Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard talks about Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli in a recent interview. Liverpool came close to winning the Premier League last season and after that they sold their star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli signed for the club in the summer, but Liverpool have failed to impress this season. Gerrard in an interview to The Telegraph insists it is important to keep key players at the club, like Luis Suarez, after they came so close to winning the league.
“When Luis Suárez left I knew it would be like that,” says Gerrard. “When you come close [to the title] it is important you keep your main players. It’s not just about those coming in, it’s about what got you there.
“You need to keep that together and add to it. When you are taking big chunks of it away and adding five or six into it, it’s not going to happen overnight.
“I would love a Fabregas or Costa here, but I have to understand how the owners want to do it and accept I am a Liverpool player, not a Chelsea or Manchester City player. They [Fenway Sports Group] have gone on record saying they want to bring exciting young talent into the club. You can’t just expect that to click overnight.”
Gerrard also believes the absence of English striker Daniel Sturridge due to injury is one of the reason Liverpool have not performed so well. He also explains why Daniel Sturridge is the best English striker he has played with ahead of former international teammate Wayne Rooney.
Gerrard: “If Luis was here we probably would have won some of the games where we have slipped up. Also, if we had Daniel Sturridge fit. If you lose a player in Luis’s form and a player of Daniel’s potential, it is going to be up and down until you either get Sturridge back or Luis’s replacement starts firing some goals in.
“Ability wise, Daniel is possibly the No 1 English striker I’ve played with. When you talk about speed, sharpness and skill and different types of goals he could go as far as he wants to. Who in this country is better?
“Wayne Rooney is different, between a nine and 10 for me, but Wayne is 30, Daniel is 25. Some of the things he does in training blow me away. I knew he was good but I saw what he could do last year. He needs to hit high numbers season after season. His goal-to-game record is scary. Last year he was in Luis’s shadow. Now it’s for Daniel to be Liverpool’s iconic No 9 – the main striker – for many years.”
Mario Balotelli has been heavily criticized by former Liverpool players including Jamie Carragher following a rough start to his Anfield career, but Gerrard believes its only a matter of time when the controversial striker will prove his critics wrong.
“It’s a bit early for shouts like that. He could score 10 in 10 now. What then? You still sell him in January?” Gerrard said. “I understand Jamie’s opinion. He is on TV and has to give opinions. Mario’s scored two in 12 games and when you play for Liverpool you are going to get judged harshly compared to Luis and Daniel, but Mario has the ability to turn it around. Then it will be interesting to see everyone’s opinion. People won’t be saying he is a panic buy then.
“He needs time to score the goals and prove to be people he is worthy of staying here. I am not going judge him after 10 games. I have to help and support him. To come in after Suárez is tough. A big ask.
“To be a main striker at Liverpool you have to expect the pressure and the responsibility and embrace it. Our fans expect us to win every game. To be top drawer you have to be quick and aggressive but above everything else you have to score regularly. Look at the ones I have played with – Fowler, Owen, Suárez, and Torres – consistent with goals. That’s what made them superstars.
“Being a No 9 weighs heavy, but so does the No 8. So do most of the numbers here. We have a huge following. The pressure is on us to perform every single game, we’re on TV every three days. You can’t hide.
“You have to accept and embrace it and enjoy the pressure and the fact you are being judged. That’s what I have learnt to do since I was 19. Perform consistently or people will be critical. With social media and the way the general media has gone there is so much criticism and opinion out there that if the No 9 weighed heavy 10 years ago it weighs even heavier now.
“I don’t think you have sympathy for Mario. He’s a big lad. He’s played for big clubs and has had the responsibility before. He’s not feeling sorry for himself. He is working hard, doing extra shooting sessions and doing everything he can to make it work. I’ve been impressed the way he goes about his work. You can understand where all the attention comes from and he enjoys it.
“It seems he likes the attention, likes being the main man up front. He loves the social media and loves talking to supporters. If he wants that at Liverpool you have to score goals. He will know that. And if he didn’t know it coming in then he will know it now.”