In the second half of his career, Gerrard proved that he is world class all over the field.
After the Miracle of Istanbul, Gerrard, regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world, was tempted by Chelsea once again. Jose Mourinho later revealed that he tried to sign him on three occasions, once for Chelsea, once for Inter and once for Real Madrid, but he always failed. However, upsetting many punters who bet on sports in the UK, for a while it looked like the team captain will be heading South indeed.
• Gerrard shines in new roles
• Liverpool’s greatest ever
• Leaving without winning the league
After negotiations about a new contract between him and the club reached an impasse, Liverpool CEO Rick Parry even expressed that the club virtually lost his top asset. But Gerrard, moved by the demonstration of the Liverpool fans and satisfied with the record offer from the club, had finally signed his new contract that eventually led to ten more years spent at Anfield Road.
FA Cup in 2006
Gerrard’s next year was one of his best, picking up the PFA Player of the Year award – he was the first Liverpool player after John Barnes to receive that – and scoring twenty-three goals. The last two of those came in the second half of the FA Cup final against West Ham United, where Liverpool had two equalize twice to take the match into overtime. Gerrard secured the extra time with a 35-yard long scorcher in the 91st minute, and Liverpool went on to win another final on penalties after reaching 3-3 in regulation time. Moreover, Gerrard became the first player to score in the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup finals.
Player of the year in 2009
Gerrard continued his career as Liverpool’s most important player and he enjoyed productive seasons in the following years. After the Reds acquired Argentinian defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano, who teamed up with Xabi Alonso in front of Liverpool’s defensive line, Gerrard started to play in a more advanced role. This change enabled him to play just behind Fernando Torres, who was enjoying the best years of his career and was considered as one of the best strikers in the world.
Gerrard and Torres formed Liverpool’s most recognizable attacking partnership under Spanish tactician, Rafa Benitez. Playing a counterattacking game against stronger opponents, the Merseyside outfit was able to exploit El Nino’s speed, crying havoc many times. In March 2009, the Reds dispatched Real Madrid 4-0 then four days later won at Old Trafford against Manchester United 4-1. A week later Gerrard scored the first Premier League hat-trick of his career against Aston Villa in a 5-0 win. He received the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award at the end of the season, however Liverpool came only second to title defenders, Man United.
League Cup with Dalglish in 2012
Liverpool and Benitez separated in 2010 and the American owners brought in Roy Hodgson with a move that stunned many players at online sportsbooks in the UK. However, after the club was took over by John W. Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, Hodgson, with his team not delivering and opposed by the supporters, was fired and replaced by club legend Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool also sold Torres, whose speed wasn’t the same after his knee injury, and bought Uruguayan troublemaker Luis Suarez.
The team was on fire after Dalglish was inducted however his only success in his second spell as a Liverpool manager was a League Cup victory against Cardiff City twelve months later. As that was Liverpool’s first trophy in six years and their first final in the Wembley Stadium in eighteen years, accomplishing it together with ‘King Kenny’, it is certainly a special achievement in Gerrard’s career. In fact this is his last trophy to date.
The spring campaign of 2014
After the club decided to move in a different direction, Northern Irishman Brendan Rodgers was appointed as Liverpool’s manager. Being a firm believer of the Ajax-Barcelona type possession football, as he implemented his ideas, he came up with a new role for Steven Gerrard. Gerrard was asked to play in front of the defence and to drop back between the two central defenders when in possession, just like Sergio Busquets does at Barcelona.
Gerrard struggled in his new role at first, but Rodgers’ method started to work in the second part of the 2013-2014 season, and the captain was a key member of the team that had a real chance to end Liverpool’s 24-year-long title drought. Gerrard was nominated for PFA Player of the Year once again but the award went to his teammate, Luis Suarez instead, who formed a terrifying attacking duo with Daniel Sturridge.
However, though Liverpool was playing as exciting football as ever after the turn of the year, their title bid was spoiled by Chelsea. Gerrard had not slipped at Anfield giving the opportunity to Demba Ba to score, the mobile betting audience might remember that season crowning Gerrard’s career with a Premier League title. But it turned out in the end, that he will leave his beloved team without ever winning the championship with them.
His third Premier League silver medal was clearly a highlight of the last stage of his Liverpool career, and he showed class performance in a new, deep-lying role. However, he was far from being a regular in his last year, and after announcing that he won’t quit football at the end of the season, news about him joining Los Angeles Galaxy came hardly as a surprise. The supporters of Liverpool will remember him as the greatest in club history though together with Kenny Dalglish.