Steven Gerrard’s claims in book I didn’t like him are ‘wrong’ – Rafa Benitez

Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez says Steven Gerrard’s description of their relationship at Liverpool is “wrong,” hinting that the motivation for making the claims is to sell his new book.

In Gerrard’s soon-to-be-published second autobiography, “My Story,” the current LA Galaxy midfielder claims Benitez was an excellent tactical coach, but “emotionless and distant” as a person, and that they have no relationship at present.

The comments have generated much media publicity and surprised many given the pair appeared to have worked well together during six years at Liverpool — with Gerrard playing some of the best football of his career and lifting the Champions League and FA Cup under Benitez’s guidance.

Asked for his reaction to the furore by Spanish TV show Jugones, the Madrid coach said he did not agree with Gerrard’s telling of the story, but did not want to get into any public exchange of opinions.

“I have read the comments, and I believe [Gerrard] is wrong,” Benitez said. “But, what we must do now is just enjoy things. I have respect for Stevie and affection for him, for Liverpool, the club, and its fans. So I think it is best to let it go and not add anything else.”

The serialised extracts from Gerrard’s book also include criticism of Benitez’s lack of manners, with the Spaniard apparently bluntly asking the midfielder’s mother when they first met if her son “liked money.”

Benitez also told Jugones that such controversial comments about someone who is now coach of a club like Madrid would help Gerrard make more money from his latest book.

“He is publishing a book, and now that I am Real Madrid coach, it will sell better,” he said.

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Mario Balotelli is ‘unmanageable’ – ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard agrees with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho that Mario Balotelli is “unmanageable.”

Balotelli, 25, has been loaned to AC Milan after struggling to make an impact at Liverpool following his move from the San Siro in 2014 — and he impressed in the Milan derby on Sunday night despite a 1-0 loss to Inter.

The Italy international played under Mourinho when the Portuguese was in charge of Inter Milan, and in 2010 he warned clubs about his poor attitude.

Gerrard said in his book “My Story,” which is being serialised in the Daily Mail: “After his promising debut against Tottenham, he had lapsed in training and the subsequent games. His demeanour was very poor. I made my up mind pretty quickly after that about Balotelli.

“We got on fine. I still tried to help him and I kept looking for chances to praise him but I could see why Mourinho had been right when he said Balotelli is unmanageable.

“He is very talented with the potential to be world class, but he’ll never get there because of his mentality and the people around him. Balotelli’s always late, he always wants attention.”

Gerrard was unimpressed with the way Balotelli, who has scored four goals in 28 appearances for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, conducted himself in training.

The LA Galaxy midfielder said: “He made an immediate impression when we were doing work on our defensive set pieces and Balotelli said to Brendan: ‘I don’t mark on corners. I can’t.’

“I nearly fell into the goalpost. I was thinking, ‘What are you? 6-foot-3, and one of the strongest men I’ve ever seen on a football pitch? And you can’t mark on a corner?’

“Brendan was very firm. He said to Balotelli: ‘Well, you can now — and if you can’t then you’re going to learn.’

“That was the first conflict between Brendan and Balotelli, on day one, but the manager stood up to Mario really well. From that point, Balotelli started marking on corners.”

The ex-England captain added: “In my last season, Brendan Rodgers came to me at Melwood one day in mid-August. We had a chat on the training pitch.

“He said, ‘You know we’ve missed out on a couple of signings. I’m basically left with no option but to have a bit of a gamble.’

“Brendan paused before he spoke again: ‘The gamble is Mario Balotelli.’ My instant reaction was, ‘Uh-oh.’ I’d never met Balotelli but I’d heard all the stories about the indoor fireworks and Jose Mourinho describing him as an ‘unmanageable’ player.

“I could see that, in the right mood, he was a quality footballer but the rest of his career seemed like a spectacular waste of talent. That was my opinion of Balotelli.”

Manchester United will beat Liverpool, but won’t win Premier League – LVG

Louis van Gaal has assured Manchester United fans that his side will defeat Liverpool on Saturday, but backed off picking the Old Trafford club to be crowned Premier League champs this season.

United slumped to a surprising 2-1 loss to Swansea two weekends ago, however the Dutch boss promised a repeat was not in the cards against arch-rivals Liverpool at the weekend.

