Instant impact as Gerrard helps his side overcome Newcastle
Ask Kenny Dalglish about the £70 million or so he spent over the past year on young English talent and he will remain adamant about their eventual bloom. He would be even more adamant on how priceless the return of Steven Gerrard is.
What the Scot would give for a 31-year-old Gerrard, £70 million. While he might be maligned by some, chiefly by the red half of Manchester and the blue side of the Mersey, Anfield’s captain marvel, despite now being a touch slower, remains one of the Premier League’s big game players.
It would be easy, and perhaps not unrealistic to think, given his recent injury problems, that Liverpool were looking to move on, especially with the influx of new blood, which has given the reds new options and alternatives to what was just a year ago very much the Gerrard and Torres show.
He may have missed most of this season and, at 31, wear and tear may be more visible. Yet the gap to the Premier League summit, more importantly to the Champions League, seems less distant with Gerrard returned.
Yes, the 25-yard screamers will probably be less frequent, and it is not likely that he will return as a mainstay for England, but nevertheless Gerrard’s presence on the field will be heavily noted by his teammates and equally by the opposition.
A whole wave of England’s "golden generation" are now being dismissed as over the hill, past it and a step backwards. But even Sir Alex Ferguson and his preference for youth has yet to let go of Ryan Giggs and rewinding the clock, towards the end of his career, Roy Keane played as part of a three man midfield just so that he could be fielded despite his aging legs.
When young blood emerges it is often easy to forget what made the old guard so special in the first place. It would not be unfathomable for a fit Steven Gerrard, one man, to have a bigger effect on the outcome of Liverpool’s season than all of their new signings put together...including Dalglish.