Cover Story

My way

The weight of expectation hung heavy when Steven Gerrard first moved into coaching but, as Graham Hunter explains, the Liverpool legend is intent on tracing his own path

ILLUSTRATION Louise Cobbold

Fifteen years on from that night in Istanbul, Steven Gerrard is still trying to impose his enormous willpower on anarchic chaos.  

In 2005 it was required for the desperate mayhem of having been run ragged by AC Milan to the tune of a 3-0 deficit in the Champions League final after 45 minutes. It turned out that a thoroughbred like Gerrard required a much bigger handicap than trailing by three goals against one of the best XIs ever assembled. Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Cafu,Kaká, Hernán Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko – not to mention Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta. Nevertheless: advantage Stevie the Scouser.  

Now it’s a case of getting the maximum from his players at Ibrox. His job with Glasgow Rangers not only represents beginner’s steps as a senior coach and manager but also a blistering introduction to the fever-pitch temperature of that never-ending Old Firm saga.  

Setting aside the particulars of the Scottish Premiership, Gerrard still looks and trains as if he could perform in elite-level football. His passport age reveals that he’s still a relatively young 40-year-old, yet he’s accumulating those scars and wrinkles of hard-bitten experience at a frantic rate.

When I chat with the hero of Istanbul, it’s in between his 28th and 29th senior UEFA competition games as a coach. We scratch our heads about how long it might have taken Liverpool’s legendary Bill Shankly, who made Anfield legendary and was born a 40-minute drive from Ibrox, to build up precisely that much European nourishment. The answer?  

Try things. Make mistakes, get it horribly, wildly wrong. Experiment! Do all these things away from the camera
By

Mighty Shanks needed almost 20 years of management to take charge of his 28th UEFA club fixture (a 1-0 defeat away to Ferencváros), by which time the ferociously competitive and smart Scot had racked up more than 700 league and cup matches. Shankly had an encyclopaedia of knowledge; no such compendium for Gerrard.

Gerrard is on the fast track now but originally he chose to head off the beaten track. And it wasn’t inherited wisdom from Shankly, nor insight from Rafael Benítez (whose night Gerrard rescued in Istanbul) that fired up his initial career GPS. It is Jürgen Klopp, the first Liverpool manager after Benítez to win the Champions League, to whom Gerrard owes a debt.

Gerrard tells us: “The best thing I ever did was, in the beginning, get away from the cameras. Right at the outset I had an honest, open conversation with Jürgen for a couple of hours. The fantastic advice he offered me was, ‘Don’t go into this as Steven Gerrard, with the name on your back. Go back to the beginning, strip it back. Get your pitch confidence; get used to tactics, different formations. Try things. Make mistakes, get it horribly, wildly wrong. Experiment! Do all these things away from the camera.’

“His point was: before you measure yourself in Europe, or before you test yourself in a real competition with thousands and thousands of people, put yourself in a better place, be more prepared before you go in there. These were the points he wanted me to take on board. Jürgen added that he’d seen tonnes and tonnes of footballers go in there right away, using the weight of their name on their back, and it doesn’t work. It was the best bit of advice and I don’t think I’ll ever get better: strip it all right back and start right from the beginning.”

This is an extract from an article in issue 4 of Champions Journal. Get your copy to read the full story.

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This is an extract from an article in issue
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Cover Story

My way

The weight of expectation hung heavy when Steven Gerrard first moved into coaching but, as Graham Hunter explains, the Liverpool legend is intent on tracing his own path

ILLUSTRATION Louise Cobbold

Fifteen years on from that night in Istanbul, Steven Gerrard is still trying to impose his enormous willpower on anarchic chaos.  

In 2005 it was required for the desperate mayhem of having been run ragged by AC Milan to the tune of a 3-0 deficit in the Champions League final after 45 minutes. It turned out that a thoroughbred like Gerrard required a much bigger handicap than trailing by three goals against one of the best XIs ever assembled. Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Cafu,Kaká, Hernán Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko – not to mention Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta. Nevertheless: advantage Stevie the Scouser.  

Now it’s a case of getting the maximum from his players at Ibrox. His job with Glasgow Rangers not only represents beginner’s steps as a senior coach and manager but also a blistering introduction to the fever-pitch temperature of that never-ending Old Firm saga.  

Setting aside the particulars of the Scottish Premiership, Gerrard still looks and trains as if he could perform in elite-level football. His passport age reveals that he’s still a relatively young 40-year-old, yet he’s accumulating those scars and wrinkles of hard-bitten experience at a frantic rate.

When I chat with the hero of Istanbul, it’s in between his 28th and 29th senior UEFA competition games as a coach. We scratch our heads about how long it might have taken Liverpool’s legendary Bill Shankly, who made Anfield legendary and was born a 40-minute drive from Ibrox, to build up precisely that much European nourishment. The answer?  

