When you think of the twenty first century Liverpool you think of Istanbul in 2005, the FA Cup win against West Ham and the dramatic win against Olympiakos which helped to get them to that sensational final.
Each of these games had a moment that changed everything and the man that moment revolved around was Steven Gerrard. Gerrard has made himself one of the global stars of the Premier League thanks to an uncany ability to pop up at the right time with goals that make Andy Gray scream like a small child watching his hero save the day single handed and cheekily winking at him before flying into the sunset.
So during Liverpool’s darkest hour where has captain fantastic been? A question asked by Roy Keane, another infamous midfielder of the Premier League.
In Keane’s column for the Sun, he has slammed the England captain, and many other senior squad members, saying that these players, ‘need to look at themselves and ask ‘Have I done enough?’ ‘. I have seen Roy Keane criticise many things, one example is when he blamed a poor Arsenal display on the players wearing gloves, but the scariest man in punditry has a point.
Put aside a hat trick against Everton at Anfield (which was the last time he scored for Liverpool) and what has Steven Gerrard done this season? It was predicted that once he came back Carrol would start scoring for fun again, thanks to Gerrard’s wonderful array of passing and yet the pony tailed Geordie has done it all by himself in the last couple of games.
He was non-existent against Chelsea in the FA Cup final and simply doesn’t look like the same player who makes your heart rate sore just by getting the ball in a bit of space 35 yards from goal.
When I was given this topic to write about I remembered a Guardian podcast I listened to a few weeks a ago discussing footballer’s ‘know-how”. During the conversation an interview from 2008 with Italian legend Arrigo Sacchi in the Sunday Telegraph was brought up and the two-time European Cup winner described Gerrard as, ‘a great footballer but not a great player’. Sacchi made the point that even though a player is athletic with a great shoot and eye for a pass, he may lack the positioning or decision making essential to play as part of a collective.
In the past Gerrard has hidden this with explosive pace, a laser like accuracy with passing and a right foot that could knock a tree out of the ground, roots n all. But age is catching up with Gerrard and his weaknesses may soon be shown for the world to see.
All the blame shouldn’t be put on Stevie G though as Reina, Johnson and Carragher, to name a few, have all had an average season. For evidence watch Ramires goal in the FA Cup final and tell me Reina couldn’t have done better. Also try and remember a game when you actually noticed Johnson do something of value.
Despite a controversial season, to say the least, it is Luis Suarez that has become the most talented player at Anfield but he is not a midfielder. Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson have been good in very small patches and don’t represent any kind of competition for Gerrard.
In order to get him playing at his best again I would invest some money in a young talented midfielder that will challenge the captain for his place in the team. Without Champions League football, a player like Yohan Cabaye or Gylfi Sigurdsson perhaps.
In the past two seasons Gerrard’s stats for the Premiership read 5 goals and 2 assists in 18 games for the previous season and 4 goals and 5 assists in 21 games in the 2010/11 season.
For this he will be forgiven by the Anfield faithful but fail to shine in Ukraine and Poland and the lynching rope and pitch forks will be awaiting his return from the Euros.
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