Gerrard the underachiever sees his last chance at Wembley disappear
AS he trudged off the pitch, knowing it would be the last time he graces the Wembley pitch, you had to feel some sympathy for Steven Gerrard.
Given his incredible exploits in a Liverpool shirt, you wouldn’t have begrudged him a chance to end his career with the FA Cup final on May 30.
But it was not to be.
He must now muster the strength to lift himself and his team-mates after a season which began with great optimism and will end with Brendan Rodgers’ future in severe doubt.
Mistakes on and off the pitch have cost Liverpool dearly, the overwhelming feeling is last season’s rousing attempt at winning the Premier League title could be the last time they get close for years.
Rodgers spent £117m on nine players last summer to offset the loss of Luis Suarez and whilst the idea was good on paper, the majority of signings have failed.
Mario Balotelli has his faults but Rodgers hasn’t given him a chance.
His ego made him think he could change Balotelli but he gave up trying and then chose to publicly hammer the Italian at every opportunity.
Rickie Lambert has been treated horribly by Rodgers given he was persuaded to leave Southampton on the promise he will make a difference at his boyhood club.
Rodgers wasted £20m on Dejan Lovren then after a few errors, dumped him in favour of Emre Can, a central midfielder who had never before played centre back.
You can count Emre Can as a partial success, he has adjusted well to his new position but long term – he will never be a defender of the calibre needed to beat the best.
Injuries have disrupted Adam Lallana’s career, defensive frailties have hampered Alberto Moreno’s progress, Lazar Markovic has also been forced to learn a different role to the one which he was bought for – and Javi Manquillo will probably leave Anfield in the summer and nobody will notice.
With so much uncertainty over players, Liverpool face being left behind and Rodgers is one of the main culprits.
For a club that talks up their history so much, three years without a trophy for Liverpool is a concern for Rodgers.
Liverpool’s hapless performance in yesterday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa summed up their season and gave little indication of better times to come.
But in the end, the person you have to feel most sorry for is Gerrard, who has just six more matches before he leaves the club, the last coming at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke City on May 24.
You could argue Gerrard has never recovered from his slip against Chelsea last season, which crushed Liverpool’s title charge.
He was England’s captain as they flopped miserably at the World Cup and then he returned to Merseyside where he didn’t receive the compassion and confidence he needed to bounce back.
He deserved to be treated better, not only by Rodgers, but also his previous managers who failed to produce a team good enough to consistently win trophies over the last 15 years.
When he walks off the pitch on May 24, Gerrard will say goodbye knowing he could and should have achieved so much more.