Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Rodgers hits back at Fergie remarks

Brendan Rodgers has defended Steven Gerrard, pictured

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has dismissed Sir Alex Ferguson's assessment that Steven Gerrard was "not a top, top player" as just not credible.

And the Reds boss also leapt to the defence of Jordan Henderson, with the Northern Irishman describing Ferguson's less-publicised comments that the midfielder's running style was likely to cause him problems later in his career as "inappropriate".

Just a week ago Rodgers lauded Gerrard's contribution to Liverpool, the national team and the game in general ahead of the England captain's 100th Premier League goal at Newcastle last Saturday.

Seven days on he found himself having to extol the virtues of the 33-year-old all over again after Ferguson said in his autobiography, released this week, that the Champions League-winning midfielder was not a great player.

"He (Ferguson) is probably one of the few - if the only one - who does not believe he is a top, top player," said Rodgers.

"I don't think it was credible really in terms of what was said.

"You only have to look at Steven's career since he has been here, the accolades he has received all his life not only from managers but former players.

"I saw something the other day which was interesting. There was a survey on the PFA player of the year and of all the players who have won that title, the one voted best among that was Steven Gerrard by all accounts.

"That was from players and supporters and there were some prestigious names on there.

"I think that Steven speaks for himself. He is a top player for sure: he may not have won the title but that is more because of the team he has been in rather than him himself.

"He is a world-class player and still operates at a high level."

In his book Ferguson said he was surprised Rodgers was appointed the successor to Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool two summers ago.

The Reds boss was not bothered by that but took exception to his former United counterpart deconstructing Henderson.

"It is all about opinion. I'm not here to publicise his book, he's had enough coverage this week as it is," said Rodgers in relation to comments made about him.

"The one thing I would add is I was bitterly disappointed on Jordan Henderson.

"Sir Alex is someone who worked with and nurtured young players and so the statement in terms of Jordan was inappropriate really.

"Having worked with him for over a season, you won't get a more honest player. He is a young player fighting for his career in the game. He is only 23 and looking to improve.

"In the time he has been here he has improved and improved, and I think when Kenny signed him I thought it was a great signing.

"He was outstanding at Sunderland but going to a big club was going to take him time.

"There was reference to his running style and his gait but every player is different.

"Everyone is medically assessed, you all have strengths and weaknesses, and over the course of their career the elements of their physical and technical qualities will be improved.

"I am sure somewhere along the line, if Sir Alex bumps into Jordan, he will apologise for that because I don't think it was right and especially (from) someone who knows every word to a young player is important."

Rodgers was asked whether he had any plans to write an autobiography.

"I've been a manager for a short period of time and even in that period I've been offered the opportunity twice to write a book: once with Swansea's promotion and then coming to here," he said.

"At this stage of my life I have absolutely no interest and my focus is purely on doing the best I possibly can for the club. I would like to think in the changing room I have we can speak honestly and openly - I would be bitterly disappointed if they (players) felt they couldn't say anything because the manager might repeat it in times to come."

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