Whelan tells Gerrard to copy Giggs template
RONNIE WHELAN believes that the burden of carrying Liverpool for the past decade will make it impossible for Steven Gerrard to play on for as long as Ryan Giggs.
The Manchester United veteran has successfully managed to survive at the top level into his 40s and, while Whelan feels that 33-year-old Gerrard has plenty of miles left in the tank, he can't see him lasting as long as Giggs.
Gerrard's expert delivery prowess created goals in last weekend's thrilling Merseyside derby, but Whelan thought he was slightly ineffective in general play and has suggested the Anfield skipper will have to learn from Giggs and modify his game to prolong his career.
"It's got to catch up with him the way he's carried Liverpool on his shoulders – more or less – for the last 10 years," said Whelan.
"He's got them through some big scrapes. Giggs was probably fortunate that he had a lot of great players around him doing it as well, whereas Gerrard hasn't had that luxury of that quality around him for so long.
"He's going to have to tailor his game as well. He didn't do an awful lot in the derby, but he's still a very, very good player. Sometimes, he's just going to have to sit in there.
"It's his natural instinct to try to play that box-to-box role, but, at some stage, you have to get it in your head that you can't do it, and appreciate that you can only make two or three big runs in the game as opposed to seven or eight.
"You have to tell yourself you can't do it anymore and I think that will come to Stevie very quickly. But he's definitely going to be thereabouts for at least another couple of seasons."
Whelan was coming towards the end of his time with Liverpool when Giggs burst onto his scene and he's impressed by the manner in which the Welshman has lasted the course.
"He was the first of that brilliant generation coming through at United and I'll always remember a goal at Tottenham early on in his career when he sprinted past everybody – there was nobody capable of catching up with him. Although he hasn't got that speed now, he still has brain and the nous to do the right things and make the good passes.
"I was never blessed with pace so it didn't matter to me. But people with pace sometimes find it hard to change, and Ryan has managed that."
Whelan, who was speaking at the official opening of the Ladbrokes shop in Nutgrove Shopping Centre in Rathfarnham, thinks that Giggs and Gerrard will be part of the last generation of players to stay loyal to one club for the duration of their time on the pitch.
"It's the way it is now," he stressed. "People used to stay at football clubs for 10 years, get a testimonial and it would enhance their wages. They don't need enhancing now, they move around an awful lot more. When they get dropped, someone close to the source says they want away and that's how it goes."
On that theme, the Dubliner wants Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to enter the transfer market in January to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four alive, although he thinks a Champions League spot could prove beyond them.
"You expect Chelsea, Man City and Man United to get stronger," he warned. "They're not going to keep dropping points, whereas Liverpool are probably playing at the top of their game. Arsenal are going strong too.
"I don't think Liverpool have a great squad – they've a good first XI if you put them out – but they would need a minor miracle to finish in the top four. The manager has admitted he needs two more transfer windows to get it right, he doesn't believe they are anywhere near the finished article.
"Fifth place would be a good season. Liverpool have fallen so far behind that they're still playing catch up. I think they'll have a look at the transfer market in January and see what's out there, but I don't think they're at the level yet where they can break into that top four."