Steven Gerrard not starting for the second time in the league under Brendan Rodgers while fit has over the past few days been spun as anything from a falling out between the player and manager to a signal he'll never start again, turn down any contract offer, and retire this year. That it could just be rest and rotation doesn't seem to have crossed the minds of many.
It all seems a touch silly, really. Still, when you're a club's 34-year-old captain and your manager doesn't start you for the second time in the league, some people are going to want to read far more meaning into it than they would if you were just about any other player. Any normal player who at 34 years of age might regularly be rested or rotated with an eye to form, fitness, and opponent.
"For me there will always be a position for Steven here as a player," said Brendan Rodgers when pressed on what role he sees his captain at the club moving forward, both for the remainder of the season as well as further down the road. "If he ever went away from here then I'm sure there will be a time later on in his life where there will be a role for him back here."
Though Rodgers insists there will be a role for him at the club as a player for as long as he wants one, the manager went on to hint that what was seen on the weekend may be the new normal for Gerrard. That he will still be an important player, but that after a few years of being played as though he was 24 and not 34, Gerrard may no longer be guaranteed to play every minute of every match.
For Rodgers, this new reality—or perhaps simply its belated acceptance—doesn't change things for him when it comes to Steven Gerrard's place at the club. For Gerrard, though, there may be some decisions to make in the coming months. There's a place for him as a player if he still wants it; now Gerrard will need to decide if he can be happy as something less than a guaranteed starter.
"He is 35 at the end of this season and still has a couple of years to play if he wants to," said Rodgers. "With Steven he is getting to that point of his career and he will speak about the adjustments he needs to make. It's not about me to speak about that. In time he will make the decision for his career, [but] I am categorical: I want him to be here, but there is thinking time needed."