Steven Gerrard may not be the player he once was, but as his career at Liverpool comes to a close, that his departure will leave a massive void in the squad is inarguable. Even as his legs have gone and his influence waned, the club have continued to look to Gerrard as their talismanic leader, the man to drag them to victory when things aren’t going well.
That he is no longer physically able to fill that role consistently seems not to matter when the reality remains that everyone, from fans to the manager to his teammates, still look to him. And so his departure will leave a hole in the squad, a void to be filled. It remains far from certain how the club will go about trying to fill that void, but amongst the players, Jordan Henderson sees the need for a collective effort.
"I think it will be a huge loss for us, not only as a player but a person with his aura around the place," said Henderson following Gerrard’s final Anfield match. "But it’s up to us as a team and not any one individual to step up to the plate and take responsibility. There will never be another player or person like him in terms of what he stood for and how good he was, but I still feel we have a lot of great players here."
Perhaps, then, it will be the removal of Steven Gerrard as safety blanket—as saviour who is no longer quite able to be a saviour—that helps this young squad take that next step. At least that will be the hope, as there clearly is a lot of good young talent on hand. This year, though, that good young talent largely failed to stand out. It remained potential. And one way or another, that needs to change once Gerrard leaves.
"We have players with a lot of potential, and we need to start showing that potential next season," added Henderson. "We have hungry players who want to improve and to do well, and we have to make sure we are doing that next week and then in pre-season."