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.”

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.”

Rodgers in the dark over Balotelli incident

The striker is facing a probe from the FA related to an Instagram post, but the Liverpool boss would not be drawn on the incident after the victory over Leicester

Rodgers in the dark over Balotelli incident

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is yet to intervene in the racism controversy involving striker Mario Balotelli.

The Italian, who is currently out of action due to a hamstring injury picked up on international duty, is facing investigation from the Football Association after posting a picture on Instagram which is alleged to be racist and anti-Semitic.

Balotelli has since apologised for the post, but Rodgers has not been involved in the club’s dealing of the incident.

When asked about Balotelli, Rodgers told reporters: “I don’t know anything about it, I’ve been busy with the team.”

Rodgers was instead focused on his side’s upturn in fortunes and change in mentality after recording two straight wins against Stoke City and Leicester City, with goals from Adam Lallana, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson securing a 3-1 victory at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.

“What’s important for me is the spirit,” he said. “[The draw against] Ludogorets was a good performance and the weekend [victory over Stoke] was good though it was a tight game. We’ve changed it around and looked at the mentality of the team going into the games.

“This [Leicester] is a tough place to come. They’ve only lost once here this season. We go behind in the game and show the resolve to come back into it.

“The momentum is very important. It’s small steps but we’ll get to where we want to get to.”

Gerrard: I’m still undecided on Liverpool contract

The 34-year-old says he does not know what to do yet about his future but is keen for the focus to be on the side’s performances, rather than his contract negotiations

Gerrard: I'm still undecided on Liverpool contract

Steven Gerrard has refused to elaborate on his contract situation with Liverpool and admits he is undecided over his future.

The 34-year-old’s current deal at Anfield expires at the end of the season, although Brendan Rodgers has confirmed an extension has been offered to the midfielder.

“I’ll decide when I’m ready. There’s nothing to say on the contract at the moment,” Gerrard told BT Sport.

“When there is – the fans have known me long enough – I’ll come out and I’ll say what I need to say.”

After starting on the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Stoke City, Gerrard returned to the side for Wednesday night’s trip to Leicester City and scored the second goal in a 3-1 win which keeps Liverpool five points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.

“I think over the last three performances we’ve been superb and we need to keep trying to improve on that,” said the midfielder.

“The reason I don’t want to answer your questions on my contract is because it’s not about me, it’s about the performance and a great three points, and that’s what the headline should be.”

Inter Milan boss Mancini targets Liverpool captain Gerrard for January

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is on the radar of Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan.

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The Mail on Sunday says Mancini is set to offer Gerrard a move in January, unless the Liverpool captain agrees a new deal at Anfield.

Gerrard also has a number of options to move to the United States next summer with New York Cosmos one potential avenue for the 34-year-old midfielder.

However, a move to Serie A could be appealing to the midfielder.

What now for Steven Gerrard?

The Liverpool captain is preparing to face Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday – and it will provide painful memories of his costly slip against the Blues last season

What now for Steven Gerrard?

Not a game goes by for Steven Gerrard without being reminded by thousands of supporters of rival clubs about that costly slip against Chelsea that probably cost Liverpool the Premier League title last season.

Almost everyone believed the Reds were destined for their first title triumph since 1990 when Chelsea came to Anfield with three games to play, not least Gerrard.

But an 11-game winning streak was broken by the 2-0 defeat best remembered for the moment when Gerrard lost his footing on the halfway line and Demba Ba raced through to open the scoring just before half-time. Chelsea ruined the party and, of all people, it was Gerrard who let them do it.

Chelsea return to Merseyside on Saturday as league leaders and title favourites – and it will re-ignite some painful memories for Gerrard.

Luis Suarez, the Reds’ star man last term, has suggested in his autobiography that he would have retired if he was in the Liverpool captain’s shoes.

“If I had been in Stevie’s shoes, I don’t know if I would have been able to carry on playing,” the Uruguayan writes. “Emotionally, it must have been very, very hard.”

Suarez may be right. The mental scars of last season have been showing ever since – and will they ever heal?

Liverpool finished second in the league last season and the crushing disappointment was shortly followed by a miserable World Cup, where the 34-year-old captained England to their worst performance in a major tournament since 1958.

In the crucial defeat to Uruguay that ultimately eliminated the Three Lions, Gerrard misjudged the flight of the ball and headed for Suarez to race through and score the winner. His performance was deemed so bad that one Spanish newspaper refused to give him a match rating.

Gerrard subsequently retired from international football after 113 appearances for England to focus on Liverpool, where he has talked passionately about his enduring hunger and drive.

But the new campaign has not started well. Last season, Gerrard played 39 games in all competitions, scoring 14 goals and providing 16 assists as Liverpool’s deep-lying playmaker where he would control games and pick out the mobile strikers’ runs.

This year, the Reds captain has found himself ineffectual and man-marked out of games – particularly defeats to Aston Villa and West Ham – with the Merseyside club collecting just 14 points from their opening 10 league fixtures. His personal malaise has been reflected in the team’s performances and results.

Gerrard is a Liverpool legend and perhaps their greatest ever player. That Premier League crown is the only trophy that has eluded him at club level since he made his Anfield debut in November 1998.

But as he watched on from the substitutes bench as Liverpool lined up against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Gerrard might have reflected that last season’s slip against Chelsea point was the turning point, the beginning of the end.

If he was hoping for some sort of redemption act this season, the title is already out of reach and Liverpool are now focusing on achieving a top four finish and scraping out of their Champions League group.

It is impossible to imagine Gerrard playing for any other club, but he says he will carry on elsewhere if Liverpool don’t offer him a new deal when his contract expires in the summer. Brendan Rodgers says he wants his skipper to stay for an 18th season at the club.

But Rodgers will also be well aware that Gerrard is in decline. After all the physical and emotional energy that went into last season’s title challenge, that slip was like deflating a hot air balloon that’s still collapsing today.

And Gerrard might have to accept that he will never be a Premier League champion.