Unless he was telling lies (and don’t be surprised to if claims are made that he is), Rafa Benitez could not have been clearer in stating that he wants Steven Gerrard to stay. At a press conference he said: "I can assure our fans that we want Steven Gerrard to stay with us for the rest of his career."
Benitez said: "If I renew my deal with Liverpool in four or five years and when I do I would like Stevie to be my next coach, assistant manager and maybe even the next manager after me. He can even have the chief scout position if he wants it."
Continuing to make it clear that he doesn’t want to lose the captain, he said: "I want him to stay with the club. We are trying to build a better team and a better squad and I want Stevie to be a major part of that."
He also said that he has tried to get Gerrard to sign a new deal on three occasions. "Last season I tried to get Stevie to sign a new deal three times. On each occasion he said wait, so we waited." A clear reference to the patience shown by Liverpool that seems not to have been matched by SFX, Gerrard’s representatives.
Before revealing the names of FOUR new players signed today, Benitez said: "This year we want to win more trophies and that is why we are improving our squad with new signings."
It’s not just what Benitez said at the conference that was impressive, it was the way he said it. I think most people watching the conference would agree that Benitez was sincere. If Gerrard leaves it is certainly not because of Rafael Benitez.
* The four new signings are: Bolo Zenden, Jose Reina, Mark Gonazeles, and Antonio Barragan. More to follow.