The Reds’ captain’s error let Chelsea in for a win at Anfield that changed the direction of the race for the Premier League title but he insists that he is now focused on England
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says his slip that changed the course of the Premier League title race was “cruel” and “unfair”, but insists he is putting it behind him to focus on England.
With the Reds top of the table as they hosted Chelsea, the talismanic midfielder tripped at a crucial moment to cede possession to Demba Ba, who promptly scored to set up a game-changing Blues victory at Anfield.
Their momentum halted, Liverpool lost control of the title race and were eventually runners-up to Manchester City but Gerrard is moving on despite coming agonisingly close to the club’s first league triumph since 1989-90.
He told reporters: “It was unfair, of course it was, because of the timing with three games to go. It’s cruel but that’s football, that’s life. I can’t feel sorry for myself.
“I haven’t seen it [again]. Is there anybody who hasn’t slipped at any time in their life? The difference is I did it at a bad time and at a bad place, at a bad moment.
“If I’d done a bad back-pass, scored an own goal or done my job wrong it would have really beaten me up for a long time. I keep saying to myself: how, where and why? There are no answers because it was a slip.
“If I had made that mistake when I was younger — for example, when I scored that own goal against Chelsea [in the 2005 League Cup final] when I was around 23, that killed me for a long time.
“I put myself under an awful lot more pressure then. That’s not to say I won’t put the same pressure on myself to make up for this one but I’ve learned to cope better with setbacks through age. I don’t like making big mistakes at important times. I’ve made more than a few through my career but, as a player with experience, you learn to deal with them that little bit better the older you get.
“Yes, it hurt a lot — not just the slip, more letting the title slip towards the end because we’d come so close and had a terrific season. I was disappointed for all the lads, for all the supporters and everyone at the club that we couldn’t hang on and do it.
“It would have been a monumental achievement to go from seventh to first but, with experience, you tend to look back at the positives as well as the negatives. To finish second in the hardest league in the world, to have the season I’ve had personally, to watch the likes of Raheem Sterling grow and to see the team do so well was fantastic.
“I’m big enough and brave enough to take it on the chin. I take responsibility for the slip and the damage it’s done but I’ll prove to everybody in this World Cup that I’m fit, fresh and ready to perform.
“I’ve spoken to [England psychologist] Steve Peters about it. I talk to him about the good things and bad things I do in every single game and every training session. It’s not just about the one case that I might dwell on for a long time. Having Steve there is a bit of a help in dealing with it.
“I’ve got to park the slip at the back of my mind and forget about it because I’ve got a huge tournament coming up.”