Stevey G, Au revoir?

Posted by john_mac on December 8, 2004, 05:00:44 PM

Steven Gerrard is the strongest, talented, and most rounded footballer at Anfield, probably in these shores and perhaps in the world. The only thing stands between him and the true greats to wear a Red shirt, Liddell apart, is the quality of his team-mates and the teams that they have played in. He is perhaps the most influential player since John Barnes in his pomp.

How paradoxical that, on the eve of such a massive game, all the questions should be about the future and what it holds for him. Stevey has never been backward at professing his love for the club, and during his early years, enthused at telling all and sundry that he would willingly sign for the rest of his career.

For plenty of last season he was singing the praises of a manager whose first managerial act at Anfield was to promote him from the youth team to the first team, who had made him captain of the club and who had consistently put the long term future of the player ahead of any short team goals. He was made captain twelve months ago and spoke passionately of his pride and his overwhelming appreciation of the manager.

"The manager always told me that one day I was going to be his captain, but coming this early and at 23 years of age was a bit of a shock. I'm buzzing because of it," he said. "I always thought it would come one day because the manager told me that's what he wanted eventually. But it was a bit of a shock it's happened at this point in the season.

"I'm really made up about it and I'll be giving it my best shot. I definitely think I'll thrive with the responsibility. This is something I've always wanted. I dreamed when I was boy I would be captain of Liverpool, so now it's here I want to make the most of it."

He promptly showed his delight by signing a new, vastly improved contract, extending to four years his time remaining at the club. In reality the rest of the season never panned out as any of us would have liked, but the comments from Stevey remained positive, even if the constant speculation from the press was an unwanted distraction.

The departure of Houllier, it is claimed by some, was due in no small part to Stevey’s statement that the club needed to sign “world class players”. There is no doubt that both Parry and Moores were reluctant, at best, to take such action. Even more strange that Parry should subsequently come out and declare that both Gerrard and Owen would be involved in the appointment of the new manager - more than strange, ludicrous even, particularly when put into the context of the Liverpool captain’s agent actively negotiating a mega-bucks move to Chelsea at the time.

When Stevey reluctantly agreed to stay at Liverpool we were all quick to welcome home the prodigal son. In reality it was family, friends, peer pressure and perhaps a touch of conscience that influenced that decision. This makes all the more amazing his recent claim that it was as a result, in no small part, to David Moores’s chairmanship that he stayed. It did all smack of the type of comments we heard about Houllier last season, as a forerunner to the proposed move to Chelsea. Perhaps Stevey is regretting his decision? No doubt the glamour boys of West London will be telling him how great it is on the top of the table, and I’m sure his ginger pal will be enthusing about the wonder of Disneyworld in Salford and another England team-mate or two will be conversing in Spanish to him.

Yesterday’s comments and their timing were particularly worrying and I can’t help but feel he is giving the club ultimatums they cannot respond to. Intimating that there must be investment whilst proclaiming undying loyalty to the incumbent chairman stinks of inconsistency. I am not calling for the chairman’s head nor for the introduction of any of his rivals for the ownership of the club, but the financial constraints in place are well documented.

Whilst Rafa’s new signings have been a bit hit and miss, even the most ardent bitter on the Holyhead train would be hard pushed not to acknowledge the bad luck he has had with injuries to the squad. For Gerrard, himself missing for a considerable time, not to acknowledge this is more than strange, especially given the introduction of Alonso, a player who could have been made for Stevey.

For him to make these comments at this time, especially as club captain, just isn't on. You can’t but think that he is angling for his own future, and preparing to depart with the excuses at the ready. I’m sorry but the first season under a new manager was always going to get harder before it got easier, given the injuries and luck the manager has had. The claim becomes ludicrous.

I never thought that I’d find myself saying it, and I firmly hope that he delivers the goods tonight, but maybe it is time to start building for a future without Steven Gerrard. I would hate to have Rafa’s plans destroyed in a second season, in the same way as Michael destroyed his plans for this.

The performance he put in against Arsenal was exceptional, especially given his time out of the game, but surely it was due in some part to the manager? A manager who Steven has not given a realistic opportunity. Perhaps Rafa is the man to take Steven to that next level and drag Liverpool with him, but does Stevey still really want to be part of it? I can't help but feel far from convinced, his ambivalence towards others in the team having been more than clear at times this year.

Anybody who have seen Liverpool play this season will be more than aware that Liverpool with Steven Gerrard are a different prospect than Liverpool without him, but can we any longer afford to build for the future around him and his undoubted talents?

© john_mac 2004

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