Onus Falls on Gerrard to Repeat Heroics of Decade Ago

Published: 09th December 2014 08:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2014 08:31 AM   |  A+A-


For Steven Gerrard, the pre-match ritual ahead of the visit of Basel may simply be a case of flicking through his autobiography and looking up the chapter on do-or-die Champions League evenings. Been there, done that, provoked the memorable Andy Gray commentary.

There was a time Gerrard spoke deferentially about repeating the feats of Anfield's legends, so it is sign of his status and career trajectory that his team-mates now look to him to replicate heroic performances.

Among the murals in Liverpool's trophy room, it is the one of Gerrard holding aloft the European Cup that serves as both a reminder of what is possible in the unlikeliest of circumstances for the current side, but also how little seems to change.

Ten years on from the goal that kept him at Anfield (the anniversary of his 25-yard net-buster six minutes from time against Olympiakos passed yesterday) the Swiss arrive on Merseyside believing that to stop Gerrard is to nullify Liverpool.

"He is an iconic, inspirational figure and a world-class player," Joe Allen said. "He's a huge player to have in our team and he could be the difference so we are looking for some more magic from Stevie."

It is a familiar plea. Allen is one of the 12 central midfielders Liverpool have signed since December 2004, four managers spending in excess of pounds 116?million to ensure Gerrard is not a solo rescue act. Broaden the transfer activity and it is calculated 75 players have been signed for pounds 520?million over this period.

You can fill the books on modern Anfield history with different managerial personalities, over?attacking or over-defensive tactics and blood on the boardroom carpet, but it is this use of transfer funds that is the foundation for such regular paucity of options.

That Liverpool should go into a game of this significance looking to Gerrard to provide the leadership and dynamism from central midfield incriminates all those entrusted with a talent search during the course of his career. If the next 10 seasons yield a similar return, you can imagine an appeal for Gerrard to provide the inspiration when he is in his mid-40s.

"We can't be relying on him, we need others to step up to the mark and be a catalyst, not just Steven Gerrard," his manager, Brendan Rodgers, admitted ahead of a critical evening. "There are few world-class players around so the onus falls on you but for us it is about the collective and we need a level of performance from the whole team."

It is worth reminding ourselves what Gerrard said on the eve of that meeting with the Greeks in 2004, the first of several European nights that would define that season and convince the Liverpool captain to pledge the peak of his career to his club. "Time is not on my side," Gerrard said. "I reckon I have five or six good years left in me and I can't afford to wait around for three or four of them waiting for the upturn in fortunes here. I want to have a big family by the time I retire and I want to show my medals to my children."

Gerrard, of course, has won medals since then, not least the European Cup he lifted a few months later. He will never talk about regrets, no matter how often he is urged to do so. An FA Cup in 2006 and League Cup in 2012 and Premier League near-misses, however, represent thin pickings since the second Chelsea rebuttal shortly after Istanbul.

He has also played with some fantastic players during that period, although not enough. He has watched Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez put their careers before any attachment to Liverpool. Had those players stayed, Gerrard would not seem like the last world-class player standing at Anfield, trying to summon the energy for what might be his final charge into the Champions League knockout stage.

Few will be surprised if he dusts himself down and adds another chapter to those memoirs, enabling the visit of Basel to sit comfortably alongside that of Olympiakos.

"I don't want to wake up in the morning and not be in the Champions League," was Gerrard's message 10 years ago. Sentiments are the same this time. Liverpool must hope the outcome likewise.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp