This wasn’t how it was supposed to end. Obviously this wasn’t how it was supposed to end. There should have been glory, their should have been celebration. And there was but it was in spite of the football.
In fairness, we have a history of parties spoilt. Last night of the (standing) Kop? Norwich beat us. That grand old stand went with a whimper when it deserved a cry of defiance.
Palace? Palace have a recent history of p***ing on our bonfire as well don’t they? Last season’s not quite starts at the point that we decide we’re going to score 20 at Palace (and how glorious would that have been?) but instead draw 3-3. Suarez is in tears and it’s nearly over but we don’t know it yet.
This year, this end of season, Palace come to Steven Gerrard’s party and nobody’s bothered to read them the script. They don’t realise that they’re supposed to be sacrificial lambs, that they’re supposed to re-enact the 9-0 from 1990. They decide that they’re having a repeat of the 3-1 at their place, thanks very much. We go into the break at 1-1 through a lovely Lallana goal levelled by an equally attractive Puncheon free kick. Palace should have been 3-1 up by that point anyway. Palace decided that they were going to play us off the park. And they did. They were excellent.
Brendan did that changing formations thing; a 3-4-3 to a 2-3-2-3 that lasted five minutes and became a 4-1-2-3. Or something. Something that didn’t work. We passed around a bit, looked quite pretty at times and never really threatened. Wrong choices, weak shots, too much thinking, not enough doing. Palace broke with speed and scored goals. Rocket science that bit isn’t it? Run fast, put the ball in the net. Might want to try that at some point. Palace deserved their win, well deserved it. Played football, scored goals, looked good. Us? Not so much really.
And the guy that we were all there for? Deserved more. So. Much. More. Deserved the ten guys on the field with him to give everything. In the way that he gave everything for every second that he wore the shirt. They weren’t there. It didn’t happen. It makes next season look terrifying. Before the whistle blew the Kop had decided that the game didn’t matter anymore. One thing mattered. One thing only; “Steven Gerrard is our captain, Steven Gerrard is a red, Steven Gerrard plays for Liverpool, a Scouser born and bred.” It started loudly and it grew. And grew. And, yes, grew. The ground pounded, the ground stood. The ground acclaimed.
There’s probably never been a player more deserving of that acclaim. He dragged us through everything, carried players who weren’t good enough to play with him, some who weren’t good enough to watch him and he won everything except the one thing that he really wanted. And the fans of little clubs call him Slippy G and think their opinion matters. It doesn’t. It doesn’t because you’ve never had a player like this; a player who was one of us on the pitch, who felt the same way about the club that we did, who knew how much it mattered.
And yesterday, when we needed an answer to the problem that we were losing, he was the answer again. Push Steven up. We pushed Steven up and he gave everything. It didn’t work. It doesn’t matter. He gave it. Again. And now he’s gone and God knows what the answer is now.
It’s sinking in. What we’ve lost is sinking in. What we’ve lost is one of the two greatest servants this club has ever had. It’s immeasurable. We’re a different Liverpool now. And right now we feel like less of a Liverpool. Eras end but I’ve never known one feel as definitively ended as this.
Thanks Steven, thanks for everything; it was boss.
Oh, and postscript. The Palace fans? Still there at the end, applauding Steven Gerrard as he spoke, as he had his lap of honour. Absolute class. Good work lads, you deserved that win.