Cooney and Black

Stevie Gerrard’s legs are tired, his pace has gone. But he can still play. He will point at Frank Lampard and use him as a reference point to get a new deal.

Steven Gerrard

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HANG on a minute, let’s not get too excited about Stevie Gerrard’s performance against Leicester earlier in the week.

He was gifted one goal, after a bad mistake by City’s defence, and he set up another after the Foxes again showed how porous they were at the back.

In fact, it was not difficult for Gerrard to stand out, especially as he had the run of midfield and was used in a more advanced role than he has previously occupied.

So, Brendan Rodgers will be grateful for what Gerrard accomplished, but it doesn’t suggest that he will again automatically command a regular place in the team.

Leicester were second rate: they played three in midfield to Liverpool’s four. Big mistake. It showed that defensively they are not equipped to stay in the Barclays Premier League.

They will face a relegation battle for the remainder of the season because they lack not so much the craft, but the quality to stay up.

Gerrard is experienced enough to take advantage of this, but I believe Rodgers has given a clear indication that the way forward for his former England captain is to use him in matches in which he can dominate – games against lesser teams like Leicester, who, incidentally, did not have a shot at goal in the second half.

Rodgers used Gerrard in a more forward role, because he fears his legs have gone and he can no longer be a pitch marauder. On Monday, he brought in others who could do his running for him, and it worked to such an extent that Gerrard became the match winner.

Rodgers has to ask himself if that would have worked against Manchester City, United, Arsenal or Chelsea, because they are the four teams who carry more ability in the side than the rest of the Premier League – those who mainly just make up the numbers.

So, Gerrard can play in matches that don’t extend him, and come off the bench for 30 minutes in the matches that matter.

At 34, he is no longer so dominant but, in support of a front man, he can still offer Rodgers another dimension. That is his presence, his aura, the way he command respect still. Teams know if they can make him run, he is not nearly so effective. But give him the ball and he can still pass it, or execute link-up play.

Rodgers will not want to make the mistake that Jose Mourinho made with Frank Lampard at Chelsea. Mourinho let him move on, when the player was happy to stay for another year, and had already accepted and understood that if he stayed, he would not be a regular in the side.

Lampard has done so well at Manchester City that the club want to keep him on for the remainder of the season so long as they can do a deal with the New York club he joins up with in March. A deal should be on because they are owned by City.

Lampard could be the difference between City winning the Championship and Chelsea losing it. Those above Mourinho didn’t want to keep on paying a £135,000-a-week wage to a player who was more often than not kept on the bench, or held in reserve for critical moments.

It was a false economy, for Chelsea will be in the market for players come the January transfer window, and will have millions to spend. Rodgers will spend money, too. He badly needs reinforcements of a higher standard than he bought with the Luis Suarez money.

With Suarez gone and Daniel Sturridge injured, there is no longer the movement up front that so suited Gerrard and his passing. Players are not making the vital runs that he could pick out.

That’s why, if he signs a new contract, it will be interesting to see how much leeway Rodgers is prepared to give him.

Gerrard will want a new deal on his terms, Rodgers will want him to stay based on what he feels is best for the club and how he wants to play.

Influential players are few and far between in the Premier League. Gerrard knows that only too well. He can still play, but his legs are tired, his pace has gone.

He will point at Lampard and use him as a reference point. Especially as he is two years younger.

 

 

PICTURE COURTESY OF: Shake Frog

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