What’s the reason for Steven Gerrard’s poor form this season?

by Michael Somerville

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

There’s no doubt about it, Steven Gerrard is a class player for club and country. His form is consistently excellent and he has grabbed Liverpool by the scruff of the neck to win matches which seemed lost on countless occasions. But perhaps, this is a season too far for the midfield maestro amid concerns his recent fitness and form for Liverpool.

This season, Liverpool and Gerrard have undoubtedly faulted and stuttered and have seen their domestic and European seasons slip through their fingers. Gerrard recently expressed concern at his own form before Liverpool’s home tie to Wolves, and Benitez has agreed with the captain’s opinion saying: “It is all about confidence.”

Maybe so… but Benitez admitting crisis talks with Gerrard to the national press is possibly priming 18 million pound man Alberto Aquilani for a long-awaited run in a Liverpool shirt, and therefore dispelling doubts that he is a long- term successor to the England star. Money problems at Anfield may just force Benitez to cash in on Gerrard in the summer, and it’s difficult to see Gerrard maintaining his awesome form for too much longer on Merseyside.

Beleaguered manager Rafa Benitez actually criticised Gerrard all the way back in August 09, after Liverpool lost two of their first three games and the Spaniard, who usually shy’s away from attacking senior players such as Gerrard, pointed the finger saying he was “not playing at his best level.”

With Mascherano suspended for 3 matches and Gerrard still waiting to hit top form, a lot will come down to the 22 year old from Italy if Liverpool can continue their weary climb up the table.

Liverpool legend Jan Molby also criticised Gerrard this season, calling him “a sulk” whilst speaking to the MP Red Liverpool podcast. Molby also called Aquilani’s contributions this season as “zero.”

Seems there’s no love from Jan for the Liverpool midfield.

Paying £18 million for a player who Liverpool knew would be unavailable for 4 months is a huge gamble and Benitez’ record in signing big name players is actually pretty poor. Big name players such as Fernando Morientes, Ryan Babel, Mark Gonzales, Craig Bellamy, Jermaine Pennant and Andres Dossena have all floundered at Anfield despite commanding big transfer fees.

Who knows though…? I may be proved completely wrong about Aquilani and he may turn out to be a defending, holding and attacking powerhouse in the middle of the park, fully justifying his huge price tag.

Benitez has most definitely got something to prove and the rot has got to stop against Tottenham on Sunday.

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  • magnumopus

    Your comment on Liverpool knowing Aquaman was not going to be available for 4 months is not accurate reporting and you know it! The doctors gave a brighter picture to Rafa before the purchase. Later they found out the ankle damage would take longer to heal. We all await to see how this signing will turn out!

  • Bazza

    your an idiot!

  • Matt Quinn

    After being criticised for not particularly rating Gerrard too highly for years, ive decided to move onto Fernando Torres.

    I think he (and Benitez’s system) may be a large reason behind Liverpool’s lack of success this year. Last year with Alonso in the middle, Liverpool were able to dominate possession and keep the ball for long periods. Once the gaps appeared up front, the ball was moved forward and Torres/Gerrard exploited the space.

    This year, with less technical players in midfield, Liverpool have needed the ball to be held up front better in order to retain possession. Torres, despite his obvious quality, is not a target man, nor a link man. In fact, im often surprised when watching Liverpool at how often the ball is squandered by Torres (and as ive always maintained, Gerrard). That is not to say that Torres isnt a world class striker. He clearly is. However, i feel he (and Liverpool) need a Drogba type player next to him to hold the ball up, retain possession and relieve some of the pressure on the Liverpool backline and midfield 4/5. In this respect, i am not surprised to see Liverpool being linked with Heskey and Carew of Villa at the moment.

    Torres as a lone front man doesnt work- unless the midfield can retain possession for large periods. Liverpool’s midfield at present does not do this and so Liverpool need to look for someone to partner Torres and quick.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    you lot are just way to touchy, what colour handbags have you got?

    Gerrard is over rated, simple as that. How many times does he launch a 60 yard hoof which goes no where? Especially in an England shirt! I hope he’s not fit for the World Cup, we are better off without him

  • Terry Melia

    Hes 25, not 22 you retard.

  • nursejackieemu

    Gerrard over-rated Darren I don’t think so…

    you’re being a devils avacado!

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    he is over rated in an England shirt, that’s a fact. he thinks he’s Beckham or Joe Montana!!

  • Guy

    He’s far better than Beckham ever was…also is 2.5m for gonzlez really a big transfer fee? or 6m for morientes or Bellamy (who we made a profit on) Pennant for 6m is hardly massive either…

  • Mike Somerville

    Yes Aquilani was only originally not available for 8 weeks when Benitez signed him and “complications” have kept him out for double that time.
    However, take into consideration his struggles with injuries at Roma which meant he only made 14 appearences last season?
    Whatever you say, it was a hell of a gamble, and so far it hasn’t paid off

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I agree with what u are saying Guy, but those wasted transfer fees are the difference between you winning the league. Liverpool were one winger away from being crowned champions last season.

    Fast forward a few months and the club is in turmoil, ok, not quite, but they have gone backwards, they need at least 3 players. I actually tipped them but now I can’t even see them making the top 4.

