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Know Your Limits

Sometimes it is only when we acknowledge our shortcomings and seek to collaborate with others that we can truly attain greatness.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Lately, reasons other than the comparative wretchedness of Liverpool Football Club's efforts have given this scribbler pause. These events have been quietly seismic, the kind of thing that leads one to believe that one has grounds for the worst type of self-indulgent, navel-gazing introspection. However, that brand of tedious solipsism bores everyone but the poor idiot pondering his/her midriff.

So fear not, dear reader, there'll be no such mawkish nonsense here, but similarly, you'll understand if these paragraphs are not devoted to another maudlin assessment of how the sky is falling-in over L4. There's entirely too much of that malarkey going on. Things may be currently ugly at Anfield, especially when placed in stark contrast with the giddy highs of last year's Suarez-driven bacchanal, but we must believe in the ability of those involved to learn and develop. We have seen before how great beauty can rise from apparent doom.

Nick Cave, that most thrillingly wild of spirits, says something in 20,000 Days On Earth that has been echoing around the beleaguered husk of my mind, recently. The Antipodean Prince of Darkness was reflecting on the flawed nature which we all possess, and advised that, rather than berate ourselves for it, we should welcome our imperfections and inabilities and, in fact, use them in conjunction with other similarly well-intentioned but damaged souls, in an effort to rise above the mediocrity.

"You've gotta understand your limitations. It's your limitations that make you the wonderful disaster you most probably are. For me, that's where collaboration comes in. To take an idea that is blind and unformed, and has been hatched largely in solitude, and allow these strange collaborative creatures that I work with to morph it into something else, something better. That's really something to see."

Nick Cave

Limitations have been cruelly exposed this season, as Liverpool have lurched through three distinct phases of despondency, hope and bitter disappointment. The trick now, will be to see if manager and players can follow Cave's wise advice and begin to understand these shortcomings. Many have questioned Brendan Rodgers' continued suitability for the job, and whilst he has certainly articulated an overly grand image of his contribution to date, it would be impossible to deny that the Antrim man has shown some evidence of an innate ability to learn and adapt in adversity. The real question in the minds of many is whether or not Rodgers has the humility to truly acknowledge his own failings as well as identifying and citing those of his players. We shall see.

Nobody has embodied the notion of frustrated limitations, this season, more than Steven Gerrard. He seemed to encapsulate all our contrasting theories about him in one game last weekend. The captain has received a plethora of garlands for his late winner and it is certainly pleasing to see him have a few last moments of Anfield glory, no matter how small they are in comparison to former triumphs or the highs that should really have been attained this campaign.

When the great man walks away, Jordan Henderson -- a man all too familiar with stinging barbs about his own abilities -- will look to carry the mantle of leadership into next season. Having recently committed his future to Liverpool, the tonsorially magnificent midfielder paid warm tribute to his departing colleague, before drawing the focus back to the future without Gerrard.

"It was typical Stevie," Henderson said of the late winner from the club captain. "He will be disappointed with the penalty but he erased it very quickly, got on with the game and came up with the winner. I was pleased for him because I am sure he wouldn't have been able to get that out of his mind all night. That just shows his character. Sometimes that can affect people but he gets on with it right to the end and he came up with the winner, which was fantastic.

"He will be a big loss to the team. Stevie is our leader and a big influence on games for us, so you will miss big players like that. But at the same time we have to move on when he does go and I think we have got the players who can improve and push on, to have a really good go next season. It has been difficult, obviously, not having performed and not winning as many games as we would have liked. But we have to keep going and working as a team and keep trying to improve on the areas we need to improve on."

Henderson has been justifiably criticised for his comparatively poor contributions in recent weeks, but the ever-motile Sunderland native has hardly been alone in that. As with Rodgers, there were those simply waiting for their opportunity to lambaste him, but he has dealt with such mealy-mouthed griping before. Irrespective of what level of upheaval the summer brings at Anfield, it is difficult to envisage an immediate future in which Henderson will not be absolutely central. You can dismiss it as platitudinous guff, if you will, but there's a degree of comfort to be found in the way one of the team's leaders speaks buoyantly of the future.

"It was important to get back to that winning mentality," he said of the weekend's victory. "That was the main objective. We have got quality players here. Obviously bringing in people in the summer we will welcome because the better the players we have here, the better it is for everyone in terms of competition to get into the team, and push on and try to win trophies and try to play in the Champions League. We just have to keep improving as a young squad and keep building. I am sure come next season we will be raring to go again."

In a world in which Ricky Lambert finds himself being linked with Chelsea and José Enrique continues to post creepily amusing videos of Javier Manquillo, it is impossible to be too downbeat. Jordan Henderson, and perhaps even Brendan Rodgers, will continue to represent Liverpool Football Club next season. Let us hope they too eschew pointless self-obsession, embrace their limitations and create the kind of collaborative beauty fans crave.

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