Former England captain Steven Gerrard insists he is ready to
‘go again’ after World Cup failure followed the mistake that
cost Liverpool the title
The Steven Gerrard rallying cry seemed destined to be the defining
voice in a thrilling Premier League climax. The camera probed the
Liverpool huddle following victory over Manchester City and
captured their captain at his most impassioned.
“We go again. We do not let this slip,” Gerrard commanded his
Two weeks later, the journey to the title ended with a torturous
twist, when Gerrard slipped and gifted Chelsea the first goal in a
decisive 2-0 defeat. The title was gone, and Gerrard had begun
what he describes now as the worst three months of his life.
World Cup despair followed in June. July has seen his
international retirement and the sale of Luis Suárez . It would be
easier for Gerrard to see this season as a form of exorcism, but
these demons are to be confronted, not expelled.
“Anything you don’t especially want to talk about?” Liverpool’s
press officer discreetly asks him.
“No,” is the immediate, typically forthright response.
It feels cruel, but the impact of that Chelsea game and what
Gerrard has been through since cannot be ignored. “You’re brave
to ask about that. How do you think it was? You tell me,” Gerrard
“The worst day of your life?”
“There’s your answer,” Gerrard says. “It’s probably been the
worst three months of my life.
“I’ve seen it a few times. I don’t have to watch something like that
to go through the pain again and again and again.
“I’ve been through the pain in the dressing room after and in the
weeks and months since. I just stumbled across it. It didn’t hide
away. I have TVs in my house and I read papers. There is social
“When something like that happens you have to face it up and be
man enough to take it on the chin. Accept it happened. You can’t
change it. I haven’t lost my man at a set-piece. I haven’t missed
a penalty. I haven’t made a bad pass or a mistake. That’s why it
was cruel. Every single person on the planet slips at some point in
their life, whether it is on a set of stairs, on the floor or whatever.
“For me, it happened on the pitch at a really bad moment. But over
the course of 38 games a lot happens for you and against you and
that determines whether you win the league or not. That moment
happened at a crucial time and I have to face that. And I will do.
“I don’t need something like that to inspire me. When I have had
unbelievable highs for the club, it wasn’t because I was inspired
by a mistake. You have to go through tough times. Unfortunately I
have had that tough time at club level at the end of the season and
then I have gone into a World Cup hoping that it was going to go
really well to help me get over it.
“But it backfired. I have had two massive, unbelievable lows in a
short space of time, so it is a good test for me this season. Can I
hit form after that? I believe that I can.
“Of course it is tough to take but you have to move on sharpish.
We have to try to win the league, progress in the Champions
League. There are massive games to look forward to.
“When you’re the captain, you can’t afford to be down, feel sorry
for yourself and mope around. Everyone in this group looks to me
to see what mood I’m in, so I have to shake it off quick. Every time
I speak to the media it’s going to be mentioned. I appreciate how
big it is when you go out the World Cup and when you fall short
after going close to the title. The level I play means it can be a
“It’s not always going to be celebrations, smiles and highs. There
are always going to be heartbreaks and disappointments and the
last three months have been a massive disappointment. At 34,
there is no way I am going to let the last three months be the
things I remember. It’s important to finish on a high.”
After the failure of the World Cup redemption plan, Gerrard
reluctantly retired from England and the international captaincy,
partly to prolong his Liverpool career but also with his family – he
has three daughters – in mind.
“I’ve had a couple of sad days since I made the announcement
because I know I’m not going to play for England again,” he says.
“I’ve been playing for England since I was in the under-15s. I
don’t feel like a weight has been lifted because I never saw it as a
“I used to love going down there and knowing I was going to be
captain. To be fair to Brendan, when I had the chat with him, he
said that if you want to carry on for England, I can tailor your
Liverpool games. When he said that. it made me go 100 per cent
with my decision because I don’t want my Liverpool games to be
tailored. I still want to be available, I want to be fresh and play at
a high level for Liverpool for certainly one more season.
“We will have to wait and see if there are any more after that. Of
course I’m going to feel fresher and benefit from not playing. I’m
also going to be more liked in my house with being at home more.
That was one of my reasons – to be around the girls a bit more.
“You sort of feel like you are lying to them all the time. It’s
difficult to say to them you are going away for four to six weeks.
Then they are on the phone and on FaceTime saying they want you
home. It does become difficult being away. I’ve done it for 14
years. I had to be fair to my family but also to Liverpool as well.”
After Brazil and missing out on the title, Suárez’s sale ensured a
triple whammy, but Gerrard is adamant the club is in a strong
enough position to recover from his departure. “I am his number
one fan. I love him to bits as a player and no doubt there is a hole
that will be left when someone like that leaves,” he said.
“Everyone’s initial thoughts were to be down and sad, but it was
exactly the same when [Fernando] Torres moved on. This club is
so big that it moves forward, it’s not about one player. We have
been really sharp in the transfer market to fill the hole and soften
the blow of a world-class player going.
“Everyone needs to share the responsibility of Luis moving on and
that starts with me. We are a good team, with a good manager,
that is getting stronger.
“The confidence is rising in the dressing room and we have got to
show that we are the real deal. We are not there to just make the
numbers up. There is genuine belief.
“Good sides don’t just have one good season. They keep trying to
fight for what they want. Chelsea do it. Manchester City do it.
Manchester United have had a one-off bad season and they will be
back. Arsenal have made a couple of really good signings. The
league is going to be very, very tough but we know we are one of
the sides that has got a genuine chance of winning it. I believe
The ‘We go again’ mantra would feel appropriate if it did not carry
such baggage, but Gerrard is ready to repeat it. Liverpool play the
champions Manchester City in New York on Wednesday with
Gerrard preferring to see last season as the catalyst for another
title bid rather than a last chance that went begging. This
unburdening session ends sounding more therapeutic than
“When I see that huddle against Man City it’s real, it was from my
heart,” said Gerrard.“I was emotional at the time as we had just
beaten them. We were so close. It was a reminder to everyone that
there was still work to do and as it proved there was. You guys
know me well enough, I’ll keep going and I’ll go again.”