The evolution of Steven Gerrard during his Liverpool career can be described through his playing partnerships the best possible way.
Liverpool’s captain is leaving his beloved team in the summer to join Los Angeles Galaxy. Steven Gerrard spent 17 years at Anfield, working with five different managers who were using him in various roles. Gerrard developed constantly as a player and showed class in virtually every position around the pitch. As many who bet on sports in the UK remember, he started his career as a full back and then he was moved to midfield where he played in more and more advanced roles.
• The evolution of Liverpool’s greatest
• From right back to goal scorer
• Gerrard completed a circle
For the last phase of his Liverpool career he was deployed in front of the defence, and after struggling for months, he learned how to play that position too. He was well above 30 then, nevertheless he was still able to adapt his game. During the 17 years with Liverpool, while playing in different roles he partnered up with different kind of players – we collected the five most thrilling working relationships featuring Liverpool’s greatest hero.
Gerrard and Redknapp
Gerrard made his debut in the first team under Gerard Houllier. Essentially a defensive minded player back then, he was playing right back before asked to team up with Jamie Redknapp in the middle of the pitch. Redknapp, a midfield maestro, was part of Liverpool’s blockbuster midfield line in the nineties, playing alongside Steve McManaman, Paul Ince and Patrik Berger, capable of wonderful things, still winning nothing.
Redknapp was a creative yet quite injury prone midfielder, and pairing him up with the energetic and industrious Gerrard was an apparent solution. Though the co-operation was promising, it did not have time to blossom as injuries cut Redknapp’s Liverpool carrier short. In Redknapp’s absence, Gerrard had the opportunity to learn from the popular Scotsman, Gary McAllister, and had a taste of playing in more advanced roles when deployed on the right wing.
Gerrard and Hamann
This was the most remarkable Liverpool midfield partnership in the first half of the 2000s. The presence of the calm Dietmar Hamann, an experienced defensive midfielder, made Gerrard able to thrive as a box-to-box midfielder. While the far less mobile German provided stability for the side, Gerrard were galloping all along the field, making tackles in front of his own box and firing scorchers at the other end.
It was also a glimpse of things to come as Gerrard and Xabi Alonso enjoyed a similar partnership in later years. To turn the game around against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, as the mobile betting audience recalls, however all three of them were needed as Rafa Benitez switched to a 3-5-2 for the second half sending in ‘Didi’for the second half.
Gerrard and Xabi Alonso
Arguably the most iconic and dominating Liverpool midfield collaboration in Premier League history. Alonso, himself a deep-lying playmaker was a similar kind of midfielder to Hamann. He was sitting in front of the defence, not very mobile, still blessed with great anticipation and capability to spread the balls, dictating the tempo of the game.
Gerrard was rushing up and down when not asked by Benitez to help Alonso and guard the backline. They reached two Champions League finals together in 2005 and 2007 winning the former one. They also won the FA Cup when playing together in the heart of Liverpool’s midfield.
Gerrard and Torres
After the acquisition of Javier Mascherano, Liverpool were able to field two superb defensive midfielders, Mascherano and Alonso, a destroyer and a passer to fulfill the requirements of a typical 4-2-3-1 structure. In this formation Gerrard, now clearly an attacking midfielder, played behind the lone striker, Fernando Torres, as many punters at online sportsbooks recall.
With a game plan developed to exploit the speed and agility of Torres, Gerrard had to supply him with key passes and banging in balls himself in front of the opponent’s goal. This was the most productive spell of Gerrard’s career, scoring 57 goals in all competition in three years, and in 2009 they fell just short of winning the Premier League.
Gerrard and Henderson
After Brendan Rodgers took over the team, he started to teach his own footballing philosophy to his players, and asked them to play in a system most of them unfamiliar with. It was a version of the Ajax-Barcelona possession football, and Rodgers needed someone, who can able to produce a class performance in the role of the deep-lying playmaker. Gerrard was asked to do that, not that mobile a player he was before, but calm and ultimately experienced.
There were a lot of creative players in the squad, but to provide the constant pressing from midfield, Rodgers had to find a man as energetic and humble as Gerrard once was. He found his man in Jordan Henderson, and the two completed each other perfectly: Gerrard provided the stability while Henderson was closing down opposing players, winning the ball back, and joining the attackers. Liverpool were playing exciting football, but after Gerrard slipped against Chelsea, they fell short of winning the title once again, nevertheless being favorites to win the league at online sportsbooks in the UK before the match.
The evolution of Gerrard can be an example for many players. He was pushed outside his comfort zone many times, yet he always adapted and came up with surprisingly good performances. In several roles, he was able to show world class, however maybe the likes of his partnerships describe the best way how big and important player he was for Liverpool.