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Farewell, Steven Gerrard!

As Steven Gerrard looks set to cut ties with Liverpool FC, ending a 28-year association with the club, Adam Washbrook pays tribute to his club’s inspirational captain.

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As an 18 year old, Steven Gerrard has been a part of Liverpool Football Club for literally as long as I can remember. Never did I ever imagine having to even contemplate discussing the moment that the hero of an entire generation’s worth of football fans would announce he’ll play elsewhere. However, only hours after Liverpool fans all over twitter were shouting of his demise, the ex-England captain has fans paraphrasing BBC’s Luther with his statement.

The name Steven Gerrard carries weight all over the world. Be it his heroics in Istanbul, or his slip against Chelsea, if you know the game you know the player. But, after twelve years of captaincy, and over twenty years of association with Liverpool Football Club, Gerrard has indeed stated his decision to leave.

Fan favourite: Steven Gerrard will be dearly missed by the Anfield faithful.

The sad reality is that the number eight is not the player he once was. For years he’s carried poor sides through mediocrity, and good sides to higher paths, but as Liverpool fall back into yet another ‘transition period’, the truth is, Stevie can carry no more.

After enduring the nightmare end to the 2013/14 season that he did – the one title that he has dreamt of more than anything, metaphorically slipping right from under his feet – he then has to stand by and watch the loss of the club’s best asset (Luis Suarez), and accept that Brendan Rodgers can no longer afford him the luxury of being a nailed on starter. The heartbeat of Liverpool was beginning to fade with no sign of a pacemaker in sight.

In the recent interview with Claire Rourke on LFC TV, Gerrard says the final nail in the coffin of his choice was Rodgers telling him he would have to start tailoring his game time. From my perspective, it looks like the weight of being Steven Gerrard finally caught up with him. After the double disappointment of Chelsea and Crystal Palace back to back, it was a real testament of the character of Steven Gerrard to see him pick up the sobbing Luis Suarez off the floor and lead him down the tunnel.

However, I think it was this moment, with his and the fans’ dreams shattered, that the first ideas of moving on would have been creeping into his mind. With rival and even some of his own infamous #LFCFamily getting on his back (not cool, guys) every game, I’m not surprised he’s decided to live the American dream in front of a new set of adulating fans.

Being a man who still wants to be playing week in, week out, it would have been difficult to keep him at the club and keep him happy going forward. But would it have been achievable? I’m certain.

Perhaps the slow integration of coaching to his responsibilities would’ve been an appropriate move, having him working with the academy more, closely shadowing Rodgers through the day to day management, that even a mainstay like himself is not entirely familiar with.

Seeking regular first-team football: a move to the MLS could dramatically increase the length of his career.

Rather than playing him deep in midfield from the start of the game, release him into that ‘off the striker’ role, that he’s loved and thrived in during his career, for the last third of games. Sure he might lack the legs a little these days, but the talent is still there in abundance.

Even Liverpool fans would say – perhaps through gritted teeth – a model similar for Steven’s career to that of Ryan Giggs as his playing days drew to a close. Most importantly, keeping Gerrard in and around the club should have been a huge priority. Losing the experience, influence and attraction of a player and person like Steven Gerrard could affect anything from the club’s performance on the pitch to the club’s performance in the transfer window.

For Gerrard, now will come the desire for his final victories. He’ll want to finish the season as strongly as possible, and perhaps having that extra hunger for success will drive the club to a relatively successful season, with fourth place, the Europa League and both the FA and League cups to play for. If he can lead the club into the Champions League again for the coming season, and leave having lifted yet another trophy, I’m sure he’ll leave a proud and happy man.

Having turned down Chelsea, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid – three of the four when they were enjoying being champions of Europe – it’s fair to say he deserves to play out his twilight years in sunny America. That is aside from the fact that he’s scored in the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA cup and Champions League finals, the only player ever to do so.  This is a hugely talented player – a genuine legend of the game – who has lived his dream of captaining his boyhood club, and carrying them to success, with the only real injustice being that he didn’t experience more of it.

With a bit of fortune and plenty of the desire which he’s shown time and time again, Gerrard could well lead Liverpool to more trophies in his final months with the club. And who knows, maybe (when he inevitably returns on loan next January) he’ll come back to Liverpool being in a better position.

Finally, from the standpoint of a fan who has idolised the player since he was just a teenager himself, I congratulate you personally, Steven Gerrard, on living your dream. I and all the other fans to whom you have brought such happy moments wish you further success both here and in America, and thankyou for your simply unmatchable service to Liverpool Football Club. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Adam is a sports journalism student at Staffordshire University, a fan of Liverpool and a social media assistant with Macclesfield Town.

Championship

Conor Coady shows Liverpool what they’re missing in masterful Wolves campaign

The Wolves captain was tipped for big things at Liverpool but never made the grade.

