‘Rivalries are there for a reason’: Steven Gerrard admits he was shocked his former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez took over at Everton last summer, insisting it ‘doesn’t make sense’ to take charge of a bitter enemy
- Steven Gerrard takes Aston Villa to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday
- Toffees sacked Rafa Benitez last week after defeat to Norwich
- Gerrard said he was surprised Spaniard even took the Everton job
- Benitez won four trophies at Liverpool during a six-year spell at Anfield
Steven Gerrard takes on old foes Everton today insisting he could never follow Rafael Benitez by crossing the divide between the bitter Mersey rivals.
Benitez was sacked by Everton this after barely six months in charge, meaning there will be no reunion of the manager and captain who led Liverpool to Champions League glory in Istanbul in 2005.
Instead Gerrard’s Aston Villa will meet a team managed by Duncan Ferguson, but Gerrard remains baffled that Benitez – who won four trophies in six years as Anfield boss – had opted to join Everton at all.
Steven Gerrard and Rafael Benitez won four trophies in six years together at Anfield
The duo famously lifted the 2005 Champions League after an epic comeback against AC Milan
‘It would never enter my head to manage a rival that I’ve competed against for over two decades,’ said Gerrard. ‘That doesn’t make sense. Rivalries are there for a reason.
‘With the legacy he had at Liverpool, his connection with the club and what he delivered, the biggest shock for me was that Rafa took the job in the first place.
‘He is in that bracket of world-class managers, I think he’s proved that throughout his career but jobs can go right or wrong for a number of reasons. Sometimes certain things behind the scenes don’t work out for you.’
The Spaniard was sacked last week after Everton’s 2-1 defeat away against Norwich
Gerrard said he was baffled the Spaniard agreed to join Everton in the summer to begin with
Gerrard also stressed Villa’s desire to keep key midfielder John McGinn, whose performances this term have attracted considerable interest from the Premier League’s elite.
McGinn returns after suspension and has been praised regularly Gerrard since he succeeded Dean Smith in November.
The former England captain added: ‘We don’t want to be a selling club and our intention is to keep John McGinn here. We love the player, we love the human being and we want to help him.’
‘We see it as a compliment when our players are linked with big moves away. It shows they are playing at a consistent level.’