Watching Steven Gerrard walk up to the spot to take the penalty late in the game against Blackburn Rovers, I was confident he would score for Liverpool. When faced with adversity, Gerrard often rises to the occasion. Earlier in the season, Gerrard cooly slotted home a penalty against fiercest rivals Manchester United even though the vast majority at Old Trafford was begging him to miss.
Except Gerrard’s penalty against Blackburn didn’t go according to script. After Gerrard pulled one back for Liverpool and then won a penalty, the Reds had a chance – with five minutes left – to find an equalizer. That is, if Gerrard could first slot the penalty away. But he didn’t and the ball sailed over the bar.
Usually I don’t question a player’s character, but in this particular instance with a chance to put Liverpool in the ascendency, Gerrard flubbed his shot. Now whether he did this on purpose or not, we’ll probably never know. I respect the man as a footballer, but based on how Gerrard took the penalty, I have to question whether he tried to miss it on purpose or not.
The way that Gerrard chipped the ball over the bar seemed to look so unlike the way that Gerrard normally takes a penalty kick. He seemed so nonchalant when he took the shot. And even after it sailed over the bar, he didn’t seem that bothered.
Realizing the precarious position that manager Roy Hodgson is in, I have to question whether Gerrard thought about missing that penalty on purpose or not. Yes, Gerrard is Liverpool through and through, but in his deep psyche he must have considered the thought. It certainly seemed that way judging by how he took the penalty kick.
By shooting the penalty kick over the bar, Gerrard has most probably decided the fate of Hodgson’s future at Liverpool. Hodgson was on the chopping block already, but Gerrard’s miss condemned his manager to a near certain departure. How soon it happens depends on the Fenway Sports Group.
To see Gerrard’s penalty, fast forward to minute 1:57 in the above video.