26 Sep 2014

Gerrard Out? - Lawro reveals reason for 'criticised' captain's poor form at LFC. Worry?

Steven Gerrard: one of the greatest players in Liverpool's history, but time waits for no man, and right now, it's fair to say that Gerrard's influence on the team is waning. Some fans even argue that his continued presence in the team is now detrimental to LFC's forward progress, but Anfield legend Mark Lawrenson insists that there are other factors at stake to explain the captain's middling form.

Gerrard underperformed during Liverpool's abject capitulation at West Ham, but Lawro believes a lack of pace in the team is making it hard for him to make an impact. He told the BBC:

"Steven Gerrard got criticised for the way he played...but he's got nobody up there to pick out with his long balls, which means opposing teams can squeeze up and deny them space.

"It means Liverpool are finding it difficult to turn their possession and passes into chances, and Sterling is their only player who looks a threat".

The criticism of Gerrard is valid: Call it whatever you like (pivot; playmaker; whatever), but he is LFC's de facto DM. He occupies the deepest midfield role, and defensive duty/cover/pressing/protecting the back four are key parts of his responsibility, ergo he is a defensive midfield.

Gerrard isn't equipped to play that role effectively, though, and that's the main problem. He doesn't have the mobility, or the positional discipline to operate as an effective DM. In theory, he has the right skill-set, but in practice, it's not working effectively.

The loss of Sturridge's pace is a major blow to the Reds, but in my view, this is a rather tenuous excuse to explain Gerrard's increasingly inability to genuinely effect games.

Additionally, Gerrard's game is not just based on 'long balls'; his penchant for speculative Hollywood passes is arguably counter-productive at times as it often leads to Liverpool losing possession. He should adapt his game to suit the personnel available. If long-balls are out, take a different approach.

The main problem, however, is Brendan Rodgers. He doesn't have the stones to do the right thing, and replace Gerrard at DM with someone who is more equipped to do the job. Gerrard is always in the team because of who he is, rather than tactical necessity.

That's totally understandable, though. It'll take a strong manager to put Gerrard out to pasture. The guy is a legend, and Rodgers has the unenviable task of presiding over his gradual decline.

The question is, if Gerrard doesn't play at DM, what is his role in the team? A couple of options:

* Part of a midfield three, ahead of a DM. Example:

------------ Can

---- Gerrard -- Hendo

This is a marginally better option, but it still doesn't solve the mobility/pressing issue. All three of LFC's central midfielders (in a 433) have significant defensive responsibility, though Gerrard is (IMO) a superior option to Joe Allen/Lucas, or Adam Lallana (in a deeper role). Allen may press better, but Gerrard has the passing range, and will create goals.

* Number 10 role

----------- Can

----- Hendo --- Allen

--------- Gerrard

--- Sterling - Sturridge

Is Gerrard better in this role than Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling, or even Lazar Markovic? He certainly has the passing range and guile to open up defences, so why not give it a shot?

Outside of these two positions, I don't see how he can fit into the team. I don't advocate dropping Gerrard, but the team should come first, and Gerrard-at-DM is (IMO) not beneficial for the team.

Ultimately, blaming Gerrard's middling form on a lack of pace in the team is disingenuous. Even casual observers can see the real issues, and until Rodgers doesn't something about it, Liverpool will continue to struggle.



  1. This has been going on for some time. I remember Alonso and the team often being more effective without SG.

  2. It's already too late this team will struggle to score a goal but will let plenty in at other end/ this season is a write off BR doesn't know what he's doing.

  3. He has been a wonderful player. His speed of thought has deteriorated. Pirlo didn't have the legs, but had football intelligence.

  4. He gets caught up in possession and is left backtracking. He has given away possession many times this season. The only players behind him are the CBs(who seem to have no communication at all). We should play Gerrard only once a week. He is still a LEGEND and one of the best players of his generation.

  5. Dm IS specialized position which requires a certain mentality coupled with a certain skill set Gerrad has neither of these role specific abilities why oh why when players get older do pundits and fans think you can just plonk players in these positions ...game over its been nice watching you steve buts its time to move on

  6. gerrard in DM role is disaster..as stated by jaime DM's role is to cover the back four,to provide protection and tackle which he is not doing at all..and just for those hollywood balls what is the point of playing another player to protect gerrard ..i dont know what BR is thinking but gerrard is the best player i ve seen in attacking midfield.. u ve depth now so rotate him in attacking midfield than wasting his talent at DM..bring him on later to affect the game..i see lampard is doing good now a days

  7. Its not just this season, even last season Stevie was out of his depth in that DM position. He isnt made for it but BR seems hellbent on destroying Stevie's name by playing him out of position. Did chelski change Lampard's position when his productivity dropped below levels they accepted? No. So why should we do it with SG? I think BR is trying to cover his transfer inefficiencies by playing SG in DM and then claim that "well, I had no one"

  8. I like the idea of Stevie coming off the bench into the number 10 role and giving him free reign. He would lift the whole stadium and he could play like his younger self for 30 minutes I'm sure.
    If he must start the game, perhaps Brendan and Stevie could learn from Pirlo who is writing the blueprint for an effective "elder statesman" midfielder.

