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Liverpool FC: Is It Time To Sell Steven Gerrard?

steven gerrard Liverpool FC: Is It Time To Sell Steven Gerrard?

With Liverpool languishing in lowly seventh, things are certainly looking gloomy over at Anfield. Not a day goes by without fresh reports surfacing from the press about the imminent sale of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. Who can blame them? Liverpool is ripe for the picking at the moment with the talk of a new manager, nonexistent transfer funds, mounting debt, and a divided board room all casting the club in a highly precarious light.

The supporters of the club, renowned for the unity and loyalty, seemed to be divided into the “anti-Rafa brigade” and the “Rafa lovers.” The players hardly seem motivated, crashing out of competitions left and right, most recently in spectacular fashion to Reading on their hallowed home pitch. Nagging injuries to the club’s star players have revealed a troubling lack of depth and, with talk of Torres being shut down until the World Cup, the 4th spot will require a herculean effort.

All this brings us to “The Gerrard Question.” Few players to walk through the narrow Anfield tunnel have ever been more popular than this talismanic captain. His heroics are famous. If you listen to fans recount the amazing 2005 Champions League Final, you’d think he cannoned in Smicer’s shot for the second goal, converted Xabi’s penalty, and donned Dudek’s gloves for the penalty shootout. A scouser at heart, he and Liverpool have always seemed a perfect match. That is, until recently.

If you watched the Stoke game closely on Saturday, you’d have noticed the camera panned over Gerrard in the stands and he looked anything but pleased. His form has dipped this season and with it so has his leadership, constantly yelling at his teammates for errant passes and simply disappearing for large chunks of games. He has yet, to my knowledge, to publicly come out and throw his support behind Benitez, revealing his deep level of frustration at the quality of play.

Whether or not we Liverpool fans want to admit it, his best days certainly look behind him. He turns thirty this May, and in football these days that seems to be something of a magic number (see Michael Owen). Injuries have riddled his body, forcing him out of large chunks of games these past two seasons and one has to wonder if that will become a recurring theme. With every passing season and every niggling injury, his transfer value dips dramatically.

While I will always feel a certain connection to him, I support Liverpool FC first. Not Fernando Torres, not Rafael Benitez, and no, not even Steven Gerrard. Thus, while it pains me to say it, if it is in the best interests of the team to sell Steven Gerrard, then sell Steven Gerrard.

I’ve always been amazed how Arsene Wenger seems to offload players right as they start to deteriorate. When he sold Patrick Viera to Juventus for £18 million I remember smugly thinking to myself what a foolish move it was. Yet, as with Henry and countless others, he seems to have gotten it just right.

It makes me wonder what would happen if the club sold Gerrard now. Let’s say, for discussion’s sake, that he goes for £40 million (I chose that price because Liverpool apparently turned down a bid of that sum recently from Chelsea). Surely, even in this inflated transfer market, that is enough for one or two very strong players? Furthermore, his significant wages are off the bill and the looming question of “will Gerrard be sold?” can finally get off the club’s back.

I suppose at some point I must stop with the fence-sitting and present my opinion. I think the club should sell Gerrard, but only if they fail to finish in the top four. Here is why:

