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When his career is over he will be judged to have been among the second tier of Liverpool players in skill and application and considerably short of the first tier. He will be seen to have enjoyed a bloated reputation due to the fact that Houllier, a media manipulator, promoted him to Captain before his time because he was local, displacing a far better captain in Hyppia. History will note his Owen-like tendency to prefer an England profile over LFC. (In his case it is due to a fundamental lack of self worth and insecurity). History will note his lack of self control for much of his career, his inconsistency as a player and his lack of leadership. It will also note that he is quite unintelligent and easily led by the likes of Owen, Murphy and Carragher and the various yobs he hangs out with.

 

But History is also kind and will remember various anecdotes in which his contribution was first class.

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I'm not defending Gerrards set piece abilities but maybe if we didn't have a gang of farts too scared to attack a ball would we still be having this debate?

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Obviously i dont dispute Gerrard is a brilliant player but its not right to judge until his career is over to get a good idea of all his good and bad points.

 

I personally think he hasnt been as good for the last 2 seasons but i wont judge him on 2 seasons but his whole career.

 

Didn't he win one of the Football Player of the Year awards in 2008-09 banging in 20 odd goals in the process? That was only two seasons ago.

 

Ironically one of his worst seasons for us was the Istanbul season. He still produced moments of class and brilliance but was generally inconsistent and practically non-existent in certain games.

 

His best season for me was the 05-06 season playing in a free role off the right hand side when he plundered 23 goals and his brilliance ensured we didn't lose the FA Cup Final.

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I'm not defending Gerrards set piece abilities but maybe if we didn't have a gang of farts too scared to attack a ball would we still be having this debate?

 

No good attacking a ball that's hitting the first defender in the face everytime is it? Or am I just a lazy cunt?

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Steven Gerrard's best position remains open to debate - Jonathan Wilson - SI.com

 

Twenty years ago, it would have been obvious what Steven Gerrard was. He has boundless energy, a ferocious shot and an extraordinary capacity for bending games to his will.

 

Think of his goals against Germany in the 2001 World Cup qualifier in Munich, against Olympiakos in the 2005 Champions league quarterfinal and against West Ham United in the 2006 FA Cup final. On each occasion, as the ball dropped to him, there was a magnificent inevitability about the ball flashing from his boot into the net. There was something of the comic book about him, a hero who always did what was needed just when it was needed.

 

The player he most recalled in style was Bryan Robson -- not the crabby battler Robson became later in his career, but the swashbuckling leader who for much of the 1980s seemed to drag England and Manchester United along single-handedly. If there was a last-ditch challenge needed to be made, he'd be there, and seconds later he'd be clattering through the opposing penalty area to thump a header into the top corner. He seemed to be everywhere, tireless and fearless.

 

In terms of trophies, Gerrard has actually been more successful than Robson, but he, like Michael Owen before him, has found the evolution of tactics overtaking him. His case is not as severe as that of Owen, who has admitted that he needs another striker alongside him and is finding it difficult to adjust to an era of single-striker formations, but the box-to-box midfielder is in its own way becoming as much of an anachronism as the specialist goal poacher.

 

The problems are twofold: practical and theoretical. Very simply, box-to-box players are slipping out of fashion for the same reason wingbacks are; because they cover a huge amount of ground, they have to be fitter than everybody else, and with improvements in general fitness and sports nutrition and the increase in the pace of the game, the number of players who can cope with the physical demands of the role is decreasing. Gerrard is one who still can, but there must be a tactical framework to accommodate him.

 

The liberalization of the offside law has also had a huge impact. Since the interpretation of what constitutes interfering with play was altered in favor of the forward in 2005, it has become harder and harder for teams to play an aggressive offside trap (as a measure of that, the number of offsides per Premier League game fell from 7.9 to 4.9 between the 1998-99 season and 2008-09). That means teams are defending deeper, and that in turn stretches the effective playing area from around 50 yards to about 70 yards, which in turn means that those players whose job is to charge up and down have to cover more ground (in that regard, box-to-box was always something of a misnomer; "defensive-line-to-defensive-line" would have been far more accurate).

 

Improvements in fitness and the change in the laws have both contributed to tactical changes in the game, but so too has the realization that using two holding midfielders allows a side to include three creators plus a striker in a 4-2-3-1. As the World Cup showed, that setup has replaced 4-4-2 as a near-universal default. In such a system, there is no place for the box-to-box player. Midfield has been split into, broadly speaking, holding and creative roles. Of course, there are variations within that: Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano are about as different as two players could be and yet are both holding midfielders -- which is perhaps why they once formed such a superb partnership for Liverpool.

