Jeers as Gerrard bids farewell – an ominous sign for Liverpool
Legend departs Anfield for the final time, and leaves little hope for the future
Steven Gerrard said farewell to Anfield on Saturday, but not in the manner he would have liked. His career on Merseyside came to and end with an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, and his public show of support for manager Brendan Rodgers failed to win over the doubters.
There were emotional scenes as Gerrard did a final lap of honour after the match. His team-mates, kitted out in Gerrard number eight shirts, looked on, tributes flooded in and Anfield and Sky Sports worked themselves into a sentimental lather.
But in the aftermath of the game the cheers soon subsided and the focus in many quarters turned to Liverpool's future without Gerrard rather than his achievements as a player.
"As the captain made his last, weary exit through the early evening drift of Anfield, the adoration surrendered to fear," says Chis Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph. "The Kop was witnessing more than the departure of a formidable talent. With Gerrard gone, Liverpool finds itself in urgent need of another spiritual leader.
"The insipid performance against Crystal Palace was emblematic of a deteriorating team... Now they have not only lost the most influential player of his generation, but a source of reassurance."
And Gerrard failed in his final effort to instil hope in the fans. "There was audible laughter and jeering from the home supporters when he expressed his optimism for the team he is leaving behind, says Sachin Nakrani of The Guardian.
This season Liverpool "have gone from almost winning the title to failing to qualify for the Champions League and win a trophy, and the loss of one of the best players in the club's history hardly soothes those concerns", he adds.
The Kop's reaction to Gerrard's words "should send shockwaves through a club whose fans are rapidly losing faith", says Tony Barrett in The Times.
"Once Gerrard has departed, the scrutiny on those who remain will only increase," he adds. "The ambition and aptitude of Liverpool’s owners will be put to the test, as well as the ability of Brendan Rodgers to draw character out of a group of players that has so far proven resistant to their manager's calls for new leaders to emerge."
Life will go on at Liverpool without Gerrard, "but the early indications of how it will pan out are anything but positive", concludes Barrett.