Fan favourite Mamadou Sakho has today signed a new long term contract with Liverpool FC, keeping him at the club till 2020.
After committing his future to the club, the 25-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com: “I am very happy to sign a long-term contract with Liverpool because, as I’ve always said, I am very happy here and my family are happy in Liverpool.
“I will keep working because I am a Liverpool soldier and when Liverpool need me, I try to give my best. I am happy to stay as a Scouser!
“I work all the time 100 per cent, I try to stay professional and I give my best for this city and this club.
“It is important for me because every day when I wake up, I am very happy to come into the training ground with all the players.”
The 18 year old Spanish midfielder who joined the Reds’ Kirkby Academy from Valencia back in 2013 says ‘it was a dream come true’ to make his debut for Liverpool in last nights 1-1 draw against Bordeaux.
Pedro Chirivella came on just before half time to replace the injured Kolo Toure and put in a accomplished performance along side fellow teenager Jordan Rossiter. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Chirivella said –
“It was a big day for me. I have waited for this chance and it is a dream come true to make my debut for Liverpool.
“It was very unlucky for Kolo as he has been working really hard. I felt so sorry for him but I had to be ready to help the team.
“The manager told me to keep calm and to play my game.
“With it being my first game there were a few nerves but I just tried to focus on playing well for the team.
“I think it was a very good performance from us away from home and a good point for us.”
The Spain youth international says he benefited from the fact that he had Rossiter for company in the centre of midfield.
The pair have played plenty of football together for Liverpool Under-21s.
“Jordan and I understand each other’s game,” he added.
“We’ve played together for the past two years and support each other. It was great to be out there with him.
“Liverpool is a team that always gives chances to young players and that gives you motivation as a youngster.
“The manager said well done to me afterwards but I know I have to keep going.
“Hopefully this is the start of a big career for me at Liverpool.”
Liverpool kicked off their Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Bordeaux, and the manager, though disappointed with the result, was full of praise for the young reds he fielded last night.
He said –
“I am disappointed but I feel encouraged by the performance with so many young players.
“I was disappointed their striker got too many touches in the box but if you can’t win, especially away from home in Europe, you at least get a point and we’re satisfied with that.
“I was so proud of them tonight. I will always give the young players an opportunity if they have the personality.”
“The senior players were outstanding helping the younger players and we will look for more of that in the coming weeks.”
The Liverpool boss also hailed the immense performance of Mamadou Sakho, and believes that the French defender has now put himself in contention for his first Premier League start this season against Norwich.
“Sakho was immense at the back,” said Rodgers. “He knows he has had to be patient and his attitude has been first class.
“He has trained very well, kept professional, done his extra work on his fitness and he has got his rewards for that.
“He certainly comes into the reckoning for the weekend (against Norwich).”
Rodgers made eight changes from the side beaten by Manchester United at the weekend with the first-half introduction of debutant Pedro Chirivella meaning the average age of the side was a mere 21.7 years.
While critical of Liverpool’s defending for the equaliser, Rodgers was impressed with the display of 18-year-old central midfield duo Jordan Rossiter and Chirivella, who replaced the injured Kolo Toure after 28 minutes.
“As the game wore on they combined with the other players and I thought they acquitted themselves well,” said the Reds boss.
“If you take those two, Jordon Ibe who is 19, Joe Gomez who is 18, there was great encouragement for the young players and supporters.”
Lallana marked his return from a month out with a thigh injury by netting only his seventh goal for the club.
“It was an outstanding goal,” said Rodgers. “It was his touch and creativity which we have not seen so much of this season.
“It was a wonderful goal and (substitute) Danny Ings was unfortunate not to score.”
Brendan Rodgers has revealed that the French defender will be offered a new contract.
“Mama is a player we want to keep,” Rodgers said.
“It’s been a difficult start for him. We won the first few games so it was difficult to change the team. He was working up his fitness levels.
“We were always going to need Mama after the international break. We want to extend his contract at the club and for sure he will play.”
In his pre-matdh press conference, The Liverpool manager also defended the squad that he has picked to travel to Bordeaux. He said –
“My approach is what I did in this competition when I first came in: we played players who were needing games and it gives me a chance to look at some younger players and back then we finished top of the group,” said Rodgers.
“We will pick a team to win the game. At this stage for me it is really about trying to get a performance level as consequently that will lead to us getting consistent results.
“Some players who I left behind will play (against Norwich on Sunday) but there will be players who play (on Thursday) who will play at the weekend and that opportunity is there.”
Rodgers also confirmed that Divock Origi will lead the line for Liverpool in Benteke’s absence.
“Divock is a young player settling into the club well and he will feature,” Rodgers said.
“He’s a very talented young boy. He’s got great attributes and I’m sure over time he will demonstrate those.”
Former Liverpool Captain believes that there is no need to raise the panic alarms just yet despite a disappointing loss against arch rivals Manchester United a few days back.
The Former reds legend also believes that the return of Daniel Sturridge, Captain Jordan Henderson, and Phil Coutinho could mean that there is still a lot more to come from this Liverpool side which looked nothing short of disappointing at Old Trafford on Saturday.
He said: “I’m still a bit dejected from the performance and the result.
“It’s still a bit raw but you have to understand the bigger picture. It’s still early on in the season, we’re on the back of two poor performances and results.
“But there’s still a lot of time to recover and with the fixtures we’ve got coming up hopefully we can take six points and start mending that damage.
“I was expecting a big reaction from the West Ham performance and it never came until the second half. When you play the big teams it’s too late. You can’t afford afford to react in the second half.”
He added: “The frustrating thing for me was that Man United didn’t have to do too much to win it. I think that’s what will be hurting Brendan and the players.
