Steven Gerrard joined former Red Gary McAllister on the sofa for Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday program to reflect on Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Norwich.
The skipper covered a wide range of topics including the arrival of Daniel Sturridge, the brilliance of Luis Suarez, life under Brendan Rodgers and the fortunes of his old teammate Fernando Torres.
And here we bring you a selection of what Gerrard had to say as he looked back on the weekend’s action and ahead to a tough run of fixtures for the Reds.
On Jordan Henderson:
Gerrard: I think he has grown week by week. He has had a difficult start to his career here but I think people forget his age. He’s still a young lad — he’s 22. He’s made a huge move from his hometown club to Liverpool. There’s been big expectation and so he has found it difficult to settle. But I think of late, he certainly deserves to be in the starting XI, and his strike against Norwich was right out of the top drawer. In the last couple of months he has been superb. He works hard every day and he is a great lad. I am really pleased for him.
On Daniel Sturridge:
Gerrard: Daniel Sturridge deserves the assist for the second goal against Norwich. That bit of skill [to dummy the ball] creates the whole goal. In terms of his partnership with Suarez, as a manager, you say to Luis: “Go and play.” You don’t tell him where to go and play. He goes everywhere, he goes wide, he comes out of the box, he drifts into the box — he’s just a great player. The start of this partnership between him and Daniel came last week in the second half against Manchester United. I think everyone saw then that there was an instant understanding between the two.
It’s been the same in training all week. It was a great finish but I think Daniel deserves the credit for that goal. As a midfielder when you look up, you want to see one of your forwards coming in to feet for the easy option and you want to see one on the shoulder of the defense and in between the two center-halves. That’s what we saw on Saturday. And I think that is what we have missed. Luis has been trying to do two jobs himself for the first half of the season. Sturridge’s movement so far has been fantastic.
On Luis Suarez:
Gerrard: He’s so good you just want him to be anywhere in the area where he can cause the opposition problems. I think he has been sensational. People want to talk about the things he does wrong in the game but for me I just want to praise him and say how lucky we are to have him at Liverpool. Hopefully we can keep him for a long time. He seems settled. He loves the club. He’s a real family man. His English is good — I think he kids on to the press that his English is bad so he doesn’t have to do interviews all the time! But he’s a great lad around the place. He just goes onto the training pitch and goes out into games and puts performances in that get everyone talking about him as a player rather than the negative stuff. I said last week in an interview that he is probably the best player I have ever played with. And that is a statement because I have played with some top, top players throughout my career.
He does things in training and on the pitch that are mind-blowing. He did a turn against Norwich in front of the away supporters and I don’t know how he did it. He’s incredible. He uses every blade of grass — even very close to the touchline in the opposition area. Parts of the pitch that you don’t even run on — he’ll use everything. He twists and turns — he’s impossible to mark. In training, you can see our defenders, the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Carra [Jamie Carragher], when the sides get picked in five-a-side, going: “Here we go again.” He’s just torture to mark. He’s a fighter. He doesn’t give up. He chases every ball no matter what the scoreline is and that’s what you want in the team. We’ll be talking about this guy for many, many years. He’s in the top five best players in the world comfortably. Outside [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo. I’ll argue with anyone that he is as good as the rest.
On his goal against Norwich:
Gerrard: I knew Sturridge had already scored and I knew Suarez had already scored, so I thought: “Forget them — I’m hitting this one!”
On Raheem Sterling:
Gerrard: He’s going to be fantastic. He still has a lot to learn but the talent is certainly there. At 18 years of age he’s still a baby really but he has had a major impact this season. He’s going to be a top player for both Liverpool and England. I think everyone just needs to give him time to learn the game and there’s no better manager to have here than Brendan, who will use him at the right times. He’s a good kid. He’s always trying to learn on the training ground. He’s quite quiet really.
On the Reds’ forthcoming games:
Gerrard: It’s going to be very tough. Going to the Emirates and the Etihad is going to be a big challenge for us. I think we are at a stage in the season where we need to win one of those games. We haven’t won a big game against a side above us in the top four this season. If we can get three points in one of those fixtures, it will give us a big boost and a lift to go on and finish the season strong. Our home form is really good at the moment, so if we can get a big performance on the road, I think we can push the sides above us and put a fight on for fourth.
On Fernando Torres:
Gerrard: For me, playing with Fernando was easy given his movement and the form he was in. During his first two seasons at Liverpool, he was sensational. It just felt like every time I went onto the pitch with him, I was going to play well and that I was going to create goals for him. And when you’ve got that feeling, it’s so enjoyable to play football. He’s a top player. I’ve been so lucky to play with the likes of him, Suarez, Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. He’s had some big injuries. I know myself that it is difficult to come back from injuries like that. I think he has shown signs this year that he has got the form back but I think everyone talking about him and his price tag puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders every single week.
I’m not sure he gets the love at Chelsea that he had at Liverpool. He was the top man at our place; we used to love having him about. I was heartbroken when he left. I think now, if he is honest, he probably regrets leaving because he was flying at Liverpool and he was probably one of the best players in the world when he was on form. The whole team and the whole set-up was in place for him to play well and for him to win matches for us. And I’m not sure he gets that treatment at Chelsea. I think he is one of a number of quality players. He thrives on confidence and at Liverpool, every single week, he was flying.
On Brendan Rodgers:
Gerrard: He certainly has the backing of the owners. Giving him the job after Kenny was a sign that he is going to be here for a while. He’ll be given time to put his philosophy out there, which is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time and we’ve been a little bit inconsistent this season. But I think in the majority of the games we have shown that we are playing the right way. I’m really happy with his appointment and how it is going so far. His man-management is superb — he puts an arm around players and talks to them. He gives players opportunities. He has brought youngsters into the squad and he gave them a go in a difficult time. Usually, if things are not going well, managers go for experienced players. The manager has certainly galvanized the players. Stewart Downing has been on fire, Jordan has come alive and that’s exactly what we need.