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Is Steven Gerrard holding back Liverpool?



There’s no doubting Steven Gerrard’s place as a legend of English football and one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players.

He sealed his place in folklore on that famous night in Istanbul, inspiring Liverpool to a stunning UEFA Champions League triumph against AC Milan. A year later – in 2006 – he was at it again, scoring two stunning efforts in an FA Cup Final win over West Ham.

Steven Gerrard - Liverpool FC

But close to a decade has now past since Gerrard tasted European glory and the question needs to be asked: is he doing more harm than good at Liverpool?

There are a number of reasons the club has struggled under Brendan Rodgers this season. Key players have unperformed and structural issues have affected the slick football that characterised their title challenge last campaign.

Gerrard is one of the individuals who has struggled this year, clearly still affected by that famous slip against Chelsea.

Where he was once an inspirational figure capable of lifting teammates by his sheer presence, Gerrard now stands as a reminder of what might have been.

More importantly, however, the former England international is now 34 and has lost the qualities that made him such an effective midfielder.

Without the same physical conditioning of his younger years, Gerrard no longer has the dynamic and explosive approach for which he was famous.

Rodgers identified this last season and utilized his captain in a holding midfield role with great success.

But while Gerrard’s vision and discipline were a crucial part of Liverpool’s approach when they challenged for the title, his ageing legs might have become a liability.

Against Crystal Palace, he struggled to keep pace with the game and impose himself, lacking mobility and confidence. Liverpool lost 3-1, with Gerrard completely ineffective.

Added to this is the uncertainty surrounding his club future, with a contract extension not signed and indications that his time at Anfield might be coming to an end.

Interestingly, Rodgers’ persistence with Gerrard despite his lack of form has already drawn criticism from Liverpool fans this season.

And whilst the likes of Mario Balotelli, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic have been expensive but unsuccessful additions to the squad, Gerrard has essentially failed to add anything to the team himself during the current campaign.

Persisting with the veteran midfielder is tempting, given his talent and vision won’t have totally deserted him.

But as Brendan Rodgers looks to build a philosophy based around high energy and quick ball movement, perhaps Gerrard can no longer be the orchestrator of such a style. Indeed, on current form, he remains a hindrance.