Steven Gerrard and the fascination with change

Last semester, I took introductory Biology and Anthropology courses, and good portions of those courses were spent on the ideas of evolution. We learned about Lamarck and the ideas of the heritability of acquired characteristics, the laws of use and disuse.

Essentialism developed as early as the days of Plato and Aristotle, who in some ways are the great antiheroes for the ideas of evolution, and the theory of castastrophism; how the earth has been affected by past effects.

I truthfully don’t remember much more from those courses but after reading Kristen Walsh’s piece on Gerrard’s changing role, it reminded me of sitting in lectures, jotting notes down at rates that would nearly give my right hand Carpel Tunnel:

For those still struggling to comprehend: Gerrard was playing in a new position. It was still a midfield role, but the deepest since he sported a buzz-cut and permanent Scouse scowl in the early 2000s.

In a season that has seen him move further and further away from goal, here he essentially stood as a third centre-back. He took the ball from Simon Mignolet, he ran around with it, he pinged it up-field. He would collect from Martin Skrtel, look left and right, turn, and fire a ball at the feet of Glen Johnson or Raheem Sterling. In the first half, he tentatively moved in-front of the back four, not wholly sure of how he was meant to play. But he’s still a quick learner, and improved in the second half, although there is still much more to learn. The tone of Gerrard’s interview hints that he knew it, too.

Reading that piece reminded me of how much effort it took me to remember the simplest of concepts. I did rather well overall which is I guess the thing to take away from this diatribe.

The “Steven Gerrard is playing a deep midfield position” narrative isn’t one that was bred overnight. It’s been a gradual progression of a Liverpool legend to stave off father time.

He’s 33 years old, well past the prime of a footballer’s career. He’s been with the Club for eons and it was only a matter of time before this would happen.

We’ve already seen this with Frank Lampard who’s now been mostly deployed as a holding midfield with Mikel or occasionally David Luiz. The same questions that have engulfed Frank Lampard on whether Chelsea is better off without him is starting to make its way for Gerrard, another sign that the end is nearing.

Stoke-Liverpool ended up being a whirlwind of a match, the type of match that would be more in line with a FIFA match on the video game console systems.

As Walsh pointed out, the deepness in Gerrard’s role essentially had Liverpool playing as a 4-1-2-3 or even a 4-1-4-1 with Gerrard at times acting like the guy you play with in gym class who simply sits back and lets his attacking teammates do their jobs.

Some have rated his performance as merely average, though Whoscored had his rating as a 8.0 in the match. There were positives and negatives but more than anything it left us with questions that may be answered in the future.

Was this change simply part of having two wide players in Sterling and Coutinho to replace the malleability of SAS? Is this just another formation tweak in a season full of formation tweaks for Liverpool? Why from the three of Lucas/Henderson/Gerrard was Gerrard selected to play such a deep role?

Will this continue when SAS is starting together and revert back to some sort of a 4-2-3-1? Are we truly seeing the next and perhaps final stage of Steven Gerrard as some hybrid of a CB-CDM? I don’t have answers for any of these questions, and that in of itself is both scary and exciting.

This might be total white noise, or perhaps there’s something here. Whatever the case maybe, we’re nearing the end of a phenomenal career from a member from the “Golden Generation”

The Author


Ligue 1 analyst/writer for Back Page Football. Data is often incorporated. Ligue 1 is really fun, just give it a chance!

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