The Reds icon has plenty of fond memories at Anfield, but April 2014 is certainly not among them.
Liverpool came tantalisingly close to ending their long wait to get a 19th league name throughout the 2013-14 Premier League season.
Under the stewardship of the inimitable Brendan Rodgers, a powerful Reds team featuring Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling, and Steven Gerrard were on track for success before the final 3 matches, when they quite literally slipped up.
Gerrard, the team captain, and iconic leader fell victim to the whims of fate and excruciatingly became the sign of the club’s capitulation, which ultimately enabled Manchester City to be crowned champions of England that season.
The midfielder was roundly mocked by Liverpool’s competitions at the time and remarkably, although he’s no longer at the club, the derision adheres to the day some time opposing teams visit Anfield.
April 27, 2014. League-leaders Liverpool vs second-placed Chelsea in Anfield within their third-to-last match of the year.
The Reds were on a 16-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League and had won their previous 11, including a stunning 3-2 victory over title rivals Man City.
That win against City abandoned the Reds squad buoyant and they followed it up with a 3-2 win against Norwich City. Another home win for Rodgers’ side will put them up nicely heading in the last two games against Crystal Palace and Newcastle United.
But, disaster struck on the stroke of half-time in a moment that’s left a scar on the collective mind of Liverpool fans throughout the world.
This may not have been such a large issue on its own but, to the terror of Liverpool fans, Gerrard then lost his footing and slipped to the ground, thus allowing Ba to race through on target completely unhindered.
Although Gerrard made his very best attempt to stop him, the Senegalese striker made no mistake, shooting past the stranded Simon Mignolet to put Jose Mourinho’s side ahead entering the half-time period.
The Reds, who had lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, made every effort to claw their way back in the match, but could not find a means beyond Mourinho’s typically resolute defence (Rodgers later commented they “parked two buses”) and Willian delivered the final blow with a goal in the last minute of injury time to make it 2-0.
As if to make things worse, Gerrard’s own words in the aftermath of the win over City two weeks earlier seemed to foreshadow his hardship. Doing his deed captain, the midfielder accumulated his troops onto the pitch to get a huddle and delivered a pep talk where he declared: “This does not slip now!”
After the lack of Chelsea, headlines referenced Gerrard’s error, noting Liverpool’s’slip up’ in the home. However, despite the defeat, they remained top of the league – forward of the Blues by two factors – going to their final two games.
Man City had a number of games in hand, but Liverpool’s loss to Chelsea in tandem with City’s vastly superior goal difference supposed that if Manuel Pellegrini’s side won their remaining fixtures they were likely to win the league.
Liverpool’s pursuit of this name was not necessarily lost, however, the end was sucked out of their sails and it informed in their penultimate match of the season against Crystal Palace, which saw them throw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3, with Palace scoring two in the past ten minutes.
City finally won the rest of their games and, though Liverpool triumphed over Newcastle in their last match, they finished two points behind Pellegrini’s guys.
The simple fact that Gerrard was such a colossus for Liverpool and’d warned everybody on the team against slipping up meant that there was a poetic quality to the incident, almost as if it had to be him.
He detailed his response to the slip and defeat to Chelsea in his 2015 autobiography My Story, showing it prompted an uncontrollable bout of crying
I hadn’t cried for years but, on the way home, I could not stop. “I can not even tell you if the streets were thick with traffic as empty as I was on the interior.
“I felt numb, just like I had lost someone in my family. It was as if my whole quarter of a century at this soccer club poured from me. I didn’t even attempt to stem the quiet tears as the events of the day played over and over again in my mind.”
Of course, there was hardly any sympathy for Gerrard from lovers of rival clubs and social websites were ablaze with mocking tweets, videos and photographs. Tottenham were also forced to apologise when a tweet poking fun in the midfielder following their draw against Crystal Palace appeared on their official Twitter page.
Fans brought joke placards to matches, while chants were soon heard and turned into a frequent feature at Premier League grounds across England as fans made fun of the incident.
Since his retirement transition to management, Gerrard seems to have made peace with it and recently reflected that the moment was only”bad fortune”.
Lately, a former foe of his own, ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville, has even gone as far as absolving Gerrard of an attribute for its title collapse, implying that the goalkeeper should have done better with Ba’s shot.
“I believed the keeper must have done. I’ve never mentioned it before. If that was a moment later on this season, I believe Alisson would save it. I believe eight times out of 10, he would save it.”
“I think it’s a scuffed shot from Demba Ba,” I do not think he looks confident. It goes in and nobody ever blamed Mignolet for that objective.
“I don’t believe you can blame him, I do not think you can say that he had been at fault but Alisson would have saved it.”
Fans of clubs such as Everton, Manchester United, Chelsea and Man City have appropriated one of the most popular Liverpool chants to make fun of Gerrard’s slip.