Steven Gerrard issues apology to Liverpool fans; Van Gaal hails United's first-half performance
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has apologized to everyone involved with the club for getting sent off for a deliberate stamp on Ander Herrera only 38 seconds after he was brought on as a second-half substitute against Manchester United. A 10-man Liverpool lost the match 2-1 thanks to a brace by Juan Mata.
Gerrard took full responsibility for his side’s defeat at Anfield which gave United a five-point lead over Brendan Rodgers’ side along with a significant edge in the race for a top-four finish.
It was Gerrard’s moment of madness that shaped the contest. With Liverpool 1-0 down on the break, the 34-year-old was introduced to stamp some authority over the match. But seconds later, in response to a tackle from Ander Herrera, Gerrard decided to stamp on the United player instead. Referee Martin Atkinson had no option but to send him off.
Gerrard said, “I’ve got to accept it. The decision was right. I’ve let my team-mates and manager down and more importantly I’ve let all the supporters down.”
“I take full responsibility for my actions. I think I’ve tried to jump his tackle and I’ve reacted when I’ve seen his studs showing. But I’ve been in the game long enough to know when you do that with 45 minutes to play and a great opportunity to get back into the game – I take full responsibility.”
Rodgers praise for Gerrard apology
Brendan Rodgers chose to praise Gerrard for making the apology rather than condemn his actions. He said, “It is big of someone when they do get sent off to come out and apologise. He was probably frustrated watching us in the first half as we didn’t make a tackle. He was man enough to come out and apologise.”
“Our game was set up to come out and press, but we were too deep and we handed over control way too easily. We were never in the right position. In the second half, the players showed why we have been on a great run with their character and resilience. We were still in it right to the end. The first half cost us more than the second.”
Gerrard will now miss Premier League matches against Arsenal and Newcastle United and the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Blackburn Rovers.
Skrtel stamp on De Gea not intentional: Rodgers
However, that may not be Brendan Rodgers’ only headache as defender Martin Skrtel might face retrospective action from the FA for his stamp on Manchester United keeper David de Gea just before the final whistle.
The Liverpool manager however denied the Slovakian’s actions were intentional, saying, “The ball has been played through and it looks like it, when it is slowed down, that he has caught him with intent, but I didn’t see it like that. He is trying to get the ball.”
First half was the best of my United career: Van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal felt United played the best football under his stewardship in the first-half of the match.
He said, “We beat Liverpool again with their own weapons and the pressure on the ball. Now the gap is five points ahead of Liverpool and six ahead of Tottenham and Southampton so the moment to win is one of the most important in my career.”
But Van Gaal was open to criticize his team’s below-par performance in the second half.
The Dutchman said, “The second half was not so good and that is amazing a little bit because with 11 against 10 it should be easier. I come in the dressing room and I give all my compliments but then in the second half everything is changing because of the red card and we are not any more playing like a team.”
“We are running with the ball, unnecessary losses of the ball and when we don’t have the ball, we don’t press the opponent with the ball and that was different. Nevertheless, we don’t give many chances away because De Gea – I cannot remember a fantastic save.”