By Gareth Freeman
What a few weeks it has been at Anfield! After a dark period where wins were few and far between, Liverpool picked up by smashing close rivals Manchester United and Aston Villa, off the field Benitez signed a new deal and now ‘captain fantastic’ Steven Gerrard is set to do the same.
Liverpool’s position in the league and Gerrard’s willingness to commit to a new deal show how far the club has come under Rafa’s guidance. There was a time when fears of Gerrard leaving for Chelsea were well founded but now it looks as if he is set to sign, probably for the rest of his career.
Needless to say, having Gerrard committing his long-term future to the club is a massive bonus and even if the title is still a long-shot this season, Liverpool can be safe in the knowledge that they will be serious contenders next season after this season’s showing.
Here are a few snippets from Gerrard’s interview.
"I have never been happier throughout my whole career than I am at the moment," The Liverpool skipper said.
"I have two years left on my contract and if there was a chance to extend it, I am sure I would.
"I am playing in a top team, with world-class players and I believe in the manager. Going forward, I am sure we can be successful."
He added: “I am captain and we are winning. Our relationship (with Benitez) has got stronger as time has gone by.
"For years and years I have moaned about not being involved in a title race and being far away from the others.
"At the moment, I am playing in a team that's capable of beating anyone in the league."
When Rafa first took charge at Anfield he had a tendency to play Gerrard out of position but he has now cemented his role in the middle of the park just behind Torres. His relationship with Benitez to begin with was probably not helped by the fact he held Gerard Houllier in such high regard either. Now the pair are working as a unit, Liverpool are the most successful team in Europe in recent years and they still have a shot at the title.
The sports betting odds on Liverpool winning the league have been slashed from 30/1 to 3/1. United are still favourites with odds of around 1/3 (they were 1/50 at one point I think) but that goes to show how much progress Rafa’s men have made in the last couple of games. I’ve had a look through United’s remaining fixtures and they’ve got to face Arsneal, Spurs and Man City who are sides who have caused United problems over the years. Unfortunately all those games are at Old Trafford and I wouldn’t go betting on United slipping up too often. However, the manner in which Liverpool defeated United at Old Trafford goes to show they’re not invincible there and the race is wide open for the Premier League crown.
Friday, March 27, 2009
By Gareth Freeman