Gerrard backs himself and Liverpool

Skipper believes club will offer genuine Premier League title challenge

Steven Gerrard: “I want to be fresh and play at a high level for Liverpool for certainly one more season.” Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Steven Gerrard: “I want to be fresh and play at a high level for Liverpool for certainly one more season.” Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

 

Steven Gerrard has backed himself and Liverpool to bounce back from their end-of-season heartbreak last spring and mount a serious title challenge once again.

Liverpool led the Premier League by five points with three games to go in April, but a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield – in which Gerrard slipped to gift Demba Ba the opening goal – saw them pipped to the title by Manchester City.

“It’s probably been the worst three months of my life,” he told newspapers in the United States, where Liverpool are on their pre-season tour. “I’ve seen it a few times. I don’t have to watch something like that to go through the pain again and again and again.

“I’ve been through the pain in the dressingroom after and in the weeks and months since. I just stumbled across it. It didn’t hide away. I have TVs in my house and I read papers. There is social media. When something like that happens you have to face up and be man enough to take it on the chin. Accept it happened. You can’t change it.

“I haven’t lost my man at a set-piece. I haven’t missed a penalty. I haven’t made a bad pass or a mistake. That’s why it was cruel. Every single person on the planet slips at some point in their life, whether it is on a set of stairs, on the floor or whatever.

“For me, it happened on the pitch at a really bad moment. But over the course of 38 games a lot happens for you and against you and that determines whether you win the league or not. That moment happened at a crucial time and I have to face that. And I will do.”

England’s first round exit in Brazil was quickly followed by Gerrard’s international retirement and he revealed Liverpool commitments played a major part in his decision.

“To be fair to Brendan [Rodgers], when I had the chat with him, he said that if you want to carry on for England, I can tailor your Liverpool games,” he said.

“When he said that, it made me go 100 per cent with my decision because I don’t want my Liverpool games to be tailored. I still want to be available, I want to be fresh and play at a high level for Liverpool for certainly one more season.”

The 34-year-old added that Rodgers’ side believe they can go one better than 2013-14 and win their first league title in 24 years.

“We are a good team, with a good manager, that is getting stronger. The confidence is rising in the dressingroom and we have got to show that we are the real deal. We are not there to just make the numbers up. There is genuine belief that we can be in there.”

Luis Suárez played a major role in Liverpool’s second-place finish last season but the Reds will, of course, be unable to count on his goals and man-of-the-match performances after he joined Barcelona earlier this month.

While conceding that Suárez’s departure is a massive loss, Gerrard insisted there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

He added: “Of course it [winning the title] will be difficult, it would be difficult with Luis and it will be without. All the other teams will grow and improve in the summer.

“But the reason I have that belief and confidence is because of the experience of all the other games last year, and also the manager has been here for a bit longer, and because of the signings he is making. I’m pretty confident we can get right involved in it again.”

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