Steven Gerrard to Academy is the Right Move for Club

Steven Gerrard getting a role working with Liverpool’s academy would be perfect for our former captain and the club

Well, Steven Gerrard has officially retired from football. Having failed to stand out  while on vacation in LA, one wonders why Stevie didn’t just call it at the end of the disappointing 14’-15’ season. I always fancied him a one-club man, but after spending 20 years sliding around soggy Anfield in the Merseyside rain, who can blame him for chasing the sun.

Que Sera Sera

But that’s all history (a subject familiar to all Liverpool fans and players alike), and now Gerrard will look to beef up his coaching credentials with Liverpool’s youth academy. His god-like presence will give the next generation of local heroes a real, clear example to emulate. I think this is a brilliant move not just for Gerrard, but for the club as a whole. Gerrard needs a safe, low-stakes environment to carve out his identity as a coach, and Liverpool FC need to continue to build on the new, grit-based foundation that Klopp has set down.

Good Player ≠ Good Coach

Being a great player has no bearing on one’s ability to coach others. Most of today’s top managers (Klopp, Mourinho, Wenger) were average players at best. Their lack of inherent skill is what forced them to study the tactics that their superior colleagues understood instinctually. Gerrard’s greatest moments were bursts of pure inspiration and hawk-like vision, spotting the key 40-yard pass or bursting down the middle of the pitch to boot a rocket into the top corner.

He was better when he did what came naturally to him, and one of his few flaws as a player is that he would frequently roam out of position. When forced to execute tactics on the fly when playing holding midfield, he was good, but not the world beater he was as an attacker. Some time in the Academy amongst supportive and tactically minded colleagues will help him translate some of that instinct into theory, which he can then pass on to the next generation of adoring Scousers.

Don’t Rock the Boat!

As for the squad, Jurgen Klopp’s gutting of Brendan Rodgers’ spineless squad of ’14-’15 has beennothing short of a revolution. The last thing anyone needs is for an inexperienced but iconic coach to be shoehorned into this precision German machine. The success of ’13-’14, when Liverpool came 2 points shy of winning the league, was based almost entirely on the brilliance of Luis Suarez rather than on any tactical vision or team cohesion.

It’s easy to forget how many goals they conceded (50, 23 more than Chelsea who came in 3rd). This year is different: the goals coming from all around the pitch, and Klopp has seemed to give Liverpool a defensive strategy for the first time since Rafa Benitez (before he spent all his time fighting Hicks/Gillette).

Klopp has also managed to import the cult of personality that he earned while plucking Borussia Dortmund from obscurity and into Europe’s elite in three seasons. Fans love him, and not just Liverpool fans. He represents the epitome of passion and persistence.

His style of high-pressing football has arguably changed the paradigm for how the game is played worldwide.

For Gerrard (who has been referred to as a talisman more times than actual talismans) to return at this point would unnecessarily rock the boat that Liverpool fans around the world have been waiting for since the end of the cold war. It would do a disservice to the club and the man, and we should all be glad that nobody in the marketing department was stupid enough to rush him in just for the photos.

Conclusion

In helping the Academy produce Premier League quality players, Gerrard will be doing his club the best service he can right now. In a world where having a productive academy can help solve injury crises and be extremely lucrative (see: Southampton), this is the perfect way to bring him back into the fold.

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