Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Gerrard is quitting Anfield

05 Jul 2005

Steven Gerrard has spoken of his anguish at quitting Liverpool - but that pain is nothing compared to the misery of the supporters he has rejected.

Just 41 days after he lifted the European Cup and declared his intention to stay at Anfield, Gerrard has told Reds officials he wants to leave.

While his precise destination remains unknown, it appears to be only a matter of time before Chelsea increase the £32million offer which was rejected by Liverpool this morning and add the England international to their Premiership-winning squad.

After Gerrard's agent Struan Marshall informed Reds chief executive Rick Parry of the 25-year-old's decision to snub a £100,000-a-week contract offer which would have made him the highest paid player in the club's history, Liverpool insiders privately claimed it is immaterial whether a formal transfer request is lodged or not. The battle to keep him is lost.

``The last six weeks have been the toughest of my life and the decision I have come to has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make,'' Gerrard told Sky Sports News.

``I fully intended to sign a new contract after the Champions League Final but the events of the past five or six weeks have changed all that.

``I have too much respect for the club and the people at it to get involved in a slagging match.''

It is now obvious Gerrard was starting to have doubts over his long-term future even as the celebrations following Liverpool's stunning triumph in Istanbul began.

Those fears were exacerbated by a failure to open discussions over a new deal.

And when he arrived for negotiations with Parry last Wednesday to extend a contract which still has two years to run and instead of being offered a deal he was asked what terms he wanted, the player's patience snapped beyond repair.

Stunned by such a swift downturn in the relationship, Parry had hoped to salvage the situation with his big-money offer last night, but the news he dreaded was relayed to him by Marshall at lunchtime, shortly after Gerrard had driven out of Liverpool's Melwood training complex - possibly for the last time.

``We have done our best but it does look pretty final,'' a dejected Parry told Sky Sports News.

``He wanted success and presumably felt he would get success elsewhere - it is our job to prove him wrong.

``I did say to him, think of Istanbul, think of the fans.''

Those fans, who believed they shared a common goal with a player they regarded as one of their own, are now freely venting their disgust.

A shirt bearing Gerrard's name was burned outside Anfield and if he subsequently opts to stay in the Premiership, Gerrard can expect a hot reception when he returns.

``He is supposed to be a boyhood Red,'' said Les Lawson, spokesman for the Liverpool International Supporters' Club. ``As far as I am concerned he is not.

``He has turned down £100,000 a week; I am still paying off my credit card bill from going to Istanbul to cheer him on and thousands of Liverpool supporters are the same.

``He is turning down £100,000 a week to play for the team he is supposed to have supported since he was a kid. Where is the loyalty in that? He is going, but he is not going with his head held high.''

Only yesterday, with Parry's backing, manager Rafael Benitez stated his desire for Gerrard to stay with Liverpool for the remainder of his career, possibly eventually as manager. That dream lasted less than 24 hours.

With Gerrard highly unlikely to consider a move to Manchester United even if long-time admirer Sir Alex Ferguson was prompted into making a cheeky move, and Real Madrid unwilling to make overt advances to a player they believe is heading elsewhere, Chelsea appear to be the only plausible suitor.

So, far from finding themselves at the centre of a bidding war, Liverpool could now discover they are engaged in a high-stakes game of brinkmanship.

Now resigned to losing his captain and talisman, manager Benitez will be eager to use the cash to reinforce his squad still further following yesterday's arrival of Bolo Zenden, Jose Reina, Mark Gonzales and Antonio Barragan.

But the Spaniard knows Chelsea can afford to wait and test Liverpool's patience by refusing to go anywhere near the British record £40million Parry and his fellow directors are looking for.

If the matter drags on another week, Benitez would be in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to name Gerrard in his side for the Champions League qualifier against Total Network Solution, a move that would cup-tie him from all European competitions for the remainder of the campaign.

Such a move would appear unlikely given the massive effect it would have on Gerrard's value and all the indications are the issue will be resolved far more speedily, probably by the end of the week, much to the frustration of everyone at the Merseyside giants.

``I don't imagine it is just going to be one club bidding for Gerrard,'' added Parry optimistically.

``It is only one day, although one day makes a big difference in negotiations as we have seen.''

What can I say? This was the last piece of news every Liverpool fan wanted to hear. So now what? Do I say Steven Gerrard is an asshole? Rejecting a six-figure wage per week deal when he said he would be staying just after our dramatic win in the Champions League Final in Istanbul. I reckon hez gonna head to Chelsea and join the Lampard gang. Sometimes I really wonder if hez truly committed to Liverpool..can't he be like Jamie Carragher? Nobody can be compared to him in terms of loyalty towards Liverpool Football Club. Now that Gerrard is leaving, who is going to fill in the damn slot? The only plus point now is to use the fee received to bring in some more top-class players into the club, people like Aimar, Vicente, I won't mind you know really..haha. Besides statistics show that Liverpool get better results when playing without Steven Gerrard.

Well. Steven, if lack of success is your reason for leaving, then I am very disappointed with you. Ain't we moving in the right direction by winning the Champions League? Reina and Zenden arrives and thats not enough it terms of improving the squad? Wherever you go, Liverpool will prove you wrong. I am darn sure.

Thank you anyway for your great contributions to the squad, as a player, captain and motivator. However, after you leave, I think I will hate you.


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