WE HAVE been haunted in recent seasons by the ghosts of Gerrard past contends PAUL LITTLE. The skipper was like a troubled spirit that couldn’t move on, as in some clichéd poltergeist nonsense. The Anfield Haunting, if you like. Clanking his chains round midfield, a ghostly lost figure, an increasingly sorry reminder, a positive influence for so long that had gradually morphed into a negative, a burden, increasingly a space for others to fill.
It is rather sad to think of a club legend in that way – but it was the reality of recent times, and most perniciously last season, where the skipper also managed to become a distraction.
I often wonder how the aging Gerrard might have been handled in Liverpool’s halcyon days. What would Bob Paisley have done, for instance? Would Paisley have looked to accommodate the player for so long? Or would Stevie have been eased out in or before his early 30s like so many other legends were under Bob – as a ready-made replacement stepped in to fill the breach and push us on?
Of course, back then, by dint of his incredible standing in the game, Paisley could do just that. He’d been around long enough, he’d succeeded enough, for his judgment not to be questioned.
Brendan Rodgers has not had that kind of room for manoeuvre, naturally. And with the club in an almost constant state of churn and chassis, Gerrard was allowed to become – or simply just became – almost bigger than the club itself.
His name, even when his powers were on the wane, was synonymous with all Anfield endeavours. His efforts and those of the club intertwined – almost in a death hug by the end. Witness the embarrassment of his last home league game as evidence – a game where three points were up for grabs, even if they ultimately were meaningless in the grand scheme of things, was allowed to become a festival of sentiment, by one side at least.
Crystal Palace, however, gleefully, painfully, and correctly reminded us that such carry on should be consigned to post-season testimonials and that professional football is tough and often unfeeling.
The 3-1 defeat came to symbolise all that had been slowly going awry in a club too often leaning on one man. A man, increasingly forlornly, raging against the dying of the light. And now he’s gone. Gone to the other side. Gone to California. And in a way we are all free, even Steven Gerrard. Perhaps, watching his wide smiles across the Atlantic, especially Steven Gerrard.
In many ways a burden has now been lifted. Rodgers no longer has to figure out what to do with a player who even in his playing pomp caused managers positional difficulties. He no longer has to turn a blind eye to the failing legs. No longer has to accommodate. No longer has to worry about the daft media and many fans who would have screamed blue bloody murder had he benched the skipper in his last 6 months.
Now those who had learned all they could from him, no longer have to cover for him on the pitch. Now they can play their own game and not theirs and a bit of his.
It may seem harsh. It may seem disrespectful – but Gerrard, 35-year-old Gerrard, no longer being involved in our engine room is a good thing for all concerned. He has left with deserved applause and adulation in his ears. Those left behind are free to get on with it and get on with it they must.
Personally, given the evidence of Liverpool’s only decent run last season when the skipper was notable by his absence, I believe they will. I believe that with no passengers, our midfield should be able to provide the kind of platform our creative players and forwards crave. They should also be able to provide a much better defensive buffer for our often harassed defence. And ultimately, I believe that Brendan Rodgers will be able to get his players playing the kind of collective, cohesive, front foot, attacking football he believes in.
So thank you Gerrard, thank you for all your incredible, death-defying efforts. But no one beats time. And in the end, I am happy in the knowledge that it really was ok for you to let go and move on and looking forward to a season of discovery of what these footballers actually are and aren’t capable of in your absence.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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I love Gerrard, and even more so, who he was to LFC.. But time is no man’s friend, and often, time passes us by before we realise what is really happening…. I wish him all the best for his time in the States…
Now, time for the next generation to step up and take the mantle….
Unfortunately I think his “ghost” will be around for some time yet.
Wait for the first loss when the midfield is poor and the cries of “that wouldn’t happen is Stevie was playing” will surface. And we will only remember him in his imperious form not the shadow that played out the back end of last season.
It will take some time yet for his “presence” to wane.
More scapegoating from the pro BR brigade, yeah so it was all Gerros fault? Nothing to do with an inept manager who tried 7 different RB/RWB’s in one season while he turfed out Kelly for just 1.5m.
There was no weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth when Suarez was being sold because BR thought he’d achieve greatness on the back of his own superior coaching and motivational skills. I recall Gary Mcallister having his best season at 35 and Scholes coming back into a title winning team at the same age but hey lets just make yet more excuses for Todgers shall we? Yeah whatever.
