The Problem with Liverpool is Steven Gerrard

by Matt Quinn

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Why Liverpool will never win the Premier League

At their first press conference, Tom Hicks and George Gillett came across as a pair of bumbling idiots, cut from the same cloth as George W Bush. “If Rafa said he wanted to buy Snoogy Doogy we would back him” stated Gillett. Brilliant. Either Gillett is a comic genius, light years ahead of the rest of the population or he’s a complete buffoon. I’m going to plump for the latter and I don’t think there are many people who will argue. However, their buffoonery does not make them accountable for yet another miserable season in the league for Liverpool. Certainly they haven’t helped matters, but forking out several million on Spanish wunderkind Fernando Torres also hasn’t exactly damaged Liverpool.


Rafa Benitez loves a tinker. We’ve been told so many times by pundits and experts. Again, there is little argument from this correspondent that he has thrown away vital points with strange formation and personnel decisions. Putting Peter Crouch on the wing in the loss against Reading this season was the perfect microcosm for his time at Liverpool. Once again, no-one can argue that this hasn’t cost Liverpool dear, but Sir Alex Ferguson has also thrown games away with unnecessary rotation. Weakened teams against Bolton in the league and Coventry in the cup have seen United stumble and fall. However, even when Benitez gets his tinkering spot on, he is lampooned. Early this season, Liverpool beat their local rivals, Everton 2-1. With the scores level at 1-1 he took off his captain and local hero, Steven Gerrard for 20yr old Brazilian, Lucas. A chorus of boos rang out from the Liverpool faithful. In a later interview, Benitez said he wanted to play with less passion and keep possession more, hence his decision to bring on Lucas. As it turned out, Lucas played a vital role in Liverpool’s winning goal and had a steadying influence on what was previously a rudderless ship. Despite winning 2-1, the main focus of the game for many journalists was the substitution. Gary Lineker was almost speechless on MOTD that Benitez wanted to play with less passion in a local derby and it is this myopic view surrounding Steven Gerrard that will constantly cost Liverpool.

Over rated?

The fans will never hear a disparaging word against him, the media likewise, yet as the great John Giles said, I believe Steven Gerrard is a player who produces great moments, not a great player. England and Liverpool have both suffered at the hands of his style of midfield play. All 100mph stuff, all 50yard raking passes, all blood and thunder. He often squanders possession and even if his 50 yard passes find their target, the gap between the midfield and attack is then so great that the momentum stalls. Xavi and Iniesta at Barca, Fabregas at Arsenal and even Scholes at United know the importance of attacking as a unit, which means keeping possession, making angles and playing short, incisive passes. This is something, I fear, Steven Gerrard will never learn and why Liverpool will never be consistent enough in the premier league. The only solution this correspondent can see for Liverpool, is to put Gerrard on the wing, where his bursts and energy would be of greater benefit and play Alonso and Masherano in the middle. However, Benitez did this for a season, arguably Gerrard’s best season, when journalists and fans pointed to Gerrard’s fine goal scoring form as evidence he should be given a more central role. “Imagine how many more goals he would score from the middle” So, while Hicks, Gillett and Benitez take the brunt of the criticism for Liverpool’s stuttering season, this correspondent believes that until fans and the media allow Steven Gerrard’s cloak of invincibility to drop, Liverpool will go on stuttering, quite simply because, with Steven Gerrard in central midfield, they do not have the class, guile or quality to win the premiership.

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  • Alan

    Blaming Gerrard for Benitez’s failures is pointless. I agree with you that he isn’t a midfield playmaker like Xavi but neither does Xavi contribute the goals to Barce that Gerrard scores for Liverpool.

    Benitez is the problem. He bought a midfield playmaker in Xabi Alonso and turned him into a negatove ball winner who forgets how to be creative because his manager has built a team designed to stop the opposition playing rather than using the ball skillfully ourselves.

