Since Steven Gerrard announced his decision to quit Liverpool after this season a lot of opinions has been offered to explain why and questions raised if it is the right move. One angle has been left out, how can we change his mind. I know how it can be done and in the process give him another five years as a regular in the red kit.
It´s really quite simple. Make Steven Gerrard a central defender and he would fill that role exemplary for seasons to come.
The debate around Gerrard has in the last couple of seasons surrounded his ability to play in various positions in midfield. Some claims he is not suitable as an attacking midfielder because his ageing legs doesn´t cope anymore. Others has questioned if he can fit in as a sitting midfielder with defensive duties aswell as being a deep-lying playmaker.
Well, he is pretty good at both jobs. But there is big but hanging over the whole picture. As an attacking midfielder Gerrard is not as good as before, not as mobile and hungry, even if he showed what he can do yesterday versus Wimbledon. But that was probably a one-off and a reaction to him finally making his decision. A mental burden was gone and he felt relieved and could express himself again. But against better teams he will not be as effective.
As a sitting midfielder the captain is not good enough to cope with the defensive side of the game. He can tackle and all that but when in midfield his attacking instincts sometimes takes over and he leaves huge gaps in midfield for opponents to exploit.
With this in mind it´s probably right to managing his game time, just as manager Brendan Rodgers does and planned to do in the future. Gerrard isn´t physically ready to play every game as an attacking midfielder and not really good enough to be a regular sitting midfielder. Last season he was and Liverpool let in 50 goals. Proof enough.
According to Steven himself the game managing was a major reason for him to decide to leave Liverpool. He couldn´t see himself on the bench and not as anything else but a midfielder. Well, sometimes you have to reconsider and think things through once more. As Liverpool staff and Steven should do.
Deep down Gerrard wants to stay, I´m sure of that. But since he´s been a regular for over a decade and suddenly not be was to big a blow for him. The only solution was to leave his beloved club. But if he could be guaranteed a place in the team for years to come then he would stay. I don´t for a second believe that he craves another challenge abroad. He has had plenty of chances before, and declined. He could easily do it again. If only Liverpool could grant him a regular starting spot.
And they could. Give Steven Gerrard a centre back slot and he´ll would excel in the role and really enjoy it. And furthermore, it would be more of a challenge than a two year stint in the MLS in USA.
I am certain that Gerrard would be a smashing defender. He can tackle, he is good in the air as he often proves at corners, in both penalty areas, he reads the game well and could defensively organize a back line perfectly. Furthermore, his ball skills and game intelligence would make him the perfect centre back when it comes to bring the ball out of defence and set up attacks. A new Alan Hansen if you will.
All in all Steven Gerrard has all the necessary ingridients to become Liverpool´s new defensive leader. And I think he would love it. He can still take free-kicks and penalties and occasionally try shots from 25 yards. Just as he does as a sitting midfielder. And with him primarily getting defensive duties he would not be a liability defensively as he is a sitting midfielder. He would take his new reponsibilities on board and perform them to perfection. That is my firm belief. He has in the past showed his versatility on numerous of occasions, time to do it again in his final hurrah, even if the hurrah lingers on for a few years.
He wouldn´t be comfortable in the centre back role from day one but soon enough indespenisble especially as we have major troubles with our current central defenders. All of them makes silly mistakes, is caught napping, commits to ill-advised tackles and is too often out of position. Gerrard would not doing any of this and in the process making his fellow defenders more calm and assured. His leadership qualities would shine through and affect the whole back line.
And as a centre back he wouldn´t have to run so much so physically he could last for at least four or five years. He is fit as it is and would take care of himself just as he has for the last 20 odd years.
If Steven Gerrard gets the centre back role he could be a regular for Liverpool for years to come, do a great job and perhaps even win the Premier League. He could also break Ian Callaghan´s appearance record. Liverpool legend Callaghan played 640 league games for Liverpool and 857 matches in total. Steven Gerrard is currently standing on 494 league matches and 696 game sin total. If he should play on for four more seasons, and in average feature in 45 matches, he would break Callaghan´s record and be the player in Liverpool history to play the most games for the club. If anybody is worthy of that then it´s Steven Gerrard. Hopefully we will see this become reality, in the meantime:
We Go Again (and so does Steven Gerrard).