Merseyside Insider: Long goodbye for Gerrard, Everton’s Euro dilemma and the winner is . . .

What’s been happening in the world of football on Merseyside this week? Jennifer Jewell gives us the scoop . . .

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Goodbye to Gerrard

Most of the headlines on Merseyside over the next couple of weeks are going to be about the departure of Steven Gerrard after almost 17 years since he broke into the Liverpool first team. Loyalty doesn’t come in stronger form than him. The fans here and further afield have a huge emotional connection to him, and the closeness of his departure is starting to sink in. It looked like his ending was going horribly wrong at Anfield last week when he missed a penalty against QPR but he made up for that with the winner and his passion for the club was never more evident. It will be hard for Gerrard to let Liverpool go in a couple of weeks but it will be even harder for the fans to see the back of an irreplaceable player, a legend, and a complete one-off in today’s game. Emotions are bound to run high.

Fair play, Everton

A lot of Evertonians believe their involvement in the Europa League this season is the reason they haven’t quite reached the same heights in the Premier League as last season. There’s some substance in that theory as their form since exiting the cup has improved dramatically, and so it was believed a mid-table finish could work in their favour next campaign. But then the Uefa Fair Play table – which will give the Premier League an extra place in next season’s Europa League – popped up . . . And we discovered Everton are joint second with West Ham. Liverpool top the table but look likely to gain a Europa League place anyway, so it’s down to Everton and the Hammers to battle it out! Next weekend’s tie between the two at Upton Park will be an interesting one. Good behaviour all round, please.

End of the road for Jones?

I heard a lot of Liverpool fans moan in frustration last week when it was revealed they had opened contract talks with keeper Brad Jones. He’s never really been a fans’ favourite, having made only 25 appearances in five years. The talks have not resulted in a contract extension for the Australian and he looks set to move on this summer, but who will replace him? Simon Mignolet has come into good form in the second half of the season but it wasn’t long ago that the fans were worried he wasn’t up to the job. Fiorentina’s Norberto Neto and Club Brugge’s Matthew Ryan look like his most likely replacement so far.

Awards season

Now the end of the season is approaching, we’re all talking about who will be our players of the season here on Merseyside. With Philippe Coutinho making the PFA Team of the Year it would be hard to overlook him to take home the top prize at Liverpool’s awards night on Tuesday 19th May. But defender Kolo Toure believes it’s a toss-up between the Brazilian and Jordan Henderson. With the Englishman looking likely to take over as captain next season, he has fought hard to prove he is worthy of it but ex-Reds striker Robbie Fowler thinks it would be a huge surprise if anyone but Coutinho scooped the gong.

Everton’s End of Season Awards takes place the following evening and it looks like it will be extremely close in most categories. Favourites to win the Player of the Year are James McCarthy and captain Phil Jagielka. The Young Player of the Year category is full of key first-team players, including Romelu Lukaku, McCarthy, John Stones, Ross Barkley and Mo Besic, making it a very hard choice. But one category fans think they can predict is Goal of the Season: Jagielka’s stunning last-minute equaliser in the Merseyside derby back in September is something they’re all still talking about.

Read more from Jennifer Jewell here

Follow @jennifer_jewell

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