Read the full story
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Try things. Make mistakes, get it horribly, wildly wrong. Experiment! Do all these things away from the camera
By

Mighty Shanks needed almost 20 years of management to take charge of his 28th UEFA club fixture (a 1-0 defeat away to Ferencváros), by which time the ferociously competitive and smart Scot had racked up more than 700 league and cup matches. Shankly had an encyclopaedia of knowledge; no such compendium for Gerrard.

Gerrard is on the fast track now but originally he chose to head off the beaten track. And it wasn’t inherited wisdom from Shankly, nor insight from Rafael Benítez (whose night Gerrard rescued in Istanbul) that fired up his initial career GPS. It is Jürgen Klopp, the first Liverpool manager after Benítez to win the Champions League, to whom Gerrard owes a debt.

Gerrard tells us: “The best thing I ever did was, in the beginning, get away from the cameras. Right at the outset I had an honest, open conversation with Jürgen for a couple of hours. The fantastic advice he offered me was, ‘Don’t go into this as Steven Gerrard, with the name on your back. Go back to the beginning, strip it back. Get your pitch confidence; get used to tactics, different formations. Try things. Make mistakes, get it horribly, wildly wrong. Experiment! Do all these things away from the camera.’

“His point was: before you measure yourself in Europe, or before you test yourself in a real competition with thousands and thousands of people, put yourself in a better place, be more prepared before you go in there. These were the points he wanted me to take on board. Jürgen added that he’d seen tonnes and tonnes of footballers go in there right away, using the weight of their name on their back, and it doesn’t work. It was the best bit of advice and I don’t think I’ll ever get better: strip it all right back and start right from the beginning.”

This is an extract from an article in issue 4 of Champions Journal. Get your copy to read the full story.

Cover Story

My way

The weight of expectation hung heavy when Steven Gerrard first moved into coaching but, as Graham Hunter explains, the Liverpool legend is intent on tracing his own path

ILLUSTRATION Louise Cobbold

Fifteen years on from that night in Istanbul, Steven Gerrard is still trying to impose his enormous willpower on anarchic chaos.  

In 2005 it was required for the desperate mayhem of having been run ragged by AC Milan to the tune of a 3-0 deficit in the Champions League final after 45 minutes. It turned out that a thoroughbred like Gerrard required a much bigger handicap than trailing by three goals against one of the best XIs ever assembled. Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Cafu,Kaká, Hernán Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko – not to mention Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta. Nevertheless: advantage Stevie the Scouser.  

Now it’s a case of getting the maximum from his players at Ibrox. His job with Glasgow Rangers not only represents beginner’s steps as a senior coach and manager but also a blistering introduction to the fever-pitch temperature of that never-ending Old Firm saga.  

Setting aside the particulars of the Scottish Premiership, Gerrard still looks and trains as if he could perform in elite-level football. His passport age reveals that he’s still a relatively young 40-year-old, yet he’s accumulating those scars and wrinkles of hard-bitten experience at a frantic rate.

When I chat with the hero of Istanbul, it’s in between his 28th and 29th senior UEFA competition games as a coach. We scratch our heads about how long it might have taken Liverpool’s legendary Bill Shankly, who made Anfield legendary and was born a 40-minute drive from Ibrox, to build up precisely that much European nourishment. The answer?  

Try things. Make mistakes, get it horribly, wildly wrong. Experiment! Do all these things away from the camera
By

Mighty Shanks needed almost 20 years of management to take charge of his 28th UEFA club fixture (a 1-0 defeat away to Ferencváros), by which time the ferociously competitive and smart Scot had racked up more than 700 league and cup matches. Shankly had an encyclopaedia of knowledge; no such compendium for Gerrard.

Gerrard is on the fast track now but originally he chose to head off the beaten track. And it wasn’t inherited wisdom from Shankly, nor insight from Rafael Benítez (whose night Gerrard rescued in Istanbul) that fired up his initial career GPS. It is Jürgen Klopp, the first Liverpool manager after Benítez to win the Champions League, to whom Gerrard owes a debt.

Gerrard tells us: “The best thing I ever did was, in the beginning, get away from the cameras. Right at the outset I had an honest, open conversation with Jürgen for a couple of hours. The fantastic advice he offered me was, ‘Don’t go into this as Steven Gerrard, with the name on your back. Go back to the beginning, strip it back. Get your pitch confidence; get used to tactics, different formations. Try things. Make mistakes, get it horribly, wildly wrong. Experiment! Do all these things away from the camera.’

“His point was: before you measure yourself in Europe, or before you test yourself in a real competition with thousands and thousands of people, put yourself in a better place, be more prepared before you go in there. These were the points he wanted me to take on board. Jürgen added that he’d seen tonnes and tonnes of footballers go in there right away, using the weight of their name on their back, and it doesn’t work. It was the best bit of advice and I don’t think I’ll ever get better: strip it all right back and start right from the beginning.”

This is an extract from an article in issue 4 of Champions Journal. Get your copy to read the full story.

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