Jürgen Klopp has appealed for Steven Gerrard to be given time to consider the next step in his career while admitting he is "pretty sure" Liverpool's former captain will return to the club in the future.
Gerrard officially retired as a player on Thursday almost 18 years to the day since his Liverpool debut against Blackburn Rovers. The 36-year-old has rejected the opportunity to step straight into management at League One MK Dons, saying the invitation had come "too soon", and could make a return to the club where he scored 186 goals in 710 appearances. That would likely be as an academy level coach, with Gerrard working towards his Uefa 'A' licence and Klopp's first team coaching staff having no obvious vacancies.
The Liverpool manager became increasingly exasperated as questions on Gerrard’s retirement and future dominated his pre-Sunderland press conference, viewing the issue as a distraction from the task of winning three points against David Moyes’ team at Anfield on Saturday. But he indicated the ex-England captain would be offered a position back at his boyhood club.
“I am only here 14 months so how could I be the person to say how big these people are or how it is to live with legends at Liverpool?” said Klopp when asked to join the tributes to Liverpool’s Champions League winning captain.
“I’ve met a few, and I’ve met Stevie already and he is far away from wanting to be a legend. It is nice having him around. It is good to hear he is back in town. All the rest we will see. This is not the room to speak about it. When something is announced then we will talk. It is clear that one day in the future there will something to announce, that is pretty sure too, but until then there is nothing to say.”
Klopp insisted Gerrard needed time and space to decide on his next career move and would receive all the assistance he required from Liverpool. He said: “The first thing you should all learn is if someone wants to help Steven Gerrard, then stop being so excited about each step he is doing next. For everything in your life you need room and space to jump in and learn something new. If he is retiring as a player the next thing he will do will be new.
“There is nothing to talk about and I am absolutely the wrong person to talk about it. The door is always open for him. But from our side, if he wants, there is an open door. If he wants to make a different career to his former career then we want to help him. There is nothing else to say - but maybe that is already too much.”
The Liverpool manager was then asked where Gerrard rated among the top players in the world, prompting a cutting response.
"How many do you have?" he replied. "Is Pele involved? Is Franz Beckenbauer involved? Is Johan Cruyff involved? Where should I start and end? He is a top player but it is not important what I think, it is important what the people think. I like him as a person. I saw him once playing live in a stadium when we lost with Dortmund here 5-0. It was not my best experience and that is all. But stop using me for stories about Steven Gerrard. You don't need me. If you want to write a story about him write it because he deserved it. I will give him all the help I can if he wants, that is 100 per cent sure but stop talking here because it will not help Steven and it will not help me."