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GERRARD: THE BIG INTERVIEW: PART ONE

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STEVEN GERRARD and Danny Murphy won trophies together as team-mates at Liverpool and remain close friends.

The Rangers manager met up with his pal, now a media pundit with BBC Sport, to discuss their career at the Anfield giants, Jurgen Klopp and his step up into management at Ibrox.

The pair sat down to have a chat in an extensive and thought-provoking Mail on Sunday interview which will be serialised over the next three days by Scotzine.

DANNY MURPHY: Stevie, when did you start fancy being a manager? I wouldn’t have said you did in the early days. Even as a young captain, you weren’t entirely comfortable taking meetings with the lads.

STEVEN GERRARD: Being the skipper at 23 was out of my comfort zone. I loved leading the boys out, but standing up in front of Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler, people I’d watched, was hard. My first talk to the Rangers players reminded me of that. I got through it, but came out thinking: ‘I need more practice’.

I’d have predicted 100 per cent Carra would be a manager. You as well, probably. For me, it changed in my thirties. I’d watch Brendan Rodgers and it looked as if he really enjoyed it. He suggested I took my coaching badges.

MURPHY: The best thing about you being captain was you’d get the tickets!

GERRARD: Half the main stand was your lot from Chester, I reckon.

MURPHY: Gerard Houllier was manager. Rafa [Benitez] and Jurgen [Klopp] have won the Champions League. I feel Gerard is a bit under-appreciated in laying the foundations.

GERRARD: He revolutionised the standards at Liverpool. He changed diets, training, introduced the first fitness coach and better personnel.

MURPHY: No mobile phones, all wear the same colour T-shirts.

GERRARD: The ketchup went. At the time, we were: “What’s this?”. I remember Gerard going against Robbie and Incey [Paul Ince]. If you weren’t prepared to go along with what he wanted, you were out. He wanted to know exactly what I was doing off the pitch.

He took me and my mum and dad to dinner and I was left under no illusions. The message to my parents was don’t let him go out and drink and pick his mates carefully. It had to be this way or I wouldn’t be around Liverpool for long.

MURPHY: He’d stop you in training for chats. He’d notice if you hadn’t shaved. I’d not had that with any other manager. Do you remember we’d leave our hotel room open hoping he’d pop his head in and drop us the team? It worked once: “Don’t tell anyone, but be ready for tomorrow”.

GERRARD: We’d be jumping around the room. We had all the tricks. Eating slowly in the canteen to be last with the manager, hoping he’d give you the nod about the line-up. When I think now, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in one season was incredible. Think what a club like Spurs or Everton would give for that?

MURPHY: We preferred playing in the middle, but someone had to do the graveyard shift on the right or left.

GERRARD: Honest to God, it used to proper pull on my insides when I’d be playing on the right. Not so much at 19 or 20, but Rafa did it to me later on. I stayed professional, but felt out of it. I grew up in the middle of the pitch and liked looking for the ball, probably too much.

MURPHY: Has that influenced the way you manage? I think being open does create respect.

GERRARD: If a player is coming out the team, I’ll try to have a respectful chat why. It may not be a case of being dropped, but needing a blow after a run of games. When I played, nothing was said. You’d get in the car wondering where you stood. You can’t communicate like that all the time. But if it’s a big fixture and someone was expecting to play and could be down, an explanation definitely helps.

TOMORROW: PART TWO OF THE BIG INTERVIEW 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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