With Manchester United supporters still on a high after the victory over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday with Juan Mata scoring both goals for the Red Devils with a Juan-two scoreline, Steven Gerrard being red carded 38 seconds after the start of the second half and subsequently banned for Liverpool’s next three matches and Martin Škrtel being charged by the FA for violent conduct with a stamp on David De Gea in the closing second of the victory, also likely to miss their next three matches, it really could not get any better for us all. Today this article was thrust in my direction, entitled –’Gerrard’s career dwarfs Giggs and Scholes’ published on the BT Sport website written by Ian Herbert.
It really does make me wonder what goes through some journalists heads. How does Steven Gerrard’s career dwarf those of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes? When a young lad, or girl in this modern age, decides to enter the world of football, what are their dreams? They want to play for a big club and win league titles, domestic cups and European titles for their club. Play for their countries and win the FIFA World Cup. Not every player goes on to do that, but it is the dream of achieving that which helps spur some people along. If you did not become a footballer with a dream of winning things, come forward and let me know. Whether the dreams were big or small, they elusive trophy is what players want to get their hands on again and again.
Talking about this, it is time to get some facts out there. Both Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were winners at Manchester United. Steven Gerrard was a winner at Liverpool at a time, but not to the same scale as Giggs and Scholes. Ryan Giggs lifted the Premier League trophy thirteen times, won the FA Cup four times, lifted the League Cup three times, the FA Community Shield nine times, won the UEFA Champions League twice, an Intercontinental Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup. Paul Scholes has lifted the Premier League trophy eleven times, lifted the FA Cup three times, two League Cups, five FA Community Shields, won the UEFA Champions League twice, an Intercontinental Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup. Scholes won the Tournoi de France with England in 1997 and the UEFA European U18 Football Championship in 1993. What has Steven Gerrard won?
Steven Gerrard has never lifted the Premier League trophy, he has however been a runner-up three times. He has lifted the FA Community Shield once, three League Cups, two FA Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. Based on trophies won, how has Gerrard’s career dwarfed that of Giggs and Scholes? It hasn’t. It makes me angry that many Liverpool supporters see Gerrard as a true professional. A club legend. Do club legends not retire at their clubs – much like Giggs and Scholes, or do club legends hand in transfer requests, end up staying and then leave for a swan song in the MLS? The mere fact that this article has even been published by BT Sport makes the whole thing a mockery.
Looking back at Liverpool with Steven Gerrard, Istanbul in 2005 was his highest achievement. Getting to the UEFA Champions League final was tough, qualifying from their group with AS Monaco then having to beak Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea en-route to the final then by half time they were 3-0 down to AC Milan. Four minutes of magic from the 54th minute meant that with 30 minutes still to play, Liverpool had equalised. The ended up winning 3-2 on penalties and lifting the European Cup for the fifth time in the clubs history. Everyone knows they have won it five times, whenever you get into a bit of ‘banter’ with Liverpool fan, that is their only comeback, especially that they have been eclipsed by United with their league titles.
I mean nearly 25 years since lifting the First Division trophy back in 1990 but leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth, especially when Manchester United won only seven league titles at that time, their last being in the 1966/67 season. Thirteen Premier League titles from the 1992/93 season and Liverpool’s historic 18 league titles record was thrown out of the window into obscurity with United holding the record of 20. Now Liverpool did have a strong side before Gerrard reached the age of 30. When it came to the 2007 UEFA Champions League final, Liverpool has Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Gerrard as a midfield three and despite not beating AC Milan again, they still had the basis of a good side. Fernando Torres arrived in the summer of that year and Liverpool were on the road to the glory days again. But that did not happen, actually far from that happened.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were dominant in the Premier League, then came Manchester City. When you look at the fact that in 22 full seasons of the Premier League, only five clubs have lifted the trophy – Manchester United thirteen times, Arsenal three times, Chelsea three times, Manchester City twice and Blackburn Rovers once. Liverpool have not seen their 1970’s and 1980’s dominance return once, yet Gerrard’s career dwarfs that of Giggs and Scholes. That logic still does not remain clear in my mind. As we can see Gerrard’s career has now dwarfed Giggs’ and Scholes’ by winning trophies, or in fact professionalism; the alleged assault on a DJ and that transfer request. The comeback will be Giggs’ affair, not that it bothers me. Maybe Gerrard’s career dwarfed that of Giggs and Scholes by goals scored and club appearances?
