Sunday, 27 December 2009

STEVEN GERRARD: Time to give Liverpool FC's skipper a break

Football - West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool Barclays Premier League

I WAS working for the Wolves game so only caught glimpses of the match in between subbing match reports.

But what I did see of the game, and on Match of the Day later, encouraged me in terms of Steven Gerrard. The skipper has come under fire from some fans for his patchy form this season, not helped of course by injury problems. Questioning his form and fitness is fine, but for me some people have gone too far, with fans suggesting he should be stripped of the captaincy and even sold!

Central to these views has been accusations that Gerrard doesn't care, has given up, isn't behind the manager and so on.

I often think Steven pays a price for the fact that he has been so good for so long. Fans now expect an Olympiakos performance every week - anything less and he's criticised and questioned.

He's subject to a different level of scrutiny to every other player at the club.

Against Wolves there were signs that Gerrard's form is taking a step in the right direction. His shooting was better, he flew into a couple of trademark tackles and with the confidence gleaned from his performance, the flicks and tricks started to come off, too.

Then of course there was the goal. For anyone questioning his commitment to the cause, just watch that goal again. It was a tempting and teasing ball from the improved Emiliano Inusa but make no mistake, Gerrard was very much second favourite to reach it, never mind score from it.

The determination to make something of it was etched across his face as he outjumped two Wolves defenders to put the header in. And the celebration too was an outpouring of relief and frustration.

If he didn't want it, he wouldn't have scored, it's that simple.

Has he been feeling the pain of a poor season? Of course he has. This is a club that he has been a key part of for 11 years and supported all his life, why wouldn't he?

Now let's end all this talk of doubting his commitment and hope the skipper is on his way back to his best. A fit and firing Steven Gerrard will go a long way to getting Liverpool back on track.