Steven Gerrard on Liverpool return: I don’t want to be popular at Anfield

Steven Gerrard said he would accept not being the most popular man at Anfield if his Aston Villa side were to take three points on his return to Liverpool on Saturday.

The former Liverpool captain has won three of his first four games in charge at Villa and is set to face his former team for the first time since leaving the club as a player in 2015.

Gerrard made over 500 Premier League appearances for the Reds across 17 seasons and has been tipped as a future Liverpool manager once Jurgen Klopp leaves Anfield.

But the former Rangers boss said he won’t be distracted by the “noise” surrounding the fixture as he prepares to face Klopp on the touchline for the first time.

“I really respect and understand the noise around the game for obvious reasons because I’m going back to a club where I spent many years,” Gerrard told a news conference on Friday.

“It brings a smile to my face for a couple of reasons. One because I’ve obviously got a good relationship with a lot of people at the club, I had a fantastic time there, a really good journey.

“I’m a local boy and it was the team I supported growing up and I always will support that team. Of course I will.

“But at the same time it brings a smile to my face because I’ve got the opportunity to go there and compete against a good team with a good manager with the opportunity to try and win the game and that’s my only main focus.

“I think the noise is for other people to get excited about. For me, it’s about preparing the team in the best way I can to try and get a positive result for Aston Villa and that’s the way I will be.

“Everyone in that stadium will know me well enough to know what I’m about and what I’m going to Anfield for. For everyone else, it’s a massive occasion. For me, it’s three points.

“‘It’s a big game of football and it’s 90 minutes we need to focus on. We’re a good team, we’ve got top players, we’re a threat and we want to make it as difficult as we can for Liverpool.

“If I’m on the bus heading back down the M6 towards Birmingham and I’m not the most popular at Anfield, so be it.”

Gerrard worked under Klopp when he cut his teeth in management for the first time as coach of Liverpool’s Under-19s and the 41-year-old said he was looking forward to coming up against the German boss.

“It doesn’t need me to sit here and talk about Jurgen Klopp, I think the world know what a fantastic coach he is,” Gerrard said. “He’s always been fantastic with me, very supportive, given me a lot of top advice in terms of the transition from being a player to a coach.

“He obviously gave me an opportunity to go and coach Liverpool’s youth team, which I’ll be forever grateful for. But, at the end of the day, he knows and I know, once that whistle goes at the weekend, I’m going to try and compete in the best way I can and the team can to try and get a result and one over on him.

“That’s the way I am, that’s what’s inside me and that’s the way I’ll approach it.”

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