Would love to win FA Cup before leaving, says Steven Gerrard
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is desperate to win the FA Cup before he bids adieu to his beloved club.The 34-year-old netted a brace in his side’s 2-1 win over Wimbledon in the third round of the FA Cup at the Cherry Red Records Fans' Stadium. The Reds will now take on Bolton Wanderers in the fourth round.
This was Gerrard’s first appearance for Liverpool after he announced that he will leave the club at the end of the current season. After the match, the former England international said that he has always enjoyed playing in the competition and wants to finish off his career at Anfield by winning the prestigious trophy.
“I always enjoy the FA Cup. I grew up loving the competition and as it's going to be my last time, I want to make the most of it and try and go all the way,” he told BBC One.
"If I weren't here playing for this team, I'd probably be in the stands watching it so I know what [the FA Cup] means to every single supporter, that's why I always try to give my best.
"We've got to take each game as it comes. I'm told we've got Bolton at home in the next round and that'll be another difficult test,” Gerrard added.
Can't take Bolton lightly: Gerrard
Talking about their next game against Bolton, Gerrard said that they can’t afford to take them lightly and expects a tough fight in the fourth round.
"I know Neil Lennon quite well and I know he'll set up his team to be very difficult to beat. We take each game as it comes but of course, [winning the cup is] what dreams are made of and hopefully that'll be the case," he said.
Gerrard also said that Wimbledon played very well and they can be proud of their performance, despite the loss.
“We expected [a tough encounter], it's the beauty of the FA Cup. It doesn't matter where you are in what league or how you're doing, form seems to go out and the window and it becomes a leveller. Fair play to them, I think their manager can be very proud of them, they were honest throughout the team and gave us a real test," the 34-year-old said.
Manager Brendon Rodgers praised Gerrard’s performances in the game and said that he brings quality to the side.
“I've always said he's a world-class player, maybe getting older and maybe at times the legs fatigue a wee bit, but he's absolute top draw. He's got that real sprinkling of quality that this team needs. His two goals tonight were fantastic," Rodgers said.
Liverpool last won the FA Cup in 2006 and Rodgers felt that it would be a fitting send-off to Gerrard if his side can win the tournament again.
“Well, the FA Cup final is on his birthday, so there would be no better way for us to mark it, that would be a wonderful send-off for him. Ok, he might be getting a bit older but he'll always have that world-class ability and world-class talent. There are a lot of games to play in between, but we've targeted a Cup victory this season, so we're still very much in line for that moving into the second part of the season.”
"The team's still very focused and we played some really good football tonight on a really good pitch. So the idea is to get a Cup run, and if we can do it that would be really special of course," the 41-year-old said.
It was a tough game: Rodgers
Rodgers added that it was a tough game and he was relieved in the end that his side managed to pull off the win.
"It was a very tough game, congratulations to them -- I think any coach or manager will tell you, you come to a stadium like this here and that type of game is very, very difficult.I thought we started the game well, how we would want to, but then we lost our shape within the game and we presented them with chances by giving the ball away,” he said,
“We adapted at half-time and in the second half we could have had a few more chances but we still had to defend right the way through to the end. I've got to give a bit of testament to my players. We showed the character to come through and get the second goal and really -- should have had two or three more," he added.
Wimbledon manager Neil Ardley admitted that Gerrard proved to be the difference between the two sides in the end.
"We got outdone by a world-class player in the end. The headline was written for him after the week he's just had," Ardley said.