Tuesday 25 October 2016

Gerrard: I tried to empty the tank in farewell appearance for Reds

Liverpool skipper wanted to please fans in Anfield swansong

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard acknowledges the crowd as he walks on the pitch after his final game at Anfield
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard acknowledges the crowd as he walks on the pitch after his final game at Anfield
Football - Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Barclays Premier League - Anfield - 16/5/15 Liverpool fans hold up a banner for Steven Gerrard after his final game at Anfield Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Liverpool players wear Gerrard shirts as they wait for Steven Gerrard to be presented on the pitch after his final game at Anfield

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits he was desperate to give the Anfield faithful one final flourish to add to his extensive back-catalogue of exploits.

In reality there was little he could have done in the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace which would have come close to matching any of his magic moments already entwined in the club's great history.

The 34-year-old midfielder is a competitor right to the end but the fact he could not bend the match to his will, as he has done so many times before, suggests he has chosen the right time to seek a new challenge in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy.

"I tried to give them everything I've got; I wanted to give them one last memory but it just didn't come," he said.

"But I'm proud of what I've done and I just hope that they've all got memories to remember me by."

Those memories may well be all fans have to cling on to if Liverpool cannot find a way to cope with Gerrard's departure.

The club have lost great players before and have always replaced them but, for the first time in half a century, the side appear to be heading into next season without one genuine superstar.

Manager Brendan Rodgers acknowledges replacing Gerrard per se is impossible but somehow he and the transfer committee have to come up with a successful plan.

Liverpool players wear Gerrard shirts as they wait for Steven Gerrard to be presented on the pitch after his final game at Anfield

"I don't think there is that person who has come into the club who has given what he has done over the time," said the Reds boss.

"We will have to plot a way to improve in the summer and that is our challenge."

Asked if he was optimistic for the future Rodgers added: "We have to be.

"In my time here we have lost a couple of players in Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

"Those two players in the Premier League years here have been monumental.

"Throw in a world-class player like Luis Suarez and of course it is difficult but we will rise to the challenge.

"Hopefully in the summer we can add that quality."

England midfielder Jordan Henderson looks set to assume the captaincy from Gerrard but he is well aware of the void which will be left behind.

"It doesn't feel too good to be losing a leader and a role model," he said. "He's had a huge influence on me.

"I felt when Stevie hasn't been in the team I've tried to lead by example and that's all I can do and all I'll look to do in the future.

"Now is the time for us to kick on as group next season."

Crystal Palace's part in the day was almost lost amid all the dedicated pre-match soundtracks, mosaics and guard of honour but for them the occasion was all about taking three points and they did that with ruthless efficiency.

Adam Lallana's 26th-minute opener should have paved the way for the Gerrard procession but Jason Puncheon's brilliant free-kick just before half-time was just reward for the visitors' first-half dominance.

That continued after the break as Wilfried Zaha scored with his first touch, albeit from an offside position, 23 seconds after coming off the bench and in added time Glenn Murray followed up his own rebounded penalty to complete a deserved victory.

The star of the show was Yannick Bolasie, who terrorised the Liverpool defence and gave Dejan Lovren a particularly uncomfortable afternoon.

"He isn't the finished product by any stretch of the imagination," said manager Alan Pardew. "This is a guy the top clubs might be looking at but he needs to get that end product sorted."

Since arriving in January, Pardew has guided Palace from a precarious position near the foot of the table to within a win of the top 10.

"For the chairman and board, it must be quite exciting," he added.

"We are in a good position financially to look at putting two or three quality players into that group and attack the top eight or 10.

"I have been knocking on the door (of chairman Steve Parish) and he is quite receptive."



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