Gary Mac’s best season was inning title at Leeds. Gerrard is done – it doesn’t matter who the manager is.
It doesn’t matter now, but it would have done over the last couple of seasons. You yourself ask in the article “what would Bob Paisley have done?” You know what he would have done. He’d have sold him years ago:
“Let them lose their legs on someone else’s pitch” – Bob Paisley
Other managers more secure in their ability and position, like Rafa, would have rotated him and rested him and looked after his legs for the last two or three years of his time here, thereby extending his brilliance for longer and not having the team hostage to his failing ability to cover ground. Results would have been better, and so too would Steven’s contribution.
In any case, with the way things panned out, the ghost of Gerrard has gone. His performances last season should be too fresh in the mind for anyone to use his departure to question our new midfield. Like you, I am 100% sure it will function much better now.
Although as I said in another post I do fear for the balance still, a concern I had in the last few years when Steven’s ghost did play.
And Reddo, you’re doing yourself and your argument no favour making every thread about Rodgers. Calling him Todgers make matters worse. He’s staying for the next few months at the very least. Get used to it.
So you’re implying Todgers would have won trophies IF gerro wasn’t in the team? Haa haa incredible logic mate, Todgers sabotaged last season as he was sulking over Transfer Committee signings, the man is an utter fool
Padraig, catch yourself on. When SG was rested/dropped last season the media and sections of the fan base went apoplectic! Vice versa when he played and and BR was accused of being afraid to drop him!
The evidence is there for practically every match last season when SG wasn’t injured. If there is an agenda an argument will always be construed to suit it!
No idea what you’re saying here. Why do I have to catch myself on? Maybe you didn’t understand my comment.
The author asked what other managers would have done with Gerrard. He specifically asked what would Paisley have done with Gerrard.
I gave a direct quote from Paisley to show what he would have done. Do you think Paisley would have cared what the media said? Or sections of the fan base? In any case I don’t think there was too much outcry in the media over Gerrard being rested and the only fans who disagreed were morons still living in 2007.
My point regarding Rodgers handling of Gerrard is simple and two fold: One, Rodgers should have been managing his game time for years, but he was too insecure in himself to do that to a club legend, so played him relentlessly. This speeded up Gerrards demise as a footballer. Two, when it was clear last September his legs had gone, he shouldn’t have kept playing him.
As you say the evidence shows we picked up much more points without him than with him. But you seem to think I was arguing for his constant selection when that is the exact thing I was arguing again. Next time read something and understand it before replying. That way you don’t look like a fool.
Padraig – that’s my point! Rodgers was damned either way. He did drop/rest him and was criticised and vice versa. Look at Real Madrid reaction versus the Aston villa semi final reaction.
Maybe he simply did what he did because he thought it was best for the team. To say he was too insecure is pure conjecture as there are numerous examples of Gerrard being dropped last season, coming off the bench against utd etc.
He was not damned either way. There were a hundred times as many people saying Gerrard was finished and needed dropping. There were only a few blind idiots thinking Gerrard still deserved him place and thats because they could see no wrong in a club legend because of his past deeds, not what was in front of their very eyes.
You seem to be ignoring that Rodgers should have managed his game time far better in the preceding years, the way other managers have done with fading stars, so they can last at a higher level for longer. And not only his game time but he could have played him in a position which was less demanding. Going to the base of a diamond in a team as attacking as ours was not that.
But even if you ignore this and just focus on when his legs went and not why they went so quickly, it was crystal clear against West Ham in September he was gone. Finished. Given the runaround by Stuart Downing. After looking like a man 5 years older against Villa and City before that.
And what did Rodgers do? Played him from the start until injury intervened in December. There was not numerous examples of him being dropped. He was on the bench against United because he was coming back from injury. Rodgers moved him from position and position just to get him in the team. Played him at the base of a diamond in a 4-4-2. Played him in a 2 in a 4-2-3-1. Played him in the 3 in a 4-2-3-1. Played him as a second striker in a 4-2-2-2 at home to West Brom. Played him in 3 different positions away to QPR. Played him up front and ahead of Ricky Lambert in a 4-3-3 against Ludogorets because it was felt Lambert could do more pressing in midfield. And as you even admit yourself(!) we were a far better team without Gerrard in it.
All because he was Steven Gerrard. If any other player had performed like him there is simply no way he’d have continued to be selected in the 11 time after time. It boggles my mind that anyone can deny that now. To say that maybe Rogers thought this was in the best interests of the team is to accuse Rodgers of the worst type of incompetence his biggest critics don’t think him capable of.
