Halloween may not be widely celebrated outside of North America, but British journalists are doing their best today to strike terror into the hearts of Liverpool fans with spooky fear mongering about Steven Gerrard's future with the club. In case Liverpool's start to the season isn't scary enough for most fans, the club's captain spoke candidly about his future with the Telegraph yesterday and many have extrapolated the worst from his statements.
"I won't be retiring this summer," Gerrard confirmed. "I will play beyond this season. We will have to wait and see if that's at Liverpool or somewhere else. That's Liverpool's decision."
At face value there's nothing particularly revelatory in Gerrard's thoughts on his future. After the World Cup this past summer, Gerrard announced his retirement from international competition so that he could focus on giving at least two more years to his club career. The midfielder is out of contract at the end of the 2014/15 season, and so for him to play beyond this season on Merseyside will indeed require Liverpool to extend his contract once more.
At best, this is a Ron Swanson-style "Speech of Facts" statement from the captain. At worst, it's an attempt to jump start the conversation with his club via the press, using all the subtlety of a brick through a plate glass window. In either case, this isn't a new strategy employed by players wanting to sign a new contract sooner rather than later, nor is it likely that the club aren't willing to have that conversation at some point this season.
The fear of losing a club talisman is a perfectly legitimate fear to have — in the right context. Many fans will be drawing on the palpitations felt when Gerrard nearly signed with Chelsea in 2005 after winning Champions League with his boyhood club, but the skipper's future nearly ten years later presents a much different scenario than the one he grappled with a decade ago.
Gerrard turns thirty-five in May, and without denigrating some of the fine work done by the captain in his time in red, it's hard to imagine him finishing out his career anywhere but Liverpool based purely on age, wages, and current form. Add in sentimentality to the mix, and it's exceedingly likely that Gerrard retires in Liverpool red just as he, the fans, and the club have hoped all along. Liverpool have many challenges at the moment, but the lack of speed on renewing Gerrard's contract for another season isn't one of them.