    But for Gerrard in 2005 against Milan and 2006 against West Ham Benitez would have won nothing at Anfield so people should forget how the Tinkerman Benitez didn’t win those finals for Liverpool, Gerrard did.

  • Mav Goldfish

    Some interesting points, Gerrard is not the perfect player, but Liverpool would surely be a lot worse off without him.

    At 27 years old he has won the League Cup (scoring in the final), two FA Cups (scoring in the final against West Ham), a UEFA cup (scoring in the final), and the Champions Leauge (yes that’s right, again scoring in the final). He’s also amassed 14 league goals in half a season, despite the media constantly telling us he is ‘out of form’.

    Perhaps a critique of Liverpool’s consitent underachers, (that’s you Kuyt, Pennant, Riise, Sissoko), would offer a more a accurate reason as to why Liverpool have so far failed to land ‘the big one’.

    Perhaps the most worrying thought for Liverpool fans, is where the hell would we be without him!

  • Darren

    There is no doubting that Gerrard is a good player, but look what happened when Henry left Arsenal, and Van Nistrooy left United.

    I think Gerrard needs a new challenge, and only then would we see if he is World class of not!

  • Matt Quinn

    I agree that Gerrard produces great moments like the ones you mentioned in the cup finals. However, i think it was the introduction of Hamann against AC Milan that really turned the game. He kept possession, something Liverpool hadnt done for the previous 45mins. Something Gerrard doesnt do enough to the detriment of his team.

  • Ben

    I agree with most of the things you guys have said, however, Gerrard would walk into any team in the world. You can’t really say that about that many players.

    As Darren rightly pointed out, he does need a new challenge. I for one would like to see him at United with Hargreaves giving him the freedom to express himself, at Liverpool he is expected to win games on his own every week. Obviously that wouldn’t happen.

  • Alan

    One player doesn’t make a team pass the ball well. It takes a TEAM to pass the ball. And Benitez has stated publicly he believes you can control the game by letting the opposition have all the ball and counter attacking.

    This negative nonsense is why we can ‘t ever make a title challenege. We are so used to giving the opposition the ball we are not very good or creative with it when we have it ourselves. And it won’t change while Benitez is in charge,

  • Darren

    It seems to work in Europe though, and European football is all about possession, it doesn’t make much sense.

    I remember watching the Pool v Arsenal earlier in the season, Arsenal absolutely battered Liverpool, every time Gerrard got the ball it was a long hoof up to Torres or Peter, if that’s the tactics Benitez is employing then I can see why you lot are well pissed off and want him out.

    One question though?
    Is Klinsmann the right man to mount a Premiership title challenge?
    I think not

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  • Alan

    European football is usally about clean sheets. Liverpool are defensive in Europe and nick goals from counterattacks. When the onus is on them to be constructive in the Premiership against lesser teams content to take a point from us then Benitez has proven incapable of changing his rigid defensive orientated style.

    It suits Europe to concentrate on defence, not the Prem.

  • Pongo

    Hello I found this blog using search engine while searching for Liverpool and your post regarding The Problem with Liverpool is Steven Gerrard looks very interesting for me

  • Raj

    I completly diasgree with Gerrard being the problem at Liverpool, the manager’s European style of play is just clearly unsuccessfull in the English game. We play wonderfully well in Europe, fair enough we have had a bit of a bumpy ride this term, however, we turn from Liverpool FC to “The Dog and Duck” in the premiership.. really is appalling! ok, sure Benitez has won one euro final with us, taken us to another one where we should have won. an FA cup win and also a Super cup.. but wheres the title then Mr Benitez??.. he allways insisted it will take upto five years to turn us into champions.. well thats four years and a half.. we’re heading down the table and youtube fans have started posting video’s of our games with Benny hill theme tune playing in the background.. perhaps he is the problem?

  • Darren

    Rafa will be out of a job in 2 weeks. Watch this space

  • Jake

    Excellent article. Gerrard has never cut it at the highest level in his supposed “best position”. He likes the footballing that players like Scholes, Zidane and Deco possess and has to rely entirely on his pace and power.

