Steven Gerrard: In the movie The Devil’s Advocate, Milton/Satan (Al Pacino) rages against God’s ‘Look, but don’t touch’ rule.
According to Milton, God commands: Look, but don’t touch. Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, but don’t swallow.
Such a command, Milton charges, proves God is a sadist.
Premier League title scripts have had their fair share of sadistic writers. You only have to go back two seasons.
The red half of Manchester was already uncorking champagne bottles only to be forced to attempt the impossible task of putting the corks back when with virtually the last kick of the match Sergio Aguero scored the winner against QPR as Manchester City yanked the title away from Man United’s grasp.
This time it looks like the scriptwriter has reserved his sadism for Liverpool in general and Steven Gerrard in particular.
If Liverpool miss out on the title they will look no further than the moment their skipper allowed the ball to roll under his boot and reach Demba Ba as the tipping point in the race.
They will curse the moment Ba gleefully accepted the gift to slot past Petr Cech to put Chelsea ahead en route to a 2-0 victory as the momentum swung Man City’s way.
If Manuel Pellegrini’s men make good their advantage and snatch the title from under Liverpool’s noses Steven Gerrard’s momentary lapse in concentration will pick itself as the enduring memory of the England captain’s quest for the elusive league title.
To allow Gerrard to look, touch, take a bite of the juicy title fruit, chew, then tell him he can’t swallow and force him to spit it out is cruel in the extreme.
There will be considerable sympathy for a player many would not begrudge a first league title to crown an excellent career. The consensus is that there isn’t a more deserving player around and that it would be a travesty if upon retirement Steven Gerrard joined the ranks of great players never to have won a league title. The fact that he sabotaged himself makes his anguish doubly excruciating.
The history of the Premier League is littered with examples of how fiercely contested title races are invariably decided on very fine margins. In 2012 Man City clinched it on goal difference to further emphasize the closeness of the race and could potentially win it on goal difference again this season.
Alan Hansen will never be allowed to forget his infamous “you can’t win anything with kids” quip with reference to a Manchester United side featuring he likes of Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham. The kids made the former Liverpool stalwart eat his words when they picked up winners’ medals at the end of the season.
We will have to wait to discover whether Sir Alex Ferguson had his ‘Hansen moment.’ The Scot dismissed Liverpool’s title chances at the start of the campaign. He taunted Brendan Rodgers’ squad and opined that the Reds were six or seven world-class players short of a title-winning side. That slight stuck in the craws of Liverpool players and supporters alike.
Will Ferguson eat his words or has Steven Gerrard spared the man who knocked Liverpool off their f***ing perch the Hansen-esque fate?