 

But where does Gerrard fit? Even in conservative England, the World Cup brought an acceptance that sending out the players in good old 4-4-2 and expecting them to sort it out isn't really enough, and that in turn has led to a slew of debate about Gerrard's "best position." But even that seems an oddly English way of looking at the problem.

 

"I can't believe that in England they don't teach young players to be multifunctional," Jose Mourinho said during his time at Chelsea. "To them it's just about knowing one position and playing that position."

 

The temptation, following the paradigm of the late Robson, was always to see Gerrard as a holding midfielder who got forward to score the odd goal, but former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez quickly decided he lacked the tactical discipline for that, and tried to turn him into a goal-scoring midfielder who made the odd tackle.

 

The decisive game in his thinking was probably Liverpool's Champions League quarterfinal with Juventus in 2005. Liverpool won the first leg at Anfield 2-1 but Gerrard missed the second leg in Turin with a thigh strain. There was much anguish in the media, but Alonso and Igor Biscan were superb in midfield as Liverpool held possession and frustrated Juventus to draw 0-0. It was hard to imagine Gerrard's contributing to such a performance, full of sideways and backward passes designed to draw the sting from the game and keep Juve at arm's length. One of the joys of English soccer is its lack of cynicism, its relentless pursuit of goals, and Gerrard embodies that. This, though, was a night for discretion, and Gerrard's seemingly unbreakable habit of spraying 40-yard passes at every opportunity would have been out of place.

 

But if Gerrard lacks the tactical discipline to be a holding midfielder, he also lacks the guile to be a playmaker. His game is about power and endeavor, not subtlety. By using Alonso as a holder, Benitez was able to provide enough guile to use Gerrard off a front man in his 4-2-3-1. When Alonso left, though, Liverpool were rendered predictable.

 

Fabio Capello's solution, during the World Cup qualifiers, was to use Gerrard on the left. He has made clear he prefers to play in the center, and tends to follow the ball, but at first it worked as Wayne Rooney dropped off Emile Heskey and drifted left, creating a neat interplay as Gerrard came inside, opening space on the left for Ashley Cole to overlap from fullback. But when Rooney, perhaps under instruction or perhaps because his role at Manchester United had changed, began playing higher up the pitch during the World Cup, alongside rather than off Heskey, Gerrard's drifts inside simply led to congestion.

 

Against Bulgaria on Friday, with Capello reverting to a more orthodox 4-4-2, Gerrard was back in the middle alongside Gareth Barry, a natural holder, but that may be because of the absence of the injured Frank Lampard rather than a long-term plan.

 

Four years after the FA Cup final he won almost single-handedly, though, there's the nagging sense that wherever Gerrard plays he'd always be slightly better elsewhere, mainly because he remains a square peg and tactical changes in the game have left only round holes. Gerrard has had a great career, but it might have been even greater if only he'd been born 20 years earlier.

 

Decent article but it lets itself down by falling into the same lazy generalisations that psuedo-intellectuals always do about Gerrard. He doesn't "lack tactical discpline", certainly not in the sense I understand it; my understanding of the term is knowing when ,and where, to pass, when to go forward and when to drop deeper. Gerrard knows all that because he's a great player. His intelligence is one of the, very few, things about his game that has never got the praise it deserves. What tactical discipline means in this context, seemingly, is that he doesn't piss about on the halfway line passing the ball backwards and sideways. Why would he, though? In this league, particularly playing for one of the stronger sides, you win games by trapping the opposition in their box and attacking them relentlessly. That's how we've played the majority of our matches at Anfield for decades.

 

In my view, Gerrard attracts these criticisims precisely because he has such an outstanding all-round game. It's impossible to label him. I'm quite certain that if Xabi Alonso had Gerrard's natural power and shooting ability then he'd be inclined to go further forward and would soon be accused of lacking guile etc.

 

I'm getting a little irritated because this myth has been pedled for years now but if you want to persue that line of arguement, watch his performance at Goodison two years ago.

