There's little disagreement to be had in the discussion about where Steven Gerrard fits in Liverpool's history--one of their best-ever outfield players, he's been a living legend at the club for much of the past decade, and he's won nearly every major honor possible for a player in the top flight. A league title's eluded him, but he's won everything else, and he's often been the driving force for much of whatever good Liverpool's been able to produce.
His influence has faded notably over the past few seasons, however, and his decline has been especially pronounced under Brendan Rodgers. Whether it's change in system, age, fitness, whatever, Steven Gerrard is not the Steven Gerrard we remember. Rodgers tried to spare him a few weeks back, attributing his struggles to a need for support from the rest of the squad, but on far too many occasions this season we've witness the rest of the squad trying to pick up after their captain.
It's an awkward conversation to have, but one that's become increasingly necessary--what does Brendan Rodgers do with Steven Gerrard? For many the sentiment's too strong, and the promise of recreating the past merits a starting spot day in, day out. I get that, and I'd like more than anything for that to be true. On current evidence, though, there's little to suggest that Gerrard is going to produce the type of form that we were privileged to witness over the past few seasons. There's been glimpses of hope, but on the whole this season it's been more discouraging than inspiring.
Reputation and status will no doubt keep him involved, and there's some degree of merit in that. But with a number of other central midfielders in the squad who seemingly couldn't do any worse, it's hard to see how keeping Steven Gerrard as a nailed-on starter benefits Liverpool.
For some it might be a product of the others involved, with Joe Allen clearly tiring, Lucas not yet fit, and a constantly rotating third midfielder that's prevented the captain from having a well-defined role. Others still think his best position's up top, and without much in the way of stable support for Luis Suarez, pushing Gerrard further forward might be a risk worth taking. He's also shown promise off the bench, with a style that's a decent enough fit for a role as an impact substitute when Liverpool are in need of a push.
Whatever ends up happening, it's likely it'll be uncomfortable. It's not enjoyable to see Steven Gerrard struggle, it's not enjoyable to think he should be benched, and it's most certainly not enjoyable to consider that Liverpool might be better right now without him than they are with him.