There has certainly been no small measure of emotion for LFC fans over the last few days. One of this week’s leading stories is that an unquestionably brilliant beacon of light, which notably shone the way for LFC to win the Champions League in Istanbul in 2005, has confirmed it will be no longer be illuminating Liverpool FC’s teamsheet from July onwards. After some 26 years of service Steven Gerrard has signed for another club.
What has been one of the Premier League’s finest players has agreed to leave the UK to play in the US for L.A. Galaxy. To the non-Liverpool fans amongst us let us not forget that he is the only the only footballer ever to have scored a goal in a League Cup Final, an FA Cup Final, a UEFA Cup Final and in a Champions League Final.
Tempting as it is to start quoting his eye-watering career statistics I will resist and also avoid tossing any of the numerous superlatives which have been written this week about Gerrard. Instead I will say that many LFC fans will have shed a tear when hearing about his departure over recent days and I want to discuss where this leaves Liverpool FC.
What Lies Ahead?
In short there’s a very real danger that, without Gerrard, LFC could fall into a troubling spiral of decline unless things change dramatically in the very near future. Just one aspect alone is that minus Gerrard there’s no obvious leadership on the pitch, although it’s true that the fans are beginning to warm a little to Henderson, but most importantly there’s still a troubling lack of top-drawer quality despite the tens of millions of pounds having been spent. The AFC Wimbledon game for example this week left little to the imagination and spoke volumes to LFC fans and neutrals alike.
And, whilst contentious I know, LFC probably wouldn’t have even beaten a lower-league club, who were up to high doh relishing the chance to violently slay a giant, had Captain Fantastic not have been playing. Of course aside from his two goals, his set pieces or the pinging of the ball with pinpoint accuracy forty yards up the pitch he didn’t really impact the game in any quantifiable way. Throw in a massive dose of inspirational determination and leadership and is hard to see that any amount of money spent by Liverpool FC will fix the problems which are surely going to plague the club for a number of years to come without their talismanic captain.
Gerrard’s star quality should not be underestimated, once playing in the States apparently even President Obama will make efforts to meet him and pick up a few more voters by being associated with his success, as is his PR machine’s modus operandi.
26 Years, Man And Boy
For Liverpool FC not to wholeheartedly covet both the on and off pitch influence that a man of around 26 years service brings to the club is extremely worrying. Comedy sketches aside his rise through Liverpool’s academy as both man and boy is to be revered. The ever-loyal, one-club-player is surely what every young player should strive towards to make football the best it can be. For LFC not to have reach a compromise that worked for both parties is surely indicative of a club suffering internally from a disturbing level of malaise.
It has been said that sponsorship deals for LFC, riding on Gerrard’s name alone, paid a large proportion of his wages and surely therefore keeping him on board in order to have him contributing as backroom staff, maybe supplemented by an ambassadorial role, would have been worth every penny.
Although not at top speed, even at 34 years of age those so-called tired legs still manage to get LFC’s top player around the pitch with relative ease and for the sake of letting the humble Gerrard start most games (within reason), having publicly given up his England captaincy to concentrate on his Liverpool career, LFC have surely shot themselves in his powerful right foot.
Should we also worry for Rodgers who apparently struggles with big personalities in dressing rooms, despite being a well-rehearsed politician? Personally I would prefer to have Rodgers stay on with extra help, especially in a defensive-coaching capacity.
Make no mistake the rest of the Premier League will continue flourishing even without LFC doing so.Having fielded the most expensive first eleven Premier League team ever (eleven men reportedly worth £241m) a few weeks ago during a game, Manchester United, are clearing happy to continue dusting off their cheque books with a view to spending big now that they are armed with proof of Louis van Gaal’s ability to improve their performance.
Without the work-rate and drive of Suarez, the agility and pace of Sturridge and the determination and professionalism of Gerrard there is every reason for Liverpool fans to worry. And with the superb Daniel Sturridge preparing to return, having not played since August for the club due to injury, there’s a lot of pressure on him to start firing immediately. My worry is that without a lightning return to his previous sparkling form, second only to Suarez last season for goals scored in the whole league, there is little chance of a Champions League place for LFC. This means attracting big names is far from easy. Lengthy talks with the excellent shot-stopper Victor Valdez, formerly of Barcelona, seemingly broke down with LFC only for him to alarmingly receive an 18 month signing with Manchester United.
The remedy to LFC’s quandary is all too clear: money. Spend massively in this January transfer window (and sadly at a premium) Liverpool FC or your recovery time might be several years and not just one, maybe two, more challenging seasons.
One thing for sure is that with Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd all ripping-up pound notes like there’s no tomorrow the future is far from galactic for Liverpool FC without a number of stellar signings taking place in the very near future.