Gerrard: Back To The Future

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The lull in Premier League action due to the international break has been frustrating, to say the least. Of course, that has not dampened the mood for speculations about some Liverpool players, like the ones about the likelihood of Coutinho being enticed to jump ship and hook up with his close Brazilian mate Neymar at Barcelona.  Alongside this, for Liverpool fans, there has also been some “news” about a former star and club legend, and his likely departure from Los Angeles.

I for one find the stories about what next for Gerrard far more interesting, since I feel like Coutinho is not going anywhere soon, while a change for Gerrard is all but certain.

After 34 appearances for the LA Galaxy, Steven Gerrard’s stint in the MLS appears to have come to a close. While Bruce Arena and the Galaxy have apparently left the door open for the Liverpool legend to return for another season, all indications are that Gerrard himself appears to be eyeing a move back to more familiar pastures. Despite all the glitz and glamour that comes with celebrity stature in Tinstletown, Gerrard appears not to have taken to the LA Galaxy project the same way that other former Premier League stars (such as David Beckham or more recently Robbie Keane) may have.

Now that the Galaxy’s season has been brought to an abrupt close following the Western Conference playoff loss in a penalty shoot-out to Colorado, the odds that Gerrard would return to England seem all the more certain.  The continued speculation about him rejoining Liverpool Football Club also seems to be picking up some momentum, even if it is only just that – speculation – for now.

One school of thought has it that Gerrard remains keen on sustaining his playing career – and if the right opportunity comes along, even if it is north of the border in the Scottish Premier League or perhaps across the channel, this can’t be ruled out.  If nothing else, the odds-makers have certainly been keeping the conversation and speculations on this front quite rife.  Most recently, and perhaps these stories are nothing more than ‘click-bait’, even Newcastle has been thrown into the mix as a possible destination, not to mention the Chinese Premier League!  I’m not sure about you, but while there’ve been many faded ‘stars’ of the EPL and other top European leagues who’ve gone on to find some financial security – if not footballing longevity – in the Chinese league, it’s safe to say none of these seem like what Gerrard is all about.

What we do know is that he’s about Liverpool.  Both Liverpool the football club and the city.  This is where the other school of thought comes into play.  Is a return to the city and, more importantly, the club in the cards?  Is it as imminent as some seem to suggest?  As we well know, Jurgen Klopp himself has been asked by reporters about such an eventuality on more than one occasion, in fact, not too long after becoming manager at the club.  Now that Gerrard’s future is again the source of discussion, the links to the club have surfaced with much more resolve.

I’m struck, however, by the notion, albeit in some limited quarters, that Gerrard still has some future as a player in Jurgen Klopp’s squad and that he could be a tangible contributor on the pitch with the kind of playing style and tactics the gaffer has been instilling on the squad.  While Gerrard himself has made it known on more than one occasion that there’s nothing more he’d like than to be a part of the future of the club in some meaningful way, there’s little – if anything – to suggest that either he himself or Klopp fancy a return to a playing role on the first team for the former captain.

That said, it seems not only quite conceivable, but arguably what could be a stroke of genius, if Klopp and Gerrard saw it fit for the latter to become a meaningful member of the academy coaching staff.  As the strategic developments underway at the academy under the stewardship of Alex Inglethorpe become more explicit and organically linked to the broader footballing philosophy Klopp is instituting at Liverpool Football Club, there could be no better way for Gerrard to launch the next phase of his relationship with the club than to become a part of the future by diving in at the ground level, so to speak, and begin to be a part of the process of building the next generation of lads who’ll come to hopefully write the next chapters in the success of the club.

A legend of the club, a graduate of the academy, a living testament and embodiment of what the academy is all about, Gerrard would instantly elevate the already strong reputation of the academy in building not just future footballers, but impress on young men on how they may make the best of their potential as individuals. Likewise, Gerrard would benefit greatly, it would seem, from being reacquainted to the academy in a new and intense way, while honing in his skills as a teacher of both the game and, perhaps more importantly, the Liverpool ethos.

To be sure, such a role would also mean that Gerrard could remain somewhat out of the immediate limelight at the club – not a bad thing in my book, considering the “Jurgen Way” is still very much in its infancy.

Together, the Klopp-Gerrard equation could be mirrored in the way academy and the senior squad become more organically and seamlessly connected.  So as Gerrard contemplates his next move, here’s one fan dreaming of a new Liverpool beginning for Gerrard at what should be some very familiar surroundings for him.

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