  • The Fans: As I mentioned earlier, the fans are already on their last straw. The lack of results and failure to build on such a promising 2008-09 season has challenged their undying optimism. Selling Gerrard would infuriate them beyond measure and it is impossible to predict what their wrath could lead to. His sale would seem like a concession that the club has given up on a chance at the top four and shifted towards thinking about the future, an approach the Liverpool fans are fed up with.
  • The Money: The money made from consecutive top four finishes has been enormous and instrumental in Liverpool’s recent mini-resurgence. To miss out on it this year would be a huge loss and with the likes of Tottenham, Villa, and Manchester City looking like persistent threats, one would have to wonder when Liverpool might crack it again. The money lost from a fifth place finish would almost force the club into selling Gerrard and rebuilding, and frankly, if they do miss out on that top four spot, I’m not sure rebuilding would be such a bad thing, however hard it is to swallow.
  • The Glory: It is no secret that players love the glory that comes with Europe’s top club competition. Wallowing in the UEFA Cup would severely test the allegiance the player’s allegiance to the red of Liverpool and could lead to unrest in the dressing room and some messy splits. It may be best for the club to simply cut ties with one or two of its players and focus on retooling. Moreover, to have any confidence of regaining the top four spot in 2011, the club would have to spend big, something that could only happen with the sale of the likes of Steven Gerrard.
  • The Precedent: The most recent precedent for the sale of Steven Gerrard is the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid last summer. Look how that one worked out. The club cannot afford another disastrous season like this one and again, the fans would not accept it.
  • The Debt: Despite Christian Purslow, Liverpool’s Managing Director, constantly claiming the money crisis is under control, there is no doubt that the American owners are up to their necks in debt. With construction on a new stadium halted, the club is in dire financial straits. There is no guarantee that the money gained from a fire sale of top players would even go into the manager’s hands, especially with reports that regardless whom Benitez sells this January, his transfer kitty will remain empty.

Photo credit: Joe Miles.

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18 Responses to Liverpool FC: Is It Time To Sell Steven Gerrard?

  1. Brandon says:

    “Form is temporary. Class is permanent”

    It’s good to remember this phrase when dealing with a situation like this. Certainly Gerrard has not been anywhere near his best this season, but I think it’s extremely hard to make the proclamation that “his best days are behind him”. We have no idea how bad his groin is, or if there are other niggling injuries that have helped to abort his season.

    While I disagree with the premise of your post, you’ve left out a huge factor in the possible selling of Gerrard. The owners. Maybe you’re right and it’d be the best decision possible for Liverpool. Fresh cash, new talent (with Rafa’s record it could be for naught) and possibly a new horizon. That and complete and utter meltdown by the fans. The owners are on such tenuous ground as it is, that if they sold off one of the most famous players to ever pull on a Liverpool shirt, there’d be a mutiny.

    This isn’t like selling Torres. While fantastic, and forever a legend in the clubs annals, he’s still a hired player and the fans know it. Gerrard was raised red. It’s the only club he’s ever been in. He’s different.

    Personally, I just think that if they sold him, they could never turn the PR around to make it anything positive and right now frankly, that’s not something they can afford. Especially is selling him guarantees them nothing.

  2. Mike says:

    Call me old-fashioned, but I really like it when players such as Gerrard play out their careers with one club. Having an identity such as that is a special mark on a player’s career. And sadly, those are very few and far between these days. And with Liverpool’s dire financial straits, I don’t think there may be much choice but for Liverpool to start selling assets, be they Gerrard, Torres or all of them.
    http://bit.ly/89vsFl

    • Erik says:

      Absolutely agreed, Mike. I wish the “loyal career man” happened more, but much more prominent now is the perennial r?nin class–the Bellamys and Crouches and Andy Coles, “Where is so-and-so *this* season?” If Gerrard exits LFC, it will be a very sad day.

  3. Niccolo says:

    I think the simple answer is yes, Gerrard has only one move left in his career, being 29 or 30. He could go abroad and then return back to Liverpool when everything is better.

  4. b says:

    While the Arsene Wenger model is useful to think about, the flip-side is the Alex Ferguson Ryan Giggs model. Wenger sells as much out of necessity for raising money and showing the young players he’ll give them playing time as he does out of knowing when a player is done. And while they’ve often fallen off, not all of the players he’s let go are truly done. Henry was great for Barca last year, I thought. And Pires still had a season or two in him when he was let go.

    But Ferguson isn’t constrained by the money. So the continuity someone like Giggs, Neville and Scholes provide is hard to put a dollar figure on. Wenger would’ve sold all three. All three have contributed to United’s recent successes.

    I have to agree with an earlier comment though – bottom line, the fans would lose it if Gerrard gets sold. I’d fear for the owners’ lives.

