Our new series continues, and this week we asked our various writers and contributors:
Where should we play Steven Gerrard, and should he still even be in the team?
I’d definitely keep Gerrard in the team but play him on the right of a front three. God knows why it hasn’t been tried, as he can score and can create. His open-play delivery from the right is often lethal, and like Beckham he doesn’t have to beat a man if the pace is dwindling. It makes more sense than playing Shelvey as a left winger, although the youngster did play there during his Blackpool loan.
If that doesn’t work, utilise the captain – but don’t have him play every minute of every game; especially when he’s not playing well. Rafa had the gravitas after his time at Valencia to push Gerrard, and challenge him to always do better, but I’m not sure Rodgers feels comfortable berating anyone but the youngsters.
Gerrard is far from finished. But he needs reinvent himself. He sees himself as becoming like Paul Scholes, but Gerrard’s greatest strengths are also his main flaws: his directness, his drive, his passion.
By Chris Rowland:
Yes he should still be in the team for now, not because he’s captain, talisman etc, or for what he’s done in the past, but for what he still has to offer.
But where? And for how long ? During the 90 minutes, I mean. The other ‘how long’ as in ‘how much longer’ will to some extent be decided by how we employ him now and how many minutes each game we ask of him. And do we have to distort the team’s structure to crowbar him in (as we sometimes seem to now)?
For me there are four options:
– central midfield in front of a 1-2, , pretty much as now. The box-to-box superhero, making lunging tackles at one end and lung-bursting runs into the box at the other, scoring super goals, cape streaming in his slipstream – except he no longer exists
– a deeper sitting/holding role in a 2-1, spraying it long and short from deep-ish. He’s done it quietly effectively for England a few times. This saves his legs from the need to be up and down the pitch but removes his attacking and creative threat almost entirely. But this displaces Allen or Lucas. And would he stay there if we were losing?
– wide right attacker. His best-ever scoring season came largely from wide right. But this is wide right striker in a 4-3-3 rather than wide right midfield in a 4-4-2. No longer part of the midfield three, but would mean moving Sterling to the left, or the bench (as Sterling and Johnson on the right doesn’t work anyway, maybe not such a problem).
– central attacker/in the hole, just off Suarez, a false something or other, where his attacking instincts can be used without his back to goal or the need for covering back duties. Something similar to his role with Torres, though Suarez and Torres are very different types of striker. For now, this would be my most beneficial, least disruptive choice.
That way, and used sparingly (ie coming off after 60-70 minutes or so, not playing in every league game and very few cup games), we may get this season and next out of him. But gradually, a combination of Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Suso, Shelvey, Sahin if still here and one other signing will ease him out.
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