Liverpool fans still have five more months of feelings to deal with as Steven Gerrard's time with the club winds down, but as the dust settles on the captain's announcement that he'd be leaving the club at the end of the season, details continue to emerge on the reasoning behind Gerrard's choice.
"It simply came down to the fact that the idea of becoming a squad player didn't excite me or motivate me," Gerrard explained in a wide ranging interview with the Liverpool Echo that is definitely worth your time and tears. "It would have been too difficult for me having been used to starting every game. I didn't want to become a bit-part player. Coming off the bench here and there. The buzz for me is playing, contributing and helping the team. When you don't know if you're going to be sat in the stands or on the bench it becomes a bit different."
It's what most suspected when Gerrard announced his pending departure: that he was unwilling to trade minutes for the chance to retire with the club he's been at for more than a quarter century. The decision was not taken lightly, but the confirmation from Brendan Rodgers in November that he'd receive less playing time going forward was still a surprise to Gerrard.
"I've got to be honest, that chat with Brendan came earlier than I was expecting," the thirty-four year-old captain said. "It was about a month before [contract talks began in November] that he first mentioned to me about managing my game time. We had another chat on the subject recently – 10 days to two weeks ago. It was tough but I understood.
"If a contract had been put in front of me in pre-season I would have signed it. I'd just retired from England to concentrate all my efforts on Liverpool. I didn't want my club games to be tailored. My injury record had been fantastic for the past two and a half years and I had a great season from a personal point of view last season. It's all ifs, buts and hindsight now. That period between the summer and the end of November gave me thinking time."
For those hoping Gerrard would have stayed on at his current club, news that he would have signed a contract in the summer might feel like an extra twist of the knife in an already open wound. But it's worth considering whether or not it would be in anyone's best interests for an unsatisfied and unhappy Gerrard to be stuck on the bench indefinitely at an alternate universe Liverpool.
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