The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
Steven Gerrard has just scored his 100th goal for Liverpool, late in their Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven, and it was a beauty, a blistering 30-yard free kick that somehow hit the top corner of the net after spending ninety percent of its flight path roughly two and a half feet above the ground.
What’s the legend of Steven Gerrard at this point? Is he the guy who comes up big in big games? The hometown boy made good? The king of dramatic endings? The loyal servant of Liverpool? The inspirational leader who carries his team on his back? Maybe I’m just overloaded on politics lately and poisoned with the concept of “on-message,” but it seems like there’s been a quiet backlash at work against Gerrard for some time now, and I wonder if it’s partly because there are so many narratives thrown out about his legacy that he’s started to seem inaccessible.
It’s obviously to his credit that he’s opened up so many possible routes to admiration, and taken together they more than make his case. At the same time, though, it’s as if he can’t quite live up to any one of them completely—can’t be the big-game star after his poor play for England, can’t be the local hero after the near-defections to Chelsea—and so from any one angle he seems slightly disappointing, when it ought to be impressive enough that he’s 85% convincing in so many starring roles.
Just a thought, and maybe it’s ultimately just Al Gore in earth tones, but if I were selling Steven Gerrard like a presidential candidate or a Macintosh I might try to get the public to focus on one aspect of his career—probably the dramatic late winners—and let the others radiate from that.
YOUTUBE UPDATE: Enjoy it while it lasts. (Okay, the ball doesn’t quite hit the top corner, but I was writing without having seen a replay. It’s all just Twitter around here. I mean, nobody’s responsible for anything.)
by Brian Phillips · October 1, 2008