Messrs Liverpool: Carragher and Gerrard

Clive Brunskill

If Liverpool Football Club is to retain its soul as it navigates a course through a money-driven, oil-soaked future, then it must follow the lead of Bayern, Barca, Real and other Euro-Royalty and retain the services of its two most loyal sons.

The sight of Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard resplendent in club blazers and ties and sat in the newly refurbished stands of a future Anfield; or both men bedecked in training apparel pitch-side, is one that must be familiar to fans on match-days for years to come. These two are steeped in the lifeblood of the club and imbued with a sense of what it means to don the Liverbird on your chest and carry the hopes of so many. If Liverpool Football Club is to retain its soul, these men will be a vital part of the plans.

Men like Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush and Alan Hansen, childhood heroes to some of us elder-lemons, will always be club legends but none of them can boast a schooling in the fabled Liverpool Way as extensive as either Gerrard's or Carragher's, both of whom joined the club at the age of 9.

Contrary to some of the more distasteful vitriol aimed his way in recent times, most were deflated by the news that Carragher would retire at the end of this campaign. His recent recall and renaissance served only to exacerbate the disappointment of losing such a totemic figure from the playing staff. It seems likely that Jamie will remain with the club alongside Rodgers next year in a coaching capacity.

To lose the presence of this veteran amongst this current squad would be incredibly detrimental to its development. His shrieking leadership on the pitch is one thing but his guidance off it is quite another. How many of our young stars and signings have you heard recount the tale of how the captain and vice-captain have made them aware of what it means to play for Liverpool Football Club?

Carragher's encyclopaedic knowledge of the game is well-known. His passion for football, and in particular Liverpool football, is a potent force. Most sensible sorts don't ascribe to the notion that rabble-rousing, on-pitch leader-types will automatically make excellent off-field leaders. Stuart Pearce and Bryan Robson are two examples that prove this rule. Our number 23, however, has so much more than that about him. As a defensive coach, he could bring us on a tremendous amount and it will be surprising to many if he does not assume the top job in the next 5 - 10 years.

Steven Gerrard is delighting us all of late with his own spectacular renewal. It is too early to start contemplating a future without the captain on the pitch but if his public pronouncements are anything to go by, it's not certain that the man himself sees coaching and management as a potential career -path. However, there are many roles which one of the most iconic players of the modern era could take at LFC.

At Bayern Munich they surround the club with greats of yesteryear and links to previous eras of dominance. Paul Breitner is Chief-Scout, Mattias Sammer is Sport Director, Karl Heinz Rumenigge is Chairman of the Board and Uli Hoeness is President. Similar structures exist at Real where Butragueno and Zidane patrol the halls and at Barca where Zubizaretta and Guardiola have presided over so much success.

This strategy is not about dwelling in the past, but rather maintaining a connection with success. As the two key members of the 2005 Champion's League winning team, Gerrard and his Bootle-born buddy are as successful as it gets for Liverpool Football Club.

It is the sincerest wish of most Liverpool fans that Steven Gerrard gets to raise that godawfully ugly Premiership trophy above his head before he retires and it is also a source of deep regret that Jamie Carragher will not have that opportunity as a player. However, having once gorged on league titles, the starvation of 23 years has made us fans patient and realistic.

If Liverpool Football Club has the good sense to keep these two genuine greats of the game in its employ, then surely we will all celebrate that long-awaited victory together, sooner rather than later.

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