Steven Gerrard ended a glittering career in England when he decided to leave his beloved Liverpool for LA Galaxy last season. Gerrard will always be remembered as one of the club’s greatest ever players and should be welcomed back with open arms once his playing career has finished.
The former England captain is widely expected to hang up his boots following the conclusion of the current MLS season with the Galaxy. Gerrard has previously stated that he would have preferred to stay at Anfield if he was offered a coaching role with the Reds. It was not to be and Gerrard left for the sunny shores of LA.
The 35-year-old has been tipped for a future in management and Liverpool has been mooted as a potential destination in the future. Jurgen Klopp is currently embarking on his debut season with Reds and has completely transformed a side that looked lacklustre under Brendan Rodgers. The German is expected to have a long and successful career on Merseyside meaning Gerrard may have to wait a while before getting his chance to manage a club so close to his heart.
With no managerial experience to date, it would interesting to find out how Gerrard would fare as manager of the Anfield faithful. Using Football Manager 2016, we attempted to predict how Liverpool would perform under their former skipper…
After the lavish spending under Brendan Rodgers, Fenway Sports Group decided that the squad Gerrard inherited was good enough and made no money available for transfers in the summer. With no players arriving, fans were highly sceptical and expectations were low for Gerrard’s maiden campaign as a manager. Many players left the club on loan including Cameron Brannagan, Sheyi Ojo, and Brad Smith; all who have featured in the first-team under Klopp.
The January transfer window saw the first signings of the Gerrard reign. Brazilian midfielder, Giuliano, arrived from Gremio for just over £7.5m. The skilful midfielder joins an attacking plethora already filled with Brazilian talent in the form of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. Hot prospect, Viktor Fischer, also arrived for just £3.3m from Ajax which was regarded as a signing for the future. Dejan Lovren has been a revelation for Liverpool since Klopp was appointed but was deemed surplus to requirements by ‘Stevie G’. The Croatian defender left for Borussia Dortmund for around £9m meaning a £10m loss for the club which would have gone down well with FSG. Divock Origi also left the club on loan to Liverpool’s Europa League semi-final opponents Villarreal.
Gerrard switched to a conventional 4-4-2 after taking control of the club. Despite some heavy criticism from fans this season, Simon Mignolet kept his place as Liverpool’s number one and Adam Bogdan was preferred to Danny Ward as the Belgian’s understudy.
With Nathaniel Clyne at right-back, Martin Skrtel was preferred to Lovren as Mamadou Sakho’s centre-back partner. Gerrard also chose to keep Alberto Moreno at left-back which completed the Liverpool defence.
There was no place in the starting eleven for Jordan Henderson who had to settle for a place on the bench as it was Welsh midfielder, Joe Allen, who partnered £20m signing Firmino in the centre of the park. James Milner started on the right with Coutinho operating from the left flank.
Gerrard also found a place for £32m striker, Christian Benteke, who partnered Daniel Sturridge in attack.
Many players stood out for the Reds during Gerrard’s time as manager. Sakho averaged the best rating of 7.44 for his defensive performances alongside Skrtel. He was voted as Liverpool’s player of the season for his performances. Sakho is adored by Liverpool fans and everyone associated with the club will be hoping that the French defender plays for the club again following allegations surrounding a failed drugs test.
Coutinho also performed admirably once again matching Sakho’s 7.44 average rating for the season. He finished third in the league for assists and managed to score seven goals. The Brazilian playmaker has shown his worth to the current side under Klopp which continued under Gerrard despite playing in a deeper role.
The club’s top goal scorer for the season was Firmino. Benteke and Sturridge failed to find any sort of chemistry but still managed to score 12 and 10 goals respectively. It was the former Hoffenheim man who provided to goals for the Reds. The Brazil international helped his side’s cause with 23 goals even though he started the majority of his game in a deeper central midfield role.
Many big stars under Klopp could not find much game time under Gerrard. Henderson was mentioned previously but Emre Can and Danny Ings also found limited first-team opportunities and were restricted to appearances from the bench.
The major flop of the season was Adam Lallana. The former Southampton man has divided opinion amongst Liverpool players since his £25m move from St Marys. He is a wonderfully gifted footballer but his end product is extremely poor. Fans feel that he simply does not score enough considering he is an attacking midfielder. Under Gerrard, Lallana made just six starts and failed to find the net all season.
John Flanagan and Tiago Ilori also could not break into the first-team picture and even Jose Enrique made more appearances. Kolo Toure was demoted to the Under 21 squad and announced he will leave the club when his contract expired. He did not make one first-team appearance under Gerrard.
Surprisingly, Gerrard’s Liverpool performed admirably in the league. The Reds were in the top two for the majority of the season before their form tailed off after the January transfer window. Gerrard was able to deliver Champions League football at the first time of asking; securing a fourth place finish. Liverpool pipped Arsenal by just two points which subsequently resulted in Arsene Wenger losing his job. Manchester City were the league winners who finished just seven points above the Reds.
Liverpool’s performances in the domestic cups did not match the high standards that were set in the league. City managed to beat Liverpool in this season’s Capital One Cup under Klopp but was unable to progress past the quarter-finals under Gerrard; after being beaten by Burnley.
There was similar disappointment in the FA Cup as Liverpool were unable to progress past the fourth round. Chelsea proved too tough to beat meaning Gerrard’s men crashed out. The Blues also finished above Liverpool in the league on goal difference.
The biggest disappointment of all came in the Europa League. Liverpool were abysmal in Europe and could not progress from a relatively easy group. Gerrard will be glad to have secured Champions League football meaning fans could quickly put their Europa League performances behind them and look forward to the future.
Considering it was Gerrard’s first venture into club management, his first season at Liverpool must be classed as a success. He successfully returned the club to the Champions League with little to no investment whatsoever. Despite a poor performance in the cup competitions, fans will be pleased that the Reds performed so well in the league. European football now means Liverpool can attract a higher calibre of talent to secure their position at the top of the English game. With more investment from FSG, Gerrard could go on to become a top manager and return Liverpool to its glory days.
Do you feel that Steven Gerrard will one day return to manage Liverpool one day?