After close to 17 years of loyal service to his boyhood club, Steven Gerrard yesterday played his last ever match at Anfield. This was a day of celebration, a day to pay homage to the man who has single-handedly rescued
Liverpool on so many occasions. The
mood was slightly dampened by a lacklustre performance leading to a
disappointing 3-1 loss, but ultimately this was a day where the game and its
result was a mere sideshow, simply providing the backdrop for the final
farewell of a club legend.
The veritable feast of nostalgia meant that a plethora of old Gerrard clips were retrieved from the archives – footage of Olympiakos, Istanbul, the 2006 FA Cup Final and countless other memorable moments were unavoidable throughout the day. This was only fitting, but also inadvertently threw sharp focus on the failings and inadequacies of the current team; the jubilant faces of the likes of Torres, Mascherano and Alonso contrasted starkly to the defeated Lambert, Lovren and Lallana trudging off after a shocking showing against Palace. Certainly it raises questions over where the club is going – the glorious European nights seem so distant, totally out of reach with the current personnel. Coutinho, Henderson, Mignolet and to an extent
Sterling are the only ones who can look back on the season
with any sort of pride: are the rest really good enough for Liverpool?
Come to that, is Rodgers? If Istanbul
were to happen today, I don’t think we’d come from behind to win it. I think
we’d bring on Lambert at 3-0 down, the famous fans would take a few selfies in
complete silence and we’d whimper to a 5-1 defeat, after which the manager
would praise our “great character” for snatching a goal back.
Still, that’s a debate for another day. This day was all about our captain: while the sublime and the ridiculous (looking at you on this one Voronin) came and went, Gerrard remained. To lose him is to lose an integral part of the club itself – Steven was
he epitomised all that it stood for. If there was any justice in football he
would have signed off with a screamer to win the FA Cup Final, but the damp
squib of an ending does nothing to devalue his service to the club. I grew up
with Gerrard as the go-to to get on the back of the shirt, the one everyone
tried to replicate in the playground – he will surely go down as one of the
greatest English players of all time.
His unique standing in the footballing world was shown by the sheer volume of tributes he received from pros and ex-pros.
Piero, Kaka, Suarez… the list goes on. It seemed that everyone had a good word
for the skipper – the man who Zidane described as possibly the best in the
world received high praise from all corners of the globe. It felt for all the
world like his retirement: it was easy to forget that he isn’t ending his
career, but simply moving across the pond. Not only that, he’s not quite done
for us yet! The visit to Stoke is still to come, and while his proper send-off
was at Anfield it’ll be good to see him don the shirt (probably the yellow one
now I come to think of it) one last time. Henry, Del
I know this hasn’t been much of a match report, but this is not the time for analysing and summarising and criticising – this is the time to pay your respects to the man who has defined this football club for so long. I have had many a bad word for him over the past couple of seasons, but once you’ve acquired legendary status then you can never lose it – the club are undoubtedly losing a legend, one who will be greatly missed and also adored for the memories he has left us with. Thanks Stevie.
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