“The fans are disappointed at the moment but I think it’s important we don’t panic.”
The former Liverpool captain was speaking with Steve Hothersall and ECHO columnist John Aldridge on Radio City Legends, and he said that there’s plenty of time for Rodgers to fix the Reds’ recent issues.
And Gerrard says the return of key players to the side will have a big influence on Liverpool’s fortunes.
He added: “We’re missing some big players. I think it’s vital Daniel Sturridge is back playing and firing as soon as possible. I think the key is the partnership he forms with Benteke because if they click together there’s plenty more big games to finish high up in the league.
“So although it’s been disappointing it’s important to stay calm.
“Henderson has been a big miss and Coutinho’s suspension was a hammer blow, so I think they’re three big players.If you get those three into the team we will be fine.”
In his latest autobiography, Steven Gerrard explains how he was made to be the chief persuader in order to lure some of the finest talents in Europe to Liverpool. (Source – The Daily Mail)
“I had an unofficial role at the club, trying to persuade some great players to join Liverpool. It was the same ritual every summer. The club would let me know which long-shot target they had in mind and then ask me to contact him. They thought that a request to consider moving to Liverpool would have more impact coming from me.
(Picture Credits – The Daily Mail)
In 2013, the latest player in our sights was Willian, the Brazilian midfielder. I followed the usual routine when approaching a star player we wanted to sign. Instead of calling him directly I always sent a text. It seemed more respectful and allowed the player to read my message at a time when it suited him best. A cold call felt wrong.
I slipped into the groove with Willian. I said hello and hoped he didn’t mind me contacting him directly. I stressed how much I admired him as a player and then, having mentioned that I knew Liverpool were speaking to his agent, I used the standard line: ‘If you need to chat or ask any questions I’m available at any time.’
It was the opening move in a familiar game. The reply came in and the same old conversation started. Willian thanked me and he said the usual, along the lines of, ‘I’d love to play with you, Steven, blah-blah-blah, but there are other clubs who play in the Champions League I need to talk to as well.’ I knew Spurs and Chelsea were also very keen on Willian. So I answered him and said, of course, I understood. But I then went in with my sales pitch. ‘I think Liverpool would be a great move for you. The fans are amazing, the history is there and we’re building a good team. You could do something great here – and we’d love to have you.’
I meant it, too, because the club only asked for my help if it was with a player I rated. But I always tried to persuade with honesty and respect and never mentioned anything about the player’s financial situation or the contract he could expect from Liverpool. The next text from Willian was so obvious I could have written it for him even before I read it. He again said that it would be great to play in the same team as me but ‘I’m not sure Liverpool can give me the Champions League.’ He went to Chelsea.
It was a game of texting ping-pong that had only small differences each time. Occasionally a player would say his wife or girlfriend preferred the idea of living in London, Madrid or Paris. The clear message was that there were fancier shops and swankier restaurants in bigger cities than Liverpool. I knew then that the deal was dead.
(Picture Credits – Getty Images & The Daily Mail)
Our target in 2014 was ridiculously optimistic. Brendan asked me to take a crack at trying to talk Toni Kroos into signing for Liverpool. He smiled when I said we’d be p*****g into the wind with this one. We both admired Kroos immensely. I knew Real Madrid were gearing up to make Bayern Munich an offer and so I felt a bit awkward when I texted Kroos. The German was on his way to winning the World Cup with his country and Real were the champions of Europe. But God loves a trier, and so I gave it a whirl.
Some of the best footballers in the world can also be the most respectful. Kroos didn’t make me feel like I was a total idiot. But, of course, he would soon sign for Real Madrid. We had a nice little exchange of texts and I said well done and good luck.”
“I sometimes allow my mind to wander and think, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to manage Liverpool one day?’ Right now I can’t know if I’d be good enough or if I would even be asked to do the job in the future.
First and foremost I’d have to feel confident that I could be a successful manager. I would never take the job on the back of my name — or just because some fans would like me to step in on the basis they’d once supported me as a player.
I know that being manager of Liverpool Football Club is a huge job. It needs the right man with the right credentials and know-how.
So for me, at the moment, it can’t be anything more than a ‘maybe’. All I can really say is that it is a lovely dream — but I simply have no idea if it will ever happen or if it’s even realistic to talk about it.
It’s still quite fun to fantasise a little. If, totally hypothetically, I was going to become Liverpool manager one day I know who I’d love to have as my assistant: Xabi Alonso or Jamie Carragher. They are very intelligent, have a deep knowledge of football and are special men.
If I had smart people around me, and the right coaching team behind me, I like to think I could succeed as a manager.
I have completed and passed my B licence and will now take a break while I concentrate on playing football with LA Galaxy and then crack on with my UEFA A coaching licence once I’m back in England for good. The idea of becoming a manager one day is intriguing but I still really don’t know if it’s the road I will follow.
Once my playing career is over in America I want to explore various aspects of management. I would love to spend some time with a few top managers. How could you not learn a lot if you had a chance to talk in detail about management to Mourinho, Wenger, Hodgson and Rodgers?
The same goes for Pep Guardiola. I’d love spending a week watching Pep work. “
“I don’t really want to waste time thinking about El Hadji Diouf but it’s worth highlighting his wasted seasons at Liverpool as an example of how it can all go wrong.
Gerard Houllier, a very good manager and a usually wise judge of character, signed Diouf in the summer of 2002. Gerard bought Diouf for £10m from Lens – solely on the recommendation of his former assistant, Patrice Bergues, who had coached Diouf there.
I understood why Gerard rushed through the signing, but he did not really know Diouf as a person. He was one of three new signings which were meant to turn Liverpool into Premier League champions.
