It’s Friday morning, the day before Liverpool take on Everton in potentially pivotal Merseyside Derby with plenty of implications for the top half of the table and here’s your morning round up of all things Red:
Roger Bennett of ESPN FC has a couple exclusive interviews with Liverpool head man Brendan Rodgers and captain Steven Gerrard.
In the first of the series, Bennett explores Rodger’s views on the title challenge, the joys and challenges of managing firecracker Luis Suarez and his experience on “Being Liverpool”:
Brendan Rodgers is a man who oozes confidence. The Liverpool manager is slighter in person than he appears when clad head to toe in black on the Premier League touchline, yet he still makes an instant impression. As he walks into the room, the combination of his leadership and charisma is as overwhelming as cologne. This is a man who commands respect through a soft-spoken intensity and thoughtfulness that are in stark contrast to the giddy image promulgated last season by the cult fly-on-the-wall documentary “Being: Liverpool.”
The head man also answered a question that has been brewing since last summer:
“Which names were in the envelopes?” I ask.
“There were no names,” he says with a wry chuckle. “There were no names.”
Bennett’s chat with Gerrard focused on the 33-year-old’s fitness and future:
The Liverpool and England captain admits that the post-career decision between coaching and punditry “crosses my mind all the time.” Yet when I read a line from his 2007 autobiography in which he declares that “seeing the opposition with the ball makes me sick” and I wonder if that visceral emotion has mellowed with age, Gerrard responds without hesitation. “I think the feelings become stronger the older you get,” he says. “When you know your time is limited in your career, you want to make the most of it.”
Switching focus towards the Merseyside Derby, the Liverpool Echo took a look back at Lucas Leiva’s very first appearance for the Reds, which happened to fall during the legendary rivalry game:
It was at Goodison Park in October 2007 when the Brazilian midfielder was handed his Premier League debut by Rafa Benitez.
With the score locked at 1-1 with 20 minutes to go and the Reds searching for a winner against an Everton FC side reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Tony Hibbert, Lucas was a surprise replacement for skipper Steven Gerrard.
With more prep for the Derby, take a look at Rodger’s statements on the “test of character” that will be this weekend’s match up with Everton:
“It’s a really hostile environment to go and play in, but our players coped with it brilliantly. It’s a real good venue for football and it’s a ground that will test your character.
“But that’s something we will look forward to, because, if there’s one thing that we’ve improved in the time that I’ve been here, is there’s resilience in the team.
For some players, it will be more than a test of character, as they also battle the physical demands of the game, specifically the strains of playing international football. The Liverpool Daily Post focused on Rodger’s concerns over the effect of those strains for Saturday:
Brendan Rodgers fears international exertions could hamper his in-form Liverpool FC attack’s chances of spearheading derby victory on Saturday.
The Anfield manager admits the preparations of both Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarezhave been “not ideal” ahead of the Goodison showdown with Everton.