Is Liverpool FC’s Captain Fantastic winding down?
Steven Gerrard has started and finished all 17 EPL matches this year, playing one less game than he did in the whole 2011/12 season. He’s played all 1,530 minutes, won 55 percent of his duels on the ground and 55.3 percent in the air.
Statistics will always tell their own story. But, put plainly, statistics can’t capture Steven Gerrard.
They can’t quantify what is beyond decimals and percentages. They won’t capture the flashes of athletic incandescence, the preternatural ability to seemingly dupe physics, and they certainly can’t hope to explain the increasing unGerrard-like performances of Steven Gerrard.
Nobody puts baby in the corner, and especially when it’s been christened Steven George Gerrard. The minerals of the man that remands a healthy Stevie G to the bench would be measured in tons.
Many believe that Brendan Rodgers is going to be that man. But despite mounting lackluster performances, the Liverpool gaffer continues to praise the ethic and output of his captain with the calm of a man whose minerals are made of portending crystal—and this is something that should bear its own weight.
If Rodgers believes that Steven Gerrard still has a Barclays Premier League title in him, then Steven Gerrard has a Barclays Premier League title in him. ‘Nuff said.
And yet the murmurs from the Anfield faithful regarding a Steven Gerrard-less starting eleven persist.
Not disrespectfully, mind you, but more with the resignation that perhaps his time is nigh and with the desire and the hope that he quits somewhere near the best—sparing horrified onlookers the site of an aging superhero hung by his tights on the side of a tall building.
Perhaps this bodes well for Brendan Rodgers’ system. Two years ago, fathoming a Liverpool Football Club without Steven Gerrard was not only blasphemous but incomprehensible, given the state of disrepair in the rank and file. And yet, now it is spoken of openly.
But this is still Steven Gerrard that we’re talking about. His loyalty to the bird he’s been with his whole life is more than laudable, it is awe-inspiring. And in bearing the crushing weight of unrealistic expectations, no back is wider nor shoulders broader in the modern game than Steven Gerrard’s. When everything was in a shambles, Steven Gerrard remained to build it up again.
But perhaps that is where the problem lies—he is a victim of his own magnificence. A light that bright becomes more conspicuous in its absence. A star of that magnitude’s collapse creates a vacuum apparent to those that may not even have known its name.
And the light is beginning to dim. We continue to watch with bated breath for that seminal moment in every game that has defined Steven Gerrard. And, collectively, we have yet to exhale. His current tally of two goals in this domestic campaign (one every 765 minutes) is backed by other equally startling statistics in the offensive half of the pitch. This is not the Steven Gerrard we knew.
Do you think Steven Gerrard will score more than 10 goals this season?
Of course, the argument could be made—and it will—that comparisons of his current numbers to last year’s are skewed because of his changed role in Rodgers' new system as well as his injury woes from seasons past.
But it is those specters of glorious seasons past that continue to haunt. And ones he may never fully exorcise.
And it doesn’t seem to matter what he is asked to do or where he plays. The sparkle in the winsome smile has dulled. The thunder from the right welly is muted. There is just something, well, missing. The weight and history of the bird on his chest have taken their toll.
There are those that are already speaking of him with wistful pathos, staring into well-trodden past. But commit Steven Gerrard to the funeral pyre at your own peril. He’s not done. And he has earned the right to say when he’s done. But we can only hope that when he does, it’s where he should be remembered. On top.