We had finished as runners-up to Manchester United the season before and a combination of Diouf, Salif Diao and Bruno Cheyrou was supposed to drive us to the title. It was probably the biggest waste of £18m in Liverpool’s history.
We finished the season in fifth place and Diouf had sealed his place at the top of the list of Liverpool signings I liked least.
It seemed to me that Diouf had no real interest in football and that he cared nothing about Liverpool. For example, the way he spat a huge globule of gunky phlegm at a Celtic fan in a UEFA Cup match at Parkhead in March 2003 summed up his contemptuous and spiteful demeanour.
A few people have since asked me if I saw any comparison between Diouf and Mario Balotelli – and I’ve always said no. I’ve got respect for Balotelli; I’ve got none for Diouf.
Balotelli can be endearing sometimes — and that’s never a trait that you would associate with Diouf. The only positive aspect of the otherwise ugly signing of Diouf is that he worked hard on the pitch. He always wanted the ball, and he never hid.
But after a while I decided Diouf simply wasn’t your usual footballer. It seemed to me as if football got in the way of his social life.
At least Balotelli could still make me smile sometimes, I have a small hope that, one day, his career might work out and he can prove his potential on a regular basis.
In my last season, Brendan Rodgers came to me at Melwood one day in mid-August. We had a chat on the training pitch. He said, ‘You know we’ve missed out on a couple of signings. I’m basically left with no option but to have a bit of a gamble.’
Brendan paused before he spoke again: ‘The gamble is Mario Balotelli.’ My instant reaction was, ‘Uh-oh.’
I’d never met Balotelli but I’d heard all the stories about the indoor fireworks and Jose Mourinho describing him as an ‘unmanageable’ player. I could see that, in the right mood, he was a quality footballer but the rest of his career seemed like a spectacular waste of talent. That was my opinion of Balotelli.
But I also had to admit that, when he played for Italy, he seemed able to switch on his gift like he was snapping on a bright light. When he scored the winner against England in the 2014 World Cup a month earlier he showed all the movement which made him so difficult to mark at his best. I told Brendan that, up close to him on the pitch, you could see that he was a big, powerful guy. Brendan must have sensed my underlying reservations because he spoke a little more about why he thought it could be worth the risk. Brendan implied that Balotelli didn’t have anywhere else to go — and it seemed as if Liverpool would be Balotelli’s last chance to shine at a major club.
He would be offered a strict contract. Any bad behaviour would be punished.
I reminded myself that I had always allowed every new player to come into the club with a clean slate. Balotelli’s reputation tested that resolve but I tried my best to be open-minded. He made an immediate impression when we were doing work on our defensive set pieces and Balotelli said to Brendan: ‘I don’t mark on corners. I can’t.’
I nearly fell into the goalpost. I was thinking, ‘What are you? Six foot three, and one of the strongest men I’ve ever seen on a football pitch? And you can’t mark on a corner?’
Brendan was very firm. He said to Balotelli: ‘Well, you can now – and if you can’t then you’re going to learn.’
That was the first conflict between Brendan and Balotelli, on day one, but the manager stood up to Mario really well. From that point, Balotelli started marking on corners.
He made his Liverpool debut on August 31, 2014 away to Tottenham, and he did well. We won 3-0. He wasn’t outstanding but he worked hard and even looked like a team player. It would not last.
Daniel Sturridge was injured 10 days later, while training with England. He would be out for many weeks.
Suddenly the Mario gamble was in jeopardy – because I knew that Balotelli would simply not put in the work we needed from a lone striker.
Everything became more tangled and more difficult. Away to Basle in the Champions League, Balotelli started the game and he was hopeless.
After his promising debut against Tottenham he had lapsed in training and the subsequent games. His demeanour was very poor. I made up my mind pretty quickly after that about Balotelli.
There was no friction between us. We got on fine. I still tried to help him and I kept looking for chances to praise him.
But I could see Mourinho had been right when he said Balotelli is unmanageable.
He is very talented with the potential to be world class, but he’ll never get there because of his mentality and the people around him.
Balotelli’s always late, he always wants attention, he says the wrong things on social media.
For me, he doesn’t work hard enough on a daily basis. You’re always fighting a losing battle with Balotelli.
Steven Gerrard highlights Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, and Luis Suarez as the best Liverpool signings during his time at Anfield.
These excerpts are courtesy the Daily Mail.
Here’s what he said:
“I had seen a staggering number of new signings walk into the Liverpool training ground. I watched every single one of their first training sessions with close attention, wondering whether we’d bought a star or another dud, a king or a prat, a Xabi Alonso or an El Hadji Diouf, a Luis Suarez or a Mario Balotelli.
Three players stand out in my time at Liverpool. They all speak Spanish. Each of them unleashes a wave of emotion in me and in every Liverpool supporter: Fernando Torres. Xabi Alonso. Luis Suarez.
It was clear Alonso was royalty after our first training session together in August 2004, and Rafa Benitez, who had been so clever to buy him in the first place, was equally stupid to sell him to Real Madrid five years later. He was, by some distance, the best central midfielder I ever played alongside.
It was a disastrous decision to sell Alonso, and especially for just £30million — which looks a snip now when you reflect on all he has achieved subsequently, both at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and with Spain, winning the Euros and the World Cup. I blame Rafa entirely for the loss of Alonso. He could still have been playing for Liverpool six or seven years after he left in 2009.
I think more about the special players we lost — Alonso, Torres and Suarez — than the terrible signings with which we got lumbered.
Suarez, who ran and pressed and fought for the ball and ran again — while producing extraordinary moves and sublime goals. There was a sustained period when playing with Luis was like being under a magical spell. He blew me away with his talent.
