Rodgers insists Gerrard is still vital to Liverpool cause
Liverpool 4 Fulham 0:Brendan Rodgers has confirmed he will offer Steven Gerrard a new contract at Liverpool as the club close in on the €14.7 million signing of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea. The striker had his medical on Merseyside yesterday.
Rodgers is also keen to secure the pillars of Liverpool on long-term contracts and has revealed Gerrard’s contract at Anfield – which expires at the end of the 2013-14 season – will not be the captain’s last with his boyhood club.
The Liverpool manager said: “Steven is vital to us and I recognise that. I know he has 18 months left on his contract but I would want him to go beyond that for this club and this team. What I would say with Steven is he has a real hunger to succeed. He may be 32 years of age, but he’s still got so much left. He applies himself right, he eats well, he recovers well, he works well, he does everything right.”
Gerrard scored for the second week in succession at Anfield as Liverpool cruised to a 4-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, having gone 17 games without a goal for club and country before the consolation against Aston Villa. The England captain has come under scrutiny for his lack of goals and altered role under Rodgers this season but the Liverpool manager insists the influence remains as great as ever.
Sense of direction
Rodgers added: “You look at his stats this season and he is right up there as one of the most influential midfielders in the Premier League.”
Even a €25 million England international with 34 caps needs a clear sense of direction in his game. Gerrard’s blindside run showed Stewart Downing where to deliver his first Premier League assist for Liverpool. The basic errors that still litter John Arne Riise’s defending presented the way to his first league goal since leaving Aston Villa 17 months ago. And being informed his Liverpool career was in effect ending in January may, just may, have rescued it.
Downing was the stand-out player of an exemplary Liverpool performance against a sorry Fulham team that, with the exception of Dimitar Berbatov, are destined for a fraught struggle for survival. The calibre of the opposition should not detract from Downing’s recovery at Anfield, however. He was Liverpool’s best player in the preceding defeat by Villa, while out of position at left back, and there has been improvement in each of his seven starts in the last eight games. The reason? As the 28-year-old admits with brutal honesty, he had to attract a new club.
As an expensive recruit under Kenny Dalglish, and one who concedes he has lacked consistency since the move from Villa, Stewart Downing’s face and salary has not appeared to fit with Brendan Rodgers’s designs for Anfield. The Liverpool manager told the midfielder to look elsewhere in January if he could not cement a place in a team short on options and experience. “If he keeps playing like that he is going nowhere,” was Rodgers’s position on Saturday.
Gerrard ended the contest with his low finish from Downing’s exquisite pass before, with Anfield expectant, the winger was shown on to his stronger foot by Riise and beat Mark Schwarzer convincingly. In stoppage time Luis Suarez converted Jose Enrique’s cut-back from the by-line to provide a more accurate reflection of Liverpool’s superiority.