at last five nil win at Spurs and the recent win at Swansea to see that there is the potential to be a good side
I just wanted to make one point about the article. I think it’s harsh to say his slip cost us the title. Yes, it was a bad mistake at a crucial part of the season, but it was only one in a number of mistakes made by the whole team throughout a long season. In that game alone, our inability to break down Chelsea and get back into the game put a question against our title winning credentials.
Throughout the season we made many defensive mistakes that ultimately led to conceding 50 odd goals. That is not title winning performance either. The Kolo mistake at West Brom for example likely cost us two points and there are others examples
Without wanting to blame the lad, I think Hendersons late sending off against City, had a greater bearing on the title than the Gerrard slip. Henderson had been the engine of the side in the last few months and I am convinced we would have got a better result against Chelsea and Palace had he been in he side
Agree with Chris
Also I think this situation has been managed spectacularly well by stevies people.
It was clear when he released a statement so publicly that he hadn’t been offered a contract yet that he had an agenda ( that agenda was of course to secure his future and there is nothing wrong with that. He has served the club well over the years and has to look after his own interests )
The timing of statements have been perfect to maximise coverage and exposure to brand stevie. But some of the articles I have read have been over the top – the sort of thing you would expect when someone died, over glorification of the stature and importance of the person. Stevie of course isn’t dead , far from it. He will have many seasons ahead of him in states where he will influence games the way he has For Liverpool and there will be many stevie fanatics pointing out that we never should have let him go but let’s weigh this up. Robbie Keane was player of the season last time round and we had him when he was in his prime many years ago and he wasn’t good enough ! The point being stevie still wants to play every minute of every game and the states is somewhere he can do that. Stevie recognises that and the club need to move on and build for the future.
Stevie moving on isn’t the biggest problem at the club. We need a keeper and a proven goalscorer and keeping stevie isn’t the answer to either of these problems
The mist ridiculous and pointless warste of words I have read on the Steven Gerrard story
Bitter to the point that it could have been a Blushite writing it
Great article Mike and the closest to my own thoughts on Stevie. I have often wondered what Gerrard values most. I understand the player from a small club that moves to a big one in order to fulfil his ambition and win medals and be part of the elite. I can also understand a player staying at the club they supported as a boy and rejecting moves away and the potential medals.
Yet Gerrard lived the dream and is still not happy, you make it as a pro and you play for your local club that is steeped in history and at the age of 21 you have a cup treable and you play for your country. You then captain the side in the greatest sporting comeback on the biggest stage the world has ever seen, and in the middle of all this you think about joining Chelsea because …. and this is where I struggle. You want to win the league title and play with Drogba, Lampard and Terry? Above playing for your club in your city?
I am from Troutbeck in the Lake District and if I had been a pro I would have only wanted to play for Liverpool, if I played for another team it would have been a stepping stone on the way to Liverpool. Had Real Madrid or Barca come knocking I would have said thanks but no thanks. I can say this easily because I am not a footballer and never had to make such decisions some would say. However, I would argue that we all make decisions of this type at some point in our lives, do we stay in the same job with people we know or do we upsticks for more money and a new life that may be more glamorous but also more shallow.
Most people would look at what they had and then compare that with the potential new life and the good and bad it could bring. Going back to Gerrard what could Chelsea offer him that Liverpool couldn’t? A couple of premiership titles and the chance to be a Chelsea legend like Torres became, or Owen did at Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester? You should always be careful what you wish for.
Which brings us to Gerrards dreams and Rafa; Gerrard wants an elite manager and somehow Parry gets Rafa and the first thing that happens is Rafa buys Alonso and Gerrard is moved out of midfield. It’s not that Rafa doesn’t rate Gerrard but he sees his strength and weakness different to others. In simple terms he sees Gerrard closer to being a Dalglish than a Souness.
Some players embrace a change of position as Ray Kennedy, Carra and Kuyt did but even though he scored a bucket load of goals I never felt that Gerrard fully accepted this and felt that he was being played out of position. Had another manager come in or had Gerrard gone to Chelsea he would have probably stayed in CM and developed.
Gerrards greatest asset, his dynamic rampaging brilliance and versatility had become his greatest weakness because it allowed managers to play him in a variety of positions in most cases to get the best out of other less versatile players such as Alonso for Liverpool and Scholes, Beckham , Lampard and Rooney for England.
This could be considered a sad tale had Gerrard and Torres not formed the most devastating attack in European football smashing every major team along the way and making Liverpool the one team in Europe that everyone feared. Very few players have a team built around their strengths but Rafa build everything around Gerrard and yet…and yet…a lack of understanding from both sides undermined things and Rafa left and Gerrard went back to CM after a 5 year absence was good, but not great. Alonso meanwhile became the world class CM that 5 years of top flight European football gives you.
For me those 5 years cost Gerrard developing as a CM, and I think he has been trying to recapture them ever since. What I think is unfortunate is that Stevie never realised how good he was as a rampaging no 10. A Dalglish, Messi, and Souness all in one. Some player.
What utter bullshit from a bitter benitez shagger and to blame us loosing the title because of the slip is facial, did the season end when back scored? Was it Stevie’s fault Suarez & Allen missed sitters away wba/neverton when the games would have been wrapped up(not to mention toures balls up was that Stevie’s fault aswell?) When the we would have clinched the points that won us the title or Stirlings sitter a city that would have got us a draw again won us the title and there are others like Villa at H
Your just a bitter benitez brigadier who blames Stevie for getting rid of your beloved rafa
It’s been in SG’s head and opposition fans haven’t let him forget it. So what ever it was, it has been a debilitating factor. I don’t care who you are, but when a mass says its true its very tough to ignore it, even if it is wrong.
*Ba scored bloody autocorrect
New low this article Rather than celebrate the best Liverpool player of a generation, Instead make snide insinuation’s and base it all on conjecture and a viewpoint based on an obvious jealousy and small man mentality
We don’t need opposition fan’s slagging off player’s we do a lot better job Read’s like some of the “genius” comment’s on RAWK Well done …
Fair play an insightful piece Mike, one that must have been hard for you to articulate especially knowing the brickbats that were going to come your way for being honest about your thoughts on a club icon.
This is why I like TAW, they do have viewpoints that encapsulate a lot of different fans thoughts and outlooks.
Reading this article on 22 March 2015 after we’ve just lost 2-1 to United at Anfield after Gerrard came on as a second half sub and got an instant red card after stamping on Herrera. It just makes me agree with everything said here. One of our greatest talents, but so selfish and self fulfilling. I guess he is human after all.