The press have been buzzing lately and fans seem unhappy with the form of our skipper. There was a piece in the Guardian that put all our current loss of form solely down to the skipper even suggesting his best position is not in the middle and perhaps Rafa should consider selling him.
This comes hot on the heels of a press campaign clamouring for Steven to play centrally and pundits suggesting Rafa was wrong for playing him on the right hand side of midfield. The about turn is comical but clearly demonstrates the media’s dislike of Rafa and the man cannot do right for being perceived to be doing wrong.
There has also been a lot of sniping from a minority of our own fans towards Steven. A lot of this is a hangover from his actions in the summers of 2004 and 2005 and other fans still not forgiving him for this. This may seem ludicrous to many as a lot of water has passed under the bridge since these incidents but it did make me question whether Gerrard should be still tainted by this and whether Steve should leave.
I do think you need to put this all into perspective – Gerrard is still a young man and an emotionally volatile young man at that. Many think that just because he earns vast sums of money he is accountable for all his actions and is not permitted to have problems. Unfortunately life is not like that.
Gerrard is a very proud scouser and pride is a double edged sword. On the one hand he is proud to pull on the shirt and wear the armband for his hometown club – just check the ticketing thread for a taste of how much this great club means to our scouse members. Then on the other hand his pride makes him a vulnerable individual who looks at any situation and makes him take any perceived slight against him as a dagger in his back.
Agents can be a mixed bag too but luckily Steven’s is a decent fella with the interests of the lad paramount. When Steven was feeling down in the first flirtation with Chelsea he was instrumental in persuading Steven to stay although he still left the ultimate decision to Gerrard.
Steven had seen the father figure who had introduced him to the team shoved out of the door and then there was the introduction of Benitez. At the time Steven had spent time with Lampard and Terry in the England squad, so was well aware that the West London club was going places. Two consecutive league titles are proof these notions were correct and the introduction of the so called Special One was also perceived as a more glamorous gaffer.
So his choice was the start of a bold new adventure with Rafa and the likelihood of yet another 5 year plan or a trip to the noveau riche Chelsea side where success was going to be bought. To us reds its a no brainer – the allure of the club with its history and traditions is too great – but to an ambitious young footballer heralded as the greatest midfielder in the country and the future of English football (Gerrard hype was at an all time high at this stage) well it must have been a tricky decision.
Trophies or loyalty? Benitez was not assured of success and much of our performances in his first year must have made Steven think we were further away than ever.
Steven eventually opted for loyalty but on the proviso that if Rafa does not prove to be a success then he will bid the club adieu. Heresy to some reds but these detractors are not in Steven’s shoes – he wants to win things – merely participating is for losers and winning is everything to a young man like Steven.
To hang on for one season though it did cast a long shadow over the club – the media vultures interpreted a sullen look from Gerrard (one of his more usual looks to be fair) to mean he is off to Chelsea. An own goal in the Carling Cup final against the blues was even translated as a deliberate attempt to ingraciate himself with the Chav supporters.
Then we have Istanbul. I am not going to wax lyrical about the magic as we all know what a special night the 25 May 2005 was. My neighbours thought I was being murdered such were my howls of delight and they still mention it to me to this day which is somewhat better than my dire attempts at Singstar with my eldest daughter which also lead to comparisons with a gangland slaying!
In the aftermath of winning ol’ big ears Steven immediately nailed his colours to the mast. Rafa, Parry and the Club had other issues to attend to – mainly celebrating – and Steven perceived this as a snub to himself when he wasn’t immediately offered another contract.
To me this reaction was churlish and the action of a spoiled child. But again I whilst we all experienced the highs of Istanbul none of us were in the eye of the storm and got to lift the trophy. This must have been some amazing rush of adrenaline, and, after feeling so high, to feel shut out must have felt shattering to a man who had stuck by his club the previous year gambling on the success of Benitez.
Steven more than flirted with Chelsea on this occassion – he told us he was leaving and told Chelsea he would sign (texting this intention to Jose and Kenyon by all accounts). Luckily text messages are not legally binding and after a lot of soul searching, family, friends, his agent and finally Mr LFC himself stepped in and helped Steven make the right decision.
David Moores, now theres a name that doesn’t get bandied about so often these days – and that is a shame considering he is Club President, told Steven that he was loved and wanted. That is all he wanted which seems strange in this megabucks world of football although I do believe the Â£100k per week deal must have been a sweetener!
Gerrard shirts were burned outside Anfield (which created additional revenue for the club when the new Gerrard shirts were must haves in May the following year after the best FA Cup in living memory) and his name was not held in such high regard amongst a section of fans. His loyalty was openly questioned and winning stuff would not be enough for many as he had besmirched the name of Liverpool to many with his double daliance with Chelsea – the new enemy.
But what we must all remember is that despite feeling his time had come to an end, not once but twice, at Anfield,despite media ‘experts’ suggesting he would thrive elsewhere and would win more in another coloured shirt and suggesting he would never realise his full potential here, well despite all the outside pressure he remains skipper of Liverpool. Yes he broke our hearts in these times but he is a young man – he simply wants to leave a legacy of being a winner.
The list of players who have had to move on from their boyhood club to progress is as long as my arm – Torres and Rooney immediately spring to mind. But the bottomline is Gerrard has remained loyal despite wobbles and is still one of the first names on the teamsheet (rotation aside!) and is still captain.
I think people need to look closer to home before making casting stones at Steven for looking (but not going) elsewhere. In our less glamorous jobs has work ever annoyed you to the extent that you have checked the local press or logged onto the web of a lunchtime in search of a job where we will feel appreciated more?
Well apart from those too scared to try new experiences we have all looked at other opportunities – its natural – yet by moving we are not shattering the dreams of the fans who idolise him. Is that necessarily Steven’s fault? His chosen career is televised world wide (not sure many would want to watch me doing group consolidations or auditing – although TV scheduling is getting progressively worse so Accounts of the Day could be on a station near you soon!!!)
Personally I think he has made the right decision by staying as he is a talisman for our club, I do think he is in a poor run of form at the minute (though this is true of a majority rather worryingly recently), I do think he is quite a spoiled individual too (reading his autobiography it is clear to me he has been spoiled throughout his life and I read between some of the lines and had him down as a tantrum thrower!) but no one can underestimate what he has done for this club and doubt the ability this lad has.
Some may think his appearance in a red shirt is to the detriment of the team but world class players are few and far between. Sure not all of Rafa’s many combinations and tactical offerings suit the lad, that said it is still vital that somehow his mercurial talents are honed to the benefit of the team. This is Rafa’s conundrum and I am sure he is the envy of every manager in the premier league and the many leagues around the world having the chance to get the best out of our enigmatic skipper.
Graham Roberts aka ‘Gimme5’