Fernando came the closest to matching Luis. I had two years with Fernando when he made me feel invincible. I always knew where he was, where he was going to move next. I’m not a natural No 10 but, for a couple of years, Fernando helped me become one. I had my best season then, as a No 10, and that was down to Fernando in 2007-08.
But, ultimately, Luis stands out. I would have loved to have played with Luis when I was a lot younger, and peaking, as we could have been phenomenal together for years. That’s my only tinge of regret with Suarez.
Here’s an example of what he did for me. On March 13, 2012 I scored a hat-trick at Anfield against Everton. It was the first hat-trick in 30 years of Merseyside derbies, since Ian Rush scored three at Goodison Park in 1982. It was made even better by the selfless magic Suarez sprinkled over me that night. Luis is no saint — and I’m not sure he would have done the same for Daniel Sturridge. There was always a little bit of needling rivalry between Sturridge and Suarez
But when it came to me, especially against Everton, Luis went out of his way. He helped Liverpool – and me – play like kings.
All the people who revile Suarez, never having met him, might be surprised if they had the chance to benefit from his unselfish willingness to sacrifice himself for his team. He will run himself into the ground. He scores goals. He creates goals. He’s hard and horrible to play against. He’s right up for it. You’ve got a chance of beating anyone in the world with Luis Suarez in your team.
Not every Liverpool signing worked out like that.”
‘I can pick up the phone and speak to all of my previous Liverpool managers. Apart from one of them. Rafa is the exception.’ Steven Gerrard on his time under Benitez in his latest autobiography.
These excerpts are courtesy the Daily Mail.
(Picture Credits – Getty Images)
“I don’t think Rafa Benitez liked me as a person. I’m not sure why, but that’s the feeling I got from him. It probably started even before he spoke to me, when he met my mum.
Rafa was appointed as Liverpool’s manager in June 2004 — and I was playing for England in the Euros in Portugal that summer.
Even though he was being replaced by Rafa, Gerard Houllier still loved Liverpool and he remained very close to me. He and my mum flew out to Portugal to watch me play for England against Croatia — and they bumped into Rafa.
Gerard introduced Rafa to my mum. Rafa shook her hand, said hello and then immediately asked her a very blunt question: ‘Does Steven like money?’
Apart from a standard ‘Hello… good to meet you’ introduction, those were the first words Rafa said to my mum. I thought: ‘What kind of question is that?’
I can pick up the phone and speak to all of my previous Liverpool managers. Except for Rafa.
It’s a shame because we probably shared the biggest night of both our careers — the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul — and yet there is no bond between us.
I used to think he favoured our Spanish-speakers. He was an especially big fan of South American players, which is fine. It caused no problem between us.
At press conferences he might call other players by their first name but I was always ‘Gerrard’. It was the same in the dressing room. He would read out the team and use nicknames. But, for me, it would just be ‘Gerrard’.
It wouldn’t have made me play any better if he’d suddenly started calling me ‘Stevie’. I just wanted to win the next game and I knew Rafa could, usually, help us achieve another victory. He was the best tactical coach I worked with at Liverpool and England so I didn’t care what he called me.
If we were to bump into each other tomorrow there would be no unpleasantness but maybe a day will come when we can actually have a deeper and friendlier conversation and reflect on everything we experienced at Liverpool.
Our working relationship was ultra-professional and his frostiness drove me to become a better player. I had a hunger to earn a compliment from him — but also a hunger to let him know he really needed me as a player. We were like fire and ice. Passion surged inside me, while Rafa was the strategic thinker.
One time he did suffer a meltdown involving Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. I went home from training that Friday lunchtime and switched on the TV. Rafa sat down with his usual half-smile. It looked likely to be a normal press conference, but then he reached into his pocket for a piece of paper.
He spread it out on the table and began to read out one ‘fact’ after another. Rafa kept saying ‘fact… fact… fact…’ and I could not believe what I was hearing. I was grabbing the couch, digging my fingers into the arms, feeling embarrassed for him.
Rafa started by saying that maybe Manchester United ‘are nervous because we are at the top of the table’. I thought: ‘Uh oh, what’s happening here?’
It seemed so unlike Rafa to talk in such an emotional way. You could see the anger in him. ‘I want to talk about facts,’ Rafa said. ‘I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start. But I have seen some facts.’
Rafa went off on a ramble about how Manchester United and ‘Mr Ferguson’ had not been properly punished for various misdemeanours. He listed dates and incidents and concluded that ‘Mr Ferguson is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things’.
He then railed against the fixture list and the timing of matches being skewed in United’s favour. Rafa was sounding muddled and bitter and paranoid. He was humiliating himself. It was a disaster. I couldn’t understand Rafa’s thinking in wanting to take on Ferguson, a master of mind games, when we were sitting so calmly on top of the table early into a new year.
When I met up with England all the Manchester United players told me Fergie was just laughing at Rafa, saying: ‘I’ve got him. I’ve got him.’
Rafa made a lot of decisions with himself in mind. He wanted power and control. I didn’t like it. Fighting with the board, other managers and the press wasn’t the Liverpool way.
Rafa had fallen out with the owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. We were all starting to doubt them but Rafa talked to the press about problems with his new contract.
Rafa broke the focus of the team. We got asked about it all the time in the media: ‘What’s all that about? Why has he done that?’ We never found out because Rafa didn’t say a word to us. I think he felt awkward because he knew it backfired
That weekend Manchester United hammered Chelsea 3–0. We drew 0–0 at Stoke. My managers over the years have been diverse personalities, with their own style of working.
On a basic human level I prefer a likeable manager, such as Gerard Houllier or Brendan Rodgers, but in terms of football I really don’t mind working with a colder man. An emotionless and distant relationship with the likes of Rafa Benítez and Fabio Capello can sometimes produce more success.
