Is Luis Suarez the most talented player you have ever worked with?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with lots of really good players so it would be disrespectful to single out the best. What I am sure of though, is his warrior spirit and I love his humility, work rate, attitude to training and his desire to be a winner.
He has a real determination and commitment to do well for Liverpool and that side of his game certainly puts him up there with the very best I’ve worked with. He is definitely one of the most naturally talented and mentally strong players I have ever worked with.
Has he impressed enough to win the PFA player of the year award and do you think he will?
He will certainly be in the reckoning. His league goals alone should put him in with a great shout but you also need to look at his consistency throughout the season that makes him arguably the best player.
There are other contenders of course; players like Gareth Bale have been outstanding for Tottenham for example, but I think that Luis’ consistency and the impact he has had for us this season means that he would be my candidate to win.
Suarez isn’t always popular with opposing players and fans, is that something he can channel and turn into a positive?
I know what it was like when I faced him as an opposing manager, I always viewed him as a pest around the penalty area and you know that players like that usually have the quality to score at any give time. When you know him as a person and as a man like we do here, you can see why so many people love him.
It’s not his job to be liked, he’ll be respected because he’s a top football player and it won’t concern him too much if people don’t like him. He is a player who has great humility, I see the guy everyday and I’ve worked with hundreds of junior and senior players and he is one of the most likable, most humble people I’ve come across.
He is also a multi-talented footballer who has shown that he is at a world class level now. The likability of any player is always up for debate, and people will always use their own moral compass to judge Luis Suarez, but that’s not something I tend to focus on. I concentrate on what he is like with me on a day-to-day basis and he is a great man.
Could you argue that this has been Steve Gerrard’s best in terms of consistency and leadership?
It’s been his best season in relation to the number of games he’s played – he has played every minute of every game for us this season, and as a leader of the team he has been immense. It has been a real privilege to work with someone of that calibre and quality. Again, the mark of the man is that he is a very humble guy. This season he has scored goals, created chances, is still an international captain and at 32 still has the hunger, drive and determination to be better. He’s had an outstanding season and I’m sure he’ll continue to get better over the coming seasons.
Jamie Carragher retires at the end of the season, how big a loss will he be not only on the paying side but also in the dressing room?
He’ll be a big loss because of the length of time he has been at the club. It’s very difficult to say that a player is irreplaceable because the nature of football means that someone always steps in to take the shirt and provides different elements to your team.
I will miss Jamie’s drive and determination that he has shown since I’ve been here, and I know that is something he has been doing all his life. We’re going to miss his character but that’s our job, as a club, to look to try and replace him. Jamie will continue to perform until the end of the season with the same drive and determination he has displayed through his entire career, even at 35-years-old he is still performing at the very top level.
How important is the redevelopment of Anfield to the clubs future ability to compete financially?
We have two main objectives; one is to arrive into the top four and the second is the redevelopment of Anfield. That will make us a bigger club financially and help us to compete more; we have to keep building towards that.
The clubs that are competing in the Champions League have a big advantage financially, an extra forty million pounds a year and more. That’s a huge advantage in respect of bringing in new players and we have to keep aiming for that goal. If we can do that by the redevelopment of Anfield, aligned with top four football, we will be in a great position as a club.
You seem to be taking a long term approach to this job. Can you imagine yourself being here in ten years and where do you imagine Liverpool being by then?
I was asked to come in and build the club over the long term. I’m fully aware however, in the short term you need to produce results. Of course this is a club I would love to be at for a long period of time because it is one of the few institutions in football.
This is very much a destination for me as a manager but I have got to show improvements in the club on a yearly basis. Of course I would love to be here long term, but obviously you have to take care of the short term and show that development. I think we have showed that progression this year and I hope we can make more strides next year and keep the club moving forward.
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