Brendan Rogers warns Liverpool they can’t rely on Gerrard for Roy of Rovers act
Champions League clash with Basel comes 10 years after famous Olympiakos night
Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard smiles during a training session at Anfield ahead of the club’s crucial Champions League clash with Basel. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Work commenced on a new £114 million (€145 million) main stand at Anfield yesterday but proof that some things do not change at Liverpool was unearthed inside the old one. Ten years to the day since Rafael Benitez gave thanks to Steven Gerrard and Liverpool’s powers of escapology against Olympiakos, Brendan Rodgers sat in the same place as the Spaniard and fielded questions on his team’s continued reliance on their 34-year-old captain. His answer was telling: Liverpool cannot bank on history repeating itself.
Another must-win Champions League group game invites comparisons with the 3-1 win over Olympiakos that propelled Liverpool towards Istanbul in 2005, and parallels do not end with the timing of Basel’s visit or the predicament facing Rodgers’ team.
A decade ago there was also doubt over Gerrard’s future at Liverpool.
Then, Liverpool’s captain had gone public with his frustration at the club’s transfer expenditure and insisted he would consider leaving at the end of the season unless there were signs of tangible progress.
The threat was almost carried out even after Istanbul but it helped charge the atmosphere against the Greek side and the elation when Gerrard soared towards the Kop in celebration of his 86th-minute winner.
Ten years later Liverpool are again looking to Gerrard for guidance while uncertainty hangs over his contract.
It would be foolish to discount another Gerrard rescue act against Basel but it is a poor reflection on Liverpool’s recent planning, and the £500 million plus spent on new players since 2005, that Rodgers has few reliable sources of inspiration beyond his captain. The 67 minutes he spent on the bench against Sunderland delivered another reminder of the lack of guile, quality and leadership without the captain.
Raheem Sterling shouldered the responsibility until Gerrard’s introduction against Gus Poyet’s team but Liverpool will require a vast collective improvement against the Swiss champions.
“This game is an opportunity for these players to qualify and to write themselves into folklore.We cannot be reliant solely on Steven. It has to be about a team performance against Basel. We need others to be a catalyst for the team.
“There are very few world-class players around so when you are a world-class talent the responsibility falls on you, but this is about the collective. We need the whole team functioning at the top level to get a result.” Guardian Service