On Friday, I challenged Steven Gerrard to make a difference for Liverpool in their crucial penultimate game against Chelsea on Sunday. We all know how that went (Gerrard gifting a goal to Didier Drogba for the game winner.)
Chelsea is in pole position now to capture the title.
Shaun himself challenged my comment. And as we are primed to drop an EPL Jumble on Tuesday. I’m reprinting Shaun’s commentary below to get us in the frame of mind for the end to the EPL season because after this week, we are 30 days out from what we’ve all been waiting for.
He’s rescued Liverpool many many times, before and after 2005. Yesterday–against Madrid–he was all over the pitch making some key defensive tackles ( a couple of slips ), trying for shots, making some good and bad passes, taking all corners and running himself ragged (he was an attacking midfielder).
His goal tally has certainly dipped this year but that has to do with other people scoring as well as not gelling with others on the pitch. He NEVER takes a game off. If he remains out of the picture its because a manager has said you must play on the left or somewhere out of position. For England he’s constantly drifting to the middle but then goes back to his position which can be a bit of barren area in football. One of his big flaws I believe is the same thing that plagued Rooney and Donovan in that he often tries to do to much. When he doesn’t and plays the position told off him he is accused of not trying…
Yesterday was a key example in that while Aquilani was very good and occasionally they had some lovely one twos, they were unfamiliar with each other, so the typical gerrard shot outside of the box never was hit with the timing from before.
I will agree that this season he has had a dip in form but to say he has not played with pride is ridiculous. After a step forward last season, Liverpool made several back this year and that has all to do with the manager and management. They sold a key component and replaced him with an injured player. They did not find a strike partner for Torres, let go of some key older players and did absolutely nothing to further their push for a premiership title. Gerrard wants one really badly and wants it with Liverpool, so he must be incredibly frustrated that the brass arn’t doing anything and if they are, are failing at pushing Liverpool into the top 4 which they want to believe they are part off, but frankly are not.
So who knows what Liverpool will do this weekend. It must be incredibly hard for Gerrard and Carragher to play their hearts out, so that their biggest rivals over take them in trophies. In 95, the same situation existed in which United needed a Liverpool win as well as their own to win the title. Liverpool could have lost or tied but did their part and won away from home against a Kenny Dalglish run Blackburn. United lost and therefore lost the title.
There are players, namely Babel who barely try at Liverpool but the rest, as good or as poor as they are, always put 100%. Leiva who has been ABUSED by fans and pundits alike, still works his ass off and has improved tremendously this year. Benayoun and Kuyt are tireless and the defense, a shadow of its former self, still works hard.
Liverpool have had of their most disappointing seasons in longer than possibly the oldest fan can remember. Their captain has been injured, had to play without his strike partner or a slew of others, had to deal with unstable owners, is playing out of his typical high standard form, a cold and in my opinion exhausted manager and now apparently his wife is sleeping with another football player. To accuse him of not playing with heart is possibly the last possible thing one can accuse him off.
Liverpool will play Chelsea exhausted and with nothing really to play for. They had such high expectations and didn’t come close to reaching any of them. Their future is in doubt as they are being sold, manager is hopefully leaving and possibly taking a major part of their spine with them. They will bounce back. Who knows when? but they will.