It would not be my style if I were to ever become a manager — I’d try to fuse the best of Rafa’s tactical thinking with Brendan’s skill as a man-manager.”
In this excerpt from Steven Gerrard’s soon to be released autobiography, the Liverpool legend reveals how Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho made several attempts to sign him, and how he could have been the perfect reds’ boss.
These excerpts are courtesy the Daily Mail.
“Chelsea fans are not my people. We’ve all worked that out over the years. I belong to Liverpool.
Jose Mourinho understood my reasons; but each time he came in for me he was very persuasive. I liked the way he spoke to me and I could see how most of his players were ready to die for him. I remembered him winning the Champions League with Inter Milan and the devastation of his players when he left. You could see it in their faces. I understood how they felt because they had shared such a big moment in their careers together.
I never had that with Rafa Benitez. I would have had it with Jose Mourinho.
It was clear that, tactically, he could set up his team to win any football match. He could spoil, he could fight, he could do whatever you needed because he was a pure winner. But, more than that, he created a special bond with each squad he managed.
You heard it in the way his players spoke about him. You saw it in the way they played for him.
For me, the ideal situation would obviously have been for Mourinho to have managed Liverpool.
He was linked with a move to Anfield a couple of times but it never materialised. I know I’m biased, but I think it would have been a perfect match. The Liverpool fans would have loved him and he would have known exactly how to turn that love into adoration. He always told me about his deep respect for our supporters. Jose would have had a fantastic time bringing huge success to Liverpool.
When I was playing my best football, probably in 2006 and even in 2009, there were some big chances to leave: Chelsea again; Real Madrid twice — and the second time was more tempting because, once more, Mourinho wanted me. Playing for Jose in the white shirt of Real Madrid, at the Bernabeu? Only Liverpool could have made me say ‘no’ again.
Even after Euro 2012, when I had my most consistent tournament for England and was included in the team of the championship in Poland and Ukraine, Bayern Munich were in touch with my agent.
I understood how it felt to be flattered and chased. Mourinho had also spoken about trying to sign me for Inter Milan in the season they won the Champions League. Barcelona apparently sniffed and skirted around me but I’m not sure they were ever especially interested.
I had come so close to leaving Liverpool for Chelsea in 2005. The reason I stayed was that Liverpool meant so much to me both as a club and as a city. Chelsea and London didn’t mean anything.
During those distressing days when I felt so torn about whether or not I should stay or go I never once thought to myself, ‘I want to play for Chelsea instead of Liverpool’. My head was almost turned because I was thinking, ‘I’d love to play for Jose Mourinho’. I was certain that, under Jose, I would win all the trophies I craved.
Between July 2005 and May 2015 Chelsea won the Champions League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Europa League and two League Cups. That’s 10 big trophies.
In that same period at Liverpool, I have won an FA Cup and a League Cup. Chelsea 10, Liverpool 2.
If Jose Mourinho had managed England in 2004 and 2006 I’m convinced we could have reached at least one major final. I think Rafa Benitez could also have steered us to a final in the Euros or the World Cup. But the only problem with Rafa is that a lot of the players would not have enjoyed playing for him and, over a long tournament, there would be pressures and tensions. That’s why Jose stands out as the manager I wish England had appointed during my time as a player.
Imagine what he could have got out of a group that included Beckham, Scholes, Owen, Terry, Neville, Rooney, Campbell, Ferdinand, Lampard, Cole, Gerrard and a few others.
On March 29 this year, after a charity game at Anfield, John Terry handed me a handwritten letter, on Chelsea notepaper, from Mourinho to me.”
Mourinho’s letter to Gerrard
I know this isn’t yet over but first of all I want to congratulate you for the fantastic career at your heart club. Secondly, I want to let you know my feeling of how sorry I am, for never seeing your work. Thirdly, enjoy the day with your friends and family and your stadium, your fans, your memories. Fourthly, the most important thing, ‘Be happy every day of your life with the smile of your kids!’
In this excerpt (courtesy the Daily Mail), Steven Gerrard reveals the names of the clubs that came in for him before his exit, and what could have made him stay at Liverpool.
“Before I went public with the news, other clubs were hearing I might be leaving Liverpool.
The first offer came from Besiktas, then managed by Slaven Bilic. Monaco were next. They came in strong. Paris Saint-Germain were also very keen. David Moyes called my agent a couple of times, to see whether I would be interested in playing for him at Real Sociedad.
A few English clubs called but I wouldn’t play against Liverpool. There was interest from Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. It was good to know he still rated me. I was sure I could play in the Premier League for another year but there would not have been much of a buzz doing the same thing all over again with Tottenham.
I was slightly interested in PSG and Monaco but how could I come back to Anfield if there was a European game?
I’d had high hopes for my final contract from Liverpool but I just wanted to get it settled so I could get back to thinking only about football.
Brendan Rodgers wanted me to stay, but the club’s offer suggested ‘it feels like it’s time. Enjoy your last six months with us and then start afresh somewhere else’.
The meeting to discuss a new deal lasted 15 minutes — a very short time to decide the conclusion to my Liverpool career after 27 years.
It was pretty much a case of ‘this is the offer’. It seemed as if I wanted them more than they wanted me.
The offer was a one-year extension with a 40 per cent pay decrease. The bonuses were very good but they contradicted everything that Brendan had told me. My game time was going to become less and less but they were offering performance-related incentives?
I had no quibbles with the money offered. A substantial decrease was only to be expected. At 34 I was not the player who had lifted the Champions League trophy 10 years earlier. I also understood that I would have to play less — but I still valued myself as a top player and an important part of the team.
I was still captain and I was disappointed to be offered a performance-incentive contract. I thought they would have known that, apart from pride in my own performances and an enduring love for Liverpool, I didn’t need any incentive to try my heart out.
