Gerrard: I would have stayed if Liverpool had offered contract
Departing Reds skipper says he would have signed a new deal at the end of last season
Steven Gerrard would have stayed loyal to Liverpool if the club had been quicker in offering him a new contract. In a candid interview with the Liverpool Echo, the 34-year-old midfielder revealed that his decision to leave Anfield for America was prompted by the club's dithering last summer.
At the end of the campaign, as Gerrard prepared to lead England in Brazil at the World Cup, he had one year remaining on his contract, but there was no new contract offer from Liverpool until the late autumn. In the interim, Gerrard had retired from international football and begun to contemplate his future.
"That period between the summer and the end of November gave me thinking time," explained Gerrard. "I'd just retired from England to concentrate all my efforts on Liverpool. I didn't want my club games to be tailored. My injury record had been fantastic for the past two and a half years and I had a great season from a personal point of view last season. It's all ifs, buts and hindsight now."
Asked by the Echo if he would penned a new deal if the club had laid one before him last summer, Gerrard replied: "Yes, if a contract had been put in front of me in pre-season, I would have signed it... [but] there's no blame and I'm not angry about it."
Gerrard, whose brace of goals against AFC Wimbledon on Monday night eased Liverpool into the fourth round of the FA Cup, was at pains to point out he harboured no resentment towards either the club or manager Brendan Rodgers. "Liverpool Football Club have been unbelievable for me since I was eight years old. This club has helped me fulfil my dreams over and over again. The memories and experiences I've had over the past 26 years, I wouldn't swap for anything in the world."
But despite his protestations Gerrard's comments are sure to add to the furore over his departure and Liverpool's handling of the situation.
Gerrard also confirmed that comments from straight-talking manager Brendan Rodgers helped sway his decision to leave. Last year Rodgers made it clear that even if Gerrard did decide to see out his career at Anfield, his game time would have gradually diminished, and that helped the midfielder make up his mind.
"It was tough but I understood. It's been very amicable," explained Gerrard. "Everyone knows how much I rate Brendan... it simply came down to the fact that the idea of becoming a squad player didn't excite me or motivate me. People can have their own opinion on that. But it would have been too difficult for me, having been used to starting every game. I didn't want to become a bit-part player."
But there was a hint from Gerrard, who is expected to confirm his move to LA Galaxy this week, that when his Stateside stint is over he'll return to Anfield in some capacity. "I enjoy a very strong relationship with Liverpool Football Club and I don't see that coming to an end," he said. "I hope to serve the club again one day."