It’s no secret that Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is in the twilight of his career. In fact, twilight may be a bit conservative. If Gerrard’s career represented a full day, he’d be in bed wondering who the guest was going to be on The Daily Show. There’s no shame in that, of course. Gerrard is 34 years old and approaching his 500th professional appearance. He’s served his time, and has done so wonderfully.
Unfortunately, Gerrard is in the middle of a poor season for a Liverpool team that has been collectively bad, and in an effort to combat his declining athleticism and pace, Gerrard continues to adjust to a deeper position in midfield. Now, in the face of those 34 years, the adjustment provides a nice excuse.
“Steven has been slowly adapting to a position I felt would really benefit the team — the playmaking role behind.”
Brendan Rodgers knows this isn’t working. He’s found himself in a position where he’s defending Gerrard’s place in the team, but everything positive he says is in the past tense or a comment on character and spirit, rather than on-field performance.
“People expect Steven to be the type of player he was 10 or 12 years ago but sadly that’s not the case.
“That player who scored 15 a season and made 13 or 14 assists — he’s not that type of player anymore. It’s hugely unfair he gets judged on that level.”
What’s sad is that it seems we’ve entered the phase of Stevie G’s career where everyone is talking about him like the grandfather they just moved into an old folks home. We’re a few weeks away from reading things like, “He’s still so alert,” or, “We just hope he stays active.” It’s a bummer.
“He can play three games a week but not to the level he would like or I would like so it’s up to me to manage that.
“It’s fairly easy to manage because he’s such a top-class professional player. He accepts what’s best for Liverpool. He knows that every decision is in the best interests of the club.”
Yeah, we can take Pop-Pop out today, but we have to get him back home by five so he can eat dinner and go to bed at a decent hour.
“I can safely say he’s the best player I’ve ever worked with — his mentality, commitment and loyalty he’s shown the football club has been incredible.
“I’ve shown in my time here as manager that I don’t deal in sentiment. There is nothing sentimental about me picking Steven. I judge him on what I see on the training field. I see the influence he has with the other players.
“No, Steven, you’re not holding anything back. You still got it, we promise.” Gerrard has become the granddad who’s not moving so well anymore — somebody who makes the family walk a lot slower so he can keep up.
They do it in a way that he doesn’t notice. After all, the man still has his pride. But more and more, this is becoming “You should have seen him back in the day!” We’re just saying these things to cheer Stevie up.