FOR many, this time of year is celebrated for its significance as a key event in the Christian calendar.
For many Kopites, however, the merrymaking may well be related to a happening more readily associated with a different religious festival.
The resurrection of Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing which was respectively greeted with relief and astonishment against Fulham last Saturday may not resound over the next 2,000 years but it might just have a significant impact on the next two months.
Of course, Gerrard’s recent becalmed form bears no comparison with the abject contribution that Downing has made since his arrival last year, yet to hear some commentators and fans talk recently you’d have thought he was just weeks away from being consigned to a bath chair and packed off to a Bournemouth nursing home, there to regale fellow residents with scarcely believable tales of escapes from Istanbul and the relief of Cardiff.
Rather than just writing-off his recent slip below his own incredibly high standards as just a blip in form, I’ve heard all sorts of theories expounded by those who really ought to know better.
These have ranged from the dismissive ‘he’s finished’ to ‘he can’t play this system’ to the predictable but frankly insulting ‘he’s only interested in England now’.
In case it’s escaped anyone’s notice, Gerrard is 32, not 82. And while it’s true that players in their thirties are not at their peak, truly great footballers like Gerrard adapt their game as they get older to recognise their physical diminution while maintaining their influence on the field.
So while we might not be seeing so many lung-bursting runs from penalty-box to penalty-box, we will still be enjoying telling interventions for some time yet to accompany those breathtaking 50-yard cross-field balls which have become his trademark.