Friday 17 November 2017

'They slaughtered me all day so I'm not wishing them well'

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard issues instructions during his side's clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge yesterday
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard issues instructions during his side's clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge yesterday

Matt Law

Steven Gerrard has fired a parting shot at the Chelsea supporters who gave him a standing ovation at Stamford Bridge after taunting him for the rest of the match.

Having scored Liverpool's equaliser, Gerrard was with-drawn by Brendan Rodgers with 11 minutes remaining, the Liverpool manager admitting that his captain was taken off to give the fans a chance to show their appreciation.

The Chelsea supporters, who derided Gerrard for the entire game, responded by giving the midfielder a standing ovation on what was his final appearance at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho joined in the applause and he gave the home followers a thumbs up, but Gerrard insisted: "I was more happy with the ovation from the Liverpool fans.

"The Chelsea fans showed respect for a couple of seconds for me, but slaughtered me all game so I'm not going to get drawn into wishing them well. It's nice of them to turn up for once today.

"The standing ovation from a stadium is always nice, but what's important to me is the Liverpool fans and they have been there since day one."

Mourinho was delighted with the show of appreciation for Gerrard and said: "I was very happy. The negative song only shows respect. Nothing other than respect. It's like a negative song to a dear animal.

"The applause was special. Stamford Bridge was special. Steve gets that for almost two decades, every week when he plays at Anfield. To get that in an away stadium is a fantastic way for him to feel. Probably every club, every stadium respects him a lot."

Rodgers revealed the exact thinking behind the substitution. "Steven has worked brilliantly and it [the substitution] was more just to give him the acclaim on what will probably be the last time he played at Stamford Bridge," the Liverpool manager said.

"I think he's been a thorn in the side of Chelsea supporters because they know he's got star quality, but I think they recognised today the end of an era, of a special player."

Mourinho had revealed ahead of the game that he had failed with three bids to sign Gerrard, for Chel-sea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Gerrard said: "I have got huge respect for him [Mourinho]. He is the best manager in the world, for me. I'd have signed for him three times if I wasn't a Liverpool fan.

"He is the reason why my head was turned on a couple of occasions, but he understood why I couldn't do it and it's because I love Liverpool Football Club."

Despite winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Gerrard will leave without lifting the Premier League trophy .

Asked whether he ever wondered what might have been with Mourinho, he said: "I did at the time, but I always said to myself that, if I win a couple of trophies at Liverpool, it will mean an awful lot more to me than if I won 10 at Chelsea or Inter Milan or Real Madrid. It always means more when you win for your people."

Gerrard and his team-mates gave Chelsea a guard of -honour before kick-off and the former England captain said: "It is not nice when you are doing it for other people, but this football club has always shown respect and the guard of honour comes with tradition."

Cesc Fabregas got away with a late challenge on Raheem Sterling within the first minute that Rodgers insisted should have earned the Spaniard a red card. "I thought Raheem recovered exceptionally well," he said.

"Fabregas should have been sent off - out of control, diving, stretching. A poor challenge. He's done well to stay on the field and to play ever so well in the second half. He was a real threat. That shows his strength of character."

The draw means Liverpool cannot qualify for the Champions League next season.

Rodgers said: "It would have been a challenging summer whether we were in it or not. We know we need to strengthen the squad and, hopefully, we can do that. The players we have had have given everything but we are fifth and that's probably where we are at the moment."

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