Brendan Rodgers praises ‘influential’ Steven Gerrard…
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has lavished praise on Steven Gerrard, following his match winning performance during the Reds’ 3-1 victory over Leicester City, which saw him score once, and play a key role in the other two goals.
Gerrard was left on the substitute bench for Liverpool’s victory over Stoke City on Saturday, but he returned to the starting line-up to great effect on Tuesday, and Rodgers – who was quoted by Liverpool’s official website – was full of praise for his skipper.
He told his post-match press conference: “I think you saw the energy in his legs tonight and his influence in the game, especially as [the match] wore on. It was an outstanding performance from Steven and an excellent goal.
“At this stage of his career, it’s about the level of the game. He’s a very important player for us. Like you saw tonight, he’s not 24 anymore.
“You have to do that with players at this part of their career. So for me it’s about mapping out the rest of the season for him and looking at the games to play him in. That’s what you have to do as a manager – plan forward.”
Rodgers insisted that Gerrard’s energetic displayed the importance of managing his captain’s schedule, ensuring his fitness and enabling him to produce high quality performances.
He said: “People talk about being fair with every player. As a manager and managing certain players, it’s unfair to treat everyone the same, especially someone of Steven Gerrard’s stature.
“I had a great respect for Steven watching him from the outside – and an even greater one from the inside working with him.
“I’ve shown in my time at Liverpool and anywhere else I’ve ever been, but particularly here, the sentiment doesn’t come into it for me, it really doesn’t. I pick Steven Gerrard because I still think he can really influence a game of football for us.
“When I first came in, people were talking about whether he was going to be able to play with how I work, but last year he was absolutely magnificent – he scored 14 goals in all competitions.
“Irrespective of the player or his status, for me it’s what is best for the team. I know at this moment in time, if I can manage Steven Gerrard, his training and his games, he can still have a real impact for this team.
“Even though he’s approaching 35 at the end of this season, he’s still got fantastic qualities. Like every other player, no matter how good they are, there comes a time in their career when the wheels are out and they’re ready to land – but he’s not ready to land yet. You can see from tonight, he’s still got lots of energy there.”