The exit of Steven Gerrard, whether through retirement or a move to another club, was always going to command attention. That it's going to be the latter has been a difficult reality to accept, particularly with the club mired in a months-long slump domestically and out of the Champions League after a long-awaited return. But this is what he wants, and tough as it might be to take, Gerrard is not long for Liverpool. He confirmed it yesterday morning, and expanded on his choice earlier today with Clair Rourke from the official website.
Gerrard commented on how he hopes to end his Liverpool career, the reactions from supporters, and, of particular interest, the point at which he started to realize that he might be moving on:
"I think the key conversation or moment was with the manager when he sat me down not so long ago and said it was time to manage my games for me and for the team. I'm bright enough to realise it is the right thing for everyone, but when you've been a starter and a mainstay in the team for such a long time, it was a very difficult conversation to have with the manager. I accept it and I'll continue to give everything I've got, whether I'm starting, coming off the bench or whatever, but that was the key conversation that swung me to deciding to come away for a short while.
"I had an idea it was going to come at some time - I'm a human, not a robot. I'm not 24. I wish I was 24, I wish I'd met Brendan when I was 24 because I think I'd be sitting here talking about a lot of titles that we'd won together. The reality is, Brendan came into this club when I was 32 years of age and it's a shame that relationship didn't start 10 years ago. I had an idea the conversation was going to come at some time, but it was a painful conversation to have and that was the key moment - along with other things over the last six to 12 months, but that was the conversation. That was the key one."
It's all worth a watch (or read) of course, but this sheds light on the main part of the decision, one made because he clearly felt as though he had more to give. Brendan Rodgers did what was expected of him as manager, even if it wasn't to the extent that some might have wanted, and in turn, Gerrard found himself far more contemplative about his Liverpool future than would have been expected. His England retirement came with a view to playing more for the club, and Rodgers' discussion about further managing his minutes in spite of that must have come as a double blow.
In the nearly 48 hours that have passed since it became clear Steven Gerrard would be leaving, there's been myriad emotions experienced. For now it seems easiest--maybe not the most accurate or reflective of reality, but easiest--to settle on cautious optimism for all parties involved. The player is at peace with a decision made for personal and professional reasons, the club appears to have a plan to move forward in his absence, the manager will have a chance to oversee long-needed changes on a more consistent basis, and supporters will have a chance to see one of the club's greatest ever servants play out his career in Red over the next five months.
Video of the interview below: