As his late header nestled into the back of the Kop net, Steven Gerrard wheeled away towards his adoring fans. Reminiscent of the way he celebrated his winning strike against Olympiakos some 11 years earlier, it was tempting to believe this, a winner in a run-of-the-mill Premier League fixture against Queens Park Rangers, meant almost as much to him. It was the sign of someone letting all the woe of the past 12 months go, of someone enjoying the moment because he knew the end was nigh.
When Gerrard led his Reds out against Chelsea at Anfield last April he could not have imagined his rapid demise in the 12 months that have followed. From the ill-fated slip, to the assist for Luis Suarez in Sao Paulo and the stamp on Ander Herrera, it has been a car crash in slow motion for the Liverpool captain. The announcement of his departure to the United States in January came as a slight relief to those who hold their hero to such high standards.
With only three appearances in a red shirt left for Gerrard, conversation naturally drifts towards this summer and just how Liverpool go about replacing one of the great pillars of their club. It’s a question that has dogged the club for years, but one they can approach with less trepidation than they might have once expected.