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Back in 2011, Liverpool had one of their young starlets being tipped to become the ‘next Steven Gerrard.’ It was a tag being occasionally branded around the club about young talent Conor Coady. With good reason as well. The teenager was looking like the most natural successor to Gerrard yet.

The summer previous, he had helped England win the UEFA under-17 Championships, which is where the hype all began. Liverpool had unearthed a gem who immediately found himself tipped to become a future Kop captain.

But it never happened for the young man.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Instead, he headed to Sheffield United on loan – where he excelled. After getting a taste for regular football, the idea of returning to the reserve life with Liverpool clearly did not appeal to the utility man. Therefore, he left Liverpool in 2014, joining Huddersfield Town.

Liverpool fans soon forgot about him. Just another hyped up youngster who could not match the expectations laid at their door?

Well, this season Coady has finally looked like the real deal.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Melwood talent did not stick with Huddersfield for long. In 2015 he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and he is now looking like the talent Liverpool thought they had at Molineux.

One issue with Coady has always been his position. Often moved around the park, this season he has played as a settled central defender. The results have been exceptional. Coady has been one of the best players in the Championship this campaign. That was highlighted by his inclusion in the Championship team of the season. The 25-year-old is now looking like a future Premier League star and will be playing in the big time next season after captaining Wolves to the Championship summit.

When Liverpool sold Coady to Huddersfield, they did so for a fee reported to be just £500,000 by the Liverpool Echo. The Reds obviously felt he would not live up to those once lofty expectations.

Based on his form this season, Liverpool could be rueing this mistake in the not so distant future.

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Everton

Liverpool fans will love who are favourites to sign Mario Balotelli

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Mario Balotelli
Photo: Getty Images.

Mario Balotelli is not a man who conjures up fond memories for Liverpool fans, but that could all be about to change if the betting is accurate in forecasting where he could move if he leaves OGC Nice this summer with one Premier League side leading the race to bring him back to England.

Whilst Serie A sides are the frontrunners in the betting to sign Mario Balotelli, there are also several English clubs in the mix, based on odds offered by Sky Bet. Favourites are the side that Liverpool fans would both find hilarious and dread in equal measure: Everton.

Odds on the controversial Italian moving to Goodison Park this summer are as low as 8/1, whilst West Ham are also in the running at 12/1.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The centre forward picked up more yellow cards, seven, than goals, four, during his time on Merseyside but has scored 39 goals in 61 games for his new club in France and insists he’s a new, mature man.

Italy still seems his most likely destination with Napoli and Juventus leading the odds, but a move to Everton would give Balotelli the chance to either redeem himself with Liverpool fans by failing as much as he did at Anfield, or rebuild his reputation in the country where he made his name with Manchester City.

The Toffees are desperate to add firepower up-front, but having been so disappointed by their business last summer it is hard to see how taking a gamble on a player as volatile as Balotelli would be a wise move.

That said, they know that the quality is clearly there within the player and may have the same hope as Brendan Rodgers did when he signed Balotelli for Liverpool, that they can bring him in cheap, get the best out of him and sell him on for a profit.

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English Premier League

Rhian Brewster deserves shot at Liverpool first-team next season

The Liverpool teenager deserves a shot ahead of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.

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Liverpool fans were rightly excited about England under-17s World Cup win in India last summer. Firstly, it was great to see the English national team doing well at some level. Secondly, one of their own players, Rhian Brewster, was on fire.

The teenage striker won the Golden Boot prize at the competition after scoring eight goals for his nation, including hat-tricks against both the USA and Brazil.

His performances rightly had Liverpool fans excited for the season ahead, but it came too soon for the youngster. Brewster then suffered an ankle injury in January that needed surgery.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

However, despite his setback, it was reported last month by The Telegraph that Brewster will be promoted to the Liverpool first-team next season after his recovery period is over.

Rightly so. Liverpool should be ready to give the teenager his chance in the first-team at Anfield, as he has all the talent available to him to become a club goalscoring sensation.

In fact, if Liverpool want to be serious about him, they should ensure there are no blockages in his pathway.

The likes of Daniel Sturridge, currently on loan at West Brom, and Divock Origi, also on loan but at German side Wolfsburg, should no longer be considered ahead of Brewster in the pecking order.

Getting rid of the injury-prone Sturridge and Origi, who has struggled in the Bundesliga, will leave Brewster firmly in the mix for the striking position at Liverpool.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Roberto Firmino obviously remains the first choice. But Liverpool also have England’s under-20 goalscoring sensation from the summer in Dominic Solanke. With the hard-working Danny Ings also present, Brewster fits in nicely to the Liverpool striking fold.

Some might say he is too young. But people said that about Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. The fact is, nobody will know until he is thrown into that position.

Liverpool fans are some of the more supportive and understanding in the country when it comes to young talent, and would have all the patience in the world for the young striker.

It is time to cut the deadwood and make room for the future to blossom.

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