“We know that in a good, strong team Steven is capable of making the difference. But at the moment he isn’t in a team like that. He isn’t getting any younger, and to be honest it’s phenomenal he is playing as well as he is at the age of 32.
“This, though, has been the case for the last 10 years. It’s nothing new to see Liverpool turning to Steven in their hour of need.
“Somebody else needs to step up. In fact, it will take more than one player. Not one player on his own could do it, Liverpool need two, three, four and maybe five players to start stepping up to get the club to where they want to be.
“Mediocrity has been the way for Liverpool in recent years and if they don’t change things that’s the way it is going to stay.”
The imminent arrival of 20-year-old Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan fits into the template set out by Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group of buying young, up-and-coming talent. But as a player who helped guide the likes of Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and Danny Murphy during Gerard Houllier’s reign, Hamann believes the value of experience cannot be overlooked and that the right balance must be struck within the squad.
“Obviously, it seems the owners want to sign players at a young age so that, even if they don’t fulfil their potential, they still have value to sell them on,” says the German, who scored 11 goals in 283 appearances for Liverpool.
“But if Liverpool want success and want to start challenging for the top four, they need to start buying older players. Ones that are tried and tested and have experience.
“You never know if all of the youngsters will fulfil their potential and one or two may leave the club anyway along the way.
“Having said that, I can see things from the owners’ point of view. They spent a lot of money the other year on seasoned professionals and didn’t get much reward from it.”
Liverpool travel to another of Hamann’s former clubs, Manchester City, on Sunday afternoon hoping to put a further spoke in the wheels of City’s title challenge following their goalless draw at rock-bottom Queens Park Rangers in midweek.
“City can’t afford to drop too many more points although I’ve always thought they’d have to win at Old Trafford to stand a chance of winning the title anyway,” he says.
“They had gained some momentum with some narrow victories and the departure of Mario Balotelli will help them as that’s one issue off the list.”
City were the first Premier League visitors to Anfield of the Rodgers era when Martin Skrtel’s errant backpass allowed Carlos Tevez to snaffle an unlikely point for the visitors.
“Liverpool can take heart from that performance,” says Hamann. “I have no reason to believe they can’t go to Eastlands and compete. But if Liverpool really do want to get into the top four then they will need to be more consistent. That’s the difference between them and the top clubs right now.
“I’m sure Liverpool will give City a game on Sunday but whether that’s enough to get anything from the game, I’m not sure. But with City missing Yaya Toure on African Cup of Nations duty, Liverpool have more of a chance.”
And as Hamann says, they will have to start taking them if they want to stick around at Anfield.