As far as Anfield transitions go, Brendan Rodgers is soon to be tasked with overseeing arguably the most challenging there has ever been.
When the news broke that Steven Gerrard was finally set to end his Liverpool adventure, with it came the realisation that things are going to be very different on Merseyside as of next season, and it’s not necessarily a good thing.
Getting over Gerrard
When Fernando Torres left the Reds they had to replace his goals; which the duly did. When Luis Suarez departed for Barcelona they had to learn how to become less reliant on one man; they appear to have managed it now.
When Gerrard is gone though it will be tantamount to finding a new heart in a world of sparse hearts. Rodgers is the surgeon tasked with carrying out such a procedure, and it’s safe to assume it’s going to take a masterful effort if he's to leave the operating theatre without any regrets.
Though Gerrard has been far less involved with the on-pitch fortunes this season than in years previous he is still a monumental presence in club affairs, and his role as captain goes well beyond the fruits of his physical labour for 90 minutes each weekend.
That's why it’s going to be extremely difficult to properly replace him; he’s a natural leader as well as an extremely gifted footballer, he’s a towering figure off the pitch as well as a reliable unit on it.
The two apprentices
Early suggestions have but two candidates in line to fight for the armband in a post-Gerrard Liverpool side. Jordan Henderson is the natural heir given his position in the squad at the moment and the fact he’s been mentored by the Merseyside great since arriving from Sunderland in 2011. Yet he has a surprise challenger in new-boy Emre Can, whose inspired performances and eye-catching consistency have seen him soar up the bookies’ listings.
The German has proved the best piece of business from a 2014 where Rodgers welcomed a deluge of players into his fold in the wake of Suarez’s departure. Fair play to him, he’s overcome the odds to prove that he’s good enough to be a recognised option in the Premier League, and he deserves his place in the Liverpool set up moving forward. The same can’t be said about more than one of his teammates.
Yet to tout him as Gerrard’s ideal successor seems premature and incredibly optimistic. Less than a season into his Anfield campaign he’s shown himself to be dependable, but throwing weight behind the idea that he’s the man to fill the biggest shoes since David Moyes’ shambolic attempt at walking in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson must be guarded against.
Quarters of the Liverpool faithful will be inclined to disagree, but Henderson’s steady rise through the Reds’ ranks simply has to culminate in him graduating to become the centerpiece. Not only has he worked harder than anyone to ensure that he’s the right fit for Rodgers’ squad, but he’s also developed an understanding of what’s needed to lead through his role of vice-captain, and in the middle of the park he might one day become the beating heart that’s needed.
Can, from early indications at least, looks like he’ll be a leader in his own right moving forward, but he’s simply not the ideal leader for Liverpool whilst Henderson is around. The Wearside-born midfielder has long been tipped to become one of the leading figures in English football and his road to glory is almost complete.
As Gerrard has proved time and again the Anfield armband fits best around those who have skill and passion in equal amounts, and in this respect Henderson, with each passing performance, looks more and more like being the obvious successor.
Liverpool fans, who do you think should replace Gerrard? Let us know in the comments box below...