Liverpool are coming to the end of Brendan Rodgers' third season at the club, and Steven Gerrard has been an important figure during that time. From afar, it appears that Rodgers has enjoyed managing Gerrard and finding a way for the captain to continue thriving as he got older. Last season, Rodgers spoke of prolonging Gerrard's career as the club's version of storied regista Andrea Pirlo but is preparing to say goodbye like the rest of us.
"I'll miss him," Rodgers admitted, who will almost certainly be Steven Gerrard's last Liverpool manager. "If you look from when I came in here, he played 42 games for me in the first season, 39 last year and he's played 38 this season. That record alone shows the value and importance I place on him as a footballer. I'll miss him as a man because we have a strong relationship. We both want the club to succeed. Over the course of time he has shown he's one of the few genuinely world class players around.
"To have worked with someone of that level every single day since I've been here and got to know the man, I'd always admired him from the outside as a footballer, but knowing him as the person I do, he will be a miss because our relationship is strong, we communicate well and he's someone I have a big admiration and respect for. Not having him here, will leave a huge hole. He's irreplaceable in terms of what he is but you have to keep moving forward as a club and as a team."
Rodgers has spoken at length on the qualities he admires in a player he has worked closely with over the past three years. It should be remembered that this is the longest time Rodgers has been at a club in his short managerial career, and it wouldn't be hasty to suggest that he has formed one of his closest relationships with Liverpool's captain. There's only one Joe Allen of course, but this could explain why Rodgers found it so difficult to manage Gerrard's minutes. As Rodgers said, Gerrard has played an awful lot under the Antrim man and has been considered first-choice for the overwhelming majority of Rodgers' tenure. This is a player, according to Rodgers, whose influence transcends the club.
"I've asked my staff to describe Steven in one word and the word I would use is 'Liverpool'," Rodgers said after successfully conducting staff surveys. "Not just Liverpool as a football club but Liverpool as a city. This is a guy who is very much about looking after his people. He loves his city. He's had a number of opportunities to move from here to prestigious clubs but Liverpool is his home. This is his place, these are the people he loves, he grew up around the corner and went on to play for the club he supported.
"What he's given to this city, politicians haven't given to this city. The local hospitals, the charities, all the work he does, it's unheard of really. If I was describing Steven I'd say 'Liverpool'. He's a wonderful symbol for the people here. And an incredible icon of the club."