Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard has spoken to the Liverpool Echo about what he describes as "this mess" that has been taking place at Anfield, Melwood and in the press this last week or so.
The journalist that interviewed him, the trusted Chris Bascombe, said Gerrard was emotional during the interview, and wanted it all to be put behind him now. He’ll be signing his new four-year contract as soon as possible – and before the speculation starts, it doesn’t have any get-out clauses in it. He says he could even sign it today.
Gerrard explained: "The last five or six weeks were the hardest of my life because I wrongly believed the club didn’t want me. I don’t want to get into attaching blame to anyone. If I blame anyone, it’s myself. I wanted my future sorted out as soon as possible after the Champions League final and when that wasn’t the case, the longer it went on, the more misunderstandings there were."
He also dismissed the stories that he’d been in bust-ups with Rafael Benitez: "There was confusion and doubt in my mind. I had discussions with the manager, but the reports of bust-ups are complete nonsense. Now I know how much the club wants me."
Gerrard also defended his agent. From what we were told over the last few days Marshall himself wasn’t responsible for the stories that were leaked to the press, it was others within the agency SFX that were allegedly doing this. Gerrard said: "I feel I must defend my agent, Struan Marshall, in this. He’s taken a lot of stick but all along he’s never done anything I didn’t ask him to. He’s well respected at Liverpool and has done deals for me and other players in the past. He’s conducted himself in the right way. He’s a big factor in my decision to stay and organising the contract."
The words of Steven Gerrard sounded more positive than they did a year ago. Last year there was still an impression from the player that he wasn’t completely convinced about staying. Now he does sound convinced, and doesn’t ever want to be in that position again: "I’ll be signing the deal, maybe even today. I’d also like it known there are no clauses in that contract. This won’t be happening again next summer or ever again, so far as I’m concerned. I’ve committed my long-term future to the club and I want all the speculation to end now. This is what I’ve wanted all along." A decision needs to be made on whether Gerrard should sign the deal in front of the press for maximum impact, but Rick Parry knows the player is emotionally drained and may struggle to field questions.
Gerrard feels relief at making what he says will be his final decision on the matter: "I feel there is a weight off my mind today and I just want us to put this mess behind us. I’ve only one medal left to win at Liverpool and that’s the Premiership. That’s what I want more than anything and Liverpool is the only place I’ve ever wanted to win it."
Gerrard knows a lot of damage has been done to his relationship with the fans: "I know there are some fans who’ll be supportive and some who won’t be. All I can say is it’s been a difficult period for me, but I know I’ve made the right decision."
Finally, the player promised the supporters that he never wants them to go through this theatre again: "In my heart, this is my club. I want to help bring success here for them and, for their sake and my own, I never want to go through this again."