by Rob Ward

To many Liverpool FC fans, the mere suggestion that Steven Gerrard’s star is on the wane borders on sacrilegious. But, objectively speaking, it’s undoubtedly true. The captain missed 24 of his club’s 52 games last season and his influence in those that he played (a magnificent Merseyside derby hat-trick apart) was marginal. In fact, Liverpool’s win percentage without him in the side (62%) was significantly better than with him (40%). Under Brendon Rogers’ stewardship, Gerrard’s influence might be diluted still further.

Rodgers’ brand of possession football relies heavily on a patient short-passing game which is entirely alien to Gerrard. His direct-passing, box-to-box, lung-busting style often reveals a lack of trust in his teammates as he attempts to perform their roles as well as his own. This mindset is completely at odds with that of Rodgers’ collaborative and cohesive collective. Of course, the manager has successfully re-invented players like Leon Britten and integrated them into his system – but will Gerrard’s ego allow him to sacrifice his instincts for the team? The Anfield faithful will desperately hope so.

It will not be easy, though. Liverpool FC’s midfield severely lacks the pace, control and zip required to emulate Rodgers’ Swansea style. Charlie Adam is ponderous in possession, Stewart Downing crosses prolifically but profligately and Jordan Henderson has failed to convince anywhere across the middle of the park. For Rodgers’ tiki-taka to take root maybe he will look to returning loanees Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole. The industry and class of Lucas Leiva will also be key upon his return from injury. And it would be little surprise to see some of Swansea’s successful 2011/12 vintage crossing the Welsh border. Joe Allen would be a great fit, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s permanent transfer looks eminently hijackable and either Scott Sinclair or Nathan Dyer would offer pace and width seldom seen under Kenny Dalglish.

It’s going to be extremely interesting to watch Brendon Rodgers’ marrying the aesthetic beauty of Swansea’s style with the more pragmatic approach which currently exists at Anfield – let’s just hope it doesn’t lead to the Swan’s wings being completely clipped and, further north, to herald the beginning of the end for Steven Gerrard.

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