Steven Gerrard has called on Liverpool‘s owners to award Brendan Rodgers a new contract “as soon as possible” in recognition of the stunning transformation he has overseen at Anfield.
Rodgers has taken Liverpool from seventh in the Premier League last season into contention for a first title since 1990 but he is approaching the final 12 months of his contract without talks opening over an extension. The 41-year-old signed a three-year deal when he replaced Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager in 2012 and the club’s owners,Fenway Sports Group, have an option for an extra year on the same terms. FSG must inform Rodgers by a specified date next season whether they intend to exercise the option but a new, improved deal is expected to be signed before that stage.
The Liverpool manager is prepared to delay contract negotiations until the summer rather than invite distractions to his team’s title challenge, a pursuit enhanced by Sunday’s comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford.
However, Gerrard has voiced surprise at the absence of a offer to Rodgers, described by the Liverpool captain as the finest man-manager he has encountered in football. The 33-year-old said: “I have been absolutely blown away by his sessions, his tactics and his maturity in the job and I am learning off him every single day.
“When you become an older player you look to see how the manager does certain things and he has been fantastic for myself personally. I am sure the rest of the players would echo what I am saying. I am absolutely delighted he is here and I just hope that there is a lot of movement now in Boston [home to FSG] because they have got to get him signed up as soon as possible.”
Gerrard, who scored twice at Old Trafford, added: “When players are in this situation with a year to go and you want to keep hold of them so desperately, then the club reacts really quickly and gets it sorted. For me, I think he deserves a very long contract here and he is perfect for this club.”
Rodgers’s conviction on the way forward for Liverpool was unwavering throughout a difficult start to his Anfield reign while his tactical nous, that has enabled Gerrard to flourish in a holding midfield role, was again in evidence against David Moyes’s aimless United on Sunday.
“He has been a revelation,” the Liverpool and England captain said. “He keeps tweaking and tinkering with the formation and making little subtle changes to personnel and tactics, and it is coming off from week to week. He is a young coach who has been there and earned the right to be Liverpool manager. From week to week he is helping us improve and get better, and he has been an absolute breath of fresh air to this football club.
“He manages every single player differently, he knows we have different characters in the dressing room and his man-to-man, one-on-one management is the best I have known.
He makes you go out on the pitch feeling a million dollars with confidence and belief, and he is a very confident manager. When you play for Liverpool you have to accept pressure, you have to take it on the chin and perform. But when you have a manager who is making you feel good, but who is also not scared to give you a good one-on-one telling-off as well, then he has the perfect ingredients.”
Liverpool are four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand and welcome the Premier League leaders to Anfield on 27 April. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have also to visit Anfield, while Liverpool’s four remaining away games are against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Gerrard said: “As a team we have to keep making statements. A lot of the so-called experts questioned us before the United game. ‘Are we capable of coming to Manchester United and beating a good team – one that has been performing quite well of late besides the Olympiakos game?’
“I think we answered the question with flying colours. Not just that, but we were slightly disappointed it wasn’t a five- or six-goal thrashing because the way we performed from start to finish, with everybody in the team contributing, was magnificent.”