Liverpool legend deserves a return to Anfield despite mixed opinions.
Sunken to his knees, staring into the abyss of Selhurst Park, Steven Gerrard knew it was over. His dream of lifting the Premier League title with Liverpool, had disappeared faster than he fell to allow Demba Ba THAT goal the previous week.
“Devastation” was the word Gerrard used to describe how he felt on the final day, with regards to the outcome of the season.
There was neither optimism for the following campaign, he as good as well knew Luis Suarez was to depart in the summer, and it was there the energy as not only a Liverpool player, but as a footballer departed from him.
A disastrous World Cup campaign followed, where he played a significant role in gifting Uruguay, and Suarez a goal, that saw the South Americans dump England out of the competition in the group stages.
Meanwhile, for all the great memories of Istanbul, Olympiakos, and the FA Cup 2006, amongst the countless times Gerrard had rescued the club, when it came to Gerrard needing us, we let him down.
In the early stages of 2015 it became evident the stalwart of Liverpool would be leaving the club.
Yet it came to light that if Liverpool offered a new contract to the skipper the previous summer, the parting of the ways between the club and Gerrard would not have happened.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo about the situation he said:
“If a contract had been put in front of me in pre-season I would have signed it.
“I’d just retired from England to concentrate all my efforts on Liverpool. I didn’t want my club games to be tailored.”
Not offered a contract in the first instance and then to be told he would be surplus to requirements is unacceptable treatment of a club legend.
If a contract had been offered in the summer, with talks of possibly reducing his games, due to the number of games that was to be played (with Champions league on offer that season), maybe an agreement could have been made.
And it was safe to say, the way it all panned out for Gerrard at Liverpool was not the fairy-tale we had all hoped for.
Before that infamous game against Manchester United in the latter stages of the 2014/15 season, Liverpool had taken 32 points from the previous 36 available, and coming into the game just two points off United the feeling was high.
But as Martin Samuel expertly summarised it:
“a man can rage just a little too hard against the dying of the light.”
And nothing depicts this more, than the skipper walking from the field in acrimonious circumstances, sent off with the dreams of a broken man left on the pitch – it was very a la Zinedine Zidane 2006.
It was too much for Gerrard. It was demoralizing warming up in front of the away support, to be introduced against the club he detests to most at half-time, and ultimately it was that feeling that ultimately cost Liverpool the game, the three points and a place in the top four.
Poor results followed the United game, but worse was to follow. There was to be no grand finale for Gerrard at Wembley, the final curtain had closed and he was to go out trophy-less, and the same pose as was seen at Palace the season before, and in Brazil was evident again.
Simply no excuses was the opening paragraph of the Echo’s match analysis, and it was true, Liverpool players and the manager went hiding and failed Gerrard in giving him his farewell fairy-tale.
With humiliating defeats against Crystal Palace and Stoke City, this was the final nail in the coffin. It had become the burial of a Kop icon rather than a celebration, one which the club or Brendan Rodgers could not look past – until now.
A Joyous Return?
It is fair to say the club immediately post-Gerrard, was very different to the one now. Now united by Jurgen Klopp, powered on by the redevelopment of Anfield, it feels as if Liverpool FC is finally at the, or going to the position fans have always dreamt of.
And one way or another Steven Gerrard needs to be part of this, he deserves that much.
The LA Galaxy midfielder took to his Instagram page to what many have taken as a farewell statement this past week, and with Klopp stating there will always be a place at Liverpool for him, many have assumed Kop legend Gerrard will be back.
The way he was treated by Rodgers and the club at the time simply was not good enough. Jurgen Klopp however has done what Rodgers failed, he has brought the whole club together whilst setting a precedent and an example, giving off a feeling we have not experienced since Rafael Benitez.
The way the wheels fell off during the latter stages of the 2014/15 season, would not have been allowed under Klopp, and with a genuine opportunity at the big-time, Steven Gerrard must be involved.
From the outset, shadowing or mentoring Klopp would be the ideal – a situation where Gerrard could take the ideas and mould them into his own, to take to the U23’s.
Being around the facilities again could only be a win situation and it feels like a no-brainer Not only would players like Trent Alexander-Arnold learn from him, but captain Jordan Henderson would be in an ideal position to ask about the pressures of captaining Liverpool, should he need such advice.
Overall, he was burdened by the weight of carrying Liverpool for so many years, he saw friends and colleagues like Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez leave for pastures new and after the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa, a captain did really go down with his ship.
Gerrard now needs to enjoy being around the club, not feeling the weight of the fans or players but this will be under the leadership of our charismatic manager, however he will understand that.
His enthusiasm and passion will rub off on the current squad, and who knows, with the season Liverpool are having he may be part of a title winning set up, coach or player after all.