I’ve always wanted to write about the idea that Steven Gerrard quit too soon. This article will explore the argument that had the former Liverpool captain carried on just a few seasons longer, he could have ended on a high note and helped Klopp’s side get over the line for some vital silverware.
Gerrard quit a year after Liverpool’s amazing 2014 exploits where they came one win away from winning the title. Of course, the Scouser would never have predicted the charismatic German’s arrival but quitting at 34 years of age, nearly 35. He could have gone on longer, in my opinion.
The world of sport science has now changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Tennis players are playing well into their thirties such as Federer who is still playing wonderful tennis at the age of 37. He looks after his body and fitness and also has key breaks to set himself up for the major tournaments. This worked well this year winning the Miami Masters 1000, which is one of the major titles outside of the Grand Slams.
Meanwhile, Gianluigi Buffon maybe a goalkeeper but he’s still playing for PSG. Teddy Sherringham played till he was 42 years old at West Ham and the likes of Paolo Maldini played till he was 39. David Beckham and Andrea Pirlo are other examples.
If last month’s Liverpool legends v AC Milan taught us anything, it was that one player on the field, Stevie G, still had it.
Now imagine if he had prolonged his career by three-four years. He could have been apart of Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room, a dynasty even. Klopp has made Liverpool major Premier League contenders and a major force on the European stage in the Champions League. And Gerrard could have been a part of that.
I believe deep down, Liverpool’s talisman will probably regret throwing in the towel so soon.
Yes, the argument could be that Liverpool don’t need him or their playing well anyway. Okay. However, if Gerrard had been in the dressing room, he could have surely influenced events such as the three finals Liverpool lost under Jurgen Klopp. They could have won one or two of those easily with Gerrard driving them on.
Like he did in the Champions League final in 2005 where he rallied his team to come back from 3-0 down to 3-3 as the likes of Jerzy Dudek, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia, Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros won Liverpool their fifth European Cup.
They may not have had the best team, but they had the biggest heart.
That Champions League win wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Gerrard’s goal and virtuoso performance against Olympiakos in the group stages.
The same goes for 2006 when Benitez’s men were 3-2 down against West Ham in the FA Cup final with 2 minutes of the match to go and up pops Steven Gerrard with an injury time thunderbolt. I will never forget that goal. It was a classic.
While his one-club loyalty is commendable and Liverpool fans will always adore him for that. He also won the treble in 2001 of Worthington Cup (League Cup), UEFA Cup (Europa League) and the FA Cup with Gerard Houllier at the helm alongside players such as, Gary McAllister, Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher.
You could even argue that Jamie Carragher should have carried on an extra year and helped Liverpool in the 2013-2014 season. Maybe he could have made a difference with his defensive and leadership skills for the team.
Back to Stevie G. Liverpool would also not have finished in the top four so consistently in the Benitez era had it not been for Gerrard’s commanding leadership skills.
People may taunt him for the rest of his life about that slip, but he carried that Liverpool team so many times. And achieved so many amazing victories, won trophies. What he achieved at Liverpool is commendable. I for one hope he will be Liverpool manager one day.
Even in 2013-2014 he was contributing a lot to the team. He had more goals and assists than he had done since the epic 2008-2009 season, where Liverpool again came second and came so close to finally winning the title.
At 33, like James Milner now, Gerrard was able to take his game to a whole new level. That extra experience in his thirties and knowledge clearly sharpened and improved his overall game, even if he was a tad slower perhaps. Technically speaking as a footballer, he was stronger than when he was in his twenties.
Gerrard can take a mean free-kick, a top penalty taker as well and deadly at set-pieces, corners and crosses. That’s how he would have been useful to this Liverpool team currently in 2019, in my personal opinion.
Those four draws (to Leicester City, West Ham, Man United and Everton) that could yet be detrimental to Liverpool’s title bid, could all have been avoided with Gerrard powering Liverpool on and maybe even coming off the bench with a cheeky free-kick or corner or delivery that could have decided the outcome of those matches and given us a sneaky 1-0 win.
Yes, we do have Virgil Van Dijk and James Milner as leaders on the field and Milner from the penalty spot is almost Gerrard-esque but Gerrard could have given us that extra little drop of energy and quality that could have got Liverpool over the line. Both in terms of Klopp’s losing finals as Liverpool manager and the matches that we drew and were unable to win.
Gerrard would have been fantastic for motivating the players at Melwood. Having experienced the close title challenges in 2009 and 2014, Stevie would have known exactly what to say to the players about taking one game at a time. Not listening to the press, ignoring the pressures of the fans and the weight of history and expectation. If anyone was an expert in the modern game, it’s him.
Gerrard would also have been a good mentor to the likes of our academy graduates, defenders, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Can you imagine if Gerrard played in last year’s Champions League final? That would have been amazing to see.
The Premiership title was the only trophy to elude Steven Gerrard’s stunning CV. He won everything else but that. Imagine if he was apart of this title chase for his boyhood club. That for me, in a parallel universe, would have been fantastic for all Liverpool fans to see.
To me, the way he was playing at the top of his game in 2013-2014, our third highest goal scorer that season, behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, he could have carried that on for a few more years. He could have carried on till this year, till he was 39 in late May 2019 or May 2020 depending on how well he looked after his body.
As Steven Gerrard looks on and cheers his boyhood team to finally win the title in 2019, after nearly 30 years, he may have a tinge of regret that he didn’t work under Jurgen Klopp, and perhaps prolonging his career and giving it the full chance, it perhaps deserved.