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Can Liverpool Keep Hold of Steven Gerrard?

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Can Liverpool Keep Hold of Steven Gerrard?
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Remember Wednesday 25 May, 2005? Sure you do. It was the day Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties to lift the Champions League trophy for the fifth time.

One of my most lasting memories from that night? Steven Gerrard saying, "How can I think of leaving Liverpool after a night like this?"

That probably produced the biggest smile I had had all evening.

And despite some further drama when it seemed like a new contract wouldn't be agreed and that Gerrard would be moving to Chelsea, Liverpool's best player since Kenny Dalglish has been at the club ever since.

There were two main reasons for Gerrard's decisions to stay at Anfield.

Firstly, his love for the club which he had spent his entire career playing for. And second, his belief that the club was moving forwards under Rafa Benitez.

Now fast-forward five and a half years.

Liverpool are languishing in the bottom three of the Premier League and failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.

They have been overtaken by Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in terms of ability to attract top players and are reeling after a 1-2 home defeat at the hands of Premier League new boys Blackpool.

The future doesn't look quite so bright.

Today the news was released that finally—finally—a deal had been agreed that will signal the end of the Tom Hicks and George Gillett era of the club. This should go through soon, subject to Premier League approval and the end of a surely frivolous legal challenge by the American duo. 

Next problem is to turn around the fortunes of the ailing club.

Key to this task will be that man Steven Gerrard.

No one has been more important to Liverpool over the last decade than the England midfielder. Gerrard is one of the very best players in the world and has shown time and time again that he has the ability to singlehandedly pull Liverpool back from the brink of defeat.

But this means that he has to stay at the club.

His supreme ability rightly means that he wants to play and compete in the world's best competitions. It is this drive and ambition that almost caused him to leave five years ago.

He will also be 31 at the end of the season and the clock is ticking on his illustrious career. He does not have the time to endure a long rebuilding period at Liverpool.

So what do Liverpool need to do to keep hold of their inspirational captain?

They need to do everything they can.

He is the one player the club cannot do without. Not only is he irreplaceable as a player, he is irreplaceable as an icon and as a leader.

In Liverpool's favour, Gerrard undoubtedly loves the club and loves the city. And he knows that he is adored by the Kop.

But Liverpool have to show him that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I fully expect—and Liverpool fans demand—an improvement not just to the football that is being played at Anfield but also to the level of commitment being shown by the players. I feel that the end of the ownership saga will help this process.

However, Gerrard doesn't want to be playing for the sixth best team in England. 

I don't think Gerrard will expect or demand the club to be challenging for a top four spot this year—although he'll be doing his uppermost to enable that—but I do think he'll expect to see strides made forwards off the pitch to ensure Liverpool's long-term competitiveness. 

This means investment in a new stadium and the guarantee that there will be substantial money made available for new players.

If this doesn't happen, then I think he'll leave. 

And I for one would not deny him the chance to compete for the honours that his dedication and natural ability so richly deserve.

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