Liverpool captain has reinvented himself this season and is as influential as ever at Anfield – it would be fitting for him to lift the Premier League trophy
By Alan Hansen
If you ask any professional footballer, they will tell you that a league title is the bread and butter and while it will not be Steven’s swan song this season, because I fully expect him to keep playing for a number of years, this is the one he has been waiting for.
You could see at the end what the win over Manchester City on Saturday meant to him and he got it absolutely spot on with his comments after the game.
You have never won the title until you have the medal in your hand and that is a mentality that has served Liverpool so well during this run of 10 league wins in a row.
Now he is on course to play a major part in guiding Liverpool to their first title since 1990 and the game against Chelsea in a fortnight is set up beautifully. It promises to be one of the most important afternoons of his career.
Think of all the historic moments that Steven has experienced over the years – the inspirational performance in the final in Istanbul, the FA Cup final against West Ham and the goal against Olympiakos in the 2004/05 European campaign.
He has carried the club for so many years, through the highs and lows, and could easily have gone to Chelsea in 2005 but stayed loyal to go down as one of the legendary figures in Liverpool folklore.
If it was not for Luis Suárez, I firmly believe Steven would be in contention for the footballer of the year award. Suárez has been sensational this season and obviously cannot be ignored, but Gerrard has reinvented himself in a new position and been an inspiration.
When he played further forward he used to rush from A to B to C and then back to A again, but now he has taken a more disciplined role, sitting in the hole in a similar position to the one where Graeme Souness played so well.
Liverpool are so potent on the counter-attack now, with so much explosive pace, that in all honesty it would be very difficult to accommodate Steven in the old, more advanced role, but this new position is perfect for him.
I remember watching him in a game against West Bromwich Albion last season and he was attempting to do the things he was doing 12 years ago. You were left wondering if he could still do it, but this season has been a revelation.
His range of passing has always been fantastic and he is very underrated in the air and as a tackler so now he is the full package and remains indispensable.
He was outstanding against Manchester City and if I was a betting man I would say Liverpool are now going to win the title.
Against City it was the first time in this run that they have been asked questions and for a long period in the second half it looked as if they would lose it. But they survived some real scares to hit City at the other end, and to come back and win was a measure of what they are about. This was a huge statement of intent.
Chelsea will arrive at Anfield in a fortnight still in the Champions League but I do not buy into this argument that Liverpool will be less tired. As a professional there is nothing better at this stage of the season than if you are going for both the title and the Champions League.
I am sure if you were to ask Brendan Rodgers and Gerrard about competing in both they would bite your hand off. If you are going for the title, tiredness is outweighed 100 per cent by the sheer adrenalin.
It has the look of a title decider about it but with Gerrard in this sort of form, Liverpool could take a massive step towards ending their 24-year wait.