Liverpool witnessed one of their most emotional evenings when the man who has become synonymous with the club’s name, bid adieu in front of the home crowd. There is still a match left, but in football, it is the home game which really matters. What was really sad was that the Liverpool players couldn’t send their captain off, who has umpteen number of times, been their superhero and rescued them from the pits. Steven Gerrard might not have got the ideal farewell, but his timing couldn’t have been better. Liverpool Football Club needs a new chapter and is in desperate need of new heroes. Even at 34 and in this season when he looks like a shadow of his former self, he has rescued the team with moments of brilliance – that free kick against Basel, the late header against QPR- which have got Brendan Rodgers’s team back into the game. Liverpool FC relies on its superhero too much.
Here are three things we learnt from Liverpool’s 1-3 loss against Crystal Palace.
Proven quality needed in the summer
Liverpool looked supremely poor against Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace. The Eagles played very well but there was no explaining why the Reds, especially the defence, were so poor. Dejan Lovren had an awful game, even by his standards. Alberto Moreno needs to up his game considerably for him to become John Arne Riise’s worthy successor. Interestingly, seven players from the starting eleven were 25 and below. The need for Liverpool to invest in proven quality in the summer, not just to replace Steven Gerrard but to replace Luis Suarez, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano properly, cannot be understated. FSG’s policy of going for younger blood with immense potential can reap them dividends sometimes – just look at Philippe Coutinho. But you can’t expect comebacks and turnarounds in such a young team. Especially now, the dressing room will have players who have not won much between them. The need to have experienced players with proven quality cannot be understated. Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard himself have said this a few times this season and hopefully for them, the owners will listen to them.
The Raheem Sterling predicament
Ever since going for the unsanctioned interview with BBC, Raheem Sterling has put on one bad performance after another. The only time he has done well since is against Chelsea in the second half. Now one could argue that he hasn’t played his favored role (which is what by the way? Since he has featured as a winger and as a false nine since) and that he doesn’t have enough support alongside. I’ll agree to the latter. Liverpool’s striker dilemma couldn’t be worse. The likes of Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling (to an extent, recently) are creating but there is no one ahead to go and convert those chances. But its more than that. The 20 year-old doesn’t look interested.
Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that he will not be selling the 20 year-old irrespective of whether he signs his contract (which will mean huge losses for him considering he is on a A?35k a week currently). But is that necessary? If an offer near the A?50m mark comes for the Englishman, selling him wouldn’t be the worst thing to do. There is no denying he has the potential to be a world beater, be in the league of Ronaldo and Suarez, but if Liverpool reinvest with that money in the right department – get a top quality striker and some steel in other positions – selling Raheem Sterling might prove to be good for the club. The player seems reluctant to sign the much improved A?100k a week offer and if he wants to so desperately go, he should be allowed to because A?50m, judging on his recent performances, looks very good for Liverpool.
It’s going to be a summer of changes for Liverpool
Not only is Steven Gerrard no longer going to lead the team out on weekends (which will be very strange to see), we can expect a few other changes over the summer. There is going to be considerable filtering which will happen. The Telegrapha s Merseyside correspondent Chris Bascombe suggested that as many as nine first-team squad players could leave Liverpool this summer. Fabio Borini, Glen Johnson Iago Aspas, Rickie Lambert, Luis Alberto, Mario Balotelli, Jose Enrique, Brad Jones, Sebastian Coates are some of the expected departures. This is a clear-out that is needed at Liverpool. This should generate some money from the sales, but importantly clear up the wage bill. Added with the possible departure of Raheem Sterling, and the warchest FSG will provide, Liverpool should have enough to invest in some good buys over the summer.
There could be a change in the managerial position as well. Even though reportedly, the owners have backed him despite an underwhelming season and Steven Gerrard has made sure he has put it out there not once, but two-three times in the last few days, that Brendan Rodgers is the right man to lead the club, it is uncertain whether the Northern Irishman will be the gaffer next season. FSG are believed to be ruthless. With the availability of Jurgen Klopp (and Klopp apparently being their first choice after Kenny Dalglish was sacked), there will be enough temptation to go for him. And frankly, it will be criminal not to. A club of Liverpool’s history, something their supporters still fall back on to make themselves feel better about dire present results, should not settle for mediocrity and not chasing a manager who has won so much with Borussia Dortmund recently, despite being available, will be concerning. On the flipside, with Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool won’t need a season to get things started. They can carry on from here and he is the manager who got them on a scintillating win rate last season and effectively turned things around this time. Still, football is ruthless and Rodgers knows that. Unfortunately for him, he has more things to be sorry about, than savor this season and it will be interesting to see which way FSG go in the summer.
The biggest change, even if the manager and the entire eleven is altered, is going to be the lack of Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool squad. He will be missed on Merseyside.