In a perfect scenario, Liverpool could have offered me a one-year deal which included the chance to make a transition to the first-team staff. A year with Brendan and his staff would have been an invaluable experience — which players like Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville and Garry Monk had enjoyed at other clubs.
Soon after the reduced contract offer had been made, the club asked me to appear in an advert for Nivea. It was clear I was still important to Liverpool off the field.
I turned it down. Jordan Henderson stepped in and when I saw the ad on television I was relieved. Doing those kind of ads just isn’t me. I’ve had tons of offers to advertise products bare-chested and I’ve always said no. Maybe that’s why, unlike most leading players, I’ve never asked for an image rights deal with Liverpool.
I’ve heard players talking about image rights and how much it will earn them but it’s disgusting for a player to ask for image rights from his club. When you sign a contract then you sign your image rights over to the club. They pay you well and you work for them.
Maybe it’s different if you are Messi or Ronaldo but the Nivea advert was one request I could turn down. I have fulfilled many commercial obligations for Liverpool over the years because it’s part of my job as captain.
My career has been about football: neither vast amounts of money nor a celebrity image really interests me. So I had no problem when it became clear that if I decided to play Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy, it would be for less money than if I had stayed at Liverpool.
It’s also why I turned down a €13.5million (around £10m) net deal to play in Qatar for two years. That would have been more than I’d ever earned, but Qatar wasn’t the right place for me and my family.
America was much more appealing. MLS would allow me both to continue playing at a decent level for a few more years and to spend some proper time with my wife, Alex, and my daughters away from the pressure-cooker of life in Liverpool.
Professionally, I could not have accepted becoming a squad player. I remembered seeing Frank Lampard — a great player, and a close contemporary — sitting on the bench for Manchester City week after week after he left Chelsea. I don’t think I could have followed the same route. I always want to be playing.
That was in my mind when we went to Madrid for a Champions League game against Real on November 4. It had made me nostalgic for March 2009, when we had beaten them 4-0 at home, 5-0 on aggregate.
The home demolition was one of my sweetest nights of European football and it prompted Zinedine Zidane to make his generous claim about me: ‘He’s the best in the world. Forget about Messi, forget about Ronaldo. It’s Gerrard.’
They sauntered into Anfield thinking they were going to turn us over. One of the Madrid papers ran a front page with a photograph of Liverpool’s ground. Above it was the headline, ‘So this is the famous Anfield?’ And there was another below it which said, ‘So what?’ We blew them away.
Five years and four months later it was my turn to be shocked when I was left out.
We were due to play Chelsea at Anfield on the weekend and Brendan decided that Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and I would start on the bench against Real. He supposedly wanted us fresh for Chelsea.
If Brendan’s managing of my games meant that I would have to miss playing against Real, in Madrid, it seemed as if I had seen the end.
How could I go on playing for Liverpool another year if these were the kind of empty nights that awaited me?
I came on in the second half and while it was only a 1–0 defeat it did feel like Brendan had surrendered even before kick- off.
‘The tears kept coming. I can’t even tell you if the streets were thick with traffic or as empty as I was on the inside’ Steven Gerrard recounts the slip that haunts him, in his latest autobiography set to be released in the end of September.
These excerpts are courtesy the Daily Mail.
“I sat in the back of the car and felt the tears rolling down my face. I hadn’t cried for years but, on the way home, I couldn’t stop. The tears kept coming. I can’t even tell you if the streets were thick with traffic or as empty as I was on the inside. It was killing me.
I felt numb, like I had lost someone in my family. It was as if my whole quarter of a century at this football club poured out of me. I did not even try to stem the silent tears as the events of the afternoon played over and over again in my head.
April 27 2014: one more victory and we would be almost certain to win the league for the first time since May 1990.
But in the last minute of the first half against a cagey Chelsea, set up to stop our rush to glory by Jose Mourinho, it happened.
A simple pass rolled towards me near the halfway line. It was a nothing moment, a lull in our surge to the title. I moved to meet the ball. It slid under my foot. The twist came then. I slipped. I fell to the ground.
The ball was swept away and the devastating Chelsea attack began. I clambered to my feet and ran with all my heart. I chased Demba Ba as though my life depended on it. I knew the outcome if I couldn’t catch him. But it was hopeless. I couldn’t stop him. Ba scored. It was over.
We lost 2-0 and Manchester City went on to win the title. I had wanted to win it with Liverpool for so long that, now it had gone again, I could not hold my emotion in check.
I beat myself up. My head was all over the place. I had lived through many great moments in my career and achieved success beyond my most fevered boyhood dreams.
I had played and scored in games and tournaments which belonged to another world from the Bluebell Estate in Huyton where I had grown up. I had done things that would have shocked me as a kid.
I had also given absolutely everything of myself to Liverpool: in training, in almost 700 games, off the pitch, around the squad and as part of the club, the community and the city.
I could not have done any more. I had squeezed out every last ounce of ambition and desire and hope inside me.
Instead of hitting a long crossfield pass to set up a goal, making a decisive tackle or curling the ball into the back of the Chelsea goal to seal our victory, I had fallen over.
The Kop, and the whole of Anfield, had sung You’ll Never Walk Alone again, of course, but, in the car, I felt isolated. I felt very alone.
The Liverpool anthem reminds you to hold your head up high when you walk through a storm. It reminds you not to be afraid of the dark. It reminds you to walk on through the wind and the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown, and to walk on with hope in your heart.
I did not feel like I had much hope left. It seemed like I was heading for suicide watch instead.”
“On the morning of the game, I felt like a caged animal. As I warmed up on the afternoon last March, the United fans opened their throats.
