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GERRARD: THE BIG INTERVIEW: PART TWO

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SCOTZINE today continues the fascinating interview between Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and his former Liverpool team-mate Danny Murphy.

The close friends sat down recently for an extensive face-to-face for the Mail on Sunday

Here is Day Two of the interesting talk-in between the Ibrox gaffer and Murphy, who is now a pundit with BBC Sport.

DANNY MURPHY: People will assume you’re the next Liverpool manager because of your status as a player.

STEVEN GERRARD: I understand why because I was captain for so long and a large chunk of the fanbase would like me back at the club. But I’m bright enough to realise that, first and foremost, you have to be good enough. The owners need to think you’re the right man.

Let’s say Jurgen Klopp goes because he feels he can’t do any more. They aren’t going to pick me if I am only the 20th best candidate.

And nobody asks if I think I need two or three goes elsewhere. If I got the chance [at Liverpool]I’d want to be best prepared. You can’t plan everything season by season. If things turn in months, you’d be out of work.

That’s how brutal the job is, but you are aware before you go in. Jurgen Klopp told me he’d made two years of mistakes away from the cameras, getting his pitch confidence. That is what I did at Liverpool with the youngsters. I didn’t go into Rangers thinking I’d cracked it. Am I ready for the Liverpool job right now? Maybe not.

MURPHY: I know you’ll want to try to win everything with Rangers, but the fans have to be happy with the past 20 months, closer to Celtic and a run in Europe.

GERRARD: I’m pleased. We’ve improved the team, stadium, training ground, medical department and sport science. There has been definite progress, but I don’t sit back content.

I need to keep pushing this in every way. It is still a huge challenge. It is hard to chase something that is powerful and improving themselves. Can we get there? That is the interesting thing. I have belief.

MURPHY: From the outside, you’ve swapped one goldfish bowl for another, Liverpool for Glasgow, with time in Los Angeles in between.

GERRARD: Liverpool and Glasgow have similarities, but it’s different for me. I had to live in Liverpool with my family. It’s my city. I go to schools, shops, out and about.

I went to America because I’d been in Liverpool all my life and wanted a different experience. I didn’t enjoy the ending at Liverpool, either. Partly because of the Chelsea thing, coming so close to winning the league, but also because it felt they’d offered me a year’s contract because I was Steven Gerrard and they didn’t want the fan backlash. Deep down, I thought they wanted me to go.

MURPHY: That’s how it looked. It happened to Frank Lampard at Chelsea. It happened to me at Fulham. We’d had the best season in the club’s history and they gestured me a contract. You’re left feeling it’s time to leave.

GERRARD: That was the reality for me, but it still hurt. I didn’t want to play for another team in this country, but I didn’t want to stop playing. Would I have done things differently in hindsight? Yes, because things changed at Liverpool. If I’d signed a year extension, I may have got a chance to play for Klopp, which would have been a different learning curve. But from a lifestyle point of view, and me freshening up for the next challenge in my life, it was probably the right thing.

MURPHY: It was hard for Jordan Henderson to follow you as Liverpool captain, but in the past two years I’ve thought: “Wow”. He’ll never be you, but he has become a great leader. I wouldn’t want to play against him. I think he’s the first name in England’s midfield for Euro 2020.

GERRARD: We both know there are players who are “at it” every day. I appreciated Jordan’s power and fitness by training with him. Some players play for themselves, Jordan does the dirty running, grappling for second balls, 12 or 13km Saturday and Wednesday, again and again. Teams can’t function at Liverpool’s level without a cog like Jordan Henderson. He’s obviously going be a Premier League winner. I look at him and think: “Good for you”.

He has that confidence now. He has lifted the European Cup above his head. I don’t deserve one iota of credit, he has done it all himself, but I remember a chat with Jordan in LA a while ago and he wasn’t sure whether he was coming or going at the club. I remember saying to him don’t give up on Liverpool, you’ll be fine. I knew what he had inside and that he would get there. You know with certain people.

MURPHY: Where did you watch the Champions League Final win against Spurs?

GERRARD: I went. It was the first time I’d been to a Final as a fan. I’d done TV work at the 2018 Final when they lost to Real Madrid, but I thought I’d accept Liverpool’s invite this time, have a nice glass of wine and be with Kenny [Dalglish], Rushy [Ian Rush] and all the staff.

I had a lump in my throat because Kenny was next door to me crying. I ended up more emotional because Kenny was crying rather than the result! It was great and there were some players there from the back end of my era. I knew the pain we’d been through.

MURPHY: You’re celebrating a 40th birthday this year. Planning anything for the big day, May 30?

GERRARD: Don’t mention it, I’ve got greys popping out all over the gaff! I’ll be with my family. My daughter is doing GCSEs and her half-term falls right on my birthday. So, a real family celebration, no plans for football.

MURPHY: I don’t see many worry lines. Must be the botox!

GERRARD: You didn’t see me when we lost at Kilmarnock! I remember Rafa Benitez saying to me as a manager you have to be a good actor. Put the face on. Sometimes you feel angry, but be positive. When you’re manager, people follow your lead.

MURPHY: Houllier would go into a back room to gather his thoughts. Even if he was fuming, he’d be calm in front of the camera.

GERRARD: I need to get better at that.

TOMORROW: PART THREE 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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