Over the past few years, Steven Gerrard's injury troubles had seemed on a steadily worsening trajectory. The player who had for so long been central to Liverpool's plans was, increasingly, becoming something of a liability, if only because the club seemed insistent on continuing to count on him to deliver as he always had when it seemed that was no longer possible.
Twelve months on from a season in which he made fewer league starts than in any since his first, that talk suddenly seems premature. This season, Gerrard has played every minute of every Premier League match as well playing ten times in various club cup competitions, and he shows no signs of tiring. Much of this is thanks to Glen Driscoll, the club's new head of performance.
"We had confidence that, if managed correctly, Steven would be able to achieve everything he has achieved this year," Driscoll explained. "Four or five years ago, people were saying it was very unlikely that Steven—with his injury history—would ever achieve this, let alone reach the milestones he has hit this year in terms of playing time at the age of 32.
"It's a credit to Steven himself; his professionalism is second to none. Steven has confidence now that he can play at the highest level into his mid-30s [and] that's fantastic news for Liverpool."
It's also a credit to Driscoll and his team, brought to the club over the summer by new manager Brendan Rodgers. For all that some have at times doubted the trajectory the club has taken under Rodgers, there can be no doubting the improved fitness of Liverpool's players after years of injury woes that extended well beyond Gerrard.
Now, rather than looking as though his body had begun to break down, leaving him on the verge of retirement, Gerrard appears as though he could play for five more years. Meanwhile, Daniel Agger's newfound fitness has perhaps been even more surprising—and impressive—than the captain's, as the defender has found himself fit for the entire season for the first time ever.
Driscoll and his team may seek to praise the players for their hard work in training, but it seems clear that Liverpool's new fitness team has made the right changes since arriving at the club and deserve at the very least an equal portion of any.
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