  • BabuYagu

    How can anybody trust your opinions to be correct when you cannot get any of your facts correct:
    1. Aquilani is 25 years old (not 22)
    2. He was signed for €20m (or £17.1m). In any currency your “18 million” is wrong.
    3. Mascherano was suspended for 4 matches. 3 of these has already passed…. so not entirely sure where your figure of 3 comes from. Although he will probably be missing for a while through injury. You could say he will be missing for some weeks through injury, at least it would be an accurate assessment instead of stating a fact, wrongly.
    4. 3 different medical opinions were sought before signing Aquilani diagnosing between 5 to 9 weeks for the injury. It has taken longer but to state that Benitez “knew would be unavailable for 4 months” is just a lie.
    Also a couple of other facts to help you write a more accurate article in future.
    Only £5.5m was paid upfront to Roma due to his injuries. Rafa couldn’t sign a good enough replacement for Xabi with the money that was made immediately available to him. Therefore he had to gamble on signing someone who was good enough but injured.
    Gerrard, and many others, aren’t playing at their level. If they were Liverpool wouldn’t be in this position. In fact your whole article is about how Gerrard isn’t playing at his level. So how can Benitez saying “he isn’t playing at his level” be an attack?

    About “big money signings”.
    Fernando Morientes (bought for £6m, sold for £3m. Total loss = £3m)
    Ryan Babel (bought for £11.5m, receiving bid of £10m. Total loss = £1.5m)
    Mark Gonzales (bought for £1.5m sold for £3.5m. PROFIT = £2m)
    Craig Bellamy (bought for £6m, sold for £7.5m. PROFIT = £1.5m)
    Jermaine Pennant (bought for £6.7m, left on Bosman. Loss = £6.7m)
    Andres Dossena (bought for £7m, to be sold for £4.5m. Loss = 2.5m)

    So out of your very selective list only 1 player Benitez has lost more than £3m on and 2 of the transfers actually made a PROFIT. That’s dreadful!

    It would be a good exercise for you, as a journalist, to loost at the “big money signings” of Liverpool’s rivals to see how Benitez fares comparitively speaking.

    Oh and for me, “big money signings” is anything over £10m. That list for Liverpool is a follows:
    Xabi Alonso – £10.6m – Sold for £30m (profit £19.4m)
    Torres – £20.2m – Now regarded as the best striker in the world
    Ryan Babel – £11.5m – Receiving bids of £10m
    Mascherano – £18.6m – Now regarded as the best holding midfielder in the world
    Robbie Keane – £19m – Sold for £16m (£3m loss)
    Johnson – £17.5m – best attacking full back in England
    Aquilani – £17.1m – needs to be seen more for an accurate verdict

    To me, that doesn’t seem too bad. There are no massive losses like Veron (£28m) or Shevchenko (£30m). It also highlights how well Rafa has done signing players like Agger, Reina, Benayoun, Kuyt for less than £10m who are now world class players.

  • Mikey

    So many incorrect ‘facts’ here. The players you mention, of which Babel was the most costly (and who other clubs wanted!!) were not big buys to the nature of Anderson, Veron, Bellion etc – all PL flops but cost much more.

    The other thing is, Gerrard would not leave Liverpool – you obviously have not done your homework here. If the yanks forced a sale – there would either be riots or it would signal the end of LFC.

    The thing about Aquilani is that THREE medical opinions underestimated recovery time. The other thing that is surprising is that people are ready to judge him on about 230 mins of premiership football so far. Absolutely ludicrous – as ludicrous as this article. What do Pires, Henry, Ronaldo all have in common – they were all herladed as great players AFTER needing 2-3 seasons to get used to the premier league.

    Also, Rafa’s buys with bigger money have been good. Mascherano, Torres, Reina, Alonso (sold for 300% profit), Garcia, Agger, Johnson (pompey owed us money for Crouch on that one). So I think your next article should include some balance!!!!

  • Mike Somerville

    Guy, Gonzalez was in fact £4.5 million and fair enough you made a £1.5 profit on Bellamy. £6.7 million for Pennant really was a collosal waste of money, perhaps not in the same realm of Veron to Man Utd but still a very bad signing.

    But what about the disruption Bellamy caused with the John Arne Riise golf club drama? He cost more than cash didn’t he?

    It’s clear that Mark Hughes could handle him, Benetiz couldn’t.

  • Mike Somerville

    Baba Yaku: Fair enough I got Aquilani’s age wrong you can hang draw and quarter me for that one. But all these ridiculous arguements about transfer dealings is missing the point here. The main point here, is that Aquilani has a chance to make the Liverpool’s midfield his own as Gerrard has been playing badly this season.
    I mentioned the bad Benetiz transfers because I thought it necessary to add background to the arguement. I didn’t mention his good signings becuase this was an article which was designed and written to accurately mirror Liverpool’s season so far. It’s been poor hasn’t it?

    ONE signing made a profit (Bellamy) but cost more than money with his almost bi-polar personality in battering Riise at the driving range.

    To settle the transfer bickerings here’s the very reputable Guardian’s take on Benitez’s worst signings.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    has anyone noticed that Antonio Nunezs’ head looks stuck on in pic 2 of that article?

    Yosi has been a brilliant signing, it’s a pity Rafa didn’t play him more last season as they might have have actually won something!

  • Mike Somerville

    Ha ha yes quite strange that one :). I hope we’ve got off these transfer squabbles!

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    speaking of worst signings, it has to be Andriy Voronin, I know he was a FREE transfer but the guy is just plain awful, I actually feel sorry for Liverpool fans when he is on the pitch. His final ball and decision making are very frustrating to watch, and that’s coming from an Arsenal fan!

    Anyway, good article and everyone entitled to an opinion, that’s why we love the game so much!

    ps: Mark the Everton fan, you never told the Den how many holes in an Everton goal net, quality question that!!

  • nursejackieemu


    and not 18m

    i say tomato…bit of a petty point!

  • rob pullinger


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