Verdt å lese nå. Vi sier vi savner folk som Fowler, McManaman, Owen, Gerrard og Carragher. Men den eneste sjansen vi har til å få dem frem, er å gi rom for dem. Derfor er det greit å spille 0-0 mot Plymouth, dersom det er prisen å betale for å gi Woodburn 90 minutter. En billig ris å betale. Vi burde faktisk gjøre det mer.
It was November 29 1998, a Blackburn Rovers side starting to flail desperately and vainly against relegation were already beaten and a teenager was running up and down the touchline waiting to come on.
“All the subs were applauded when Gérard Houllier sent us to warm up,” Gerrard recalled years later. "Well, nearly all. When I ran towards the Kop I could almost hear them saying: “Who’s this skinny little twat?’” The 18-year-old came on for the final few moments as a substitute for Vegard Heggem, was shot through with nerves and remembers his contribution as consisting of one wildly over-hit cross that threatened the upper reaches of the Centenary Stand.
Liverpool were in the middle of a deep low. The uneasy, unworkable alliance between Houllier and Roy Evans had come to its messy, predictable end. They had just lost at home to Derby, been easily eliminated from the League Cup by Tottenham and entered the weekend ninth in the Premier League. It was the twilight of the Spice Boys. The days of David James, Jason McAteer, Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman were almost done.
And yet there was a new dawn about to break over Anfield. Michael Owen, who had been part of Gerrard’s year at the Liverpool School of Excellence under Steve Heighway, was on the point of becoming BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year at the age of 18. His first steps, however, were much more assured than those of the man who was to match and then surpass Owen’s achievements at Anfield.
Gerrard’s first start was worse than his debut. Given all the arguments that have enveloped him over what position he should play, it was perhaps significant that Houllier asked him to patrol the right of midfield at White Hart Lane, facing David Ginola, who that season would be voted Footballer of the Year. Gerrard’s recollections are even more downbeat. “Paul Ince was on at me, Ginola was taking the mickey. I was out of position and out of my depth.” He hoped his parents would be out when Match of the Day came on.