Steven Gerrard is in the papers again today, and the idea of us signing him has now grown legs.
There’s no indication that we’re actually interested in this, you understand; it’s a rumour. But it tantalises a lot of people.
There’s a lot to be said about our club having the profile, right now, to be able to pitch itself as a contender for the signing of Steven Gerrard. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because even past his best that still makes Gerrard better than some of those passing themselves off as footballers north and south of the border today.
It is good to know we are attractive, as a club, to guys like Gerrard.
He is 36, with at least another year in him, and still possesses much of the skill and vision that made him an Anfield great.
He is one of the finest footballers of his generation, with an unbelievable array of personal honours to his name. He can still light up a game.
Brendan knows him well too, and that would count in our favour. Gerrard had one of the finest years of his career under Rodgers; our manager brought out the best in him at a time when the English media was convinced he was almost through.
I have always been a huge fan of Steven Gerrard, but this isn’t one I want to see come off.
I don’t want to see a player I grew up admiring pull on the Celtic shirt.
The reason is obvious; this is a backward step now.
Simply saying that he’s better than everyone in the SPL isn’t enough, even if we could rely on it being true. Barton thought the same after all, before finding out the pace and the energy level required to cut it up here wasn’t there. Gerrard is a vastly better player than Barton ever was or was ever going to be, but when his Liverpool contract was up he made it pretty clear he was going to the US because it represented an easier option that others he might have taken.
It was a retirement move.
Gerrard could come to Scotland and fit right into our team and the culture at Celtic Park, and he would be a standout most matches for his passing and tackling ability alone. But we don’t need Steven Gerrard to dominate in the SPL, so he would be a luxury signing for this level. But he’s spent too long, I think, in the softer playgrounds of Los Angeles, and there he’s lost the edge that made him a world class performer.
So signing him for Europe would be a non-starter.
His presence would not enhance our team in that arena, and that’s where we need new signings to be.
For all that, he would be a stop-gap at best anyway, at a time when Brendan wants to build something and as good as experience in a team is – and he has an enormous amount of it – our current captain will be providing that for next year come what may. We should be developing the next set of leaders in-house, right now.
Celtic can’t be where players come to wind down their careers. Toure is a notable example of the good and the bad of it. He came to us fresh from Liverpool, but he only plays every other week because he no longer has the legs for a game every week. I welcomed his signing because he brought a commanding presence to an area of the pitch where we were short of those kind of players, and yes a stop-gap was permissible there. Gerrard would be competing for a berth in a place where we should be trying to offload players first.
Too many footballers have seen Celtic as a career cap over the years, and even more have seen Scottish football itself as a soft option. It’s difficult not to feel a wee bit insulted by it, to be honest. We wouldn’t have gotten these guys at their peak, they wouldn’t have looked at this league and although Gerrard is a model professional, even with the best will in the world he’d see it as a step down and at the back of his mind he’d see it as an easy pay cheque.
It’s not an insult to Gerrard to say “thanks but no thanks” to these rumours although even saying the words “Steven Gerrard signs for Celtic” still brings me out in a cold sweat.
But it’s a no, for me. Once upon a time it would have been a no brainer – and not that long ago, by the way. Had he wanted the move upon leaving Liverpool I would have walked down there and carried him up here on my back. Time in the United States, in the MLS, had eroded that thing which made him great, that battling spirit, that will to win.
Without it, we’re better off sticking with Scott Brown.