  9. What a pathetic remark. So many of you "fans" have such a short memory. Last season Rodgers was a genius, we lose a couple of games at the start of this season and now he doesn't know what he's doing? Bollocks

  10. I think another issue is the limited ability of the other midfielders especially hendo and allen . 2 teams now have zeroed in on gerrard limiting him on how effective he can be in starting and maintaining LFC attacks , what was needed was another player to be as dangerous as SG so that the tactic would be less effective. Hendo in particular against west ham had plenty of space as a result of attention to gerrard but he is unable to dictate the play like gerrard ...he can occasionally play that killer pass but often prefers a simple pass and a run forward

  11. Gerrard doesn't play defensive midfield for us and if you think he does then you don't understand the way we play.
    Gerrard is a deep lying playmaker the way Alonso was. What you've described is a ball winning DM such as Mascherano and that is not the way Gerrard is being asked to play.
    We don't play with a recognised DM, maybe we should but we don't so if you're watching liverpool thinking Gerrard is supposed to be playing like a typical defensive midfielder then you're sorely mistaken

  12. Thats the nature of modern day football though Jock you are always looking to kick on ....im behinfd rogers but this next month will define his tenure hes had pots of money and we should be playing better than we are

  13. Never mentioned last season dork face last season Suarez got this 'team' CL football now he's gone BR doesn't have a game plan players he's bought aren't good enough. It's the way the games are lost- feeble defending and a shocking keeper that only he has confidence in

  14. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:37 pm, September 26, 2014


    bench: lambert,markovic,coutinho,lucas, enrique,sakho,jones

    suso and rossiter maybe takin over lucas spot on bench if stuzza fit markovic out of squad
    everyone agree

  15. No, it is you who doesn't understand how LFC play. Deep-lying playmaker? It's all semantics. What matters is the role the player actually fulfils in the team, and Gerrard's role is different to Alonso's. Gerrard does the work of a DM; he *replaced* a dedicated DM in the role; He just happens to have some passing range. He is a DM, whether you like it or not. He does other things too, but essentially, a major part of his role is protecting the back-four; tackling, pressing etc. He even breaks up the two centre-backs (who go left and right) and plays out from the back, which is classic DM behaviour

  16. Can you please stop posting snide comments, like this, and your earlier one about 'getting a comment for Christmas'. Thanks.

  17. Exactly. If a player operates in the centre-forward role, then he is a centre-forward. You can call him a number 10 etc, but he's still a CF.

  18. Terry McDermotts perm9:53 pm, September 26, 2014

    Pirlo doesnt have to do much defending and nor is he expected to. Gerrards problem is he is from a country that doesnt really understand the role. How else would you explain that Pirlo can play without too much responsability for club and country by Gerrard doesnt get enough help for club OR country.

  19. The comma for Christmas was meant as a joke but I shall take your point on board

  20. start Gerrard at 10 and when the `legs give out` bring on Coutinhio.....Gerrard in the DM role does nothing...how many goals have we already shipped playing him in front of a back 4 ????

  21. I disagree. I think ideally in Rodgers system he wants the players to defend from the front with the 2 on the sides of the diamond doing most of the running.
    It is meant to be the same role Paul Scholes played in the latter stages of his career. He played deep but he certainly wasn't a defensive midfielder

  22. You know what I notice recently....Gerrard never takes shots anymore. The defense clears and he opts to pass it sideways ourside the 18 rather than shoot. If he's still got that pass in his locker, surely he can pull off a wonder strike every once in a while. We often see out mids take shots that are woefully wide when we have probably one of the best long range shooter in his prime playing 90mins without 1 shot on goal....doesnt make sense to me

  23. dude what i see is that gerrard dropping between center backs every time that means he is the deepest lying midfielder..so according to you we should ve a player in the team just to get his hollywood balls and expect nothing else from him as the deepest lying than u clearly dont understand football..if he is not tackling then who do you expect to do that work and break the play as i see us as counter attacking unit in which tackles and interceptions are must..and if u ll say hendo and allen are there then i said clearly above that it is useless to have a player in a team that requires protection from other players just to show his long balls..gerrard is clearly better and can be utilised in a proper way that suits him.

    other sites rates him on the basis of tackles and chances he creates..i dont know where are you going with it.

