Gerrard played in pain

All the bad-mouthing of Steven Gerrard by a certain minority of Reds fans started again after last night game against Chelsea. Ever since the player gave his infamous summer press conference he’s been getting criticism. This minority want him to leave because they didn’t like his honesty, feeling that to play for Liverpool you’ve got to love Liverpool above all else. Gerrard is proud to play for Liverpool, the team he grew up supporting. The trouble is though is that after years of under-achievement under Gerard Houllier, he saw the possibility that there was some greener grass elsewhere.

Gerrard played OK last night. If John Welsh had played as well as that last night he’d be rightly getting praise for an assured if not outstanding performance. He did nothing wrong and worked hard throughout. Makalele was his opposite number last night and they basically kept each other occupied.

Still, all the usual criticisms were being aired against him last night and this morning. Phone-ins and forums were full of the experts telling us how Stevie was just not committed enough and that Liverpool should cash in.

Then rumours started to float around that Stevie had a reason to have not even played if he’d wanted to "bottle out". The rumour went round that he’d been forced to go to a dental hospital for some urgent work. That the Liverpool team hotel had been asked to prepare special food for him as he had a problem with his mouth.

Now the story’s been confirmed, by the Liverpool Echo. The journalist that reported it, Chris Bascombe, is well-respected by the staff at Anfield and is often privy to stories that other publications don’t hear about. It was Bascombe that had the exclusive interview with Gerrard where he rubbished the stories saying he’d already signed for Chelsea.

According to the Echo, Gerrard had been awake all night with a mouth abscess. This had been troubling him for days and was getting worse and worse. In the end Liverpool’s medical staff felt it necessary to take him to a dental hospital local to the hotel. He had the abscess lanced under local anaesthetic. He was also given antibiotics.

The Echo also quote Geoff Brown, who’s the dental advisor for primary care trusts in Merseyside. He said that the abscess would have been "very painful. The purpose of the surgery will be to ease the pain but he would have felt very groggy after the anaesthetic. The antibiotics would also have taken their toll."

If Liverpool are to get continued success they not only need to attract more world-class players, they need to keep them. The criticism handed out to Gerrard – and to Owen before him – is unneccessary. Any player that receives so much criticism can easily justify leaving for a club where they’ll not only get success, but where they’ll be appreciated.

Liverpool have so few games left now this season it’s important to get behind the captain. We don’t know what’s going on in his mind, but he’s certainly doing his best for the Reds. If anything he’s trying too hard. Without Gerrard’s goal in the last group game in the Champion’s League, Liverpool might not have even been playing in the UEFA Cup by now.