Gerrard lets rip in new book
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.