“I am sorry, the defeat was my fault. Don’t worry, we will win on Saturday,” Van Gaal said in an interview with BBC.

Van Gaal’s club beat Liverpool 3-0 at Old Trafford and 2-1 at Anfield last year. And while a victory over the Reds would be a seen as a positive step for the club, the former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax manager believes his squad is a year away from being considered true Premier League contenders.

“No, maybe third or second place is realistic but I expect us to go for it next season,” Van Gaal said of his team’s 2014-15 chances, before hailing United fans for their steadfast support.

“At Barcelona when the team is losing fans wave their white hankies, Munich fans start whistling and at Ajax the fans call for the previous manager.

“Manchester United fans get behind their manager, they get behind their team. That is why United fans are the best in the world.”

‘I’m happy to be back’ – Balotelli completes AC Milan medical

The striker says he is desperate to enjoy a successful season at San Siro after agreeing to return on a loan deal from Liverpool

'I'm happy to be back' - Balotelli completes AC Milan medical

Mario Balotelli says he is happy to be back in Serie A after completing a medical ahead of a loan switch to AC Milan.

The Italy international arrived in the city early on Tuesday as he prepares to finalise a season-long loan move back to San Siro from Liverpool.

Speaking to reporters outside the La Madonnina clinic, he said: “I’m happy to be back.

“I’m fit, I just need to train with my team-mates. I don’t want want to talk too much, I’m only focused on working hard because I want to have a good season.”

The 25-year-old, who grew up in Brescia, dispelled suggestions that he felt like he was coming home, however.

“No, my home is in Brescia,” he said simply.

Balotelli, who scored just once in 16 Premier League appearances last season, has been frozen out of Brendan Rodgers’ plans at Liverpool.

The former Manchester City man scored 30 goals in 54 appearances during his first spell with Milan between 2012 and 2014.

Official: Manchester City sign Sterling for £49m

After two previous bids were rejected, the winger finally leaves Liverpool for the Etihad Stadium to become the most expensive English footballer of all time

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Manchester City have confirmed the signing of
Raheem Sterling from
Liverpool for a deal worth up to £49 million .
The news brings to an end a long-running and highly public transfer saga, with the England international even threatening to go on strike before twice calling in sick to training in a bid to force a move away from the club, having told Brendan Rodgers of his desire to leave .
Sterling was included in the club’s pre-season tour squad, despite informing his manager that he did not wish to travel, but his move to City edged closer on Sunday after he was withdrawn from selection .
City twice attempted to buy Sterling earlier this summer, but saw both of their overtures snubbed before a third and final offer, totalling £44m up front plus a further £5m in add-ons, was accepted at the weekend.
Liverpool subsequently issued a statement, wishing Sterling well, while Manuel Pellegrini has hailed the acquisition of the forward.

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“Raheem Sterling is one of the best attacking players in world football, and I am very much looking forward to him joining our squad out in Australia later this week,” he told the club’s website.
“He is a young player with outstanding ability, and I am sure the Manchester City fans will be very excited about seeing him in action for the team.”
Sterling’s agent, Aidy Ward, claimed earlier this week that there had been a “breakdown in trust” between Sterling and Rodgers , suggesting that his client no longer wanted to play under the Reds manager.
However, the 20-year-old now has his move and becomes City’s record signing, eclipsing the £38.1m deal that saw Sergio Aguero join the club in 2011, and the most expensive English footballer of all time.
QPR are also due a windfall, with Sterling’s former club retaining 20 per cent sell-on fee thanks to a clause in the forward’s contract when he moved to Anfield for an initial £400,000 in 2010 now totalling around £9m.
Sterling will wear the No.7 shirt at City.

Real Madrid bench role accelerated Liverpool exit – Gerrard

The former Reds captain says that he knew his time at the club was over when Brendan Rodgers decided to overlook the midfielder for their trip to the Bernabeu

Real Madrid bench role accelerated Liverpool exit - Gerrard

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says he knew he had to leave the club when he was left on the bench for the club’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid in November.

Gerrard was named among the substitutes and only played the final 20 minutes as the Reds lost 1-0 in the Spanish capital.

