News travels fast in the off-season. Occasionally, a little too fast; especially when that news is being disseminated by internet.
This appears to be what has happened to the Steven-Gerrard-to-RBNY rumor, and it might be time to reel that in a little.
You will recall this all started on December 13, when the Telegraph - a British newspaper - ran a story announcing Gerrard was "on Gerard Houllier's hit list for New York Red Bulls". Fair enough: the substance of the piece was that Houllier had put a discovery claim on Gerrard - one of MLS's bizarre conventions for dampening competition between its clubs ("discovery" is effectively first right to negotiate, so MLS teams form an orderly queue instead of bidding against each other). Characterizing that as a "hit list" isn't too much of a stretch.
By the following day, the story was in the hands of Britain's tabloid press. "Steven Gerrard 'to be offered a contract at New York Red Bulls' if he turns down new Liverpool deal", declared the Mirror.
The quotation marks around "to be offered a contract..." within the headline are interesting, not least because it isn't really a direct quotation from the Telegraph's original story, or any source within the Mirror's own piece. At best, as far as this observer can tell, they are intended to convey the fact that the paper is paraphrasing the lede of its own article.
That is some slick journalism, but doesn't really advance the story. Steven Gerrard was no closer - as far as we know - to being offered a contract by the Red Bulls on December 14 than he was when the Telegraph announced he was on RBNY's "hit list".
Nonetheless, by December 15, the US media had decided to advance the Mirror's take on the story. NBC Sports' Pro Soccer Talk blog dispensed with the quotation marks all together: "Report: Steven Gerrard to be offered contract by New York Red Bulls" was the headline selected.
In fairness to NBC, its piece does note the existence of an alternative view to that of the UK press, concluding "other reports suggest this is wide of the mark" after summarizing the discovery claim story.
Those "other reports" would appear to have their foundation in Kristian Dyer's reporting. Dyer may not be in a position to get Gerard Houllier on the phone, or have great connections inside Liverpool FC, but he is as well-connected a reporter on the RBNY beat as exists at the present time.
He found a source within the club to make a very clear statement about the Red Bulls' dealings with Gerrard: "zero contact or discovery claim."
A point worth noting as, if, and when this story continues.