By James Kostecki
Football is a game of change. Players change clubs, teams change stadiums, and managers change tactics. Change can be positive, as Arsenal has demonstrated with record ticket revenues after moving to The Emirates. Blackburn’s current manager Steve Kean is learning why change can be negative as well.
While change is almost always constant, there are consistent aspects to football as well. For instance, Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25-year reign as Manchester United manager or Chelsea’s never-ending quest for the elusive Champions League trophy. Yet, there are few constants in the game of football that hold as powerful of an aura as Steven Gerrard. Arguably the best midfielder in the world in the mid-2000s, Steven Gerrard has continued to be Liverpool’s hero time and time again.
After winning the treble with Liverpool at the young age of 21, Gerrard continued to further his career. His leadership and footballing abilities earned him the captain’s armband in 2003. In 2005, as every Liverpool fan on the planet will tell you, Gerrard single-handedly dragged Liverpool back from a 3-0 deficit in the Champions League final to beat AC Milan on penalties. In 2007, Gerrard again led a dramatic Liverpool comeback, scoring in the 90th minute against West Ham in the F.A. Cup final to force extra time — Liverpool went on to win the game on penalties.
Even as the twilight of his career approaches, Steven Gerrard continues to demonstrate why everyone else on the football field is a mere mortal compared to his god-like abilities. In 2010, as a confused Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson watched a depleted Liverpool side lose to Napoli 1-0 and threaten qualification to the Round of 32, Steven Gerrard was subbed on at halftime. The Liverpool captain put on a remarkable performance. Within a 10-minute span, he single-handily scored a hat trick and helped secure a, 3-1, victory.
Yet, football is a game of change, and even Gerrard must succumb to it. While he is still capable of game-changing performances, as he demonstrated earlier this year versus Manchester United, Gerrard is certainly past his prime. Featuring only 5 times this season, his injuries have caused Liverpool fans some serious concern. Twice this calendar year, Gerrard has had his recovery delayed due to infections. With half the season over already, one cannot help but wonder how much of a contribution the Liverpool talisman can provide.
Liverpool fans have long dreaded a team without Steven Gerrard. However, it appears we have been experiencing it for the past nine months. New owners, a new manager, and a huge influx of new players have helped lessen the blow and keep the attention away from the injured captain. Rather then relying on Gerrard to save the day, the thoughts have now shifted to simply hoping he can return to at least half the form he has demonstrated over the years.
Only time will tell what kind of contribution Steven Gerrard can provide Liverpool this season. However, in the changing game of football, his performances will be remembered for eternity.
Follow Jim Kostecki on twitter @jim_kostecki