“It’s justified to a degree. Liverpool have built him into what he is today and the moment he looks ready to kick on, he agitates for a move away. But then, he’s a young lad who left QPR aged 15 for a good offer elsewhere. Should this surprise anyone? If Steven Gerrard’s departure is a reminder of anything, it’s how rare someone like him in football is, in terms of ‘loyalty’.
“I don’t think Sterling is the only guilty party in this either. So criticise him but look towards others too.”
Q: How do you think the departure of Steven Gerrard will affect the LFC squad?
Walsh: “That’s a tough one. They will undoubtedly miss what he has brought to this club for 17 years. He was a phenom at Liverpool. Even this season, in a reduced role and with plenty of moving around the field throughout, he’s one of the (far too small) cluster of players who could turn the game. Just because he didn’t do it as frequently as before doesn’t mean he didn’t have the ability to do it.
“And then there is the influence he has off the field, the advice he passes on in training, the example he sets to the younger players every day he goes into Melwood.
“However, he’s 34, and turns 35 next week. There is no doubt Rodgers sees his midfield containing youth, energy and 90 minutes of running. Now, more than ever, may be the time to jump in feet-first and deal with life without him. The day was always going to come, and maybe this is the right time to embrace it. He’ll be missed – and there’s a lot that isn’t seen which will be missed more than anything – but at the same time, let’s see what the next generation can do.”
Q: Do you think Jordan Henderson is ready to step up as captain?
Walsh: “I don’t really think there’s another choice right now. He’s the obvious selection and I’m delighted for him – it shows how hard work pays off. It’s easy to talk about his running and endeavour but he’s added more goals, assists and chances created to his game this season.
“He’s certainly a captain in the traditional sense. I don’t think a game goes by without him shouting at the referee or an opponent. His death stare to Diego Costa showed he’s willing to get stuck in. Is that forced or false? Does it really matter anyway?
“Might as well throw in that the captain wears the armband, calls heads or tails and exchanges the pennant in European games – but when the whistle goes, there should be a number of captains on the field. There’s a cliche for you!”
Q: If you were Rodgers, what changes would you make this summer to improve the squad for next season?
Walsh: “Goals, goals, goals. For me, Liverpool need two top strikers, with Sturridge a welcome bonus and Origi as the back-up. I can see the sense in Ings but it is ultimately a gamble on Sturridge’s fitness more than anything.
“Full-backs are pretty important given there may only be one true first-teamer in the squad – Moreno – at the start of next season. But then, that shouldn’t be a priority financially, for me. Of course 2013-14 had Sturridge and Suarez up front but the full-backs were functional rather than flashy. A decent goalkeeper to challenge Mignolet too, I guess. Not much, then!”
Q: What players do you think will step-up next season?
Walsh: “I have high hopes for Cameron Brannagan. I’ve covered a fair bit of Under-21s action in recent months and he looks like the modern midfielder. May need a bit of ‘beefing up’ but seems to create time and space for himself at that level. Also from the U-21s, I think Ojo could be anything he wants to be.
“Ibe is the obvious shout to make the step up once more but I’m struggling to see how Markovic has a season as disappointing as this one. I was on tour in America last season and watched him train. He looked a different player to the inconsistent one at Anfield. Obviously acclimatising and being in and out of the team didn’t help him either. I expect more from him next season.
“Keep an eye out for Trent Arnold, too.”
Q: What is your reaction to the winners of the Players Awards?
Walsh: “Coutinho almost won the lot and that’s pretty hard to argue against, isn’t it? He’s been brilliant in 2015. Liverpool must continue building a platform upon which he can perform.”
Follow Kristian on twitter @Kristian_Walsh for more updates and news on Liverpool FC.