They pelted me with abuse — and their favourite song echoed around the away end:
‘Steve Gerrard, Gerrard… he slipped on his f****** arse, he gave it to Demba Ba… Steve Gerrard, Gerrard…’
After a while, when they got bored, they swapped it for another chestnut:
‘You nearly won the league, you nearly won the league… and now you better believe it, now you better believe it, now you better believe it, you nearly won the league.’
The anger in the caged animal grew and grew. United were swaggering, Anfield was very quiet. It was obvious I would come on at half-time.
We had stood off United in the first half and made very few tackles. It went against everything built into my DNA. Tackling and collisions mattered against Manchester United.
While we waited for the second half to start, I looked around Anfield, my ancient battleground, and did a last few warm-ups, rotating my torso from the hips, tugging at my shorts, impatient for the game to get under way.
The game restarted, I went in hard with a fair, but slamming tackle on Juan Mata. I cleaned out Mata, who went flying, and I won the ball.
I was involved again, immediately, as Ander Herrera came hurtling towards me to shut down space. I was too quick for him. I completed a simple pass as Herrera came flying in with his sliding tackle. His right leg stretched out invitingly on the Anfield turf. I couldn’t stop myself. Without even giving myself time to think I brought my left foot stamping down on Herrera. I felt my studs sink into his flesh just above the ankle. It had to have hurt him.
Herrera clutched his ankle and writhed around on the ground. I raised my arm above my head and gestured angrily. I was trying to deflect attention away from me. I knew I was in trouble. But I’m still a footballer and so I pointed at myself, almost in self-defence, as if to say:
‘Yes, you,’ referee Martin Atkinson’s walk said. I didn’t like the look of his walk. I didn’t like the look of his face.
Wayne Rooney was close by. Wayne looked at me. He knew I was gone.
As I left the pitch I asked myself: ‘What have you just done? Are you f****** stupid?’
It had taken me just 38 seconds to get myself sent off against Manchester United. Thirty-eight seconds in which I had been at the heart of every small cameo of action and ferocious display of rage. It had been, in the end, 38 seconds defined by anger and a kind of madness.
Before the Premier League game against United at Anfield on March 22, I believed I would start in what would be my final match against them.
(Picture Courtesy – Daily Mail)
Earlier in the season, Brendan Rodgers had given me a clear-cut message. ‘Even though I’m managing your games it’s important for you to understand that I’m trying to help you stay fresh. I can’t be flogging you every game because I won’t get the best out of you. Sometimes, I’ll give you a break and you’ll come back fresh and you’ll do well.’
Brendan then said, just as I was getting up to leave: ‘Look, I also want you to know one more thing. If we’ve got a very important game, a crucial game in the league or a cup final, then it’s obvious. You’re my No 1 pick. I put you in, and you’re my captain. What you’ve given me since I’ve walked through this door, made my mind up a long time ago. If we’ve got a big game, you’re in…’
We were out of the Champions League and the title was long gone. But we were closing in on fourth place, and Manchester United at home felt like the biggest game of the season. So I felt confident I would be selected.
I trained really well on the Wednesday and felt sharper and hungrier than anyone in the squad. That night I received a text from the manager: ‘You’ve trained so well the last couple of days, can we have a chat? Can you come to my office in the morning before training?’
I was already in bed but I replied instantly: ‘Yeah no problem, thanks.’
I might have sounded casual in my text but I was much more excited in my bed. I read Brendan’s text again.
‘I’m going to be back in the team here,’ I thought. ‘He’s thinking Man United, at home, massive game. He needs me for this one.’
I lay in the dark for the next hour, thinking about everything.
Brendan was in his office when I arrived at training. He started smiling as soon as I walked in and I stretched out my hand to say good morning. Brendan was still smiling as he leant back in his chair and said, ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Yeah, I’m fine, good,’ I said. ‘No problems.’
There was a little pause, then Brendan said: ‘Look, I’m desperate to get you back into the XI. But the team has done so well I’m going to go with the same lads that started the other night.’
A sudden lump formed in my throat. I looked at Brendan and, in that mad moment, I had a split- second decision to make. Do I have a go at him?
I went the other way. I went the right way. I decided to stay professional. ‘No problem, fine,’ I said.
‘OK?’ Brendan said.
‘OK,’ I nodded. ‘I respect your decision.’
We left it at that. I walked out and got ready for training. My mind was swimming. I couldn’t believe it. It felt to me, then, like a classic case of muscle-flexing.
My relationship with Brendan was too good for him to need to make a point to me. He was someone I respected and liked: his training sessions were among the best I had ever experienced while his man-management was excellent, generous and imaginative.
But I wondered if this was his way of showing the press that he was strong enough to make a difficult decision. This seemed a chance for Brendan to show his authority and send out a clear message that this was his team.
I can respect Brendan’s decision now, even if I obviously still believe it was the wrong one, because he wanted to show loyalty to everyone who had done well for him.
But it hurt me, especially because of our previous conversations and the fact that his Wednesday night text, which had been full of praise, had misled me. I’m sure he didn’t mean to give me the wrong impression but his text confirmed in my mind that I would be selected.
(Picture Courtesy – Daily Mail)
I had been taught to loathe Manchester United. It was drilled into our brains, hardening our hearts and conditioning our souls as Liverpool fans. It was tattooed into the head of every Liverpool fan. We had never liked each other, as clubs or cities, but the animosity had become deeper. Liverpool had been dominant for so long; and then, finally, United took over under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Over the years, especially when I was in the same England team alongside great United players like Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, my feelings became more layered, but they never disappeared.
I respected Ferguson and Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs; I even respected, grudgingly, what they had achieved as a club. But you never rolled over against United. If they got one over you, you fought back. You went in harder, with just a little more crunch, just to let them know it really was personal.
