Liverpool fans have enough problems trying to decipher the truth from the never-ending speculation and off-the-record whispering that fills the back pages on a regular basis. Hints are made, but those doing the hinting haven’t the courage to put their names to their suggestions about their enemies. Or perhaps in some cases their contracts prevent them from just coming out with it.
That’s why it’s always good to see some actual quotes. Obviously it doesn’t mean the speaker is being honest but at least we know what the speaker really said.
Except, it seems, when it’s the BBC reporting the quotes. Only they can say why they missed out a vital couple of answers from their exclusive interview with Steven Gerrard, on duty with England but finding himself being asked about his Liverpool future.
Their online report of what Gerrard said in an interview with their senior football correspondent, Ian Dennis, differs in emphasis from what supporters actually heard when it went out on Five Live this afternoon (2:08.26 in).
Of course there’s no saying Gerrard means what he said today, but he certainly seemed very much taken aback when asked if he’d still be at Anfield next season: “What do you mean? Well I’ve got three years left so I will be, yes.”
This wasn’t the sound of someone answering diplomatically; this was the sound of someone who meant it. And perhaps that’s why it was completely dropped from the online report of what he’d said.
The interviewer started out by asking the Reds captain how is season had been so far: “For Liverpool everyone knows – it’s been well documented – it wasn’t good enough,” he said.
Moving to get the interview back to matters relating to the World Cup, Gerrard went on: “As a team and as a squad we’ve underachieved and we’re certainly not happy about it, but now we’re here with England and the training’s started I think it is important to park club issues and focus on the job in hand for England.”
The interviewer was sticking with his Liverpool questions though, asking him if he was personally hampered by injury during the season: “I’ve suffered a few injuries during the season and stuff, and struggled to gain form really quickly after those injuries but I think that’s just searching for excuses really. I think as a whole squad, the whole Liverpool team have underachieved this year.”
Briefly back to England matters and Gerrard was asked how fit he was for forthcoming trip to South Africa: “I’m fine. No problems, really looking forward to the World Cup, excited and hopefully I can remain fit and push on and do well.”
And did he see this as the last chance for the ‘golden generation’? “Maybe it will be,” he said. “For me I’ve got to realise I’m coming up to 30 years of age and these big tournaments come round every four years, so maybe it is going to be my last one, so I have to be conscious of that and try and make the most of it and do well.”
And back to Liverpool. The interviewer asked: “Like four years ago in the build up to the last World Cup there’s speculation about your future, is that a distraction to you?”
A little pause from Gerrard to think about it, suggesting he hadn’t really thought about it until then, before answering: “Er.. Not really. I think it was [a distraction] four years ago, because I was going back to my hotel room and driving myself mad and stuff but this time round I won’t make the same mistake. What’s important to me now is going to the World Cup and focussing on the World Cup. If people want to speculate about my future, that’s up to them, I can’t control that, I can only control what I am thinking myself and I can guarantee everyone my focus is on doing well for England.”
And on to the questions omitted by the BBC’s written report of the interview: “Where does your future lie?” asked the reporter. “What do you mean?” replied the captain.
“In terms of, you know, will you be at Liverpool next season?” clarified the reporter. “Well I’ve got three years left so I will be. Yes.” replied the Liverpool club captain, without any ambiguity at all.
But it won’t stop the speculation – even though he’s made it clear the speculation can be a distraction. And with senior sources so readily willing to fuel speculation to anyone who’ll listen, Liverpool fans know they’ve got plenty more to sift through yet.