Steven Gerrard endured “worst three months” of his life after Liverpool, England heartbreak

3 Comments

Steven Gerrard’s career has, largely, been one of the most successful of any current player in the Premier League. He’s captained Liverpool to a UEFA Champions League title, led England at two different World Cups, scored some incredible goals and is a player idolized across the world.

Yet since April 27, 2014, things have gone downhill. Rapidly.

[RELATED: Gerrard retires from England]

If you remember back to the end of last season Gerrard, 35, slipped at a crucial moment to set Chelsea on their way to a win at Anfield that delivered a damaging blow to Liverpool’s title hopes. It was a cruel blow for the man who had so often been Liverpool’s savior over the years. Then, after Liverpool blew a 3-0 lead over Crystal Palace in the penultimate game of the season which ultimately cost them the their first-ever PL title, Gerrard suffered the heartbreak of captaining England as they crashed out at the 2014 World Cup.

Over the offseason Gerrard has had to overcome plenty of adversity, in his own mind. Speaking to the Telegraph and Liverpool’s website, Gerrard admitted that the past three months have been the worst in his life.

“It’s probably been the worst three months of my life,” Gerrard said. “I’ve seen it a few times. I don’t have to watch something like that to go through the pain again and again and again. I’ve been through the pain in the dressing room after and in the weeks and months since. When something like that happens you have to face it up and be man enough to take it on the chin. Accept it happened. You can’t change it. I haven’t lost my man at a set-piece. I haven’t missed a penalty. I haven’t made a bad pass or a mistake. That’s why it was cruel. Every single person on the planet slips at some point in their life, whether it is on a set of stairs, on the floor or whatever.”

That slip against Chelsea will be remembered for a long time, as Liverpool’s hero for over a decade made a monster mistake at precisely the wrong moment. Turns out, lightning can strike twice. Sort of. After England lost 2-1 to Italy in their opening game of the World Cup, they knew they had to at least draw against Uruguay to stand a chance of making the knockout rounds. Late in the game with the scored locked at 1-1, a long ball forward saw Gerrard jump for the ball. Instead of winning the header clean, it flicked off the back of his head and found Luis Suarez. His Liverpool teammate drove another dagger into Gerrard’s heart by scoring the goal which knocked England out.

Gerrard wasn’t solely responsible for either Liverpool losing the title or England being knocked out of the World Cup, but his role as captain and the fact that he made pivotal mistakes at crucial times are eating away at him.

“Unfortunately I have had that tough time at club level at the end of the season and then I have gone into a World Cup hoping that it was going to go really well to help me get over it. But it backfired,” Gerrard said. “I have had two massive, unbelievable lows in a short space of time, so it is a good test for me this season. Can I hit form after that? I believe that I can.”

So, can Gerrard dust himself off and lead a new-look Liverpool towards the PL title and success in the Champions League this season? Bouncing back from the disappointment of the past three months could be his biggest challenge yet.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

Stu Forster/Getty Images
1 Comment

Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
1 Comment

We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.