If there is one player in the Premier League who deserves to get his hands on the League trophy, one player who deserves all the accolades for showing loyalty to his club, and one midfielder in this world who can be called ‘complete’, it’s Steven Gerrard.
After bursting onto the season as a dynamic player from the academy twelve years ago, the Liverpool skipper has transformed into one of the best midfielders ever to have played the game and was regarded as the best player in the world an year ago by a former great, Zinedine Zidane. However, he has unfinished business at Liverpool; something which seems further away from completion than ever before, something which he would have dearly liked to do years ago but desperately wants to do now.
Stevie, as the scousers call him, is short of one medal in his cabinet, the Premiership winner’s medal. It’s unfortunate that he has grown up playing for Liverpool FC at a time when the club is recovering from a decline and is far from realising his dream.
He has been on the brink of leaving Liverpool once already and been linked to do so season after season, but is it finally time for him to part ways with his childhood love, in pursuit of greater glory? or will the circumstances at Anfield change to help keep hold of its most prized possession?
Mr. Liverpool, Mr. Indispensable
Amidst all the chaos – the divided owners, the stubborn manager, the manager’s baffling decisions, the injury crisis and sales of players and best friends – Steven Gerrard has stood tall as a symbol of Liverpool football club.
Having scored 130 goals in a red shirt in over 520 appearances for the club, Gerrard has been the driving factor behind each one of Liverpool’s successful domestic or European campaigns for the club in the last decade. He has a unique record of scoring in all four cup finals for Liverpool.
Stevie has the ability to inspire his team and dominate midfield battles. He has a fabulous right foot, an amazing eye for a pass, great tackling ability, a thunderous shot and a knack of scoring goals to often match the best strikers in the world. The unending aura that he carries onto the field has inspired his fellow teammates to great heights while putting his opposition in complete disarray.
Apart from the innumerable features in his kitty, the most remarkable feature of this player is his ability to rise to the occasion when it matters. The wonder strike against Olympiakos in front of the kop, a brilliant header marking the beginning of an unimaginable revival at Istanbul and the stoppage time screamer against West Ham at Wembley – a few of many examples to set him in a class of players that are never short of delivering when the team needs them the most.
The club has been ever reliant on this man to decorate it with success and Gerrard has obliged to do so time and again. In an increasingly competitive environment, Liverpool – often called a ‘one-man team’ – cannot do without their most essential entity.
Season 09-10 – The clincher?
The 2009 -10 season has not turned out to be a memorable one for the skipper, and by default, it hasn’t been for the club either. Being involved in a bar brawl did little to help Gerrard at the beginning of the season, while struggled with injuries which did not allow him to hit top gear. With only 12 goals and 7 assists, the season never picked up for him for the man Liverpool depends on, the most.
After the arrival of Fernando Torres, Gerrard was expected to share the burden of Liverpool’s expectations with the prolific striker. Though the Spanish international has been a linchpin to Liverpool’s title hopes, for a Torres to shine like gold, one needs an alchemist called Gerrard. Torres can only be effective if he has good midfield support that can feed him on a regular basis.
While Torres remained out of action for the majority of the season, it was up to the out-of-form Gerrard to carry the whole team through the never ending string of ordinary performances. Inevitably, when the ball dropped to the skipper, expectations rose and miracles were anticipated. However, with the mediocrity surrounding him, Gerrard could only raise the team to a certain limit.
Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard – one of the best midfields in the world
While Alonso carried out the responsibility of linking defence to attack with ease last season, Gerrard and Torres made up a devastating strike partnership. But after Xabi’s departure, the Liverpool captain has been under tremendous pressure to act as playmaker as well as scorer.
Mascherano and Lucas have not been able to provide the cutting edge in the middle of the park and Benitez’s reluctance to play Aquilani more often has resulted in the frustration of an isolated Gerrard.
There are problems galore at Liverpool football club and though the skipper has stayed professional in his ways, there are times when even he cannot resist reacting in a negative way; the finest example of which was the bewildered look on Gerrard’s face when Torres was substituted at St. Andrew’s.
Bizarre decisions? Captain has no say?
Desperately needing a goal to keep their Champions League hopes alive, Rafa inexplicably replaced one of the best strikers in the world with an unproven youngster. It was a case of ‘deja vu’, as events at Goodison park from two years ago must have flashed across Gerrard’s eyes. Back then, the expressions told a story – story of a lack of trust he had in his manager and a lack of comprehending his decisions.
Sadly, times haven’t changed and Liverpool are no closer to achieving Stevie’s dream than they were a few years back. The last season was a mere mirage in the barren desert of this club’s recent success in the league.
Will he, wont he?
The nineteenth league title has been elusive, and Steven Gerrard deserves to lift it. But at 29, and at the summit of his career, Gerrard will have to make one of the toughest decisions of his life this summer. Liverpool need new players to hold onto its current crop of talent, and one cannot see it happening; especially, as involvement in Champions league football next season looks a bleak possibility.
Even if his professional decision is to leave the club, his love of Liverpool can never be questioned. He has been patient, committed and dedicated towards his club. He has lived his boyhood dream with great gusto and led the club with pride and honour.
It may just be the right time for him to part ways in search for greater glory; time for The Kop to stand as one and salute a hero, a soldier, a skipper and often, a saviour; and dream of a day when another Steven Gerrard dons the colours of this famous football club.
Magic against Olympiakos
Typical Gerrard – blood and thunder