'Iconic' Gerrard indispensable, says McAteer
Gerrard’s contract is up next summer, and the captain has increased speculation over his future by stating he would ponder his future elsewhere.
But McAteer feels the 34-year-old still has plenty to offer the club, despite acknowledging that the veteran has become more of a liability these days.
"I don’t think Steve will go. He’s had the chance before, but he’s not gone," he told FourFourTwo.
"I’m sure he’s in contract negotiations, and something is being worked out. I can’t see him leaving at his age. If he moved away now, he could sacrifice a job for life at the club.
"He’s iconic, to some the greatest player of Liverpool ever, up there with Kenny [Dalglish], even if he hasn’t been very good in the centre of the circle.
"Gerrard gives 100 per cent, but his job becomes very hard when the team is not playing well. Being captain is a big job, and he has to mind that as well as concentrate on his own game."
The former Ireland midfielder, who turned out at Anfield from 1995 to 1999, claims Gerrard, and the Reds’, struggles this season stem from the wider issue of a leadership vacuum in the squad.
"They do lack in the department of leaders," McAteer continued.
"I feel for Steve, given the help he’s receiving. [Daniel] Agger has left the club, [Glen] Johnson is in and out of the side. [Jamie] Carragher had been a big help to Steve when he was still playing.
"Jordan Henderson is not the same leader as Carragher. As a young Liverpool player, he’s had to give 100 per cent attention to his performances, amidst the expectation and demands.
"His vice-captain role can feel overwhelming. The responsibility goes out the window when you’re concentrating on your own game and trying not to make mistakes. It’s just something he’ll have to cope and deal with.
"I’m sure he can do it, but it’ll take a few seasons and won’t be easy. The team needs three to four leaders on the field and cannot simply rely on Gerrard, but that only comes with character and experience."
Gerrard was appointed team captain in 2003, and is the last remaining member of the side that clinched the 2005 Champions League in what became dubbed the 'Miracle of Istanbul'.
Jason McAteer will join Liverpool legends Robbie Fowler and Dieter Hamann for three special nights in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in January 2015 to tell fans what it was really like playing at Anfield.
Find out how to be a part of it here.