Preparing for life after Stevie G
Times are changing. The winds are shifting. The trees are rustling. The stands in Anfield are creaking. It had seemed for a few dreary months that Liverpool had reached an impasse, with Steven Gerrard announcing the end of his Liverpool career and doom and gloom was in the hearts of lovers of the historic Merseyside club. Results weren’t going in their favour and it was set to be yet another hugely disappointing season for Brendan Rodger’s team. Roll on a few months and Liverpool are breathing on the necks of Southampton, Manchester United and Arsenal. Having won seven and drawn three in their last seven and losing none it would seem as if the reds would have found footballing parity. This is just peachy except, Steven Gerrard is nowhere to be found. Yes, literally he is in Liverpool but otherwise he is of little influence currently. Bleak? Maybe not.
Steven Gerrard has had an intense love for Liverpool Football Club for nearly his whole life and has left an everlasting print on the club. Anyone who labels themselves as remotely knowledgeable about football will understand exactly what he has brought to his boyhood club and by extension English football. For so long he has been supremely talented and technically astute. How many times have we heard commentators yell in awe as Gerrard thrashes a screamer into the net before wheeling away to the elation of the present supporters? Countless.
Gerrard’s influence, however, is waning. Not too long ago it would have brought many to their knees at the thought of Gerrard not strolling around Melwood and marauding at Anfield. This is what has been and is currently happening. Gerrard is in the final few months of his extensive Liverpool career and it is far less damming than many would have been expected. When Luis Suarez departed it didn’t seem as if the whole team would fall to shreads. But it did. Now, it really doesn’t seem like the whole plot will go awry. This may be attributed to several different reasons.
Jordan Henderson Is a Boss
Alex Ferguson didn’t like Hendo which may have a lot to do with why those affiliated with Liverpool absolutely love him or it could be because he is an absolutely brilliant footballer. Fergie’s iteration that the midfielder runs weirdly was widely accepted as being the only thing noteworthy about him ash Hendo had nowhere nearly lived up to the billing as Gerrard’s supposed successor. He was almost ineffective in his first season and drew much criticism upon Kenny Dalglish’s shoulders. When Rodgers was brought in by FSG it was tasked to him to remake Liverpool and Henderson was one of the players that Rodgers sat down and told you can leave now or you can stay and fight for your place. He stayed and is now possibly the first name on the team-sheet. Due to Gerrard’s injury struggles this season Henderson has almost assumed total captaincy. His influence in the middle of the park is impossible to overstate and Liverpool are yet to lose a game under his captaincy. I will say it again; Hendo is a boss.
Team Chemistry Is at a High
In order to cope with injuries and out of from players the 3-4-2-1 was introduced. It needs to be mentioned that had Louis Van Gaal made such an astute tactical change h would have been labeled a “footballing genius” whereas it has only been said that Rodgers did what was required. Pushing on past the resentment it is liberating to know that managers still exist who can take risks and tinker with a team well into the season and to see it pay dividends in the way it is something great. It has seen the likes of Coutinho and Sterling enter into electric from that is frankly terrifying for a defending playing caught flat footed. Philippe Coutinho has been particularly brilliant in recent months with the culmination of his stunning from being his astonishing goal long-range goal against Southampton in what was a crucial game in the fight for top four.
What has been most impressive about Liverpool in recent times is their almost stingy defence with Martin Skrtel finding his best form and the impressive Mamadou Sakho and Emre Can complimenting him fabulously. Regardless of how good Liverpool’s centre backs are playing it is almost unbelievable how far Simon Mignolet has come since his shocking displays in the early months of the campaign. His meteoric rise up the charts recording the clean sheets in the Premier League has been magnificent to observe. Frankly since December there hasn’t been a better shot stopper and Simon Mignolet has recorded 14 out of 14 punches more than Thibaut Courtois. Many are in awe of Manuel Neuer, rightfully so, and it is down to his manic defense of his goal rather than his brilliant talent. This manic desire to preserve a clean sheet has been very much apparent in Mignolet’s performances between the sticks.
Among all this it is easy to see why Gerrard’s swansong year is going virtually unnoticed. Much has been made of the possibility of him winning an FA Cup on his final game for Liverpool which just so happens to be his 35th birthday. While it would be just perfect for Gerrard to go out on the absolute highest of highs it is also important to realize that the club’s main priority is qualification for the Champions League. SO while the team will be pushing for the FA Cup they won’t allow for it to detract from the sustained that is being put together for the siege on the European places.
Sorry, Steven. The team is bigger than you are.
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