Ryan Giggs retired at the end of the 2013/14 season making 963 appearances, scoring 168 goals. Paul Scholes retired at the end of the 2012/13 season making 718 appearances, scoring 155 goals. Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career will end this season; currently he has made 704 appearances, scoring 183 goals. With Gerrard being suspended for the next three matches and with eight league matches remaining; of which Gerrard will miss two and the FA Cup replay against Blackburn Rovers, he could play in six matches this season, but a win in the FA Cup replay, he will be eligible to play in the semi-final and the final if they get there, so he could play (if selected) a total of 712 appearances when he heads to Los Angeles in the summer.
Goals wise, Gerrard is on top, but he’s currently a penalty taker and over the last two seasons he scored 24 goals (2013/14 = 14, 2014/15 = 10). Of those 24 goals, 16 have been from the spot (2013/14 = 11, 2014/15 = 5). I am sure if Giggs or Scholes had been a penalty taker in their careers, being that it is a 50/50 chance from the spot, they may have scored more goals too. Still I am trying to find a reason why Gerrard’s career had dwarfed those of Giggs and Scholes. Ian Herbert, the writer of the article suggesting Gerrard’s career dwarfs Giggs’ and Scholes’ he stated:
“When a 24-year-old Gerrard was agonising over whether to stay at Liverpool or leave for Chelsea, 11 long years ago, he opted for Anfield on the basis that the future looked promising. The club had bought Xabi Alonso at the time and Champions League football was a regular part of the landscape. But it has actually turned out to be a decade of wretched, never-ending transition for Liverpool, instead. Alonso left, Fernando Torres left, Luis Suarez arrived and left. And Gerrard was left behind, still carrying the club and the burden.”
The only burden Gerrard was carrying was one of failure. He had the chance to win the Premier League in 2002, but Liverpool finished in second place, seven points adrift of Arsenal. Again in 2009, Liverpool had that chance to lift a league title again, but again finished second, four points adrift of Manchester United. Then, the best chance Gerrard and Liverpool have ever had to win the Premier League, they finish in second place again, two points behind Manchester City. That was not the best of it though. A match against Chelsea on the 27th April 2014, Gerrard slipped, which was funny as his team-talk in a previous match stated that his team “we must not let this slip”, the ball was intercepted by Demba Ba (a then Chelsea player), who put Chelsea 1-0 up, finishing 2-0 winners with Liverpool dropping three points, which on hindsight would have won them their first league title since 1990.
“Reaching great individual heights with a stellar team, as Giggs and Scholes did, is one thing. Reaching them with a side which so often been modest and moribund is something quite different. Supporters will chant and laugh and mock but Gerrard’s accomplishments are greater than those of Giggs and Scholes – whose names they laud.”
The only ‘heights’ that Gerrard reached was those two UEFA Champions League finals in 2005 and 2007. Gerrard was not the only player in those teams pulling the strings, yet this article about Gerrard suggests he was the puppeteer in the whole thing. Yes Liverpool’s sides were not full of quality players like Manchester United had at the same period and even today, pundits, journalists and ABU’s suggest Manchester United will do a ‘Liverpool’ and disappear from the title battle, which may have been the case last season and this season; although a severe improvement has been made under Louis van Gaal. The mere fact remains – Steven Gerrard’s accomplishments? Other than winning the trophies he has, what else has he accomplished? Has he accomplished a position in a team in the MLS? He’s not won a league title, his side has not consistently battled in the UEFA Champions League, like those of Giggs and Scholes. He’s leaving his club for a ‘fresh start’, rather than finishing his career at the club he was raised by. That is not an accomplishment in my book.
Ryan Giggs is currently the assistant manager of Manchester United. He could replace Louis van Gaal as the next manager in 2017. Paul Scholes has taken himself out of the limelight as a football player or coach. He writes many columns for newspapers and is a pundit on the television. He was offered the manager’s job for Oldham Athletic, which he turned down and I do feel he will return to coaching and/or management in the near future. Which is another accomplishment. Steven Gerrard will play in the MLS, which is a competitive league, in the United States of America, but will also be seen as a drop in stature from Barclays Premier League – how is that an accomplishment? Maybe Gerrard will become a coach or even a manager in the future, but with his career being like his was, could a career in management be more of the same? There is no way that Steven Gerrard’s career has dwarfed Ryan Giggs’ and Paul Scholes’ and everyone with a sensible head on their shoulders will know that.