Gerrard wants part in project

Brazilian Philippe Coutinho celebrating scoring Liverpool's second goal with Senegalese Sadio Mane, who had opened accounts. Gareth McAuley reduced arrears but the Reds hung on for full points, to go second behind Arsenal on goal difference ahead of
Brazilian Philippe Coutinho celebrating scoring Liverpool's second goal with Senegalese Sadio Mane, who had opened accounts. Gareth McAuley reduced arrears but the Reds hung on for full points, to go second behind Arsenal on goal difference ahead of yesterday's matches.PHOTO: REUTERS

Coaching or ambassadorial role probable as Reds beat West Brom 2-1 to maintain fine run

LONDON • Steven Gerrard seems homeward bound, having posted what reads as a farewell message to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Instagram. And who can blame the former Liverpool captain for swopping the California sunshine for autumn on Merseyside?

He must long to be part of what Jurgen Klopp has created at Anfield in his absence.

One year to the day since Klopp's first home game as Liverpool manager, his side moved level on points with Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday courtesy of an unnecessarily hard-fought 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

The stadium announcer declared Liverpool top after the full-time whistle. A mistake but his excitement was understandable.

The Reds required victory by a two-goal margin to lead the league for the first time since May 2014 but another set-piece goal against them put that ambition on hold.

WE'VE TIGHTENED UP

I have absolutely no problem with the goal we conceded... but first we have to have it that nobody can create chances. We have improved that.

JURGEN KLOPP, whose team's only Premier League clean sheet this term came in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United.

Another win is what counts and another impressive attacking display provided it, Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho scoring two excellent first-half goals before Gareth McAuley reduced the arrears and Liverpool's league position.

"Who wants to be on top in October?" said Klopp, exuding the calm assurance he will get there eventually. "That was a little bit of a joke. We have 20 points. It was not possible that we get any more tonight.

"When you play like this, it is really difficult to be kind of satisfied with football games, 2-1 keeps you more awake than 4-0.

"Maybe we are not experienced enough in a situation like this to feel it could be easy. It is not easy. You need luck, the players fit. I have absolutely no problem with the goal we conceded.

"I would like to have it that nobody can score against us but first we have to have it that nobody can create chances. We have improved that."

Beaten manager Tony Pulis said Klopp could improve on the efforts of his predecessor Brendan Rodgers, whose team were narrowly beaten to the title in 2014, and end Liverpool's 27-year wait to be crowned champions of England.

"They're a good side," said Pulis. "Their front five are as good as anything in the league. They've got a free run at it. They're not in Europe which is draining, irrespective of what people say."

At his post-match press conference, Klopp confirmed he will hold talks with Liverpool legend Gerrard after the 36-year-old midfielder wrote an Instagram message that read like a goodbye to Los Angeles and the Major League Soccer club he joined in July last year.

Last year, the Liverpool manager appeared to rule out the possibility of Gerrard ever returning to a playing role at Anfield, although speculation about that prospect is sure to rise after the former captain's social media comments to the supporters of his California club.

"Stevie Gerrard is always so welcome at Liverpool FC; you can't imagine how welcome," said Klopp. "So there is absolutely no problem.

"But anything we have, or will, speak about, stays (between us). That's how I know Stevie, that's how I am. But nobody should be worried that there is no space for Steven Gerrard. Everything will be fine, 100 per cent."

Sources close to Gerrard have indicated that he would relish the prospect of becoming involved in the coaching structure. Although, despite Klopp's warm words, that looks a distant prospect at present.

Far more likely is the possibility of Gerrard accepting an ambassadorial role that has long been on the table from the club he first represented 18 years ago.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline 'Gerrard wants part in project'. Print Edition | Subscribe