24 Mar 2008

Manchester United debacle once again exposes Steven Gerrard's lack of leadership ability

I have been arguing for years that Steven Gerrard is not an effective captain for Liverpool FC, and the Manchester United defeat once again confirmed this. Gerrard was typically anonymous during the game, but the most glaring problem was the conspicuous lack of leadership on the field.

I submit that Gerrard was indirectly responsible for Mascherano’s sending-off for the following reasons:

1. Mascherano was obviously pumped up for the encounter. At no point during the game did Gerrard approach him and tell him to calm down or stop arguing with the ref.

2. After Masch’s booking, Gerrard (one can only assume) failed to see any potential danger, and did not take then responsibility of talking to Masch to tell him to cool it a little.

3. After Torres’ booking, Gerrard was nowhere to be seen. He should have been speaking to the ref, defending the treatment of his fellow players.

4. It should have been Gerrard talking to Steve Bennett after Torres yellow card, yet even after Masch was sent off, Gerrard kept his distance, only ‘intervening’ about three minutes later, when Masch was refusing to leave the field.

5. After Masch’s sending-off, the only time Gerrard approached Bennett was when Manure were given a free kick in the second half. That was it for the whole game.

6. At the end of the game, Xabi Alonso and Jamie Carragher approached Bennett and expressed their frustration and anger. Carragher had to be pulled away, such was his irritation. Where was Gerrard? Too busy shaking hands with Man United players to bother about complaining, after which he just skulked off the field without a word.

Masch's actions highlight the difference between a leader and a follower: A leader does what Masch did and challenges injustice. A follower does what Gerrard did, i.e., nothing.

Now, I am not suggesting that Mascherano should not take personal responsibility for his actions – he should. However, the captain of the club needs to be doing more on the pitch! In high pressure encounters against the likes of Man U, real leadership on the pitch is absolutely essential.

Gerrard should have been watching Mascherano and intervening when necessary; he should have had the sense and the foresight to know that problems may arise at some point; He should have been protecting his players and making sure Liverpool’s case was argued as and when necessary.

He utterly failed on all points and exposed again that he is an utter failure as a captain.

And people have the gall to compare him to the likes of Graeme Souness?!

Such a comparison is insulting in the extreme.

Let’s hypothesis for a second: How would Souness have acted in the same situation? I don’t even need to answer the question because it’s obvious. With the great captains of the world, the answer is always obvious.

As per usual, when the going got tough, Gerrard was nowhere to be seen.

I don’t dispute that Gerrard is an excellent player, but I’m sick of Liverpool not having real leadership on the field and I’m sick of the club not having a captain who can stand alongside the greats of the past. I would gladly trade in Gerrard’s goals for a proper captain, as in my view, strong leadership on the field is one of the keys to winning the league.

Take the Man U game – it’s entirely possible that if Gerrard had done his job, Masch would not have been sent off. Liverpool could conceivably have gone on to win the game, thus putting them squarely in the title race and boosting confidence.

Instead, Liverpool lost, got dumped out the title race once and for all and will probably suffer a loss of confidence, not to mention the services of Masch for a few games.

How anyone can still argue that Steven Gerrard is a good captain beggars belief. Of course, Mascherano will be painted as the villain and Gerrard will again escape without criticism, but in my view, he should shoulder the lion’s share of the blame.

Liverpool needed a captain’s performance against Manchester United and they got it…from Mascherano.

Just one final note on the Mascherano incident: It transpires that earlier in the game, Masch was allegedly swearing the ref. Now, this is obviously unacceptable behaviour, but my opinion on his actions remains the same for the following reasons:

1. If Masch was swearing at the ref, then he should have received a yellow card for that. For the sake of consistency and fairness, Bennet should have taken action then and there.

2. If Bennett did not take action *when he should have* then that is his problem, and he should be disciplined for failing to take appropriate action.

3. Each incident should be judged on its individual merits. Bennet has no right giving Masch a second yellow for something that happened *earlier* in the game.

4. Masch was seemingly punished for his earlier infractions. This can only be the case considering a player CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be sent off for merely question a referee's decision.

I would have no problem with Mascherano getting his marching orders for swearing at the referee, but this did not happen, and Steve Bennett is to blame for not applying the rules correctly.

It is totally wrong for a referee to send someone off for an inconspicuous offence to make up for a failure to take action in an earlier incident.

Predictably, the biased press are painting Mascherano as a monster, and completely ignoring the finer details of the incident. What's even more disappointing is so-called Liverpool fans jumping on the 'Monster Masch' bandwagon.

My opinion hasn't changed: Mascherano did the right thing. He did not deserve to get sent off and he should be supported by all fans.

The ultimate irony of this article is that if Gerrard had acted lke a captain and spoken out against Bennett, and got sent off in the process, I would be writing an article praising his actions!


  1. I struggle often to find merit in your posts, but in this post you have it SPOT ON! Anyone watching the game could see that Mascherano was walking a thin line after his first yellow and it is STEVIE'S JOB to sort out his fellow teammates and make the case to the ref, with respect to Torres's treatment.

  2. I agree completely mate, the ref would have warned masch earlier on about his conduct and told him to "behave".

    Masch obviously took note of that by the way he approached steve Bender, he was calm and controlled.

    I also agree that the g man's tenure as captain should be ended, he showed how inept he is at captaining his side with a total lack of leadership, he did his usual disappearing act when things got tough and failed to "inspire" his team once which is something that rafa constantly tells us he does.

    Good post lad.