From the moment he took the managerial reins at Anfield, Brendan Rodgers planned to use Steven Gerrard as a controlling midfielder – but the switch was a matter of timing for the team.

High on the Northern Irishman's agenda after his appointment as Liverpool boss in the summer of 2012 was a conversation with the club captain, regarding long-term plans for his role.

Even then, Rodgers envisioned the system that supporters witnessed with success throughout the second half of last season - the No.8 positioned at the base of a central pillar for the Reds.

When the switch was actioned in January, Gerrard thrived; his natural passing range could flourish with space in front, while the skipper's awareness and decision-making afforded extra protection.

Then there was the small matter of 13 goals and 13 assists in the Barclays Premier League, adding to a monumental contribution which helped drive Liverpool to second place in the standings.

Taking up the story, Rodgers explained: "I sat with Steven when I first came in, two years ago.

"And I said that this was my vision for him prolonging his career. I felt he had the real quality to play in that role. After that, it was only about timing really.

"It was about when we put him in that position. And probably halfway through the season, once I had the players fit that could move and work around him, we changed him and from then he's been outstanding.

"Steven's a really intelligent player. He's played really as a more attacking player all his life, but he's dropped back into that role. It's still a playmaking position, and he's started off a number of our attacks from there.

"And for him to finish the season like he did was incredible. He goes into the World Cup in great form, and he will be strong next year as well I am sure."