THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

26 March ~ Watching Steven Gerrard’s body language this season, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a man condemned. And in some ways, perhaps he is. Out of the title race by December, FA Cup and Champions League runs ended prematurely, and sidelined at intervals by groin and hamstring injuries, it’s understandable Gerrard could be feeling a little sorry for himself.

Every player suffers a loss of form from time to time. It is an inevitable consequence of playing week in week out in such a competitive league at such an intense level. Good players recover from loss of form. Great players do it quickly. And I don’t believe it is too large a leap of faith to class Gerrard in the latter camp as has been proved this time and again.

What is most worrying about Gerrard’s loss of form is its timing. Having watched an awful lot of Liverpool this season (awful being the choice word), it has been at times alarming to see the stupor with which the Liverpool captain has hauled himself across the pitch. I don’t know of any other player who could be allowed essentially a whole season of poor form in a World Cup year at supposedly their peak (29) and still get on the plane to South Africa.
 
A case in point is his moody sauntering around the Old Trafford pitch last weekend, contributing nothing at all in a game that could feasibly have gone a long way in preventing the title being retained in Manchester. Gerrard should have relished that game. He should have been inspiring confidence in those around him, rallying his troops and all manner of other footballing cliches. That is what is expected of him and what he is capable of doing.
 
The logical conclusion is that Rafa Benítez is failing to get through to his players so spectacularly that Gerrard is limping on until the end of the season in an all-consuming daze of indifference, scarcely able to believe that this is (Xabi Alonso aside) more or less the same side that came so close to winning the title a year ago.
 
Even if this is true, which given Albert Riera’s recent rant does genuinely seem the case, Gerrard’s behaviour is incredibly petulant. It is because of Liverpool’s poor form since more or less the start of the season that Gerrard’s presence is most needed. Instead he seems to have given up, wallowing in self pity at the injustice of having to share a pitch with David Ngog and Lucas.
 
If Fabio Capello is true to his word that he will pick players purely on form then Gerrard will not be in the starting XI against the USA on June 12. I would argue that he isn’t even worth his squad place and I never thought that would be something I would write. If Joe Cole has played himself out of contention then the same has to be said of Gerrard. As a gambling man I would put good money on Gerrard lining up on the left hand side of midfield in that first World Cup match. It will, however, be a place scarcely deserved. Adam Bushby

Comments (8)
Comment by RayDeChaussee 2010-03-26 12:12:02

Good stuff. Gerrard's form makes it all the more perplexing that England are as short as 5-1 to win the World Cup.

Comment by PRB 2010-03-26 12:34:27

Can't say I blame him in some regards. He's give his heart for that club so many times over the years and has got little in return from management in terms of the right kind of player support. I don't know for certain but it seems very obvious that something isn't right between Gerrard and Rafa and Gerrard is looking him gone. I hope indeed that happens and Gerrard gets back to his best football though I fear it could end up being with someone else.

Comment by Noblelox 2010-03-26 12:52:45

Well, if you believe the "reports" that Gerrard and Carra held talks with the board, claiming that the manager has lost the dressing room, it may be the case that neither of them are flogging themselves on purpose. If he starts playing well now, it will be because he wants to feature in the world cup, and he no longer feels we can catch Spurs for 4th.

Just a thought.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-03-26 13:54:08

Perhaps Rafa should slag him off in public like Lord Harry Redknapp does with his players.

Comment by bewaldeth 2010-03-26 14:34:14

I think it's entirely possible that Gerrard has stuff going on in his off-field life which is contributing to his head not being in the right place.

Comment by Venga 2010-03-26 16:44:49

No matter what Gerrard's issues with management, he deserves a boot up the backside if he can't motivate himself and his colleagues for a game at Old Trafford, especially one that could've blown a massive hole in Utd's title prospects. He was a disgrace out there.

Comment by sponge 2010-03-27 00:42:20

He's been poor all season, he admits as much, but "living off his reputation"? Is there a player in the world that isn't "living off his reputation"? The fact he admits he;s been poor would surely suggest that it's actually the press "living off his reputation"?

Comment by imp 2010-03-30 01:30:45

He's not out of form, he was just massively overrated all along.

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