It didn’t come as a shock to Chelsea fans on hearing from Jose Mourinho to stop the chants of Steven Gerrard’s slip. Being undoubtedly one of the greatest players in Premier League history, he deserves nothing else but respect. And Jose has never failed to show his respect and admiration towards the Liverpool legend. Given his admiration for the Englishman, there was ought to be a scenario of Gerrard being linked to Chelsea at some point of time. So let us go 10 years back in time and know what really happened.
In the summer of 2005, Liverpool’s very own talisman was all but fed up with his club. He had had shaky relationships with the then Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez and the club chairman since 2004, when the player suspected that the new manager wanted to sell him to buy new players. In his autobiography, Gerrard revealed that all that was lacking in his transfer to Stamford Bridge was a final push from Chelsea. He had put in a transfer request on July 5 and the next thing he knew; he was watching his t-shirts being burned in front of Anfield.
“Panic breakdown, complete mess. Some force raced around my body turning off the lights, closing me down, plunging me into darkness.” He self-medicated, “eating Paracetamol like Smarties” and had to call out the club doctor. Yet, there was no final transfer offer from Chelsea, which neither the club nor the player could resist. Although Jose Mourinho now claims that they ‘tried everything’ to make the deal happen and that Gerrard’s unsuccessful transfer to Chelsea is one his biggest disappointments in the transfer market to this date.
Why Chelsea never jumped in and sealed the deal, remains one of the biggest unanswered questions. There are many stories why Gerrard wanted or not wanted to leave the club, all without proper evidence. But if we go by his account of those days, it was a 25 year-old Steven Gerrard who was about to reach his prime and wanted to be an important part of the Merseyside club, which unfortunately wasn’t the case.
At the end of the day, it was the former Liverpool chairman David Moores, who persuaded Gerrard to stay and assured him that he would regain his importance, and the player has never looked back since.
The regrets Jose Mourinho has of not being able to sign the Liverpool skipper back then, are right at their place. Imagine the sight of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele playing together in the blue shirts at that time. Many would say that Lampard and Gerrard have not shown anything remarkable as a midfield partnership while playing for the England team with same playing style. Then how would it have been possible at Stamford Bridge?
The answer to the question is Claude Makelele. The presence of Makelele, playing in front of the back four and shielding them would have given Gerrard and Lampard enough freedom to attack. And Chelsea would have had a deadly midfield partnership, in which the two would have been able to compliment each other unlike the English national team.
As Jose Mourinho said in the press conference about his wish to play the trio in a triangular formation without an attacking midfielder, it is quite clear what Gerrard would have brought to the team. “I was dreaming of (Claude) Makelele, Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard in midfield. We were playing in a proper triangle without a number 10 and playing Maka in front of the defenders.”
A good holding midfielder is what the England team lacks, and that is what made the pair of Gerrard and Lampard to fail as a midfield partnership. But that would never have been the case with Chelsea because of Makelele.
With the likes of Michael Ballack, who joined the Blues in May 2006, and Didier Drogba up front, and a back-four including John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, there were all the resources and chance for the trio of Lampard, Gerrard, and Makelele to become the best midfield trio of their time, perhaps even better than the Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets at Barcelona!
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni
Topic Suggested By: Aparna Dey