  • rob pullinger

    Well what can i say, yes very good comments made, and agree with most….butt and its a big butt, stev g is centre mid not winger end of story…….yes you have the facts, but it remains true to anyone, stev g is the best midfielder in this country, probably in the world too in his position, and its not a typical midfielder role he does like the one’s mentioned…..he’s better than most and any team and any manager would have him in there team…????
    as for liverpool and england if you take him out, you take the driving force that is needed, who else you going to play there…..liverpool dont have a replacement, so dont even mention masch or alonso, or levi…england …lampand???, sorry do me favour, its tried and tested and failed????
    Liverpool need to spend some cash and get rid of the rubbish, six players at least, two of which have to be strikers and that includes getting rid of Crouch, he’s no first team starter, keep hinm as sub, yes maybe….why, you may ask, he has no pace ,no good in the air too pridictable????
    Also get rid of the Yanks, who havent got a clue about Football not the American version, get DCI in, as for Rafa….Ilike him but too much tinkering…got his priorities wrong…if he goes then who’s going to replace hiim??????
    Liverpool still way behind, and thats coming from a scouse fan…..

  • rob pullinger

    Benitez is a victim of his own success. Liverpool haven’t won the league in 15 years prior to his arrival. His net spending is little compared to united and chelseas and he’s started to build up a great youth system. No one has broken into the title race since abramovich has come along so I don’t see why Benitez has been expected to do so.

    – he’s held on to gerrard, which must have been partly due to the champers win.
    – he’s signed torres, which must have been partly down to benitez.
    – he’s developed the youth system, winning the youth cup twice and signing players such as lucas, agger, mascherano, babel and torres.
    – taken liverpool to 4 cup finals which his tactics have played a large part in.

    2 seasons without a trophy is not a reason for Liverpool to sack a manager. Houllier was taking Liverpool down.

    I think you have to look at the Liverpool squad and consider how many would get into Man United/Chelsea/Arsenal’s teams.

    Reina (United/Arsenal)

    Arbeloa (United)
    Agger (All)

    Babel (All)
    Gerrard (All)
    Xabi (All)

    Torres (All)

    At the end of the day Rafa doesn’t rotate his team, he butchers them, thats why Liverpool are where they are???

  • Darren

    so exactly how many of the Liverpool’s youth team players have broke into to the first team?

    Under Rafa the answer is none. He would rather sign average foreign players, like Voralin, Kewell, Pennant.

    So what if most of the Liverpool team would get into the other big 3, the fact of the matter is with his constant tinkering there is no consistency what so ever. Consistency equals familiarity, players need to build up an understanding, get to know each others games.

  • Matt

    Rubbish! Gerrard is the best midfielder in the country if not the world??? How did you work that one out? When has he ever been outstanding for England? Even when Frank Lampard gets all the flak and he is given a defensive midfielder to play alongside him, Gerrard still fails to show up. He is not in the same league as Scholes, Fabregas, Riquelme, Gattuso, Pirlo, Iniesta, Deco, Xavi, Rosicky, Essien, Ronaldo, Messi, Cambiasso, Arteta… i could go on.

    I also disagree about the players getting into other teams… Agger. Good player but not better than the big 3’s defenders. Babbel wouldnt get into any of the others, nor would Alonso and you know my feelings on Gerrard! Torres (and Reina) are the only ones who would make it into the other teams.

  • rob pullinger

    Not in the same league as you mentioned, dream on mate!!!!

    He’s been outstanding for Liverpool on more than one occasion, a player that rises to the challenge, look at the Champions League final, Fa Cup, need i say more, and before you say it no im not going on about HISTORY, as many of you so called Football fans keep going on about??

