Since his debut in 1998, Steven Gerrard has always been there on the pitch for Liverpool, manning the middle at Anfield. For much of that time Gerrard was also an international stalwart, and his success on the club level included continental competition all but three seasons of his career. The man is a legend in the Premiership in general and even more so in Liverpool. But how much longer will he be around?
At age 34, those kinds of questions creep up on their own for most footballers. In the case of Gerrard and the Reds, a precipitous fall from last season and recent decisions made by Manager Brendan Rodgers have added more fuel to the fire.
Currently Liverpool sit in 11th in the standings, 16 points behind top of the table Chelsea. That is a precipitous fall for a team and it’s captain that finished second just a year ago and was in the race for the Premiership right to the death. That performance from a season ago was magical for Liverpool fans and players alike, perhaps none more Gerrard, who played well enough for outlets like Gambling.com to name him a top contender for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Now Gerrard is a year older and without help of Luis Suarez (and replacements like Mario Balotelli failing to replicate the striker’s performance), and his manager has started taking opportunities to remove the captain from the pitch. Whether that is due to declining skills or a demanding schedule is open to debate. With that all in mind, Gerrard faces a decision, as the club recently offered him a new contract, but without any promises regarding playing time.
Certainly other players have continued playing at Gerrard’s age, and some have even excelled. Whether Gerrard can do that himself, and whether he will deserve to be on the pitch is something the midfielder will need to prove if he decides to stay at Anfield as opposed to any number of smaller clubs that could certainly make him a focal point of their team.
It’s obvious Liverpool don’t want to lose the club legend, a man that many can see stalking the sidelines as the Reds manager in the future. Having faced a similar decision about re-signing with the club multiple times in the past and always returning, Gerrard has proven his desire not to move on. Whether that loyalty and desire will win out over his want to be on the pitch will be perhaps the biggest factor in determining whether he will suit up with the Reds once more when the 2014-2015 season kicks off.