This 2013/2014 EPL season was a brilliantly overachieved and unforgettable one for Liverpool FC and their fans due to the climb they made from the 7th place last season to 2nd place this season including the automatic qualification into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
There were many factors that contributed to Liverpool’s turnaround this season, like that of the domination of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge – also known as ‘The SAS’ – young talents like Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho being regularly used, Steven Gerrard’s new deep midfield role or simply the smartness of the manager and the team work.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s captain, got a new style of play with his deeper midfield role since Brendan Rodgers’ appointment as Liverpool’s manager in 2012. His new role was slightly different than his normal role but was more suitable to Rodgers’ system. Not only was he appreciated because of how quickly and well he adjusted to the role, he was also accredited for being extremely contributing to Liverpool’s victories this season.
Having scored 13 goals this season and having the most assists (also 13), Gerrard has made the best of his new role. Being hailed as “the best holding midfielder in Europe” by Rodgers, Gerrard has been praised for his ability to read the game and being a playmaker in his own kind.
‘There are not many who can do what he can do, which is be one of the best attacking midfield players in Europe and then switch to be the best controlling player.’ – Brendan Rodgers
Gerrard has played much of his career in the centre midfield role but has also been used as a second striker, holding midfielder, right back and right winger. His partner in the midfield role in the team these past few seasons has been Lucas Leiva, who played as a defensive midfielder. Lucas was sidelined for two months due to injury, and he didn’t get enough time to understand Rodgers’ system of football. As much as it seems it is Gerrard’s new position that is dictating Lucas’ place in the team, it is more like Rodgers’ demand of a specific style and Lucas not being able to get into Rodgers’ system that isn’t giving him a lot of chances to start.
Gerrard has an eye for the pass and passes the ball by picking out players. He has a mission to create chances, which Lucas has mostly lacked this season due to not being a box to box midfielder. As hard it is to not see Lucas start for Liverpool as much as he used to, it’s just the player-manager relationship which makes it seem like Lucas isn’t quite the player Rodgers needs.
Gerrard’s new role is received well among supporters as well, as it means that he can work longer because of the slow work rate which also makes him control the tempo of the game. Lucas however could be used as a backup for Gerrard when Gerrard needs a rest.
With Rodgers going for a more ball-playing holding mid that has been a trend across Europe, Gerrard starting implies a no start for Lucas as Rodgers will not play two pivots with the SAS upfront keeping Lucas only for cover. Moreover, with Jordan Henderson’s improvement, it means Lucas is no longer a starter, though he can play with Henderson or Gerrard whenever required.
There’s no much say on whether Lucas will stay at the club or leave this season but if Liverpool go on the way they did this 2013/2014 season by making a few good signings and strengthening their defense this summer, winning the league next year will not be difficult for them.