I feel like what I wrote for Jamie Carragher can be just reprinted to a lesser extent with Stevie G's name replacing Carra's. This will be the first season that Liverpool will have to begin the transition to starting life without the man who basically made us relevant single-handedly for most of this decade. Not that Stevie can't contribute in a big way next season. And he probably will. This will be a season before he heads off into his last international tournament with England, and you know he'll want to do both with a bang. Gerrard has never had the international tournament stardom he should have. He missed 2002 which probably was his best chance. He had to take a backseat to a still-competent-and-actually-quite-good Frank Lampard in Portgual, as well as dealing with the first transfer fiasco to Chelsea. He had the same problem in 2006, even though Lampard was awful (though Gerrard was pretty brilliant against Portugal that tournament, until that small issue with the penalty). England missed Euro 2008, and South Africa saw a shambles of a team combined with Gerrard's hero complex coming through all too clear. He must be eying the summer of 2012 as one last chance to make his mark with England, and this season will be a springboard for that.
But that's looking forward, and we need to look back. And the big problem is the mere 20 appearances. For your foundation, that's never enough. With those 20 appearances came only four goals. More than that, the eye-test tells you that we didn't see any of those "I've decided we're winning this match and there's not a fucking thing they're doing about it" performances from Gerrard? Is he still capable of those at 31? Probably every so often, but certainly not week in and week out. The only one I remember from this season is the Europa hat trick against Napoli, and did that really matter?
Gerrard wasn't helped by Hodgson's cluelessness, who couldn't figure out where to put him. Was it deeper? Was it behind Torres? Somewhere in the middle? He tried everything. By the time Dalglish came in, Gerrard was pretty much crocked. So he never got to settle. His last appearance was the win over United, where he was in the middle with Lucas and Meireles floating in from the wings, and Gerrard was pretty brilliant that day. He was also around for the win at Chelsea in the 3-4-2-1, providing the cross for Meireles, another game where Gerrard was still Stevie G. But aside from those Gerrard was only involved in three other Dalglish-managed games, wins over Stoke and Fulham and the loss to West Ham.
Outlook: Still, Gerrard is going to be a focal point, and if totally healthy and practically shaking to get out there consistently under King Kenny, we should all expect Gerrard to be a force again. He can fit in with any formation that Kenny tries. Personally, I would love to see him behind the front two in the 4-2-2-2 that Dalgiish sometimes goes to. From there, he can float from the wide areas inward where he's harder to pick up, but doesn't have the defensive responsibilities that he sometimes struggles with. More likely, he'll pair with Lucas in the middle, but that won't be disaster either.
Gerrard will win his share of matches again. But this season, Liverpool have to start finding other match-winners. This is probably the last season that will see Stevie near the height of his powers. He can still be useful for longer in his career as he adjusts his game and becomes more of a squad guy, like Ryan Giggs. But the Hammer of Thor days are drawing to a close. Pool had better maximize them now, while concurrently discovering the methods to survival when they're gone.