Recalling the decision, Gerrard, who is preparing to link up with MLS side LA Galaxy, admits that it played a pivotal role in his decision to leave Anfield.

In an interview with Rio Ferdinand set to be aired on BT Sport on Wednesday, the 35-year-old said: “This was round about the time when I was doing a lot of thinking about what’s next for me because I’d had a couple of initial chats with Brendan saying to me, ‘I’m going to start managing your games and I have to look after you and I want you to be fresh and I don’t want you to be playing three games in a week because you may be tired’ and stuff like that.

“But this situation was a bit unique because it was Real Madrid and I wanted to play.

“I sat on that bench devastated because I wanted to play, so it is one of those situations. It sort of pushed me into making a decision to move on and try something different.”

Gerrard also opened up about his infamous slip against Chelsea in 2013-14, which many have said cost Liverpool their first Premier League title in 24 years.

With the Reds within touching distance of the Premier League title, Demba Ba capitalised on Gerrard’s mistake as Jose Mourinho’s side recorded a 2-0 victory that sparked a remarkable Liverpool collapse, with Manchester City going on to win the league.

“The slip happened at a bad time, it was cruel for me personally,” Gerrard added. “There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t think about what if that didn’t happen.

“Would things have been different? Would it have turned out different? Maybe it might have, I don’t know.”

Why PFA nominees show Premier League delivers best experience to fans

The Spanish Liga has its Galacticos. But it’s the Premier League where stars are made.

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The Spanish Liga has its Galacticos. But it’s the Premier League where stars are made.

At 24, is there a better young player in the game than Eden Hazard? What about goalkeepers and David de Gea? Harry Kane and young centre-forwards?

The shortlist for last night’s PFA Players Player of the Year epitomised the strength of the Premier League – and its inscrutable relationship with fans.

Yes, it still must be a wrench for Tottenham supporters seeing Gareth Bale bombing down Real Madrid‘s wing. But it also must have been some journey for those fans who followed the Welshman from battling in the Spurs reserve-team to running Inter Milan ragged at the San Siro.

At Chelsea, they’ve seen Hazard go from a stroppy, self-important 21 year-old, famous for kicking out at ball-boys, to a leader of men. A pro’s pro. A player who has world greats, including Zinedine Zidane, queuing to lavish praise on him. And Blues fans have seen all this, up close, develop over three years. That’s some football experience.

The same can be said of De Gea and his emergence at Manchester United. Forget about being the best young goalkeeper in the game, some claim he is the outright best on the planet. But those fans who follow United home-and-away will remember that infamous flap at Tottenham two years ago, the blast from former captain Gary Neville and all the headlines about the Spaniard not being good enough.

If he does return to Madrid this summer, Real’s support will be getting the finished article. But they will have missed the chance to see De Gea develop into the player he is today. The highs and lows. The unswerving faith a supporter has in a player’s potential being realised. For many, it’s a big part of being a football fan.

Just ask Spurs supporters about ‘one of our own’, Harry Kane.

Some will have seen Kane in youth games at Enfield. Picked him as ‘one to watch’. Kept faith as he battled away on-loan with the likes of Leyton Orient and Millwall. And now celebrate with fans around the world as Kane smashes through the 30-goal barrier.

You can’t manufacture that experience. It’s among the most enjoyable aspects of being a football fan. And the Premier League offers this to us like no other competition.

Philippe Coutinho’s story is arguably the best of the lot. Bouncing between Italy and Spain, his career was going nowhere. At 21, he was washed up, Inter Milan couldn’t get rid quickly enough. But with Liverpool, under Brendan Rodgers, Coutinho has rebuilt his game and his confidence. He’s now delivering on the potential which had Europe’s biggest clubs chasing his signature as a 17 year-old at Vasco da Gama. And this has all played out – in spectacular fashion – in front of the Kop.

Even the ‘old men’ of the PFA shortlist have their best years ahead of them. Both Chelsea striker Diego Costa and Arsenal‘s Chilean dynamo Alexis Sanchez are still 26. We’re sure to see their greatest moments achieved playing in the Premier League.

Since this season’s Champions League flop, English clubs have been hammered over transfer policy, scouting, even their development structure. But given the nominees we celebrated last night, the Premier League is still where stars are made.