LISTEN to the naysayers, and only a few months ago Steven Gerrard was finished, a washed-up has-been of former greatness who was holding back Liverpool’s brave new era under Brendan Rodgers.
LOL, as the young whippersnappers of today might well respond.
If Liverpool’s draw at Manchester City proved anything, it’s that, even at the age of 32, Gerrard still retains the capability of taking a game by the scruff of the neck and pulling a rabbit out of the top hat with a piece of genuine magic.
No other Liverpool player would have scored the 25-yard screamer that gave the visitors brief hope of a morale-boosting victory.
It wasn’t quite as good as his equaliser in the FA Cup final against West Ham United, but it was definitely up there.
It’s no coincidence that Liverpool’s dramatic upturn in form – some notable aberrations excepted – has come with Gerrard having been excused his defensive midfield duties.
The shackles have been removed and so Gerrard has prospered.
He has also benefitted from avoiding injury. No other midfield or forward player has played every single minute of the Premier League season, a marked difference to his stop-start campaigns of recent years.
Keeping Gerrard fit and ensuring the best from him may yet give Liverpool an outside chance of at least threatening a top-four finish.
The immediate target now, however, must be fifth place and European qualification.
To do that, however, Liverpool must keep being driven by the pain of their Oldham FA Cup humiliation.