For so long Liverpool were considered a two-man team as it was a common belief there was an over-reliance on skipper Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres. The latter has now left the club – swapping red for blue – and the former has not played since March 6th, when his side humbled their rivals Manchester United. The intervening period reflects four wins, a draw and one defeat for the club, having scored 15 goals in the process, helping dispel the myth of an over-reliance on their captain.
This is in no way to suggest that when he is fit again he will not take his place in the first team, of course he will. However, it is refreshing for supporters of the club to see their side winning football matches without their supposed lynchpin. The team are playing with a new found swagger and success has ultimately followed – and all this without the influence of Gerrard.
Much of the praise for this recent success should obviously be directed towards Kenny Dalglish but the players also deserve a mention. Dalglish has his team playing in a style which is not dictated by any one player, the short passing game means he utilises every single member of his assembly. When Gerrard and Torres spearheaded the club’s attack, their teammates knew they were playing with two world class players who could change a game – and so often they did.
It may sound simple, but Dalglish is also putting round pegs in round holes, something which was not always the case where his two predecessors, Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson, were concerned. Examples of this are reflected in Raul Meireles and Dirk Kuyt, both had been shunted into wide positions to accommodate other players, but now the pair are playing where they learnt their trade and their individual goal tallies speak for themselves.
New signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have also freshened things up, giving the manager so many more options and Suarez is now arguably the most creative player at the club, eclipsing even Gerrard. This is not to say the team is a finished article, far from it, but it is encouraging that not only are they winning games, but they are doing it with goals from all departments.
In his programme notes for the Newcastle game, Gerrard spoke of the frustration he feels regarding his latest injury, but also said he finally feels confident about his groin, after undergoing surgery in March. “For the first time in a while, I’m feeling confident about my groin, but being injured is killing me. Fingers crossed, I’ll be there on the first day of pre-season.” It goes without saying everybody at the club wants Gerrard back playing, but it is both good to see and bodes well for the future that in his absence, other members of the squad have stepped up to the plate.