Steven Gerrard: Aston Villa boss willing to sacrifice Liverpool popularity for win at former club
Last updated on .From the section Aston Villa
Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard says he is willing to sacrifice his popularity at Liverpool to earn a win against his former club on Saturday.
Gerrard played 710 games and scored 186 goals in a 17-year career at Anfield.
He took over at Villa in November and will be aiming for a fourth win in five games when the two sides meet.
"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," said Gerrard.
The former Liverpool captain helped the Reds to a memorable Champions League triumph in 2005 and he also won two FA Cups, three League Cups and the Uefa Cup with the Merseyside club.
After retiring as a player, the former England skipper coached Liverpool's youth academy and then managed their Under-18 team during the 2017-18 season before taking charge at Scottish club Rangers.
He replaced Dean Smith at Villa last month and, after nine points from 12, has lifted the Midlands side from 16th to 10th in the Premier League.
"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," Gerrard said about his return to Anfield.
"Everyone in that stadium will know me well enough to know what I'm about and what I'm going to Anfield for.
"I'm going back to a club where I spent many years and it brings a smile to my face for a couple of reasons.
"One, I've 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.
"It was the team I supported growing up and I will always support that team.
"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 and a good manager and try to win the game. That's my only focus."
Gerrard takes his side to Anfield with Jurgen Klopp's team second in the Premier League after four successive top-flight wins.
Gerrard grateful for Klopp advice
Gerrard, who recently said Klopp had been in touch with him after his Villa appointment, was coaching at Liverpool during the German's tenure at the club.
"I will forever be grateful to Jurgen and the best bit of advice I got from him was take your own team and do it your own way," said Gerrard.
"What identity you want to use, go and make your own mistakes away from the cameras. Evolve, start your own journey - and I'll give you whatever support you need.
"That was golden advice for me as a player coming out of a long career who has ambitions to go into coaching and management.
"When I had that conversation I didn't expect to be competing against him in that short space of time, but I'm looking forward to that challenge."
We will go full throttle and he will go full throttle - Klopp
Klopp started his news conference on Friday by joking that he would not be answering questions about Gerrard before calling the 41-year-old a "great guy".
"He will come here and want to win the football game," said Klopp, who experienced taking Borussia Dortmund back to former club Mainz during his career.
"Before [the game], nice shake hands, after, nice shake hands - in between we will go full throttle and he will go full throttle.
"I remember when we scored with Dortmund at Mainz, I forgot all about my story at Mainz. I was celebrating like a crazy devil. He [Gerrard] is allowed to do that as well, I just hope he has no reason for it.
"It's not easy for a world class player to become an outstanding manager but it's possible. It looks absolutely like Stevie has all the skills you need and I'm really happy for him."
Gerrard has previously stated it is his dream to one day become manager of Liverpool.
"Yes, absolutely," said Klopp when asked if Gerrard would one day manager the Reds.
"The only problem is, when is the right moment for that? I think it will happen and it will be good for everybody."
He added: "It's not me who makes these kind of decisions. I don't know what you have to do to become a Liverpool manager.
"People say you need to win things. I'm not sure about that. I think it's more important you win things when you are here.
"You can win things in the past and never win again."
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