It was a double-edged sword to witness yesterday. An era came to an end at Anfield and Steven Gerrard was celebrated in a fine way. At the same time the team couldn´t arrange a last home win for him. That´s a major worry when we move into post-Gerrard times.
After playing at Anfield for almost 17 years our captain took his final bow against Crystal Palace last night. The occasion was emotional and everybody participated to make it a nice event. Sadly Liverpool lost 1-3 and that dampered the mood considerably. Steven Gerrard had some tears in his eyes but didn´t cry. I guess he was afraid he would do so he brought his three daughters to take care of and focus on after the match.
It´s of course sad to see Gerrard leave but as always life goes on and so does Liverpool FC. The saddest thing was to watch how we once more got outplayed by a team worse than us, bot on paper and form-wise.
Steven Gerrard hasn´t been much of a leader this season and I can´t see anyone in the present squad being a future boss and motivator on the pitch. When the going gets tough we don´t get going. In fact, quite the opposite, we buckle and roll over and give in.
So in the summer we need to sign a true leader, a go-to-guy when things are going south. Jordan Henderson is by no means that man. Liverpool must find a midfield maestro with a playmaking capacity, a never-say-die attitude aswell as leadership qualities. Is he out there? Perhaps, but he won´t be cheap so the owners must open up the war chest and pour out the pounds.
If they don´t spend then Liverpool is destined for another season among the also-rans and even a place further down the table. Beside a leader figure we also need an established 25-goal striker and reinforcements all around the team. I´d say four or five top players to be able to compete for at least top four. Is the owners ready to splash the cash? I´m not so sure. They did when Kenny Dalglish asked for it and got some dross. Brendan Rodgers also got he nod to spend and also mismanaged the funds. Will FSG trust him once more? As I said, I doubt it. This summer we will most likely see fewer signings than last time around and the most expensive ones costing around 15 million pounds. In other words, the squad will not be strengthened.
Hopefully I am wrong and FSG put their money where their mouth was when they took over. They promised to spend to make Liverpool a force again, now is the crucial time to do it.
And finally another matter. In sports, numbers belonging to iconic players sometimes get retired, no one else is allowed to wear that number in the future. Regarding Gerrard´s number it would be appropriate, but in fact unnecessary. Because who in their right mind will knock on the manager´s door and ask for number 8? Well, no one in years to come, that´s for sure.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 37th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 3.
Not one of his best matches. A bit passive when Palace scored.
RB Emre Can 3.
Kept going forward but no end product. Committed himself too much in defence.
CB Martin Skrtel 4.
Decent display but made some rash tackles and got out of position at times.
LB Dejan Lovren 3.
Seemed nervy again and was troubled in the air and on the deck.
RWB Jordon Ibe 3.
Was pretty harmless and didn´t threaten the opposing defence.
DM Steven Gerrard 4.
A quiet last match at Anfield. Tried to get a goal in the second half but mishit hit chances.
CM Jordan Henderson 2.
Is out of form and didn´t contribute much. Not a leader in the making.
LWB Alberto Moreno 1.
Provided nothing in attack and had a lot of trouble in defence.
RF Adam Lallana 3.
Nice finish for 1-0 but didn´t offer so much more.
LF Philippe Coutinho 3.
Was involved far too little. Never got going.
CF Raheem Sterling 1.
Played for himself once more and created nothing.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 65 mins).
Played for 25 minutes but was never seen.
DM Lucas Leiva 2. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 65 mins).
No big mistakes but no impact either.
LF Jerome Sinclair 1. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 87 mins).
Just made up the numbers.
A lame last game at Anfield this season and sadly none of the Reds rallied to give Gerrard a fine send-off. One final match remains to make sure the captain can end his career at Liverpool on a happy and winning note. It´s essential that:
We Go Again.