From the outside, at least, it appears as though Jordan Henderson may have just saved Steven Gerrard’s job as manager of Saudi Pro League side Al-Etiffaq, as a day after Gerrard saw Henderson terminate his contract the manager has received a contract extension.
Despite Gerrard’s dire record in recent months and that Al-Etiffaq are further down the table under his guidance—and having brought in Jack Hendry, Demarai Gray, Moussa Dembele, Gini Wijnaldum, and Henderson for him—than before he arrived, his stay has been extended through 2027.
It’s hard to read the two-year extension for the underperforming Gerrard as anything other than a reactionary statement following Henderson’s departure, a state-backed message to the world that one ex-Liverpool star may have fought his way out but another wants to stay.
We’d still expect, then, that if things continue to go badly on the pitch Gerrard could end up sacked come the end of the season—after all, what’s a slightly larger payout for the Saudis if it helps to preserve a little lustre for their sportswashing project.
Alternately, perhaps, even terrible results and regularly having less than a thousand fans in the stands for home games won’t matter. Not when keeping Gerrard around ensures that the rest of the world keeps talking about Al-Etiffaq and the Saudi Pro League, the real goal in all of this.