Ger­rard lets rip in new book

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LIVER­POOL — Steven Ger­rard has lifted the lid on the ri­valry be­tween for­mer Liver­pool strike-part­ners Luis Suarez and Daniel Stur­ridge.

The duo scored a com­bined 55 goals for Liver­pool in 2013/14 be­fore the Uruguayan was sold to Barcelona for £75mil­lion.

And while Ger­rard and the Liver­pool fans were dev­as­tated to see Suarez leave, it seems Stur­ridge may not have been.

The for­mer Liver­pool cap­tain re­vealed that de­spite the public per­cep­tion, there was a sim­mer­ing ri­valry be­tween the two for­wards.

Ger­rard in­sisted that Suarez could be a gen­er­ous team­mate on the pitch, but that gen­eros­ity didn’t al­ways ex­tend to his strike part­ner.

In an ex­tract from his new book, My Story, be­ing se­ri­alised in the Daily Mail, Ger­rard writes: “On March 13, 2012 I scored a hat­trick 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.”

The for­mer Eng­land cap­tain has also lashed out at for­mer man­ager Rafa Ben­itez, whom he la­belled “stupid” for selling Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid in 2009.

Ger­rard says Alonso was the best cen­tral midfielder he ever played with and couldn’t be­lieve it when he was shipped off to the Bern­abeu for £30mil­lion.

While Ger­rard cred­ited Ben­itez with bring­ing Alonso to An­field, he la­belled him “stupid” for let­ting him leave.

He says in the book: “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.”

If Alonso was the best Ger­rard ever played with, then El Hadji Diouf ap­pears to have been the worst.

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, won- de­r­ing 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.

“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.”

Ger­rard has agreed with Chelsea man­ager Jose Mour­inho that Balotelli is “un­man­age­able.”

Balotelli, 25, has since been loaned to AC Mi­lan af­ter strug­gling to make an im­pact at Liver­pool fol­low­ing his move from the San Siro in 2014 -and he im­pressed in the Mi­lan derby on Sun­day night de­spite a 1-0 loss to In­ter.

The Italy in­ter­na­tional played un­der Mour­inho when the Por­tuguese was in charge of In­ter Mi­lan, and in 2010 he warned clubs about his poor at­ti­tude.

Ger­rard says in ‘ My Story’: “Af­ter his promis­ing de­but against Tot­ten­ham, he had lapsed in train­ing and the sub­se­quent games. His de­meanour was very poor. I made my up mind pretty quickly af­ter that about Balotelli.

“We got on fine. I still tried to help him and I kept look­ing for chances to praise him but I could see why Mour­inho had been right when he said Balotelli is un­man­age­able. Balotelli’s al­ways late, he al­ways wants at­ten­tion.”

Ger­rard was unim­pressed with the way Balotelli, who scored four goals in 28 ap­pear­ances for Bren­dan Rodgers’ Liver­pool, con­ducted him­self in train­ing.

The LA Gal­axy midfielder said: ““In my last sea­son, Bren­dan 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.

“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? 6-foot-3, 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. Mean­while, Ger­rard fears that Liver­pool could soon be with­out their “main man” Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazil­ian has grown in stature since ar­riv­ing at An­field from In­ter Mi­lan in 2013, and is con­sid­ered by many to be the club’s most im­por­tant player.

But Ger­rard be­lieves Coutinho could leave the club within the next few years if he con­tin­ues to de­velop at his cur­rent rate.

The LA Gal­axy midfielder said just as with Suarez, Coutinho would be un­able to re­sist the lure of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Ger­rard wrote: “He has just signed a new deal and he and his wife - who are a lovely cou­ple - seem set­tled here.

“But I also know that Span­ish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, will come look­ing for Philippe in a few more sea­sons, just like they did with Luis.

“And that’s when it will get tricky for Liver­pool be­cause the lure to go to one or two of those clubs is so strong for any South Amer­i­can or Span­ish player.”


For­mer eng­land and Liver­pool cap­tain Steven Ger­rard.

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