  5. Chris from Pittsburgh says:

    Gerrard isn’t leaving. This is a topic created by tabloids to sell more papers. I can’t believe you are even buying into it. If he did leave, it would be after he got to a point where he only hurt the club. He would probably go to, dare I say, the MLS to have one or two seasons where it was more about expanding the game abroad then trophies.

    “Form is temporary, class is permanent” is the best saying I have heard for a very, very long time.

    • Brandon says:

      Agreed on you points.

      I do think this is something that’s been pulled out of mid air for no reason. The Mirror went with the big splashy ‘Gerrard Wants Out’ type of headline on Sunday and didn’t have one quote to back it up. Liverpool is down and the media is going to milk it for all it’s worth.

      I’m sure he is frustrated, but at least he’s home and playing for the club he loves. What if he left and went to say Inter, and then struggled? Also, you can’t win the Premier League title playing in Serie A, and I’d be surprised if winning that league would mean anything to him.

      I’d say he’s tied his hopes to this club and they’ve done the same. They’re all gonna succeed together, or he needs to go down with the rest of the ship.

  6. Sohaib says:

    SELLING GERARD IS A HUUUUUUUUGE MISTAKE

  7. Rob Marrs says:

    An interesting piece here from Paul Wilson in The Observer. In recent days, both Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan and Roberto Mancini at Manchester City have supposedly cast covetous glances towards the Liverpool skipper. How much truth there are in these rumours we won’t know until a bid is made but with Liverpool’s finances apparently precarious the saying that ”every player has his price” might become one that becomes familiar around Anfield.

    On a personal level, one could not blame Gerrard for leaving Liverpool, much as it pains this scribe. Despite his flirtation with Chelsea a few years ago it seems that he is obsessed with winning the League Title. At this stage, it seems that he is obsessed with winning it with Liverpool but surely as he realises that there may only be four years left at the very highest level. He isn’t in top-form this season but neither is he playing anywhere near as badly as many in the media suggest. He might reach the end of his tether and take a leap… but, but, but he will look at some of the talent around the Liverpool changing room and look at last season and think again.

    All of a sudden, the Scouse scamp is nearly 30. He is at his prime and one can only see him remaining there for so long. In many ways he is as far away if not further from aLeague Championship than he has ever been. Bar the League title, he has won everything there is to win with Liverpool. The FA Cup, the League Cup, the UEFA Cup, the European Super Cup and, of course, the Champions League.

    Last season, it seemed that he and Torres might drag Liverpool to the title that has defined the second half of Gerrard’s career. Even their sparkling form after Christmas where Liverpool spanked, among others, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Aston Villa wasn’t enough to derail the Manchester United juggernaut. In nearly any other season their points tally would have brought the club the league title but, tellingly, not last season. Gerrard must have rolled onto the beach during the summer and thought ‘what more do we have to do?’

    So, as Wilson asks, what does Gerrard do?

    Does he stick it out and attempt to win the League at Liverpool. The call of every Scouse bar for the last 20 years has been ‘next year is our year’. That may not happen in the next few years even if Liverpool manage to hold on to Torres, Mascherano, Reina and Aquilani – and bring in more world-class players.

    Does he move to another English club in the hope that combining with new forces will push him to a league title? Even a move to Manchester City, Chelsea or (god forbid) Manchester United couldn’t guarantee a title. It would be Gerrard’s luck to move to a big team elsewhere in the league only to find himself picking up FA Cups and League Cups but see the league title move elsewhere.

    Indeed, some might argue that Liverpool might be better placed without Gerrard’s genius. An odd argument, admittedly, but I’ve heard it made that their dependence on Gerrard means that the team, the manager and the fans expect too much from him and when in doubt, or in times of trouble, give the ball to Gerrard.

