It wasn’t a farewell. I don’t think it was a farewell. There’s another game to played at Anfield yet, surely that’s the farewell. Talking to my brother on the way in we decided that Steven Gerrard shouldn’t play the last game of the season, shouldn’t end a glorious career on a Sunday afternoon in Stoke. Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career should end a week earlier than the season ends. Should end at Anfield. A proper goodbye for one of the greatest players ever to wear the shirt. That’s the farewell. This can’t have been the farewell.
It felt like a farewell though. As Lucas stepped from the bench to ensure that Gerrard received the ovation that a match winner, that a man who has given us everything except that league that he wanted so much, deserved, as he handed the armband to his vice captain, his probable successor and took the applause, it felt like a farewell. It felt like a fitting farewell; he’d done it again, done it maybe one last time. Dragged us through when we needed it and didn’t lookalike it happening.
We’d been comfortable. 1-0 up although it should have been more; a Lallana miss, a Sterling miss on an open goal again. The lack of convincing firepower showing our fragilities again. The one we had was glorious though. Yet another beautiful curling Coutinho shot, this one from a Rickie Lambert assist. Yes, that Rickie Lambert. The one that hasn’t worked. At the point of a 4-3-3 with Lallana to his left and Sterling to his right, with Coutinho playing to the left of centre midfield ahead of Gerrard and alongside Henderson; movement and shape back again. Lambert may not be the most mobile of players, may not have the speed but he knows where he’s supposed to be. Unlike certain….well Mario basically. Lambert can be trusted to run in the right direction. He’s not had his chances. He had it here and put in his best performance in a red shirt. He probably won’t get anymore but on Saturday he did what he was supposed to; he was the Rickie Lambert that we thought he’d be.
And then we didn’t punish QPR as we should. Didn’t take them apart. Invited pressure instead. Allowed them to score. And when you get home and you see the images of Leroy Fer pulling up his shirt to display a message of support to Rio Ferdinand and his family then you’re glad that he scored. You’re glad there was that moment. Some things are FAR more important than football and the club you support and the people that have been rivals. I’ll take the moment to speak for all Liverpool supporters; everyone's thinking of Rio Ferdinand, none of us can have the slightest idea what that lad’s going through.
The match, then. As it played out. A penalty. Gerrard’s last penalty in front of the Kop. It may have been the emotion. May have been the awareness of the fact of it being possibly the last, may have just been the fact that Green was having an excellent game but the penalty was saved.
It didn’t matter. The story wasn’t going to end like that. Once again, Steven Gerrard wasn’t going to let it end like that. A corner. A corner that he didn’t take, as we’ve said for years that he shouldn’t. A corner that he flicked with his head then wheeled away in front of The Kop, kissing the badge in one of the few truly appropriate uses of that gesture. “Have you ever scored a better header than that Steven?” “Well the Champions League final wasn’t bad was it?” Remember what he did. Never forget what he did. Rival fans? Think of your ‘Slippy G’ and ‘he fell on his f***ing arse’ moments, we don’t care. WE know what he did. We know what we’re losing. We’re looking at this and we’re celebrating and all the time we know it’s finishing and now it’s sinking in.
One last fairy tale though. Those points that we dropped against West Brom and Hull? Looking valuable at the moment. Looking possibly disastrous. Not definitely disastrous, just possibly. United haven’t got this tied up yet. Four points behind them, three games to play. Both of us playing Chelsea. We need three wins. We need them to win one, lose one, draw one. Losing all three of theirs would be nice though. We’ve got a party at Stamford Bridge to ruin next week. Fourth isn’t gone yet.
One last fairy tale.