“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”.
This is a quote from The Dark Knight film made by the character Harvey Dent aka Two-Face. This sentence encapsulates the struggle that The Batman has internally throughout the course of the film about whether he is helping or hindering the justice system in Gotham City. To some citizens (the people who used to be mugged and robbed) he is a superhero and should be praised for what he’s doing, and yet to others (the elected officials and keepers of law) he is a vigilante and should not be encouraged.
Steven Gerrard has garnered some superhero nicknames including Captain Marvel, Super Stevie G and Captain Fantastic. My opinion is that The Batman is more appropriate as he has “single-handedly” taken on the responsibility of leading Liverpool FC and dragging the team, “his team”, kicking and screaming into cup finals and in some cases to the brink of that long-awaited and elusive Premier League trophy. In another sense, he has also generated the label of “Stevie-Me” or the One-Man team in that Liverpool seemed barely capable of functioning during his absence. The Batman has always been loved and hated for what he does.
Loyal fans and supporters need no reminding of the Champions League game in December 2004 against Olympiakos with Gerrard netting that all-important goal to send Liverpool through; the magnificent 7 minutes in Istanbul against AC Milan in the Champions League final; the double he scored in the FA Cup final against West Ham in 2006. All of these games, amongst many others, illustrate how Gerrard/The Batman took it upon himself to lead, inspire and take control of the team.
The comic book aficionados among us will know that Batman at times has a supporting cast to call upon when he needs assistance, including his crime-fighting sidekick, Robin, his faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth, police commissioner Jim Gordon and occasionally the heroine Batgirl. Gerrard too had his own Robin recently in the form of Fernando Torres – when the dynamic duo were together the Liverpool team, by extension, appeared almost invincible especially towards the end of the 2009/10 season with the 4-0 rout of Real Madrid and 4-1 drubbing of Manchester United.
If one combines Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano into one character that would be Jim Gordon – the guy who helps The Batman to gather information and to placate the legally elected officials. Xabi’s skilful and almost effortless ball distribution and “Monster” Masch’s terrier-like ferreting and ball spoiling skills were crucial in freeing up Gerrard to create space and goals. The role of Alfred has been rotated amongst a number of actors including Houllier, Benitez, Hodgson and more recently Kenny Dalglish.
Any real superhero has his arch enemies whom he does battle with time and again. For The Batman his assortment of villains include the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Iv, Catwoman and his nemesis The Joker. For Gerrard/Batman his Joker must surely be Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United who have managed to usurp Liverpool as the pre-eminent force in English football.
The terrible start to the 2010/11 Premier League season with The Batman and Robin looking exhausted from their crime-fighting stint in South Africa for England and Spain, coupled with niggling injuries and a new manager meant that Liverpool stumbled from one game to another without any real purpose. The appointment of former Liverpool legend “King” Kenny Dalglish as manager, the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea and the acquisitions of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have all galvanised the club into some great form in the latter half of the season.
One major observation from many of the Liverpool faithful has been the (lack of) impact Gerrard’s absence has had on Liverpool’s fortunes since his last appearance in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United in March 2011. The team has played, crucially, as a team and there seems to be a new sense of camaraderie – people will point to the feel-good King Kenny factor and that is certainly part of it. Another part of it, in my opinion, is the absence of the captain. The much-maligned Lucas Leiva, for example, is shorn of his former nervousness and skittish behaviour and seems to almost be a new player – he has a confidence to his passing and is bombing forward in a Gerrard-esque manner of late. It remains to be seen how Dalglish will line his team up once Gerrard is back – as captain, one would assume that Gerrard will occupy a starting berth for the majority of games (injury permitting).
In typical fashion, Liverpool fans will be eagerly looking forward to the start of the 2011/12 season with some confidently proclaiming “this will be our year!” Steven Gerrard, club captain, will hopefully be back from injury and ready to prove that he can still play and lead this team to more glory.
So what lies ahead for The Batman? Stay tuned – same Bat channel, same Bat time to find out…