In Depth

Gerrard Liverpool dream dies; is it all over for Rodgers too?

As another season passes without a trophy, pundits wonder how much longer Rodgers can survive

Steven Gerrard's final season with Liverpool will end trophyless after defeat to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

Romantics had been looking forward to the possibility that the Anfield icon's final game for the Reds would be at Wembley on 30 May, his birthday. Instead, Andy Kelly in the Liverpool Echo notes that his final bow "will now come at Stoke where every dream goes to die".

His farewell tour is unlikely to be a glorious affair, adds Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail. "Gerrard's time at Liverpool will now end in anti-climax. The chances are that he will say his farewells via a series of short cameos, many of them as a substitute."

It does not sit well with his reputation, says Matt Dickinson in The Times. "Gerrard has been our modern-day Roy of the Rovers — all last-gasp heroics, agonising dramas, a one-man storyline — but Race never dealt in anticlimaxes or limp farewells in meaningless matches away at the Britannia Stadium," he laments. "And real life does not often serve up comic-book scripts."

Gerrard is not the only one facing the end of the road after a dreadfully limp display at Wembley. The Liverpool captain's expression at the final whistle "symbolised the death of a dream, but after such a torrid afternoon at Wembley this felt worse. This was more like the unravelling of a club vision." says Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph.

The club's owners, Fenway Sports Group, "must now determine if this game and the whole year is a glitch or a more serious malfunction", says Bascombe. And that will leave manager Brendan Rodgers "wondering if he will be held partially rather than wholly responsible".

Once again Liverpool kept switching tactics, with Gerrard playing in three different positions during the match.

The approach makes Rodgers look like "a poker player who knew the cards were worthless before he revealed them," adds Bascombe. "His biggest concern must be the dealer is convinced he has been given aces instead of jokers."

Rodgers should survive until the start of next season, says Tony Evans of the Times, but this season he has been plagued by hubris.

"The time is rapidly approaching when all the phrases and motivational jargon will wear thin," he states. "Results and trophies are the only language that fans and owners will understand. Talk is cheap. Rodgers needs to keep his mouth shut, his head down and build a team that will do his speaking for him."

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