Steven Gerrard’s announcement of leaving Liverpool at the end of the season came as a shock to the footballing world. The player who has stayed put with the Merseyside club is finally leaving it at the end of this season when his contract expires (to reportedly LA Galaxy).
The Reds face AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup on Monday night, and Brendan Rodgers held his pre-match conference today. Expectedly and funnily, all the questions in the 26 minute long media gathering were on Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool manager answered them all patiently and talked about Gerrard’s decision, his future with the club, what it means for the club and the quest to find the next Gerrard. But the one important question posed to him was that with his announcing his departure, what would Rodgers’ stance be on his team selection. Already, a lot of eyebrows have been raised at the frequent use of the 34 year old. However, now that there is an expiry date of sorts in mind, how would Rodgers use him?
The Liverpool manager ensured that the imminent departure of the club’s skipper doesn’t change anything and the Northern Irishman will continue to pick the best team for the match (keeping in mind all necessary facts), something Gerrard would also agree to.
Rodgers said, ‘It doesn’t change for me, really. I’ll always pick what I think is the best team for the games. Every football player is the same – they want to play every minute of every game, and Steven is no different. He understands where it’s at and the number of games we’ve been playing, and that there might be times that he has to come out of the team. There is no change to that – I’ll remain clear on picking the team based on trying to get the best physicality out of the team’.
Many questioned why the former England captain announced his departure from the club so soon. Brendan Rodgers heaped praise on the Liverpool legend calling him a ‘special character’ who ‘puts others first’.
Rodgers added, ‘Out of respect to the football club, and to me as a manager, he wanted to make the decision, sooner rather than later, so that there wasn’t going to be all the speculation. That’s the type of man he is. He puts others first. He could very easily have let it run through to the end of the season and not said anything. This is a really special type of character, who wanted the club and the manager and other players to be put before him. If he had his way, there wouldn’t be another word spoke on it and everyone would move on. But the type of man that he is and the type of player that he is, of course he’s going to be spoken about every day. But it won’t change his thinking. His thinking has always been very much the same. His work, his mentality, is to be the best that he can for Liverpool. That won’t waver whatsoever now that he has announced [he will leave]’.