Liverpool vice-captain Jordan Henderson signs a 'long-term' deal with the club on Thursday (23 April).
At English football’s grandest theatre, a legend of the Premier League era bowed out in anonymous fashion last weekend.
Steven Gerrard has been a world class footballer and a wonderful servant to Liverpool. This season, however, he has been neither. His decline has been at light speed.
Rather than rally his boyhood club to a stirring comeback against Aston Villa, thus preserving the chance to leave Merseyside on a high with a fairytale FA Cup triumph on his 35th birthday, Gerrard’s performance only underlined why it is the right time to close the book on his time in English football.
Three shots, two off target, and an 82 per cent pass accuracy that was bettered by Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Glen Johnson tells you all you need to know.
It’s sad that Gerrard saw his last major game pass him by. But football & sentiment sometimes aren’t great bedfellows. He was very poor.
— Dave Phillips (@lovefutebol) April 19, 2015
So too do the stats of Liverpool with and without Gerrard. In all competitions this season, they have won 15 of 37 games with their faded talisman, losing 13 and drawing nine. Without Gerrard in the team, they have won 12 of 16, losing and drawing two each.
With Gerrard Liverpool win 41 per cent of the time, 75 per cent without him.
On Sunday, their limp exit at the hands of a team who were second bottom of the Premier League when Tim Sherwood took over two months ago, and remain in a relegation battle, is in stark contrast to last season’s runners-up finish.
Whereas 2013/14 promised so much, Gerrard’s steep decline this season actually confirms Liverpool’s status as a team in transition and highlights their need for a new identity.
After two-and-a-half years of initial promise, all of a sudden Brendan Rodgers’ future is being brought into question.
The club should stick by the talented Northern Irishman and the news of Jordan Henderson being close to a new five-year contract extension this week points towards Fenway Sports Group believing Rodgers is the right man to lead Liverpool into the post-Gerrard era.
The club’s next major decision will be what to do with another of their young stars, Raheem Sterling.
The Reds could cash in on the gifted forward, who nevertheless has a very grandiose opinion of himself, and stuff the coffers to fund a rebuild.
6/8 – This season Jordan Henderson has recorded both his best goals total (6) and his best assist total (8) in the Premier League. Contract.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2015
Sterling has been demonised in recent weeks, but he’s not as dumb as others would have you believe. He’s simply wise to his worth to the club. He is acutely aware that Liverpool need him far more than he needs Liverpool.
In today’s market and taking into account Sterling’s obvious talent and age, he would surely command a fee of around £50million (Dh276m).
They should resist this, however, and find a way to satisfy the 20-year-old’s demands and keep him, moulding the new generation around two of England’s brightest young things.
Gerrard was the cornerstone of Liverpool and England for a generation. Henderson and Sterling can be exactly the same for the next.
With pressure mounting over the future of Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini, BeIN Sports duo of Richard Keys and Andy Gray give their prediction to Sport360.