It may be the alcohol flowing through my system, but I am generally disgusted by the way that Liverpool FC sent off their talismanic captain Steven Gerrard in his final game at Anfield. I had to sit in silence as a team like Crystal Palace ran roughshod over a team that once had aspirations of Champions League football in 2015-16. As the bartender brought me each successive beverage I had to bite my tongue as to the comings and goings of the atrocities occurring on the screen behind him. There needs to be a roster overhaul of biblical proportions this summer, so that the final year of this legend doesn't lead to more years of mediocrity from a once proud outfit.
I started off watching this game with the highest of hopes. I may have been sitting by my lonesome on the underside of a bar by myself but I had my Reds to cheer me up. Throughout the early part of the first half, they did just that. Adam Lallana showed he was worth his offseason price tag. Philippe Coutinho displayed his standard wizardry. Jordan Henderson displayed all the attributes of an heir to Gerrard's captaincy throne. It all culminated on Lallana's capitalization of a horrid back pass from a former Red, Martin Kelly, and a clinical finish to make it 1-0 to the good. Sadly, it was all down hill from there.
Watching the game in public, I got the great joy of seeing the commentary spelled out in closed caption. Therefore, when "Emery Chann" gave up a free kick to Palace at the edge of the penalty area near half time, I was chuckling as much as I was pensive. That laughter turned to tears when Jason Puncheon placed a well crafted free kick to the far corner past Simon Mignolet to tie the game at 1-1. It was the beginning of the end for a dignified Steven Gerrard goodbye.
The second half began with Liverpool trying to make the most of its attack. Philippe Coutinho and company made valiant efforts at goal but none came to fruition. They tried all to hard to make the winning goal from Steven Gerrard and it backfired on more than one occasion. By the time they realized the err of their ways, Crystal Palace had seized control of the game. I am hard pressed to not sound like a homer here but Crystal Palace should never control the pace of the game against a team with the stature of Liverpool. They did it earlier in the season at Selhurst Park and they were doing it again at the hallowed Anfield.
The depressing trend continued throughout the second 45 minutes as Palace not only controlled the pace of the game, but dictated the way in which Liverpool would be able to press forward. In the 59th minute, Palace subbed on Manchester United flunkee Wilfried Zaha. It didn't even take half a minute for the Ivorian to put the Eagles ahead with a far post tap in. I did my best to not fall over when I slumped back in my chair. Liverpool now had to chase a goal in their greatest modern player's final home game.
Chasing an equalizer, the immortal Brendan Rodgers felt it best suited to bring on Rickie Lambert and Lucas Leiva to supplement the Reds pressing forward. Unlike most, I'l give the former Southampton striker a pass for 2014-15 as he's been called upon in the final minutes of several matches to make fine tapestries out of sheep shit. Granted, Lambert was the only real option off the bench for the Reds. There was little to be expected but deep down inside I felt in Stevie G's final tie there would be some semblance of magic to rescue otherwise forgettable affair. Boy, was I incorrect.
Liverpool would turn the ball over again and again. It seemed as if the nine outfield players surrounding Steven Gerrard were unaware that a legend in their midst was on his way out from the club. With each useless Dejan Lovren giveaway to every Raheem Sterling lackadaisical attempt at drawing a foul. it became abundantly clear that the next goal was going to come from the visitors rather than the home team. That intuition rang true when Glen Murray slotted home Palace's third goal systematically ending Liverpool's chances at Champions League football while ending the possibility for the Anfield faithful to give their captain his due salutation.
It felt empty after the game as Gerrard stepped back on to the pitch to make his final address to the fans that had supported him for the better part of a quarter decade. In a humbling defeat, Gerrard needed to display an undue humility that resonated throughout the grounds. Instead of it being a final "Thank you" to the fans it felt more like a commencing "I'm sorry." I just hope this isn't the final image we see of Steven Gerrard in a Liverpool shirt. If you believe another legend, Jamie Carragher, he'll be back in January. Either way, I am hoping that watching this performance isn't the final image I have of the defining figure of my generation in a Liverpool strip. YNWA Stevie G, even in the Hollywood hills.
Image Credit: Steven Gerrard (zimbio.com)