    One other option is overseas – Gerrard is a very gifted player and teams in Spain and Italy will see a player who is gifted and underachieving. Though one gets the feeling that the Serie A title would never mean so much to him – he has spoken before, and often, that he fears retiring without a title and the consequent allegation that ‘you can’t be considered a great player without a League title’.

    There is another little trophy to consider this year, of course. A furious and pumped up Gerrard might just be what England need at the World Cup. A World Cup Winners Medal would trump the League title in any trophy cabinet…. but there are many, many hurdles to jump before that happens.

    RCM

    http://leftbackinthechangingroom.blogspot.com

  8. Brian says:

    Where would he go? City, United and Chelsea are the only real options for him. We don’t want him at Chelsea, he won’t go to United, so City is the only reasonable club.

    He would HAVE to go overseas, but hardly any Englishmen are willing to do that, so…guess he’s not winning the elague anytime soon.

  9. CA_backpacker says:

    If the frustrations of this year get too much for him and he wants to leave, the Reds might not have much choice in the matter (see Alonzo). But proactively getting rid of him would be stupid for the reasons stated. First, Statler and Waldorf would probably just pocket the money at this stage, and second, even if the money raised would be used to get new players, what part of Rafa’s signing record fills anybody with confidence that he won’t just fill the club with more rubbish? Liverpool without Torres and Gerrard have no class on the pitch, and stalwarts like Carragher are looking like immobile geriatrics out there…

  10. JLay says:

    On behalf of all United fans, we are sincerely sorry to hear about LFC’s on- and off-the-field troubles. As a token of our goodwill, we are prepared to offer you Nani, Michael Owen, and 20m pounds in exchange for Gerrard and Torres.

    Please think about it and get back to us.

    • Gaz says:

      On behalf of Liverpool fans, we too are are sincerely sorry the sad situation surrounding United right now. Guess we both need to shed these American owners!

      But we too can help! I propose Lucas, Babel, and a couple of quid for Wayne Rooney and… er… wait… hmmm… I guess we really don’t want any of the others.

  11. Kyle says:

    He won’t leave on his own unless he has fallen out with the manager. I think the problem is that he has been injured most of the season and he is so important he hasn’t been able to recover properly. Also if you read the piece in the Daily Mail its all speculation. Also in a year long profile they did in the 05-06 season for Sky he said he wanted to win the league with Liverpool and that going anywhere else in England and coming back no one would want to see the things he would have won at Chelsea. Also he said in his biography that when he talked with Carra during the summer of 04 he urged him to go abroad if he was going to leave to go abroad. So if he does decide to leave which I doubt he will on his own he is likely to do a Beckham and go to Spain or Italy.

  12. Richard says:

    There are a couple of things making it a tough decision. Gerrard is certainly at an age where while I would not rule out the return to form that made him one of the best midfielders in the world, knowing how consistent that form will be and how many more seasons it can last is a difficult prediction, but it might not be many. So if Liverpool could get somewhere in the region of £40m, that would be great business (although I think they’d struggle to on current form). The other problem is the signal it sends from the club’s point of view. Would they be able to attract top replacements if Gerrard (and surely Torres too) leaves? I bet Gerrard goes nowhere, too divisive a decision for the fans, but many won’t! http://cli.gs/RtBWQj

  13. Gaz says:

    Steven Gerrard will finish his career at Liverpool. No question at all.

    A better (and more likely to happen) question is if we should sell Torres.

  14. Vlada says:

    Gerrard leaving LFC ? LFC may have sold Owen, Fowler and other players that will always be considered Liverpool players in the past, but that won’t stuck as much as selling SG or JC no matter how poor( and SG is by no means having bellow average season unlike his team) their performance is this year. Instead it would be better to think about getting rid of excess spanish-speaking mediocre players. Season in wich most minutes in midfield has Lucas( hardly a player for championship, not to speak euroleague ) is a successful one if you’re in upper half of the table. All this gossip about SG is more like trying to turn attention away from obviosly ruined relationships inside club plus lack of idea how to proceed with club managing in future.

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