Ahead of Super Sunday's crunch clash at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Liverpool, Sky Sports' Rob Palmer was granted an audience with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. Taking in a wide range of topics, one of the fixture's key protagonists over the years was in candid form...
By Interview by Rob Palmer for Soccer Saturday
Last Updated: 16/03/14 6:16am
Steven Gerrard on...LIVERPOOL'S TITLE TILT
We haven't surprised ourselves. I think we've surprised the outsiders and neutrals but the way we finished last season was really strong and our form in the last six months was up there as Champions League form. We strengthened in a couple of areas and Brendan has done a fantastic job gelling everyone in putting together plans, formations and tactics on the pitch. The players have carried them out superbly well. It's a strange feeling at the moment. We've done fantastically well to this point but we're also aware that it can all fall apart.
Gerrard on...KEEPING FOCUSED
You have to have confidence and belief and that's where we are at the moment. We feel really good and that we're a match for anyone. But as an experienced player I know that we're a young squad and that we've got a lot of learning to do and still some improving. It's important that we keep our feet on the ground and take each game as it comes because in my experience it's when you think that you're great it comes back to smack you on the bum.
Gerrard on...KEEPING LUIS SUAREZ
The manager and all the players in the dressing room did a fantastic job in trying to keep Luis here, and the supporters as well. What we all tried to do when he was feeling lonely out training on his own was try to make him realise what he had here - how much love he had in the dressing room, with the coaching staff and on the terraces. Luis is the star man, he's the best player.
Gerrard on...KEEPING LUIS SUAREZ (happy)
For many, many years this club can always relate to the main man in the team. When you look back to the relationships Torres had, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, all those legends, the goalscorers; the people who can make that difference on the pitch. We were desperate to keep hold of Luis. We understood he was a bit frustrated at the time but now I think he's realised he's made the right decision. His form has been sensational. I think he can see now that when we told him in the summer that he can achieve things here, that's the case.
For me, he's the favourite to win the Player of the Year and we've got a great chance to bring Champions League football back for this club. From my experience, what I told Luis, is that Champions League football here, with this support behind you, is an experience he'll never forget.
Gerrard on...BEING INJURY-FREE
I've been good for a couple of years now. I had a career threatening injury in 2010 that was well documented with my groins. Since I've had that fixed I've had a great run. Fingers crossed I'm feeling strong and healthy, working really hard off the pitch to make sure my body is right. I'm enjoying my football.
Gerrard on...HIS POSITIONAL CHANGE
I've had a bit of a positional change of late but it's not alien to me. I've played the position many, many times. It's something the manager spoke to me about on the first day he came in. He said 'I see you continuing to do what you've been doing but eventually I will change you into a holding midfielder'. That's what's been happening of late but I've enjoyed it.
I feel this position can help me a lot and keep me about for a lot longer, which is what I want to do. I want to enjoy the remaining years of my career. I feel really comfortable there and think it suits my game, where I am at with my age.
Gerrard on...HOLDING BACK
In this position you do an awful lot less high speed running. It's a lot more side-to-side in short bursts rather than long box-to-box runs. There has been times throughout my career, where maybe I've played as an attacking midfielder or as a number ten, when playing three games in six days it's difficult to repeat high distance numbers. In this position, the way I'm feeling, I feel I could play four (games) a week. We'll have to see, I'm at the stage where I've a year left after this season and I just take every week as it comes. I'm enjoying it now as much as when I made my debut and that's the key for me. The day I stop enjoying coming to work, smiling and playing with these top players, I'll call it a day.
|Premier League assists - midfielders|
|David Silva||Manchester City||8|
|Jesus Navas||Manchester City||6|
Gerrard on...SPEAKING OUT
I am the type of player who isn't afraid to get things off my chest in a one-on-one situation with a manager behind closed doors. I'd never ever criticise a manager in public. Looking further back a few managers have moved me out where I don't want to be and the conversations have been a lot different. Now with experience I look back at managers like (Gerard) Houllier and Rafa Benitez, and other managers who played me out of position, and realise it certainly helped me with my career and (to make me) the player I am today. If I've got something to say I'd go to see him face to face, eye to eye and tell him how I feel. The conversation I had with Brendan over this positional change has given me a big boost and that's probably because he didn't spring it on me. I knew it was going to come eventually because of the first conversation I ever had with him and that's credit to him. That's what a good manager is, he plans years and years in advance and that's what he's done.
Gerrard on...RENEWING OLD RIVALRIES
It's the number one game of the season. Alongside the Merseyside derby this is the fixture you look out for when they come out. They are our big rivals and while they've had a bit of a dip of late we'll go in there showing them an awful lot of respect. They've still got world-class players and we know that if they click on any given day they can beat anyone. It's a 50/50 game but we're certainly going into it very confident. It is a slightly different feeling I had to going into previous games at Old Trafford.
|Premier League goals - midfielders|
|Yaya Toure||Manchester City||13|
|Kevin Nolan||West Ham||7|
|Yohan Cabaye||Newcastle (now PSG)||7|
Gerrard on...MOYES' UNITED
Maybe slightly (less daunting) but it's more about looking at what we've got. There's been times when we've travelled to Old Trafford and clearly they've had better players and a better team. They've been a lot of points ahead and at the best of times, Old Trafford is a daunting place to go. But we've got a gap on them, we're playing better than them, and I think player for player we can more than match them. We've got nothing to fear, yeah their fans are there, but they don't kick the ball. We're used to the banter they've given us over the years so it's water off a duck's back. For me, it's a 50/50 game and whoever plays better on the day will win it and we're very confident.
Gerrard on...FAVOURITE MEMORIES
That's difficult to say. I remember going there with an in-form Fernando Torres when we beat them 4-1 and before the game I had a really good, positive feeling that we could get a result. I've got a similar feeling at the moment. That's not being over confident or cocky because I think we've proved against big sides home and away that we're a good team. We're dangerous and sides have to look out for us. I've won quite a few games against Man United home and away but to win 4-1 and the way we controlled and dominated them from start to finish was the dream result away from home. Something similar on Sunday would be very nice.
And finally, Gerrard on...CARRAGHER AND NEVILLE
(With a wry smile) Well they're the two experts, aren't they? They never made a mistake in their careers. They never had a bad game at the moment. No, they're doing a terrific job, I enjoy watching them. Two very knowledgeable guys, two top players and I played with them both. Two winners who understand the game and they're doing a great job. It's great sometimes when they have a go at you when you know some of the games they had when they weren't that great themselves...
The Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), with support from LFC to celebrate the lives of the 96 supporters who lost their lives at Hillsborough in the year of the 25th anniversary, have organised a wonderful day of activities that will take place at Anfield on Monday, April 21. The highlight promises to be a 90-minute charity match between local Reds legends, managed by Dalglish, and a squad of international legends led by Gerard Houllier. Among the stellar names already confirmed to be participating are: John Barnes, Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia, Dietmar Hamann, Steve McManaman, Jan Molby, Ian Rush and Vladimir Smicer.
Tickets are priced at £15 for adults and £5 for children, with all funds raised from the event to be split equally between the HFSG, of which Aspinall is chair, and the club's official charity, the Liverpool FC Foundation.