Phil Mahon is countering an article from earlier today in which Will Speed Evans questioned Steven Gerrard’s performances of late.
It has been a turbulent few years for supporters of Liverpool Football Club. The off the pitch problems of the club have been well publicised and caused much heartache for many fans. It is sometimes forgotten however that problems begin at the top and naturally creep through an organization which we have seen from some unsatisfactory results in Rafael Benitez last season and during Roy Hodgson’s tenure.
It is clear that the problems which plagued the club affected the players. Let’s go back to the 2008/2009 season. Unbeaten in the league at Anfield, only lost two games all season, took apart both Man United and Real Madrid scoring 4 against both in one week and having our best title challenge for a number of years it’s safe to say the club was on a high. At the centre of this was our captain, our talisman, Steven Gerrard. The fact he netted 16 goals in the League and 24 goals in all competitions speaks for itself and his partnership with the ill-fated Spaniard Fernando Torres quickly became one of the most frightening partnerships on the continent.
If we move forward just 12 months to May 2010 it is a different story completely. 7th in the League, knocked out in the Champions League Group Stage, Xabi Alonso at Real Madrid and the club on the verge of bankruptcy. Fans and players alike were at an extremely low ebb. Steven Gerrard who we expect so much from every season only netted half the goals of the season before with a tally of 12 in all competitions. His poor back pass against Chelsea in the penultimate game of the season to allow Didier Drogba put Chelsea ahead summed up his season. The team as a whole struggled.
With the appointment of Roy Hodgson, the English manager Gerrard craved, we envisaged the shackles been taken off him and optimism was high for a return of form. The team and Gerrard both struggled which eventually led to the sacking of Hodgson and the return of fan favourite Kenny Dalglish. Thus far after 22 appearances Gerrard has 8 goals in all competitions. So why, after a clear dip in performances from 18 months previous is Steven Gerrard such an invaluable to asset to this Liverpool side? It is easy to see he still has the ability.
This season he has shown it with a hat-trick off the bench vs. Napoli in the Europa League and the brace he scored at Old Trafford to bring Liverpool back from 2-0 down, two games where Liverpool appeared to offer nothing going forward he showed he still has it by digging deep and bringing the side back from the brink.
We also need to look at the style of play of the team. Under Hodgson we often saw the long ball option exhausted however since Kenny took the helm we have seen the pass and move game return to Anfield and it is a style which our skipper will thrive in. As the side progresses with this new style so will Steven Gerrard. The arrivals of Luis Suarez and especially Andy Carroll will develop his game forward as he will thrive on Carroll’s flick on and use them as an opportunity to drive forward and the presence of 2 new big names may take some of the scope of Gerrards back.
At 30 years of age Steven still has time left at the top level and still has time to return to the mould of the Steven Gerrard of the 2005-2009 period where he amassed 79 goals in all competitions. One thing I think all Liverpool fans will agree on is if anyone can bring Steven Gerrard back to his best, it will be Kenny Dalglish.