Following Steven Gerrard’s two transfer requests at Liverpool, you would be forgiven for believing he’s not quite the dedicated captain he is made out to be. It is Jamie Carragher, who was still wanting Everton’s first team to beat Liverpool’s when he was in the Reserves at Liverpool, who their official website refers to as “Mr Liverpool“, not captain Gerrard.
Watching the Liverpool vs Chelsea game ahead of our kick-off, I was hopeful that the dippers could do us a favour. Chelsea looked lacklustre and surprisingly nonchalant. There was no urgency in their game and had that waste of time and money, Aquilani, not been so useless when in front of goal, they would have been 1-0 up after half an hour.
So when Chelsea didn’t look like creating even a decent chance, let alone score, the worst thing that could happen from our point of view was for Liverpool to gift Chelsea a goal. There was only one player who it could be. He passed the ball back to his keeper without even looking and invited Didier Drogba to take it around Reina to score.
The Guardian: The captain’s form has been so poor for so long that even an aberration on this scale was in keeping with his sorry season at the club. Even so, he can get ready for incessant gags about how, belatedly, he did win the league for Chelsea, the club that once ached to buy him.
The Times: Chelsea did not hit top gear and needed a push-start to get going. The calamitous back-pass by Steven Gerrard that gifted Didier Drogba the opening goal in the 33rd minute is likely to go down as a defining moment in this season’s title race. It was seized upon by those conspiracy theorists who suggested that Liverpool would do anything to deny United a record-breaking nineteenth title — and Ferguson, to his credit, was not among them — but Gerrard would wearily testify that it was typical of a wretched campaign for him and his club. To that point, Chelsea’s performance had been alarmingly flat, lacking the dynamism that has characterised their efforts to wrestle the trophy away from Old Trafford.
It made me wonder whether Gerrard cared more about Liverpool than I had given him credit for. So determined was he to stop United winning the league, through his hatred for Liverpool’s main rivals, he would show himself up in one of the most hyped games of the season to get the job done.
Then I wondered whether it had anything to do with Liverpool at all. He is not nicknamed ‘Stevie Me’ for nothing. Maybe the thought of United overtaking Liverpool’s record of 18 titles whilst he was captain was just too much for his ego to bear. Thinking about his old pal Michael Owen lifting the trophy with United whilst Gerrard, who turns 30 this month, lives to regret never making a move to a club like United or Chelsea. He has to know he is never going to win the league title, the “bread and butter“, but he still wouldn’t want to lose the record on his watch as captain.
“I’m getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again,” Gerrard said over two years ago. “We can’t keep talking about next season all the time. There are only so many times you can say it and believe it. Sooner or later we have to have a season where we make it happen and do that talking on the pitch. I’m 27 now and don’t want to be talking about next season for Liverpool when I’m 32. We’ve got the stadium, the fans, the manager and the players to compete for the Premier League. But we have no chance of doing it if we are well out of it already by the first week in January.”
But once the rage had died down, I realised it was neither of these things. We may hate Gerrard and we may like to believe he gifted Chelsea the win so we can take our anger out on him, but the reality is it was a mistake.
“I just saw it after the game. It was a great gift,” Ferguson said. “There is nothing you can do about it. You just have to get on with it.”
It was just a mistake. A mistake made by a player who is clearly coming to the end of his tether. A player who changed his mind twice about leaving Liverpool but will now have to wonder why. He has won one FA Cup since retracting his transfer request in 2005, when he was 25-years-old and about to reach his peak, which means he has enjoyed as much success as Hermann Hreiðarsson, John Utaka and Pedro Mendes in the past five years.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see him leave this summer and if he does, Fernando Torres won’t be far behind him, but taking joy in Liverpool’s misery just doesn’t quite have the same appeal today, after that scouse bastard may have just denied us our 19th title, accidentally or not.