So its not conjecture. Even Rodgers’ biggest supporters agree because of his inexperience and lack of trophies he had to get and keep Gerrard onside. If he lost Gerrard he lost the dressing room, the club and his job. Thats why he treated him the way he did. It was only after his injury and our subsequent run of good results without him, and making sure there wouldn’t be uproar on the Kop, did Rodgers realise he simply couldn’t play Gerrard for 90 minutes every game.
So as I said in my original comment, in response to the article, top managers secure in themselves would have treated him differently. You never answered my questions to you on Paisley because you know the answers counter your point. A better manager, a more successful manager, a more ruthless manager and Gerrard gets a lot less football last season, if he would still have been at Liverpool at all.
“Let them lose their legs on someone else’s pitch” – Bob Paisley
Really is that why Gerro had offers from Real Madrid and other huge European clubs in recent years? He’s gone now but should have picked up 3 trophies in the last 3 years if it wasn’t for the muppet Todgers
Who is this ‘Todgers’ chap you keep referring to? That’s the worst about the school holidays, all the kids have nothing to do during the day.
Reddo awoke to bells ringing in the new season all over Merseyside. “You there, lad, what day is it?” “Why, it’s the start of the new season, sir,”
Another decent article with an interesting point of view.
However the comments section on TAW is becoming like the Echo website…bile against anyone connected with LFC is not required at anytime, let alone when the person in question has nothing to do with the article.
Get a life, grow up and if you have nothing positive to say before the season starts then shut the fuck up and go and follow another team, as I and countless other Reds don’t want to hear it.
Like the Echo except it’s ‘Bodgers’ there, ‘Todgers’ here. What else – ‘Codgers’?
The sad reality is that Gerrard probably could have revisited the deep lying regista role if we had more mobility up top. We were too static and that rendered him little more than a painfully slow defensive midfielder that could be marked out of the game.
Sadly, the indignities came thick in fast for our hero. I can only imagine how bittersweet his birthday must have been. At least he’s in a better place now, far from where the parasitic journalists can endlessly revisit The Slip.
We go again.
The deep-lying regista role for Gerrard (and others who can do it effectively) only works with the right personnel accompanying him.
Well said caf mate. Article is true in lots of ways and isn’t at all disrespectful to Gerrard. I’m taking the view that although chance creation could be an issue with Milner,Henderson and Lucas say as a three it don’t half look energetic and combative. If you add clyne stepping forward into midfield at times then whoever we are playing better be able to move that ball quick coz those four quick strong and aggressive as ud see really. Gerrard towards the end left us lopsided and disjointed when under pressure through no fault of his own. He couldn’t get across when wed lose the ball and the counter for them was always on too easily. I think as a unit our midfield should function better. Defensively most certainly in my opinion.
I think both Carra and Gerrard stayed 3/4 years too long respectively, and had Rafa won the league in 08/09 I think he would have replaced them in the same way Paisley replaced Phil Thommo as captain in1982 with Souness and then with Lawrenson as a CB. This is one reason why both Carra and Gerrard preferred Hodgeson to Rafa. Carra I imagine would have been shipped out to a team akin to Wolves like Emlyn Hughes for between £5-£10 mil and Gerrard to Madrid for £20-£25 mil in the same way Souness was sold for £1.2mil in 1984 to Sampdoria aged 31. Thats what i would have done, I think its what Paisley, Fagan and Rafa would have done and it would have been the last thing Hodgeson, Rodgers or sadly Kenny would have done
Lets speak the unspeakable, Gerrard did cost us the league, the season before last.
It wasn’t a slip, he wasn’t looking as the ball came his way, he slipped trying to catch up with it, and Demba Ba collected and scored. Then the twat Maureen brought on Torres.
That man hates us doesn’t he?
I do not blame Stevie for that error. However I do blame him for the 40secs against Manure this season when he got himself sent off, 35yrs old and on £190,000 week, he should not have become a school kid again, after that we fell apart.
This season will be so different, no one defers to him, Rodgers will not have to fit him in and pay lip service to him. We’ll revel in our mobility.
Thanks for the European and FA Cups you won for us Stevie, God Bless son.
You are probably right. But Denba Ba was 20 metres from any other Liverpool player and I don’t recall Gerrard being his ostensible marker.
