Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will have to accept he has a reduced role to play at the club if he agrees to extend his stay beyond the end of his current contract.
The midfielder’s existing deal runs out in the summer, by which time he will be 35, and while an offer of new terms on what is believedto be a one-year deal has been made, the player is still mulling over his decision.
Coach Brendan Rodgers believes Gerrard has earned the right to take his time over his next move and insists the pair have had honest conversations about what the future holds for him in the team.
The midfielder has featured in every Premier League match this season but Saturday’s victory over Stoke, when he was left on the bench until the final 20 minutes – the first time he had not played the full 90 minutes in the Premier League this season.
Gerrard was also left on the bench for Liverpool’s visit to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu last month and Rodgers admits that is something he will have to get used to if he is to remain at Anfield beyond this season.
“He’s at the stage of his career where it’s not so much the number of games he plays now, it’s about the level of the game – and that’s something I’ll always work with him and we’ll look at,” he said.
“No matter how good a player has been, once they’re coming towards those final years of their career, then of course as a manager, you’re having to taper that in where you think you can get the best out of the player.
“He’s still a wonderful player. I’m sitting here talking about a player that has still got world-class talent, but of course, when you get that little bit older and maybe physically it’s not quite the same, you have to manage that.
“He will continue to be a key player for me and I am hoping we can get a contract sorted.
“It is not a problem, it is not an issue. We speak a lot and all I can even be is as honest as I possibly can and offer him the respect because he deserves that and that is how it will always be.”
Gerrard could return to the starting line-up for tonight’s trip to Leicester as Liverpool look to maintain winning ways and keep back-to-back clean sheets in the league for the first time since March.
Foxes boss Nigel Pearson insists he will keep faith with his side despite slipping to the bottom of the table and remains positive as his team search for their first win in nine games.
“We’re in a position we don’t want to be in of course. I thinkthere is a temptation to look too negatively but the game in isolation
at the weekend we could have done lots of good things.
“We have lost another game and need to rectify it pretty quickly. It’s a good game for us.”
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has backed Robin van Persie to get back to his best as the fear factor slowly returns to Old Trafford.
United produced their most convincing display of the season as they overpowered Hull 3-0 in a one-sided contest on Saturday in
which Van Persie responded to his critics with a fine goal.
Van Persie’s form has been indifferent this season and he came in for heavy scrutiny after an ineffectual display – in which he touched the ball just 13 times – in United’s unconvincing win at Arsenal on November 22.
But a week made a big difference for the Dutchman and he repaid the faith of manager Louis van Gaal with a much-improved performance as Hull were swept aside.
The 31-year-old threatened on a number of occasions and teed up a goal for Wayne Rooney before capping victory with a powerful leftfoot strike.
He left the field to a standing ovation from fans after he was replaced by Radamel Falcao – whose availability might have threatened Van Persie’s place – for the final 20 minutes.
“We all get criticised at certain times and it’s something you have to deal with. The best way to answer it is the way he
did it against Hull," he said.
“Robin scored a great goal and hopefully that will be the start of a good run over the weeks to come. When you have got
him scoring, Wayne scoring and Falcao coming off the bench and nearly scoring, we’ll be a threat to anyone.
“What Robin and Wayne did against Hull, we’ve seen that happen so often in the past and hopefully we’ll see that in the coming
“I think everyone in the stadium felt it was a good performance and that’s the sort of standard we want to be at – dominating teams and winning.
“We’ve done it in the past but the past is the past. We need to do it again and hopefully as time goes on we can carry on like this and that fear factor will creep back.”
United will soon get the chance to put that to the test as they host Stoke tonight.
After back-to-back defeats, Mark Hughes could not have asked for a more difficult task with which to resurrect his side’s fortunes than going up against his old club who have won their last three matches.
“They seem to have run into a little bit of form unfortunately from our point of view," Hughes lamented.
“If we’d faced them earlier then maybe it would have been easier, but they’ve had three wins on the trot and they seem to be getting to grips with what the manager wants.”
Gary Cahill is confident Chelsea have found a new mental strength to go with their rich array of football talent as they set the pace in the Premier League title race.
The Blues emerged from their trip to Sunderland on Saturday evening with just a point from a hard-fought 0-0 draw, but remain clear at the top of the table.
Manager Jose Mourinho fielded the same starting XI for the third successive game after a 2-0 league win over West Brom and Tuesday night’s 5-0 Champions League demolition of Schalke, but saw them struggle to break down a committed Black Cats outfit.
Nevertheless, they emerged with a third successive clean sheet and a point, and that, in Cahill’s opinion, demonstrated a new attribute.
“I think we are a different side to last year, not just personnel, but mentally I think we are different.
“They made it a scrap, but we matched that and managed to play our football as well,” he said.
“When teams sit back and get back in that shape, it’s very tough. We saw that last year and this was no different.
“But in these sorts of games, if you don’t get the breakthrough, it’s important we don’t lose the game, and it’s a point away from home
Jose Mourinho says it was a fair result against a team that defended very well. #CFC
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) November 29, 2014
Not the result we hoped for yesterday, but we keep on fighting! Wednesday next game against Tottenham!… http://t.co/UBTPATeYvD
— Thibaut Courtois (@thibautcourtois) November 30, 2014
Chelsea have now put together an unbeaten run of 20 games since the start of the season, but this was the first in which they had been prevented from scoring.
Mourinho’s troops enjoyed the greater share of the possession at the Stadium of Light, particularly in the first half, but apart from Willian’s 17th-minute shot, which was tipped on to the post by keeper Costel Pantilimon, and another from Branislav Ivanovic which the Romanian blocked with a foot, they created few clear-cut chances.
It proved a frustrating evening for striker Diego Costa, who escaped punishment after appearing to kick out at defender John O’Shea, but then collected his fifth booking of the campaign for catching Wes Brown with an arm as they jumped for a high ball, and he will miss Wednesday’s home clash with Tottenham.
“It was a game in which we needed to defend well. They defended well as well.
“It was exactly what we expected, it was a scrap of a game.”