Rafael Benitez's frostiness drove me to become a better player, claims Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard has claimed that his relationship with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was "distant and emotionless", and the Spaniard’s "frostiness" drove him to become a better player.
New Delhi: Steven Gerrard has claimed that his relationship with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was "distant and emotionless", and the Spaniard’s "frostiness" drove him to become a better player.
In his book, My Story, serialised in the Daily Mail, Gerrard said that the there is "no bond" between them despite the duo's success together, which included the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul.
"I can pick up the phone and speak to all of my previous Liverpool managers. Except for Rafa. It's a shame because we probably shared the biggest night of both our careers -- the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul -- and yet there is no bond between us," Gerrard wrote in the new book.
But the 35-year-old claimed that despite the lack of a relationship, he improved as a player during Benitez's reign at Anfield.
"Our working relationship was ultra-professional and his frostiness drove me to become a better player. I had a hunger to earn a compliment from him -- but also a hunger to let him know he really needed me as a player. We were like fire and ice" the former England captain added.
Gerrard also mentioned that famous 2009 'fact' episode had left him embarrassed. The incident happened at the height of Benitez-Alex Ferguson rivalry, with the Spaniard claiming the Manchester United boss received preferential treatment from the Football Association. Liverpool was top at the time, but finished second behind United.
"I went home from training that Friday lunchtime and switched on the TV... Rafa sat down with his usual half-smile. It looked likely to be a normal press conference, but then he reached into his pocket for a piece of paper.
"He spread it out on the table and began to read out one 'fact' after another. Rafa kept saying 'fact... fact... fact...' and I could not believe what I was hearing. I was grabbing the couch, digging my fingers into the arms, feeling embarrassed for him.
“When I met up with England all the Manchester United players told me Fergie was just laughing at Rafa, saying: ‘I’ve got him. I’ve got him.’"
Regarded as Liverpool, Gerrard left Anfield after 17 years at without winning a Premier League title, and he is currently playing for Los Angeles Galaxy in the lucrative Major League Soccer in the United States having discarded bids from other big clubs.
Benitez left Liverpool in June 2010, and since managed Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli. He is now in charge of Real Madrid, after replacing Carlo Ancelotti as the manager of the club in June 2015.