Having had three near-moments himself at Liverpool, Gerrard is now tasked with clinching an unlikely three points that would boost his old side’s chances in the Premier League
And while Liverpool are dreaming of a Coutinho or Ings winner at the Etihad on Sunday, the man who must orchestrate that highly unlikely result is the man who has seen him win the Premier League title as a player at Anfield for 17 seasons escaped.
Steven Gerhard. Philippe Coutinho. Danny Ings. Your old team needs one hell of a favor.
It’s an association that will never fade. Gerrard and Liverpool will be forever linked and while he insisted the role of Aston Villa is not a ‘stepping stone’ when he takes the reins in November, few doubt their paths will cross again, be it as eventual successor to Jürgen Klopp or a few years later The post-Klopp era has smoothed out a bit and the statue is (probably) in place.
Gerrard’s credentials are set by his stint in the Midlands and while a first full season awaits him, he is looking to end this campaign in 10th place, a high point that Villa can best hope for.
He has stressed multiple times this week that “three points” are the order of the day and while it would help his former side he insists his focus is on making Villa fans “proud” and making sure they do not finish as low as 14th again.
Klopp, meanwhile, expects Gerrard to take the Manchester City game “100 per cent seriously” but didn’t feel the need to call his Villa counterpart, adding: “I probably don’t have to do the rest of the club I’ve already done, but not me yet.”
Jordan Henderson had previously joked he might call on his old captain as the mood on Merseyside is more hopeful than expectant, the truth is there is minimal hope for Villa at City. Liverpool fans can hold on to that emotional investment from Gerrard and his desire to “fight for everything” and “make it difficult” on Sunday, but Villa has struggled against the bigger sides under his watch, taking four points from a possible 24 against the Strom brought top seven.
Villa also rarely have draws, only Arsenal (3), Tottenham (5) and Watford (5) have fewer than their six this season and while 13 wins have won seven away, Villa have lost as many games as Leeds (18) , more than Burnley (16), with only Everton (20) and relegated pair Watford (26) and Norwich (25) suffering more defeats.
Take what you will from that, an almost never-saying attitude that has those in burgundy and blue and also red this weekend, who are praying for a 1-0 win but fearing a 5-0 win.
There are other threads of Jack Grealish taking on his old side to lift a first City trophy, but we can expect plenty of shelter shots from Gerrard during Sky Sports’ coverage.
“Let the party begin,” he wrote when Liverpool ended their 30-year wait two years ago, and make no mistake, even if he doesn’t make his feelings public this time, he’ll be popping the champagne in private, he can the most precious ones provide assists.
City lead Liverpool by a point going into the final day of the Premier League season, while City’s +72 goal difference is better than Liverpool’s +66.
If City defeats Villa, they have won the title. If City draws, Liverpool must beat Wolves. If City lose then Liverpool would realistically need to win as a draw against Wolves would only be good enough if Villa can win by a seven-goal margin at the Etihad.