  24. Tackling is obviously part of his game as it is for any player but you are describing him and rating him as a classic defensive midfielder and that is not what he is primarily in the team to do.
    Pirlo is the obvious example as to what Rodgers vision for Gerrard is. It may not be working but that is the aim.
    Is Pirlo a defensive midfielder? No. Does he receive protection from Vidal and Pogba? Yes. But by your rationale a player who needs protection isn't worth having in your team so I presume you don't rate Pirlo

  25. No apologies for gerrard but it was begging for quality elsewhere seeing that he was marked ...the distribution from the back is a problem too ...Goalie is weak and the 2 Center halfs ponderous ....i just don't think that hendo has this quality and as you said he does a lot of running (flogging his guts out) but really doesn't do a lot with the ball

    The loss of saurez quality and mobility is showing up a lot of other issues including the fact that SG position and mobility a year on is now a problem

  26. it is a slower and less physical league so it works in favor of pirlo and he offers a lot in attack too..going forward and shooting from distance..gerrard just hangs to his position providing no mobility there..teams have figured this out and does not give him time on the ball now so he rarely is making any contribution..so this clearly is not working..i think we ll play better if we go with a specialised DM who does a defensive work and let two midfielders in front of him to help attacks more..and one more reason that gerrard is useless there now is stated by lawro that there is no movement up there that SAS used to provide by getting in space and asking for those balls from gerrard..if BR can see it then too he cant do anything as he blew up the transfer window :)..u expect a lot from gerrard as playmaker but he surely is playing in DM positions rarely going forward or providing a long grounded pass or attempting through balls.

  27. He puts his CBs in a panic situation. Not knowing whether to stay their ground or go forward to cover to Gerrard

  28. Then do not be surprised that we are letting in goals like a broken pipe

  29. Valid points IMO.

  30. Lack of conviction,he looks strained and drained these days.The international break didn't help him either.

  31. 'lack of pace'. Wow. Liverpool old boys doing whatever possible to protect Gerrard.

  32. It's not Gerrard apologetics as you say. Since Sturridge has been out we've been static and toothless up front, ponderous in midfield and absolutely shambolic in defence. That's not all Gerrard's fault and I think it's unfair he shoulders the brunt of the blame.
    For the record, I agree he shouldn't play every week the way he has been, I just think people should show a little respect for arguably our greatest ever player.
    As I said in a previous post if he'd jumped ship when we were totally crap a few years back then we could've been in real trouble

  33. Notice how Carra will never call out Gerrard for his lacklustre performances! Anyone one non scouse would therapy by now from all the criticism!

  34. Been a fan 70 years have seen it all pretty much and BR is not the man to lead LFC. I never said he was a genius I never wanted him in first place. Relegation fight by X- mas

  35. thexcuriousxwanderer2:47 am, September 28, 2014

    The front is starting to find its legs now, barring Balotelli. He seems to still think he's in the Italian league and just holding people off with his strength is enough. If he wants to score more, he has to run to get defenders off him. For the team, to pull opposing defenders out of shape so that other people like Stering and Lallana can score also. He just doesn't do enough for himself and the team.

    And when the front runs and finds space (and arguably that's one aspect of Suarez that is sorely missed, he draws even 2 or 3 to himself sometimes to make space for everyone else) then Gerard's balls will be more effective. So it's not just Gerard's fault (though you can say he should play less of these balls and maybe down the flanks more where there is often more space). The team has to take responsibility.

    That's what I miss from last season, it was more free flowing, players knew each other and interchanged, confused defenders, and created a lot of space, whereas this season ... well i think when Sturridge comes back and direct replaces Balotelli, we will see the old Liverpool. I'm not sure if Balo is a good addition at this point unless he is willing to show 80% of the commitment Lallana did in the derby.

  36. thexcuriousxwanderer2:51 am, September 28, 2014

    I don't think Hendo should receive criticism. His off the ball runs have been great, and recently his shots have been on target (sometimes more so than we can say about our strikers!), just maybe he needs to put the ball closer to the corners. I'm been impressed with him when I see him mostly this season. This kid has been improving consistently, and has been a consistent force in an inconsistent team. That's also very important, to have someone perform, rain or shine. Suarez was like that, rain or shine, on his bad days when he doesn't score, he creates space for his teammates. In a league competition, consistency is often underrated.

  37. thexcuriousxwanderer2:53 am, September 28, 2014

    Well I feel Gerard is not performing up to his high standards, but he is still dictating play, just the front makes it slightly difficult for him now. Also think of the morale drop if captain Liverpool is subbed out! So there is also a psychological factor.