Rick Parry walked over to Sky Sports reporter outside Anfield this morning. The reporter asked, "What’s the latest Rick?" Parry’s reply was simple: "Steven’s decided to stay."
Parry continued: "He realises how much the club means to him – genuinely, it’s a little bit like last year, perhaps even more dramatic."
It seems it was all a misunderstanding, Gerrard misreading what Liverpool said, Parry misreading what Liverpool said. Parry explained: "I think the language he’s been using to us to be fair, even when he said he was going, he never said ‘I want to go’, he said ‘it’s been difficult, the last few days have been so difficult, I don’t think I can come back’, he never actually said ‘I want to go’. Just genuinely I think in the last 24 hours he’s reflected on it, he thought it through – he wants to stay."
So was Parry pleased? "I couldn’t be more delighted and, from my point of view, it is what we wanted all along. I apologise to Stevie if I’ve misread his emotions. I guess I thought after Istanbul I thought we knew where we were going, but it was obviously praying on his mind. He was anxious and he genuinely felt club wasn’t as enthusiastic as we might be about keeping him and there were one or two issues with the contract he took to be perhaps a lack of enthuasism on our part, which it wasn’t, but he understands that now."
Parry looked distraught last night when he spoke to Sky about Gerrard’s decision to leave. Today he looked like someone trying hard to hide his delight, although he looked tired too: "We had some emotional moments together and cleared all that and I don’t think it will happen again. There were a few late night phone calls and a few very early morning calls this morning and I think he just wants a couple of days to go away and clear his head now."
Whether he’s allowed a couple of days remains to be seen, but he’s not going to get an easy ride from many Liverpool fans until he faces them and explains his side of the story. That won’t be easy, a real test of character for all, but he’s already been through a lot says Parry: "It hasn’t been easy for him but, as far as we’re concerned, it’s the right decision."
The burning question, though is about the signature on the piece of paper. Parry says that this is now a formality, there’s nothing left to hammer out: "I think it’s hammered. I don’t think it’s an issue – we all understand what is required and that’s the easy bit."
Parry was asked if the uproar over the news Gerrard was staying had made him change his mind – Parry thought not: "I think to be fair to Stevie, he’s not staying because he was concerned about negativity. The point I made to Stevie on Monday was think of the fans in Istanbul, think of the positives, how can you leave that? And I think that’s been on his mind. It is not a decision for negative reasons he found it complicated but it was always difficult for him to say he wanted to go and I’m more certain than ever that he’s fully committed and this is where he wants to be."
He was asked finally whether Chelsea and Real Madrid could forget about any chances of signing him – he said: "Absolutely."