Gerrard - drama affects us

Image: Gerrard: Admits players find it hard to focus on football

Steven Gerrard admits off-field speculation about Liverpool makes it difficult for the side to concentrate fully on football.

Reds skipper admits players struggling to deal with speculation

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits continuing off-field speculation about the club is making it difficult for the side to concentrate on football. Uncertainty over the Reds' ownership and the position of manager Rafael Benitez have made for recurring headlines. Form on the pitch has also been disappointing and the Reds needed a late Peter Crouch equaliser to earn a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa at Anfield. "It is not just this week, it has been going on for some time and it is certainly not helping the players," Gerrard said. "I have got to be careful what I say about the situation but it is certainly not helping the team. "We know what is going on, but as players you have got a job to do on the pitch.

Impossible

"You try to put what is going on off the pitch to the back of your mind but sometimes it is impossible, when it is every day." The result leaves Liverpool outside the Champions League places but Villa boss Martin O'Neill still believes they must be favourites to claim the fourth spot. Everton, Liverpool, Villa and Manchester City are separated by just two points in positions four to seven in the table. O'Neill said: "Liverpool are the strongest of the four sides going for fourth spot. We do not have a big enough squad and we would need a lot of luck to contest fourth spot." Managers chief Richard Bevan has also added his support to the Liverpool boss and claims the club's owners of undermining manager Benitez. Bevan, the chief executive of the League Managers' Association, believes the matter has been badly handled and feels clubs need to improve their lines of communication between from boardroom to training ground.
Surprising
Bevan told Sky Sports News: "Clubs and their owners must act in a professional and business-like manner. "Certainly what happened to Rafael Benitez undermined the club and certainly undermined him professionally and personally. It was surprising to hear the comments from the owner. "But we also have to realise it is a massive multi-million pound business. "It is really about making sure all the stake-holders properly communicate their views, sit round the table and build medium to long-term plans. "If we were to focus on communication the game would be better off and many issues behind the scenes would be kept behind the scenes."

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