Steven Gerrard has described Liverpool’s failure to win the Premier League during the 2013-14 campaign as his “wound that won’t close” after urging the club’s current players to avoid “overthinking” the permutations of their title battle with Manchester City.
Liverpool trailed in second behind City five years ago, two points behind the eventual champions, after a late season slump which continues to be defined by Gerrard’s unfortunate slip in a 2-0 defeat against Chelsea to Anfield which led to Demba Ba scoring what proved to be the winning goal.
Jurgen Klopp’s current group of players now sit second in the table, a point behind City, after losing momentum since starting 2019 seven points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s men.
Gerrard, now managing in Scotland with Rangers, has been watching from afar as Liverpool’s title bid has faltered.
And with the club still looking to end a title drought stretching back to 1990, the former Liverpool captain admits he continues to be haunted by 2014.
“This wound has been open since my experience,” Gerrard said. “I am not sure it will close because I can’t change that experience and my experience.
“It doesn’t affect how I feel towards what I am looking in on now.
“I look at a squad of players, some of whom I am still friends with. I see a support that gave me absolutely everything from the terraces and around the world.
“I just hope for their sake, and mine as a supporter, that come the end of the competition they are victorious. But it won’t make me or my wound feel any different.”
Gerrard won every major club honour except the Premier League during his illustrious Liverpool career, but while he insists that his other trophies help soften the blow of missing out on the title, the memory of falling short does not go away.
“I don’t just look back to that one game [Chelsea] or one campaign,” he said. “I don’t overthink and drive myself crazy over it.
“At the same time, I have been honest and open, it was such a big year. It was the trophy that eluded me, so of course I am always going to look back and wish it was different.
“If I had a choice of winning the Champions League or Premier League, I’d say the Champions League probably.
“But that doesn’t mean I didn’t crave a Premier League. It is such a big prize.
“But I don’t want to give the players a warning. Warnings seem critical or panicky.
“My advice, having been a player in that team and playing for those supporters for so long, would be don’t overthink it. Just enjoy it. Believe in yourselves.”
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Steven Gerrard’s costly slip vs. Chelsea was the start of Liverpool’s late demise in 2013-14.
Liverpool’s desperation for a league title has been borne out by intensity of the support at Anfield, with the atmosphere often reflecting whether Klopp’s team are playing well or otherwise.
But Gerrard, speaking at St George’s Park in Burton during a UEFA Pro Licence module, believes the Liverpool support should be regarded as a positive factor.
“I think different people will feel different things,” he said. “It depends what type of person you are or what your role is at the club.
“I think the supporters are very excited, but I think there are some nerves about which is understandable. I think it will be very mixed.
“I think now, in the Liverpool dressing room, they can use experiences of what has gone before to try and help them in the run-in.
“They have a great leader in Jurgen who, I am sure, is trying to take a lot of pressure and anxiety away from them.
“But I think it is only normal and human that they are excited and there is a lot of nerves going round because there is such a big prize up for grabs.
“I think it is only normal for the supporters. They want it more than anyone. They will help. The players have to see it as a help rather than a hindrance.
“When we were in that situation, I didn’t feel suffocated from the fans. I actually felt they were right behind us and with us and wanted it so much. I saw it as a help rather than a hindrance.”
Liverpool finished fourth, 25 points adrift of City last season, as Guardiola’s team ended the campaign on100 points.
But having led by seven points in early January, Liverpool face accusations of failure if they are unable to reclaim top spot in order to win the title.
Gerrard, however, insists it is unfair of the team to suggest they will have failed if they do not win the title.
“I think certain people around the world will see it as failure, but there is nothing you can do about that,” Gerrard said. “That is football and opinions.
“For me, as a fan, Jurgen has taken the team and the squad forward giant strides. He is doing everything he can.
“Sometimes in football, if someone beats you to it, just, sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say the better team won.
“I hope that is not the case, but I don’t think you can be too critical if you have been fantastic yourself and have done ever so well to be in it in the first place.”