 

(As an aside, somebody who demonstrably lacks tactical discipline, yet is deservedly lauded as a top holding midfielder, is Javier Mascherano. Watch him vacate his space/zone/whatever time and time again as he chases the ball back and forth. Throughout the first four or so months of last season, he would just leave Lucas isolated centrally as he rushed from one side to the other, the Fulham game was a perfect example, he was constantly out of position. He's also terribly wasteful in possession be it with speculative shots or, and this was a habit of his, playing aimless floated balls forward. )

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Decent article but it lets itself down by falling into the same lazy generalisations that psuedo-intellectuals always do about Gerrard. He doesn't "lack tactical discpline", certainly not in the sense I understand it; my understanding of the term is knowing when ,and where, to pass, when to go forward and when to drop deeper. Gerrard knows all that because he's a great player. His intelligence is one of the, very few, things about his game that has never got the praise it deserves. What tactical discipline means in this context, seemingly, is that he doesn't piss about on the halfway line passing the ball backwards and sideways. Why would he, though? In this league, particularly playing for one of the stronger sides, you win games by trapping the opposition in their box and attacking them relentlessly. That's how we've played the majority of our matches at Anfield for decades.

 

In my view, Gerrard attracts these criticisims precisely because he has such an outstanding all-round game. It's impossible to label him. I'm quite certain that if Xabi Alonso had Gerrard's natural power and shooting ability then he'd be inclined to go further forward and would soon be accused of lacking guile etc.

 

I'm getting a little irritated because this myth has been pedled for years now but if you want to persue that line of arguement, watch his performance at Goodison two years ago.

 

(As an aside, somebody who demonstrably lacks tactical discipline, yet is deservedly lauded as a top holding midfielder, is Javier Mascherano. Watch him vacate his space/zone/whatever time and time again as he chases the ball back and forth. Throughout the first four or so months of last season, he would just leave Lucas isolated centrally as he rushed from one side to the other, the Fulham game was a perfect example, he was constantly out of position. He's also terribly wasteful in possession be it with speculative shots or, and this was a habit of his, playing aimless floated balls forward. )

 

That's not true at all, go watch the England vs Mexico game if you like, Gerrard was meant to defend on the left wing then given a free role when going forward, but he just vacated the left wing for most of the game, he is still unsure wether to attack or defend at times, he does not know when to hold and when to run. Why do you think Benitez & Capello have always given him a free role and never given him much defensive responsibilty? Because it's detrimental to his game, he's never sure when to stick or hold, he's not very good at reading the play when he doesn't have the ball, it's better for him to just look forward and think about his next attacking move, he isn't so good at understanding where others are going to run.

 

It's no coincidence Gerrard's two best seasons have come when he had a free role on the right or had a free role just off Torres.

 

We also lost 3-0 against Man City with Gerrard in the middle of a 4-4-2, people will say, but that was Lucas' fault, how come we got torn apart when he partnered Xabi Alonso aswell in a 4-4-2, isn't Xabi Alonso one of the best defensive midfielders in the world?

 

You might also say, Gerrard isn't a left winger, that's why he didn't play well in the world cup, but David Villa isn't a left winger either and he played pretty well cutting in off the wing in the world cup, didn't he?

 

And as for Mascherano lacking tactical discipline? Surely that is a joke?

 

He held the Argentina midfield together so well at the world cup, he was outnumbered 3 to 1 in the midfield against Germany and he still managed to have a good game! We missed him badly when he didn't play against Chelsea and we lost 3-1 at home in the CL, I'm sure Alonso said Mascherano was one of the best readers of the game he had ever played with, I think that says enough about Mascherano.

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Didn't he win one of the Football Player of the Year awards in 2008-09 banging in 20 odd goals in the process? That was only two seasons ago.

 

Ironically one of his worst seasons for us was the Istanbul season. He still produced moments of class and brilliance but was generally inconsistent and practically non-existent in certain games.

 

His best season for me was the 05-06 season playing in a free role off the right hand side when he plundered 23 goals and his brilliance ensured we didn't lose the FA Cup Final.

 

But this is the problem about saying hes the best now.

Hes still got a few seasons left and these might even turn out to be his best like Gary Mac or even his worst,who knows?

 

Gerrard is also the victim of his own versatility,everybody has a different idea of where his best position is and he gets shifted around because of the lack of versatility of his teammates,which is a bit unfair but shows that hes a team player too.

 

I wont make any decision on whether hes the best personally until he retires.

Ive seen four or five different decades of Liverpool players so theres a lot to compare him to.

 

I think he'll be in most peoples top 5.

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Decent article but it lets itself down by falling into the same lazy generalisations that psuedo-intellectuals always do about Gerrard. He doesn't "lack tactical discpline", certainly not in the sense I understand it; my understanding of the term is knowing when ,and where, to pass, when to go forward and when to drop deeper. Gerrard knows all that because he's a great player. His intelligence is one of the, very few, things about his game that has never got the praise it deserves. What tactical discipline means in this context, seemingly, is that he doesn't piss about on the halfway line passing the ball backwards and sideways. Why would he, though? In this league, particularly playing for one of the stronger sides, you win games by trapping the opposition in their box and attacking them relentlessly. That's how we've played the majority of our matches at Anfield for decades.

 

In my view, Gerrard attracts these criticisims precisely because he has such an outstanding all-round game. It's impossible to label him. I'm quite certain that if Xabi Alonso had Gerrard's natural power and shooting ability then he'd be inclined to go further forward and would soon be accused of lacking guile etc.

 

I'm getting a little irritated because this myth has been pedled for years now but if you want to persue that line of arguement, watch his performance at Goodison two years ago.

 

It was a decent article as you say, some interesting points. I agree on Gerrard's tactical discipline too. When he first came through as a kid he did fine in the defensive midfielder role. It would just be a massive waste to have him play there as he's such a dynamic creative force, so managers have tried to find the best role for him attacking from midfield.

I think he's guilty of playing too many speculative passes when he plays centre of midfield, but I think mainly this tactical thing comes entirely from the Lampard and England situation.

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Gerrard has been playing for LFC for about 12 years - that's more than half of the time since we last won the league. We will never win the league with him as a key player and certainly not as captain. His inconsistency allows him to play well for the occasional cup game or a short burst of wins in the league or when he is in his manic mood, but over the period of a season he not only gums up the team too often he also depresses it too often. His politiking against the manager did not help the team spirit last year and his forming a little club within a club with Carragher and Murphy (formerly) and the other junior "locals" , his briefing Bascombe and his other friends in the press and on the internet against the club and against other players was treacherous.

 

He has clearly written LFC off but he is just about intelligent enough not to admit it publicly. He has put all his eggs in the England basket. That's were his enthusiasm has been for a couple of years. In the 2008/2009 season when we were chasing the title it was Torres, Pepe and some of the other foreign players - not Carrragher or Gerrard - who drove the team forward.

 

If players were judged by the same standard as managers, Gerrard's constant failure over 12 years in the league should have seen him sacked or demoted. After all he is captain. I think the vice-captain should also take a lot of the responsibility.

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Decent article but it lets itself down by falling into the same lazy generalisations that psuedo-intellectuals always do about Gerrard. He doesn't "lack tactical discpline", certainly not in the sense I understand it; my understanding of the term is knowing when ,and where, to pass, when to go forward and when to drop deeper. Gerrard knows all that because he's a great player. His intelligence is one of the, very few, things about his game that has never got the praise it deserves. What tactical discipline means in this context, seemingly, is that he doesn't piss about on the halfway line passing the ball backwards and sideways. Why would he, though? In this league, particularly playing for one of the stronger sides, you win games by trapping the opposition in their box and attacking them relentlessly. That's how we've played the majority of our matches at Anfield for decades.

 

In my view, Gerrard attracts these criticisims precisely because he has such an outstanding all-round game. It's impossible to label him. I'm quite certain that if Xabi Alonso had Gerrard's natural power and shooting ability then he'd be inclined to go further forward and would soon be accused of lacking guile etc.

 

I'm getting a little irritated because this myth has been pedled for years now but if you want to persue that line of arguement, watch his performance at Goodison two years ago.

 

(As an aside, somebody who demonstrably lacks tactical discipline, yet is deservedly lauded as a top holding midfielder, is Javier Mascherano. Watch him vacate his space/zone/whatever time and time again as he chases the ball back and forth. Throughout the first four or so months of last season, he would just leave Lucas isolated centrally as he rushed from one side to the other, the Fulham game was a perfect example, he was constantly out of position. He's also terribly wasteful in possession be it with speculative shots or, and this was a habit of his, playing aimless floated balls forward. )

 

I agree with all of this. It's my belief that a lot of people have been brainwashed into believing that Gerrard is some kind of intellectually-challenged twit on the pitch when it couldn't be further from the truth.

 

He has started the season really well in central midfield, in my opinion, and he's really starting to build momentum in that position. I hope that Hodgson continues to play him there, as he has done mostly so far.

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