For more than 26 years, I had always felt compelled to show fire towards them. They were the enemy. Their shirt is the only one I won’t allow in my house. I have a big collection of shirts I’ve swapped with other players from different clubs — but not one from United.
I remember in 2000 after a Danny Murphy goal had seen Liverpool beat them 1-0, United fans hammered on our bus outside Old Trafford. They chanted: ‘F*** off, scum, we’ll f****** kill you in your Liverpool slum.’
My agent, Struan Marshall, told me that, under Fergie, United had a decent pop at trying to sign me. Gary Neville would knock at my door during England camps. He’d come in for a chat and let me know how much United would love me to play for them. Gary told me Fergie had sent him.
In 2004, Ferguson had called me ‘the most influential player in England, bar none’ and suggested that ‘anyone would love to have Gerrard in their team’.
So I was a little hurt and surprised when 13 years later, Ferguson used his autobiography to insist he was one of the few who never thought I was ‘a top, top player’. I wouldn’t lose any sleep but I was slightly taken aback after all his praise.
The only point that mattered was that I have real respect for Ferguson, but I wondered how many league titles he thought Scholes or Keane might have won if they had played for Liverpool.
I would have done OK in a United team playing alongside Keane in midfield with David Beckham on the right, Ryan Giggs on the left and Ruud van Nistelrooy up front. I would have managed pretty well in that side.”
Fancy being at Anfield? As Official Liverpool Supporters Club, DelhiKop gets some ticketing privileges from LFC.
For the second half of 2014-15, we’ve been given a total of 9 matches to choose from! Please be careful while selecting the matches and for your convenience, the kick off times (BST) have been mentioned.
There are a few points to remember while filling the form:
1. As an OLSC, we’re entitled to some ticketing privileges by LFC. For the 2nd half of the current campaign, we’ve been given the following matches to choose from!
2. If you’re willing to go in groups, please fill this form separately for every person going.
3. At one time, you can select 1 match from the drop down.
4. Filling this form doesn’t guarantee a ticket, final decision on that will be taken by Liverpool FC. We’ll inform you about the same as and when it happens.
5. Please select the match carefully and for your reference the current Kick Off (BST) times are mentioned. However, this might -change over the course of the season.
As you all know DelhiKop in its maiden year as an Official Liverpool Supporters Club grew bigger in size and stature. There were more than 700 people coming together for events on matchdays. But, it was not just quantity, we tried to deliver quality in various initiatives embraced by supporters of the best football team in the world.
Even, from LFC’s perspective, we were in the top 5 Official Liverpool Supporters Clubs in the world. And we’re sure you all as integral part of DelhiKop would want to see us in top 3 or maybe at the pole position this year.
The quest for that starts now as LFC has started renewing official memberships for 2014-15 season. Some of you must have already renewed the memberships. For DelhiKop to renew its Official Supporters Club Membership we need your support. We would need your membership numbers and we request more supporters to take memberships.
We’ll submit DelhiKop’s application for renewal on 10th June. So, you all have around 10 days to decide and get your membership numbers and let us know on the form below.
There are various types of memberships available to choose from. Below is a picture showing various benefits offered by various memberships.
We at DelhiKop encourage supporters to be official members. Also, there would be special access to official members at our events in the coming season.
Here’s a testimonial to one of our screenings (Sep 1, 2013 – Manchester United at Home) by a fan Nitesh Yadav:
A post by NITESH YADAV:
WHEN THE MORNING BRINGS AN AUTOMATIC SMILE ON YOUR FACE
It’s been a long time when a morning seemed so beautiful and fresh, to an extent that I really didn’t know why I am smiling for no reason per se. This is typical me – my morning minds simply rewinds the last day and then everything plays back. And this time, it was played in slow motion. I could vividly put myself back on that seat in front of the big screen in Movida Cafe of Cannaught Place. My first screening in Delhi, and the way I was greeted by the organizers there…wow ! it felt like family. And then I remember singing of YNWA at the top of my voice (not once but 4 times). As soon as I remembered that scene, I checked my throat…and yes, it was still soar with the amount of noise made last evening. And then suddenly, through my mind, rushed the flashes of that awesome evening. Those loud cheers, those jeers to opposition (and sometimes to our players as well), those thunderous clapping at every successful tackle, those shouting ‘Liiiiiverpool…..Liiiiiverpoooool’ after every 5 mins.
The decibel level at the goal rose so high that for once I was scared the roof is gonna blow off. The decibel level at the finish whistle was even higher. F*** Off you SCUMS…this time your 12th man (the ref) is not there…this time it’s a fair game…this time you would know that winning fairly is not easy. Just F*** Off !!
And I cannot forget the no. of middle fingers pointing at RVP when he dared to stand tall against our LEGEND. I am telling you if there was an option of teleporting then he was a dead man. I can’t even imagine the no. of fingers up his a*** . Such was the passion in the fans that for once it seemed they would break the screen in order to slap.thrash RVP. Nani was booed. Evra was screwed. Even Giggs was not excused when he made that rash tackle on Coutinho to satisfy his ego.
I simply loved the 1st of September 2013. The ambience made me damn wild and I didn’t even realize that I was standing on a chair holding a fictitious LFC scarf and singing our anthem at the top of my voice. My fiancee had never seen me like this..and the look on her face clearly said that she wants to reconsider the marriage thing
A crazy guy I was at that moment…with so many other crazy fellows…and we all together make a crazy LFC family. I am simply proud of it.
Love you all. And thanks for a memorable evening.
You’ll Never Walk Alone !!!
Thank you Nitesh, and hope to see you at many more of our screenings. Here’s also to the Redmen doing their bit for our joy through out this season!