Bob Paisley was out greatest manager, not Shanks. Shanks was put creator, but Paisley was his right hand man and polished the work. He would certainly not have allowed SG to atrophy as he did, he would have found a Championship niche for him. But his wages would have mitigated against that solution.
Just for once I don’t blame Rodgers for his handling of Gerrard. He was in an invidious position really. His chance to ease him out came at the beginning of last season when BR had the aura of finishing 2nd still illuminating him and an intake of likely new players. Injury to Lucas and tactical naivety intervened, unfortunately.
I think the ghost of last season was still a top player the year before. So seasons past plural seems a bit much. Watch the total team goals when lfc finished 2nd. Gerrard involved in many, not just pks, but his delivery. I think this is thus a bit harsh on him. He was still driving the team. Nobody wants to watch their heroes overcome. I think Gerrard handled it best he could. Franchises often have to go through this transition when a legend departs, and I expect a rebound this year. But that’s not on Stevie, just the nature of the transition.
Gerrard did not cost us the league in 2013/14. This negative opinion completely ignores his positive contributions through leadership, goals and assists that season. Remember Fulham away for example?
If we’re gonna talk about what cost us the league you could look at the defeat to City away at the Etihad. Shocking refereeing and a big mistake by Mignolet contributed to a 2-1 defeat. A one goal differential in that game, we get a draw and the title is ours all other results being the same.
The team performance away at Hull? Kolo’s mistake cost us 2 points away at West Brom etc.. You can’t state Gerrard cost us the league, it simply isn’t factual.
My opinion is in 2014/15 Gerrard should have made 20/30 min contributions from the bench. Never mind the howling social media and press.
Sadly, I thing Gerrard let hubris get the better of him and decided he was bigger than the club: one of the dangers of being THE main man for so long I suppose.
Rodgers was in a no-win situation when it came to SG: he knew very well he was a young manager with no history of trophies and he would get a majority of the support off-side if he moved Gerrard on.
He had a tough tightrope to walk and I think he did pretty well. A lot of the twitter-mentality support use Gerrard’s departure as yet another stick to beat Rodgers with, but they are deliberately living in la la land.
Rodgers’ reported conversation with Gerrard – the one in which Gerrard was told he wouldn’t be first choice any longer; the one that came during a poor spell of form for the club when Rodgers was under great pressure – was, for me, a sign that the manager was prepared to throw himself under a delusional-fan-driven bus to put the team first.
Anybody doubting that Rodgers bent over backwards to accommodate Gerrard need only re-read the piece recounting the manner of Rodger Hunt’s departure.
In his heart of hearts Gerrard would have known he was past it, but he chose to put himself before club. If he honestly thought he was still worthy of being a first choice in the EPL, but didn’t want to play against Liverpool (as he claimed), why the MLS?
Why not Spain, Italy or Germany? Or was it that no clubs from the top leagues were clamouring for his services?
He’s a club legend and I wish him all the best, but for mine he took advantage of Rodgers’ desire to do the right thing by him and cost the team, and the manager, crucial points.
Good post. I’m not looking to blame Gerrard – after all, his decision was also difficult. But Rodgers, as you say, was in a very difficult situation. The point now is that it is done – and we enter a new era where Rodgers can and should now impose his philosophy on the players – his players. Gerrard was both a crutch and an excuse in the end. That time is now past.
Indeed. If Gerrard helps Galaxy to an MLS title then nobody will be happier than me. I just pray that nobody succumbs to the notion of getting him back on loan during the USA off-season.
Anyhoo, I think Hendo will really come into his own now that the armband is his by right and Rodgers will be able plan with more freedom.
Can’t wait for the new season. Onwards and upwards!
Good article, always found Stevie to be a bit of a paradox really, he was at the same time inperative to have in the team but a burden in terms of other players advancement. Especially so when we had Xabi where I didn’t worry if he wasn’t playing as I felt we were a more complete team, especially in midfield. The home derby in 06 being the best example.
I have to be honest, I forgot about Stevie over the summer until I read this article and it was a great read. I think itl be fascinating seeing us operate without Gerrard. As much as I love the man and the player, I’m not worried about us as a team. We’ve coped without him before, such as the period of time when Kenny was in charge when we were at our best from March to Christmas 2011 when he was injured for a lot of it. This article is another piece from The Anfield Wrap that is making me more and more excited for the coming season.
Gerrard, who is leaving the famous English Premier League club after 17 seasons and over 700 appearances, was playing his last home game as a permanent Liverpool player before heading to Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS.