VERSION three. I keep starting this and it comes out all wrong. I’ve tried my usual tricks of starting with a point that seems unrelated to football and then revealing the direction that I was always going in, in a frankly smart-arsed manner. I wrote a whole thing about how leaders’ legacies are always flawed — whether by themselves or due to others’ or outside actions — and I dared you all to prove me wrong, to name one leader who steps outside that concept.
I tried stealing a maxim that I know Neil loves — that ‘all plots lead to death’ — but got stuck talking about death and it was really sodding miserable. I thought about the idea of doing what my mate Gaz — a United fan but a good lad (probably be really pissed off at being name-checked here) — reckons I do too much; tell you what I’m not going to talk about and then do it anyway. Which I’ve obviously just done. Then I thought, ‘sod it, cut to the chase’.
Seriously. What the fuck is Steven Gerrard doing?
Who is this book supposed to benefit? Anybody want to answer that one for me? Anybody?
I don’t like the idea of criticising Steven. He’s meant too much for too long, done too much. A 17-year Liverpool career — I feel ungracious throwing any negativity his way: “You said bad things in your book, Stevie.”
“I won the Champions League for you.”
“Oh aye, yeah, there is that.”
But still I can’t get my head round this one. It’s added to the air of negativity that already exists around the club. Who does that help?
I’m guessing Gerrard doesn’t need the money. Just a hunch. The nice mansion in LA, the decent lifestyle, the bespoke home under construction in Formby — he’s not on his uppers and needing a ‘tell-all tome’ to pay next month’s mortgage, is he?
So if it’s not the money, what is it? A desire to set the record straight? To let people know how misunderstood he’s been over his career?
Steven, you’ve been idolised, lad. You don’t need to be insecure over what we think about you, we pretty much think that you’re a god among men and a lot of us are just waiting for your second coming. Waiting for the day that you walk into Melwood with one of Kenny’s old big coats on and start teaching some of the lads how to play as though they care as much as you.
Is it to let us know what was going through your mind at key moments? Don’t really want to know to be honest. Those 38 seconds when you charged around the centre circle against United trying to kill anything that wasn’t wearing red? Worked out what was going through your mind at roughly the point that the red card came out. And no matter what prose your ghost writer has couched your thoughts in, it’s bullshit.
What went through your mind was this:
For 38 seconds. Any writer who tries to put that into words is kidding themselves. Primal, United-focused rage. No more, no less. And we got it. We knew it. We figured it out. Don’t bother explaining. We know. Nobody but us is buying the book — and I think there are a lot less buying it now if we’re honest.
And while we’re kind of on the subject; why do ghost writers always write books in a way that we know people don’t actually speak? Not just the person in question but people in general, human beings?
The passages in these things have never been spoken by anybody. Ever. Not in that way. I mean, I get it lads, it’s a paid gig and we’d all love more of those but….make them talk like human beings would you? Ta. (I’ll push Si Hughes’ books here — talks to footballers, relates what they say, dead easy, dead normal. End of advert.)
Shall we do the big one? The one that’s really pissed everybody off? Go on. Let’s.
Rafa. “We shared our greatest sporting night” and all that. I totally get the fact that you didn’t really get on with Rafa. That he may have been a little cold toward people. Torres said it. Think Carra said it. Rafa was single minded. Rafa wasn’t a people person. Cool. He gave us the Champions League. I’ll have as many cold-hearted bastards as you can find if they keep doing that.
He made you — sorry, I’ve gone all open letter again, didn’t mean to, hate it when that happens — the best midfielder in the world. He may not have used your first name in press conferences or referred to you by your nickname and honest to God, I get that that might piss you off a bit but….Champions League, greatest midfielder of your generation. As trade offs go, I’d have that one.
And if we’re all kind of up to speed on the fact that Rafa may not be the warmest boss on the planet — and I think we are — who benefits from being told this again?
Rafa’s done the right thing on this, saying he disagrees but isn’t going to be drawn into it. Although his idea that Stevie’s going to sell more books because Rafa’s managing Real is, quite frankly, just a little bit mad. And might back up some of Gerrard’s reasoning if we’re being fair.
There’s some ups of course. He’s nice about Brendan’s man-management skills. Although that’s not going to sit well with a lot of us at the moment is it? Possibly badly timed on that one, Steven. He thinks Mario is quite endearing at times. Which is nice. And there’s the whole Diouf thing.
Any chance to call Diouf out as a knobhead of the highest order should always be taken. The fact that it’s then provoked Diouf into some kind of comedy routine where he gives a glimpse into El Hadji world (like Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’ but far, far shitter) and lets us know how revered and worshipped he is worldwide and that the former Liverpool and England captain is jealous of a man last seen not being arsed for Doncaster then Leeds is just gorgeous. Worth having the book out there just for that.
And no, El Hadji, none of us believe Steven Gerrard is a racist. We just think he thinks that you’re a knobhead. Trust me, we all think MUCH worse. You got off lightly on that one, mate.
There’s a proviso in all this, obviously: I’ve not read the book yet. I can’t, it’s not out until next week. I’ve read the extracts. I wasn’t going to but I figured if I was going to write this then I had to. I’ve gone to the Daily Mail’s website and read them. I’ve gone to the Daily Mail’s website. I don’t think that I’ll ever feel clean again. You made me do that, Steven. You owe me.
I’m not going to read the book. I don’t want to. I don’t want to think of Steven Gerrard as a bloke who’s decided, immediately after finishing his Liverpool playing career, to score some points. Someone who’s decided that he should let us know that our idols don’t actually always like each other. Someone who wants to point out that, if it was up to him, he would still be there if he had been offered some kind of coaching position.
It feels like an attack on the club, like a man who feels that he’s been treated badly attempting to get some measure of revenge in public. And that may be the case. He may have a point. He may be right in the notion that the club has badly mishandled one of its greatest servants.
I had always thought that Steven Gerrard would walk back in one day as manager. Surely the easiest way to ensure that would be to keep your mouth shut, be nice to everybody and be back here, suited and booted, in two years’ time, ready to build a dynasty?
Perhaps he knows that path is already blocked. Perhaps this is his final goodbye. We’ve no way of knowing. At the moment though, it just feels a little bitter, a little spiteful, a little petty and, at a time when the fanbase is possibly more split than it has ever been, it feels more than a little unnecessary. It feels like just one more thing to contend with. One more negative.
And yes, I know, the first comment in the box below will throw this question right back at me (consider this saving you the trouble on that one) but: who does it benefit?
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Sullied, all 17 years of it!!
‘be back here, suited and booted, in two years’ time, ready to build a dynasty?’
Our very own Alan Shearer.
You probably have more of an idea about this than me Ian but when would you think he started writing this? I would guess not in the past few weeks.I would imagine that the release date was also decided a year or so back.
I’ve read the extracts but aren’t they like those trailers for TV dramas or movies?Aren’t they designed to generate interest and when you see them in context they often disappoint?
I too find it difficult to criticise Gerrard.The bit about Benitez made me feel a bit uneasy though but then again maybe it’s actually in a different context in the book.But I don’t think I’ll be taking the trouble to find out! I’ll probably just give him the benefit of the doubt.
Anyway,it’s bound to stir up even more controversy when it’s released and even more extracts are published over the next week or two.
On a final point though it’s not so different from yourself and your colleagues articles on here.Have you or they ever managed to publish one that was met with universal agreement from the posters?
You can answer that over next couple of days when you see the comments.But I think you might have a first given the current climate around here!
On when it was written, Brian. The author was tweeting over the summer about what an extremely tight deadline he was on to write it so he was getting stuck in then and it was clear the intention was to release it ASAP in the new season.
The fan base is split?
Think that’s being generous there
I don’t want Stevie as manager ever. The fans will chew him up and spit him out.
Belter of an article. Spot on and made me laugh too.
I can’t answer your question but I think it all comes back to this:
“You don’t need to be insecure…”
He doesn’t need to be insecure but it’s plainly obvious that he still is… massively.
He’s gone on and on about it with Rafa not giving him enough love, about the club not giving him enough love back in “05 and now about the club not offering him a coaching gig that he also knows he wouldn’t have accepted as he still wanted to play every week.
I have his first autobio and it was clear as day how his insecurities have plagued him his whole life. Maybe partly they made him the player he was. But sadly I think it has held him back in other ways.
Going forward I really worry that those same issues will not enable him to become a great manager for us one day. I’d like to be wrong and I hope one day he’s given a shot but I fear that someone that insecure would be destroyed by managing our club.
Good article Ian. Agreed with the bulk of the sentiment in it. I have to admit when I first came across the extracts my first thought was ffs Stevie leave it off. And that was before I read any of it. The whole timing and tone of the book is unnecessary imo.
“I’m guessing Gerrard doesn’t need the money” …of course he does, everybody thinks they need more money (except poor people). If everyone could make millions from a book that somebody else wrote for them who’d say “nah I have enough money thanks”. Thanks to the Daily Mail he doesn’t even need to sell many copies – and good for him, he served us well and I hope he does again when he’s Klop’s Anfield apprentice
“Although his idea that Stevie’s going to sell more books because Rafa’s managing Real is, quite frankly, just a little bit mad. And might back up some of Gerrard’s reasoning if we’re being fair.”
To be fair, that’s not what I took Rafa as meaning. I think he just meant that because he’s manager of RM, these things make headlines and an easy story for journos. Not that it helps sell Stevie’s book.
Torres didn’t say that Rafa was cold (that was Henry Winter’s interpretation .. incidentally isn’t he the ghost writer for Gerrard’s book?). What he actually said was that Rafa was a man absolutely dedicated to a difficult, demanding and often ungrateful profession. He then goes on to talk about the way Rafa was able to get the best out of the players he coached .. players like Gerrard and Carragher who, if rumours are correct, returned the favour by undermining him and helping to bring in Hodgson.
Winter ghost wrote Gerrard’s first book; this one is by Graun journo Donald McCrae.
Afraid this “rant” rather looks like yesterday’s chip wrapper – who really cares?
I would suggest nobody except Gerrard (sorry… Stevie G. )
Clearly the haste with which the book has been written has stolen from the player the time to put things , and that means his career at LFC, in to perspective. The imagined slights are clearly too imprinted in his mind. But what are those grievances? That a successful manager did not show him enough affection… and he did not rate or like some team-mates?
Surely, an outstanding player of his generation deserves better Counsel than his own ghosts. Nothing to see here! Good Luck for the future, Stephen
Ha, well done Ian! In the harsh environment we all reside in (LFC) it’s nice to see something humorous. I agree with most of the points in this but I feel mentioning something different. Isn’t it funny how much we idolise someone who’s done well for LFC. They become ‘god like’ in a way no one else could. It’s not just about how good they were as players though. It’s more about how they feel about us. Don’t you dare say that about him. He said he loves the City. He’s got a fuckin Liverpool tattoo, so shut it. His son wears Liverpool shirts. It’s an anagram. It was on the armband. Shit! I’ve just contradicted my point. Maybe not. We had the truth and reconciliation at the charity thing.
I can understand it in many ways. I certainly don’t feel comfortable criticising any long term brilliant player after a bad performance, though I do. It shouldn’t really make them immune to any criticism of any nature though, yet it does. It’s just so unbalanced. Steven Gerrard is just a man at the end of the day (as close as you get to a human actually being a god, no less haha, but just a man). I’m sure there’s plenty of Liverpool fans around the country who would quite happily turn their back on a brilliantly talented, child inspiring, teacher from Syria yet if Gerrard was in that situation it’d be ‘I’ll house you myself. I was gonna add and you can shag my wife while you’re here but I’m consciously trying to be less offensive.
The script starts from day one. I’m flattered to be linked with a great club like Liverpool. Then it’s I’m so pleased to sign for a club with such a great history and I’ve heard all about their fans and the famous Kop. Recently, I’ve heard a few say, It was unbelievable to make my Anfield debut today. The atmosphere was amazing and it gave me a lift. Instead of saying you lying twat, we lap it up. It’s what we wanna hear. Anyway, it just struck me whilst reading this how interesting the emotions of people are when it comes to loyalty, belonging and identity.
I think Stevie has an anonymous ghost writer who gathered a shed load of anecdotal material by interviewing Stevie — probably over a period of weeks or during some transcontinental flights — then quickly pounded out a manuscript and presented it for Stevie’s approval. His stamp is on it no doubt, and he’ll bear the reputational consequences. But it has been sensationalised for effect. Therefore, no surprise it’s being serialised by the Daily Fail, as opposed to the Guardian or another less-prone-to-rile-up-the-reading-public rag.
It’s definitely not about the money. It’s publishing opportunism, and I think it reveals that Stevie has deep resentments he’s kept to himself and mulled over for a long period of time. This book so far is the immature verbal diarrhoea equivalent of his brutal stamp on Ander Herrera’s ankle. He got his frustration off his chest on impulse in those 60 seconds. He felt immediately sorry afterward. He may do similarly when reactions to his assertions and revelations in his book begin to filter back to him.
Not really arsed about the book. But white socks and flip flops. He’ll never be seen in the same light again. Death of a hero.
Good piece this Ian and glad to see it tackled on TAW.
My heart sank when I saw the Rafa stuff. It once again entrenches the UK press assertion that Rafa is a bluffer, an idiot. Look how he treats players, Lets talk about the “FAKTSH” rant, taking on Sir Alex, Idiot.
Yeah Steven what an idiot that made headlines to try an cover for you making your own in that pub over some Phil fucking Collins eh?.
Hugely disappointing but hey at least it reinforces the FSW squad “Benitez is shit lads”
ps – agree with Sian & James regards what Rafa meant in his press conference : I took it that he meant the papers get to sell more as he is the manager of RM so its more enticing and regards Torres comments about his style.
To tell the truth, i can’t see Steven can be a good manager.
Don’t get me wrong, i love this guy, we all do, but he really doesn’t look suited for management, sometimes he looks like a children. I can see Carragher being a good manager, he have composure,a strong mind, he is really smart and love the game.
Fidel are you The Mighty Red Man himself. Estas?
Apologies for that I couldn’t resist. Anyway it’s more sensible than slagging off the best player to ever pull on the shirt, and a book that’s not even been released yet. Talk about jumping the gun and slating SG8 already. If that’s not throwing fuel onto the fire in terms of social media and a judgemental fan base I don’t know what is. You should know better mate. Bad move
it sounds a lot better than his first book which I read ( sorry looked at the pictures ) in between the turkey and and Christmas pud a few years ago . Me and turkey still don’t get on but I always make an effort .
He is nowhere near the best player to pull on the shirt. Dalglish,Souness and Barnes were better players and that’s in my lifetime.
Well it is a game of personal opinions however somehow I get the impression you’re a little bitter with Stevie and his book which is exactly the problem with Ian’s piece when you get people with memories like gold fish who for some extraordinary reason are reluctant to give the well earned praise to a legend who has not only carried this club for the last decade he has also kept us in the category marked; Big European Club. For those who have not yet done so if that’s possible, check out SG8’s goal gallery on YouTube. Simples. Then factor in his assists over the years for the likes of Fowler, Owen, Torres & Suarez amongst many others, and all this when playing in a struggling Liverpool side besides team mates describable as average in the main. You’re dead right, Kenny Barnes and Souness were all Great players in that order of greatness but the difference was they all played in Great Teams.
Nobody can ever say Gerrard ever played in a great side. That’s surely unanimous amongst all Reds, with the odd exception of people like you.
While I love Stevie more than it’s probably right for a straight man to love another man who doesn’t know him his first boo kwas atrocious, like truley awful.
Footballers just aint that interestign away from the pitch, yeah you might get the aodd funny anicdote, or some cool insight into training, dressing room etc. But Jesus Christ monkey balls they’re also a seriously boring bunch!
The only footballers books who were proper good reads have all been from players who had addiction issues, they’ve a story to tell, Gerrard telling me the England dressing room was “different gravy” just doesn’t cut it.
This new book won’t be any better then his first one, which was a terrible read even for a fan who loves him, I hate to say it but these books are simply self serving propagandist money machines.
Steven Gerrard continues to be an example, by showing his vulnerable side in an increasing macho world, particularly football, is courageous, truthful, authentic and refreshing.
Can anyone help me understand what this means?
Although his idea that Stevie’s going to sell more books because Rafa’s managing Real is, quite frankly, just a little bit mad. And might back up some of Gerrard’s reasoning if we’re being fair.
I’ll clarify that one a bit (hopefully);
To me, Rafa saying that Steven will sell more books because Rafa is now managing Real seems ridiculous. Steven will sell books because he’s Steven, Rafa’s situation has nothing to do with it. It seems to be a fairly odd, self centred, egotistical thing to say. Which is pretty much how Gerrard is describing him in the book so maybe he has a point.
To be fair Ian, would that bit have been one of the parts prominently released if Benitez hadn’t been Real manager. What if he was still out of work or at some ‘normal’ club somewhere. But hey it fits a lovely narrative that the UK Press pack have pushed for a long long time.
Some great points there Ian,
I also have to draw your attention also to E2k’s belter on Rawk.
Superb read that, thanks for linking
The fucking mail thing annoyed me, to be honest. Carragher writes a column for them as well, doesn’t he? Christ…
Why isn’t he just enjoying his footy and life in the sun? I don’t need anymore wrongheaded divvies trying to tell me Benitez is a bad human being and deifying Mourinho or Ferguson because there’s enough of them in this country. Least of all the greatest of all time. Banging on about how ‘cringe’ the ‘facts rant’ was and that is all a bit manc and talksport.