Wednesday 21 March 2018

Gerrard still writing his own legend to keep Reds in hunt

Liverpool 2 QPR 1

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring his side's winning goal against QPR at Anfield on Saturday
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring his side's winning goal against QPR at Anfield on Saturday
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard misses from the penalty spot
Leroy Fer celebrates scoring QPR's goal

Chris Bascombe

Whenever Liverpool are struggling, they revert to their default position - mobilise the historians and find solace in chasing the past.

Nothing sounds as good as, "I remember that," a lyricist once noted. It could have been penned after a visit to Anfield and May is always nostalgia central.

Fifty years since the first FA Cup win; 25 years since the last title; 10 years since Istanbul.

Brendan Rodgers knew when he was appointed how many anniversary dinners he would have to attend and in the early days of his reign, he sought to be inspired, rather than weighed down, by history.

However, in the moments after Liverpool's deserved, but awkward, victory against QPR, there were signs he has come to understand the frustrations of his predecessors.

"Short memories," was Rodgers' response as he joined the ranks of the wistful by urging supporters to think of last year rather than yesteryear.

It could be argued that the memories are, in fact, too long.

The present, with its lack of silverware and the grim prospect of a Europa League campaign offering a ready-made excuse for failing to challenge for the title next season, just isn't cutting it, so the museum artefacts soothe the pain.


There will always be a momentous performance, a world-class player and a popular former manager to pine for.

Events that were casually brushed off at the time (not least the last title in 1990) become more significant and celebrated with age.

And so, in 10 or 25 years, you can well imagine a proliferation of nostalgic flashbacks recognising these final weeks at Anfield of the finest all-round footballer that Liverpool has produced.

Steven Gerrard's greatness will swell every season the midfielder is no longer around Anfield as much as it has since his debut.

You can foresee the articles of the next decade, cursing Liverpool's lack of on-field leadership, reminiscing those era-defining winners, and commemorating Gerrard's capacity to offer meaning to the meaningless, as he did with his header three minutes from time here which just about kept top-four ambitions simmering.

Rodgers, with a clear tone of irritation, noted that he was being urged by supporters to substitute Gerrard prior to his winning goal, not least because he had seen his penalty saved by Robert Green eight minutes earlier.

Few will be referring to such incidents when the tribute dinners in Gerrard's honour recall these last moments in a red shirt.

That is the point. Memory is not always truth. It distorts by giving that treasured recollection a restorative rub, removing the blemishes that were prevalent at the time.

Liverpool supporters yearn for the era of Istanbul because of the euphoria of that victorious moment, forgetting how freakish the victory was and how close they were - from Olympiakos in the group stage through to half-time in The Ataturk - to being humiliated.

The man who prevented that and changed the course of Liverpool history does not need summoning back because, for another three weeks at least, he is still at the club.

What we are witnessing whenever Gerrard plays now is the final scenes of the documentary footage of the future.

For 87 minutes against QPR, he experienced Liverpool's entire season. A poor start, better in the middle, thanks to Philippe Coutinho (but lacking goals), and then desperation as the finale approached.


Chris Ramsey was encouraged by his side's commitment, but they should have been well beaten before Leroy Fer's volley equaliser and - in truth - looked like a Championship team in waiting.

Nedum Onuoha's silly sending-off for two yellow cards switched the attacking momentum Liverpool's way and Gerrard took his goal tally to 184.

For those he leaves behind - not least Rodgers, who will still be in charge regardless of stunts involving amateur pilots (believed to be from Manchester), blogs about Jurgen Klopp and conspiracy theories regarding Rafa Benitez's lifetime ambition to get back to the club - the challenge at Anfield is perpetual; to ensure the emblems of Liverpool history are a friend rather than threat. (Daily Telegraph)

Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport