|Gerrard departs from Anfield on Sunday after just 45 seconds on the pitch.|
Liverpool Coach, Brendan Rodgers, must accept and wear the responsibility for the events that unfolded at Anfield on Sunday night. His side’s 2-1 loss to arch rivals Manchester United was marred with controversy heightened when captain Steven Gerrard received a red card just 45 seconds into the second half. The club captain and Liverpool legend, will now have his final memories of the institutional United clash as a day to be forgotten and die-hard Liverpool fans across the globe were robbed of what should have been a fight-till-the-death final derby for Gerrard.
Rodgers elected to start Gerrard from the bench in what was one of the most important games of the season for both sides who were edging towards the top four spots on the EPL ladder. Stunned Liverpool fans would have been left gasped by the coach’s decision have his captain sitting on the bench when the line-up’s were released. Opting for a midfield that included Alberto Moreno and Joe Allen, whilst leaving the experienced Lucas Leiva on the bench alongside Gerrard, Rodgers was left to ponder his selections when United scored after just 14 minutes of play when Moreno was caught out ball watching.
Stating in the pre-match interview that Gerrard took the decision well during the week when told he wouldn’t be starting, Rodgers looked as white as a ghost and it was immediately present that the vibe of confidence that the coach usually carries into matches wasn’t quite there. No wonder Manchester United Coach Louis van Gaal look as cool as a cucumber before the match. He must have been laughing the whole bus ride to Liverpool.
To not start the man that has made Liverpool Football Club what it is over almost the last two decades was a disgusting disgrace. To leave out such a legend of the club, city and game in general was such a smear of disrespect to not only Gerrard himself, but the loyal fans of the famous club as well.
Like everyone, former Liverpool back, Jamie Carragher, was annoyed by the coach’s decision, and clearly indicated it was a direct reason behind Gerrard’s frustrated actions.
“He's been at Liverpool 17, 18 years, he's always been the man, the captain, there's never been a case where he's been out of the team and as soon as he's fit he goes straight back in the team.” Carragher said.
“But there would have been more frustration. I think he'd have been watching players in his position performing not great and thinking, 'Why am I not playing, why am I not on that pitch?
“There's no doubt being a local player, the emotion of these occasions, the frustration coming into this game, has contributed to the moment of madness.” Carragher told Sky Sports after the match.
The fact of the matter is Gerrard shouldn’t have come off the bench after 45 minutes had already been played. He should have started, in his position, with the captain’s armband around his left bicep. He should have led his lifelong club onto the pitch he has helped make so fabled around the world. He should have been the first man picked, named and written onto the team list.
There should have been no doubt in the coach’s mind about that. Injuries, form, team make-up, consistency and strategy should have been forgotten. Respect was not given when it should have been, and for that Rodgers has paid the ultimate price, a humiliating loss to the one side that every Liverpool fan hates.
But there’s more than that, Liverpool are now 5 points behind fourth placed Manchester United and look to be drifting further away from qualifying for the ever important Champions League. With Raheem Sterling’s contract currently being thrown up in discussion, missing the Champions League could have further implications on Rodger’s roster at Liverpool.
The coach has also lost the option to select Gerrard for possibly the next three matches if he is suspended as expected, and with a do or die FA Cup quarter-final match away against Blackburn coming up, that’s something a coach who considers winning a trophy this season as vital, can’t afford to lose.
If only he afforded Gerrard his rightful spot on Sunday, no one of this might have happened.