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Steven Gerrard set to leave his boyhood club

Steven Gerrard set to leave his boyhood club

 

Image Courtesy of senior agen, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of senior agen, flickr.com

The day that we all knew would come is finally here. Arguably Liverpool Football Club’s best ever player, and one of the greatest servants of the city, is set to hang up his famous number 8 shirt for the final time.

The news that Steven Gerrard is set to leave Liverpool Football Club for the MLS at the end of the season has the city divided. Fans are asking “Is he still capable of competing in the elite Premier League?” and “Surely this can’t be true?”

There are those of us that are not wanting to let our captain go, feeling there is still more left in the tank. This season Gerrard has shown his class with his dead ball skills, netting another world-class goal in Europe and continuing his great penalty record – scoring two goals against Leicester at the weekend, taking his tally to 23 goals out of 30 penalties in the Premier League. The Liverpool captain still has so much to offer; his invaluable experience, leadership and knowledge of the game will be a huge loss to the team on and off the pitch.

Then you have fans on the flip side, who will be looking to the future of the club and will argue that Istanbul was ten years ago and that, as amazing as that night was, we need to move on. Everyone can see that Gerrard isn’t the player he once was and, granted, there have been some average performances by the Liverpool captain this season. But at this stage in his career, we can’t expect him to turn out the world-class performances we have all become accustomed to.

 

Image Courtesy of aFootballBlog, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of aFootballBlog, flickr.com

Whichever side that you sit on, the Premier League will have lost one of the greatest midfielders the world has ever seen. If we want to see Gerrard running down a ball before burying it in the back of the net like he has done on so many occasions – Olympiacos and the 2006 FA cup final against West Ham spring to mind – or delivering world-class cross pitch passes, and picking up players anywhere on the pitch as he leads the line, then we’ll have to catch it on ESPN as of next year.

The biggest question is ‘How do we replace what can’t be replaced?’ Back when Kegan departed in the 70s, fans wondered who would score the goals…..enter Kenny Dalglish, the only player that can challenge Gerrard for the affections of the Liverpool fans. But that was then and this is now. Brendan Rodgers has been questionable in the transfer window and looks set to be under the scrutiny of the Anfield faithful, should he not find a suitable replacement or not let the captain go without a fight.

No matter what happens at the end of the season, we’ll all be able to look back on what has been one of the greatest footballing careers. And the fans will always thank Gerrard for the memories and for the famous nights in Europe that he delivered, time and time again. Good luck Stevie G – you’ll never walk alone.

Dear Mr Rodgers…

Hot on the heels of an open letter printed in the Daily Telegraph last week by football writer Henry Winter, urging Arsenal’s owner Stan Kroenke to enforce change at the club, I read another open letter written by the Daily Mail’s Rik Sharma.

Entitled ‘An open letter to Fernando Torres’, Sharma’s missive outlines why, as a lifelong Chelsea supporter, he is urging the misfiring striker to leave the club in the summer and return to Spain. Sharma explores in considerable detail Torres’ time at the club, from the initial excitement of his arrival in the January transfer window of 2011, to the early doubts about whether the £50 million man was worth the fee, through to the growing resentment amongst Chelsea supporters towards his attitude and general demeanour and finally, the nadir of Torres being booed off the pitch on his 100th appearance last month.

Chelsea fan or not, the article is interesting reading, if nothing else for the way it catalogues the sorry decline of a player once feared as the best in his trade (as a Liverpool supporter, I still hold some cherished memories).

But reading Sharma’s impassioned appeal, so soon after Henry Winter’s very public call to arms to ‘Silent Stan’ Kroenke, made me question whether we are seeing the emergence of a new fashion in football journalism. That is, emotively infused appeals from the journalist as ‘football fan’ as opposed to observer and reporter.

Of course, the wider concept of the open letter is nothing new and indeed, self-penned appeals seem to be de rigueur amongst Premiership club owners at the moment, most notably with Liverpool FC’s John W Henry’s and his letter to supporters in September 2012 apologizing for the club’s transfer policy.

It is clear however that the concept of the open letter in the back pages is an increasingly popular journalistic vehicle through which to frame opinions, and generate debate online. Perhaps the emergence of the trend is no surprise considering the rise of the football fan as commentator and opinion-shaper himself, through blogs and football forums.  It will be interesting to see how many other open letters will appear between now and the end of the season, especially as we head into the ‘business end’ of the year with passions often at their highest and gripes at their worst.

My own open letter? Why oh why can’t Liverpool string a few wins together, Brendan Rodgers, just for once!

 

Words by Ciaran McCale