Of all the errors and shortcomings this season, Brendan Rodgers got this one right - ‘legend’, this wildly overused word, could hardly do Steven Gerrard justice.
No words could do that man justice simply because his actions have spoken much, much louder than any words any fan or sports writer had managed to pin down in the past 18 years.
Steven Gerrard – an icon, a captain, a humble person? The wordsmiths have been relentless in their pursuit to define Gerrard’s influence at Liverpool today. To me, the enigmatic skipper’s fate seemed clear – retirement at Anfield as a one-club player, whose incredible legacy would not be matched for years to come, if at all. Because that’s the Liverpool way.
But after the shock of the news reverberated in my mind, I thought – is this the Liverpool way though? It isn’t, unfortunately – Liverpool does have a knack of letting their legends go at some point.
Ian Rush was 35 when his contract expired. John Barnes was still a major influence in the first team when he moved to Kenny Dalglish’s Newcastle on a free transfer. Not to mention Robbie Fowler, who departed from Anfield still in his prime.
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Placing the blame on the management alone would be too shallow – although Brendan Rodgers’ decision to play Gerrard as a defensive midfielder can be deemed as a major reason for his underperforming this season. This and the heavy reliance on the 34-year-old, who has already accumulated 27 games in the current campaign, eight more than Frank Lampard.
What really struck a chord with me in Gerrard’s statement was leaving Liverpool was a ‘life decision’. With a rather heavy heart and anger still burning within, I regretfully concur – if the skipper needs a change, let it be.
Departure from England
If he wants to move away from England for a couple or more years, shake off the memories of the horrendous slip and essentially feel good about himself as a player again...It’s the right call indeed.
There’s a whole lot of questions beside this decision – other than why, how and when he made it, there’s also the big frightening ones. Who can replace him? Will there be another Liverpool player with such spirit and charisma? Will the club ever be the same again?
As clichéd as it sounds, the only certain thing is that Liverpool is wrapped in uncertainty these days. And when Captain Fantastic leaves at the end of the season, part of the club’s authenticity will leave with him.
The repercussions of losing one top quality player in Luis Suarez have been echoing throughout the campaign. The effect of Gerrard’s departure might be more muted in terms of team performance, but it’s beyond doubt that his aura will be deeply missed.
An emotional end of season awaits the Reds and they’ll be fortunate if they win one last piece of silverware with their skipper. And if not...They’ll walk on, with hope in their hearts.
Thank you Steven for your unmatched devotion, talent and leadership.