Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers’ gamble on Kop legend Steven Gerrard could end up haunting him

By Graham Luney

We now know that Steven Gerrard's days are numbered at Liverpool.

The bigger question is whether Brendan Rodgers will be following his captain out the exit door anytime soon.

Gerrard helped Liverpool perform miracles.

Ulsterman Rodgers hasn't managed to do the same despite last season's thrilling push for the Premier League title.

A considerable section of Liverpool supporters don't believe the Carnlough man can bring the glory days back to Anfield and the departure of arguably the club's greatest ever player has just cranked up the heat on Rodgers.

The Liverpool boss said he was relaxed about the possibility of Gerrard leaving and this relationship had to end given the player's wage demands and his declining influence on the team.

Rodgers had to let his star man go.

Their relationship has been on a downward spiral and it took a nosedive when Gerrard was benched for the glamour Champions League clash against European champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu earlier in the season.

The former England skipper had done so much to drive his club back into the elite competition in club football and he felt he deserved better.

It was the beginning of the end of Gerrard's beautiful relationship with Liverpool.

Father time catches up with everyone and the 34-year-old, mocked by so many rival supporters in the stands, had become a pale shadow of his former self on the pitch.

But how many of us truly believe Rodgers when he says: "I've got a great relationship and communication with Steven"?

For all his kind words, this is a painful break-up and every Liverpool supporter will feel that pain.

Gerrard is still worshipped on Merseyside and by the club's fans across the world.

After inspiring and captaining Liverpool to their fifth European Cup in the Miracle of Istanbul in 2005 and recording almost 700 appearances for his hometown club, it shouldn't have ended like this.

Many fans will feel Gerrard deserved a player-coach role at the club. Many Anfield regulars will feel that Gerrard should have finished his career as a one-club man, having joined as a schoolboy and dedicated two decades to the Reds.

Not now - as one legend walks off into the sunset, Rodgers is left to take the criticism and soldier on.

If results do not improve, this move to let Gerrard go could come back to haunt Rodgers.

Most clubs are reluctant to hand longer-term deals to ageing players but Liverpool could have made an exception for Gerrard, because his value to them is unique.

Gerrard has followed the example set by close friend Jamie Carragher two years ago in going public with his decision early to prevent ongoing debate about whether he would stay or go.

But Carragher has stated the club did not do enough to hold onto Gerrard and his comments put more pressure on Rodgers' shoulders.

The Ulsterman, though, will feel he had no option.

After skippering England to their worst World Cup finals performance and retiring with 114 caps, Gerrard has been unable to halt Liverpool's post-Luis Suarez slide.

And the team can shine without him. He was an unused substitute as Liverpool secured a 4-1 Premier League win over Swansea City.

No player is bigger than the club and Rodgers and Liverpool have now taken a gamble they felt they had to make.

The midfielder was able to lift average sides to glory but can Rodgers do the same?

Gerrard is going but wouldn't it be ironic if Rodgers left Liverpool before him? Stranger things have happened in football.

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