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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Gerrard U-turn: Liverpool Captain Backtracks On Blast At Everton Over Playing Like Stoke

Steven Gerrard has admitted his criticism of Everton after the Merseyside derby on Sunday was over the top as he drew a line under the controversy.
The Liverpool captain was furious after the game and, in the heat of the moment, he said Everton's tactics were similar to those of Stoke, as he claimed they played a number of long balls.
His frustration stemmed from Liverpool having a last-gasp winner from Luis Suarez wrongly disallowed at Goodison Park and he made a number of inflammatory comments, such as Liverpool were the only team interested in playing football. 
However, statistics that were published following the pulsating 2-2 draw showed that Everton enjoyed more possession and significantly out-passed Liverpool, which is why Gerrard has felt the need to issue a retraction. 
'Just to clarify I've watched the game again and I've seen some of Everton's matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,' Gerrard.
'I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things that have been said about Luis in recent weeks, which haven't been fair in my opinion.
'As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out. But it wasn't my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn't intend any disrespect to their manager or players.'
Gerrard was eager to stress that he had no intended to upset the respective managers of Everton and told the Liverpool Echo: 'I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.
'My main issue was with the goal that wasn't given and that Liverpool did not get the three points I felt we deserved in what was a fantastic derby match.'
It comes after Phil Jagielka hit back at Gerrard's with his own barbed comments about Liverpool's style of play.
Everton were incensed by Gerrard's comments following Sunday's 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.
While Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he suggested that Liverpool's methods of always wanting to play on the ground are flawed.
'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I'm not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,' said Jagielka. 'Do we play them for the full 90 minutes? No. But we play quite direct.
'Who wouldn't when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there? Why wouldn't you do that? We don't believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.
'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let's cause them as much trouble as possible. We won't change the way we play. We won't start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.
'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what? That's what we'll do.'
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain's claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.
He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.
'I believe there were two different styles,' said Rodgers. 'This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.
'It's the beauty of the Premier League - there are so many diverse ways of working and playing.  We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.
'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there's a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.'
There is a feeling amongst Evertonians that Gerrard's comments have shown that David Moyes' squad have started to get under Liverpool's skin. Everton are six points ahead of their neighbours and aim to finish above them in the table for the second successive year.
'I suppose it's a backhanded compliment,' said Jagielka. 'Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it which must be that we are doing something well.'

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