    He’s someone England need and on more than one occasion, he has been the best that we have had….dont even compare him to Lampard,he cant play defensive, chelsea rely on him to push forward.He’s a silly, fat, greedy waste of time…

    Stev G is not Liverpool’s problem, its Rafa and his rotating, tinkering, call it what you want, not enough quality players, all his buys bar two or three are bit time players….not good enough to where let alone play for the club. and the americans…..the sooner we get all these problems sorted the better we will be….
    Thus it will be quiet a while before Liverpool can challenge…

  • rob pullinger

    Liverpool are well below the so called BIG 3, and rightly so, you cant blame one player, ok so he’s the captain, the engine, heartbeat of our team, but it takes 11 players, and know one is bigger than the club, ring any bells (beckham, Man u )…???

    Our problem is that we need to move forward to this day and age not the Boot room as it used to be, money talks, whether its Man u, Arsenal or Chelsea, look at the Richest Club List…
    We are well below par and everyone knows it, the sooner fans and the club realise this and does something about it the better. until then we will always be behind.

    Plain and Simple, Say no more?????

  • Darren

    Arsenal have spent less than Sunderland, and yet they are the 5th richest team in Europe, reason being, they are a very well run club.

    Which is something you can not say about Liverpool.

    They will finish 6th and Rafa will be out of job this time next month. Frank Rijkaard will be in charge. You heard it first

  • rob pullinger

    well i dont think anyone who wants rafa out is “anti-rafa”, it is just a realisation that he isnt the man for the job! Indeed he hasnt had the money to spend that man utd and chelsea have, but it was shown in a very good post above that money doesnt always buy class, look at Wenger, a genius in the transfer market, never even approached 20mill for a player!
    the thing is the players have lost confidence in the manager. He has shown blind faith in Kuyt, so what is the point in Crouchy playing well? scoring goals?(sometimes) trianing hard? doesnt relaly matter cos there is no assurance he wil be picked.
    He won a CL, very very hard to do, Wenger has never done it, Fergie only once, so fair play on that, but is that enough? Other liverpool fans say to me but “hes a tactical genius”, well, is he? the 2nd half in milan is one example, give me another?? BArnsley at home? Havant at home? wigan at home? reading at home? west ham? tactical genius??

    What more do you need to say?????

  • rob pullinger

    Frank Rijkaard, you got to be joking…..rather have sky sports commentator

  • Matt

    I dont think Benitez has helped matters, but i think he was willing to flog Gerrard to Chelsea and rebuild a team in his own manner. I simply do not rate Gerrard. He reminds me of an upper-class version of Thomas Hitzlesperger, who used to play for my team, Villa. The game would pass him by, he would waste a number of passes and then from no-where score a 30 yard thunderbolt. The crowd loved him. I never rated him and felt a more all-round midfielder was needed. Gerrard is obviously better but he is a jack of all trades.
    Hes not a defensive midfielder and he isnt a creative one either. Thats why Liverpool struggle to create chances sometimes. He produces great moments, but he will never be a great player. The days of lung-busting passionate midfielders have gone. Until he learns to cherish the ball and is content to keep possession rather than play hollywood passes then that is the day i will rate him. I think he has all the tools to be a great player. He just doesnt possess a footballing brain.
    Ps. Hamann was the reason you won the Champions League. With Gerrard, you were 3-0 down at half-time, and the real class, Kaka had destroyed you. (although i think Kaka is slightly overrated too!)

  • rob pullinger

    Your entitled to your opinions, and so am i, and in Steve G we totally disagree. He is a great player, and liverppol through and through, he is what makes our team tick.
    Yes your right about Hamann, except he should have been playing from the start, and when he came on he held it in front of the back four and gerrad did the rest, agree he has his off days . so does everyone else, but when its crunch time and you need a bit of drive and determination he’s your man and has done it time , and time again…

    As for flogging Gerrad to Chelsea, it didnt happen,not once, twice or three times!!! reason being he’s scouse, he’s a red and he’s LIVERPOOL PLAYER, and wants to make history.
    All round midfielders, do they exist?????

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