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If he's not THE best player never to have won the Premier League, then Steven Gerrard's not far off after the club legend gave his heart and soul to the club but just came up short. The now Aston Villa boss may have a big say in the destination of the Premier League title as he hosts his former side on Tuesday before playing Man City on the final day of the season. If the title is still up for grabs, Gerrard would like nothing more than to help Liverpool win it by getting a result against Pep Guardiola's side at the Etihad.
Steven Gerrard's Premier League stats
Debut: November 29, 1998
Liverpool's league finishes with Gerrard in the team
Gerrard came close on a few occasions, most notably in that remarkable 2013/14 season under Brendan Rodgers, before it literally slipped away.
In truth, though, in many years the team around him at Anfield was just not good enough to challenge for the title - even though they could produce fine cup runs.
As their Premier League finishes show, Liverpool were only occasional challengers, with Rafa Benitez threatening to build a sustained challenge before ownership issues saw him leave.
2001/02 season: Houllier goes close
"Gerard Houllier was the start of the rebirth of Liverpool getting back to being successful in Europe and at home, and winning trophies"
A vital figure in our modern history. @Carra23 pays special tribute to the late, great Gerard Houllier. pic.twitter.com/eYkjTv1afQ
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 14, 2020
A season after Liverpool won a cup treble hopes were high of challenging for the league and they did end up with a highest finish in a decade. Manager Gerard Houllier had built a tough team to beat but the Frenchman was missing for a lot of the campaign due to a serious heart problem.
Who knows what would have happened had Houllier had the full season in charge, but Phil Thompson kept them ticking along nicely and the boss returned for the run-in as the Reds chased Arsenal home in the Premier League.
Liverpool won 13 out of their last 15 league games but still finished seven points behind the Gunners, so it's hard to fault them down the stretch.
2008/09: Gerrard and Torres bloom
Rafa Benitez's turn to go close now after rebuilding a side he led to the Miracle of Istanbul Champions League victory in his first season in charge at Anfield. Gerrard operated in an advanced role in this side and his partnership with a purring Fernando Torres was a sight to behold. Gerrard ended the season with 24 goals in all competitions. The Reds only lost twice all season, and a highlight was an incredible 4-1 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford - and this was a serious United side that would go on to win the title.
An unforgettable away success against this weekend's opponents 🤩
Enjoy a look back at our 4-1 win at Old Trafford from 2009 👌 pic.twitter.com/6rydBGQAQS
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 23, 2021
Perhaps if Torres could have played more than 24 games then Liverpool could have made up that four-point gap, but it was still a strong finish as they won 10 of their last 11 games. United just pipped them though - after being fired up by Rafa's infamous "facts" rant that caught everyone by surprise, and bolstered United's resolves to finish above their rivals. Many feel Benitez would have definitely claimed the title if he had stayed at Anfield longer.
2013/14: 'That' slip costs Rodgers' side
As unexpectedly glorious as this season was, Gerrard admits that this will haunt him forever after Rodger's exciting Liverpool side fell at the final hurdle. Gerrard scored 13 goals and made 13 assists but all this season is remembered for is his infamous slip on the Anfield turf that gave Demba Ba a goal in front of the Kop. Jose Mourinho gloated down the touchline as Chelsea won the game to hand the title advantage to Manchester City.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 27, 2020
The Reds had previously beaten City in a thriller when Gerrard was captured telling his men "We don't let this slip" - oh the irony. The Crystal Palace game is often brought up when Liverpool lost a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3, but in truth it was already gone as the Reds needed a whopping goal difference swing and City were never losing their last couple of games. The endearing memory though is of Gerrard sprawled on the pitch he had graced for years, crestfallen by a horrible piece of blind bad luck that told everyone he was destined never to win the league.
How did Gerrard fare in his first game as a manager against his former club?
Gerrard got a great reception at Anfield when he returned as Aston Villa boss - taking over from Dean Smith after a disappointing start to the campaign. It was a tight game as well as Gerrard sent his side out to frustrate Jurgen Klopp's men and battle them all the way - with the eventual 1-0 loss a sign of a tough contest. The winner came from a Mohamed Salah penalty but although Liverpool were the better side, Villa had their chances and claims for a penalty of their own.
His team will have learned plenty about how to play Liverpool though, and he may even try the Antonio Conte route again in the reverse fixture.
With Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings in the Villa side this time around there is plenty of Liverpool involvement in the home dugout at Villa Park for Tuesday's game.
The article How close was Steven Gerrard to winning the Premier League with Liverpool? appeared first on Planetsport.com.