Despite Jordan Henderson's quick exit from the Saudi Pro League, one person who is not going anywhere, anytime soon, is Liverpool legend - Steven Gerrard.
In a somewhat surprising move, the former Red has signed a new contract extension with Al Ettifaq, keeping him at the cub until 2027. This is despite the club hitting a poor run of form, that has seen them win just one of their last eleven games. Nowhere in England (or probably Europe), would that sort of record gain the manager a contract extension. It would certainly lead to an uneasy meeting with the club's Chairman, and most likely the sack. Just look at Wayne Rooney's awful reign at Birmingham City for evidence. Three months, two wins, don't let the door hit you on the way out....
Yet somehow, Gerrard has been rewarded with a new, bumper contract. If reports are to be believed, he is earning anywhere from £12million - £17million per season. That puts him above Klopp and Guardiola in terms of salary. By anyones standards, that is madness, yet that is the world in which the Saudi Pro League exists.
Announcing the deal, Al Ettifaq Chairman, Samer Al Misehal, focused on the positives that Gerrard has brought to the club - his professionalism, ambition and work ethic,
"As a club, we know where we want to go and we know we want Steven to lead us on the journey ahead. There are no shortcuts to success and Steven’s personal work ethic, his leadership qualities and his commitment to the project has shown everyone at the club just what it will take to compete at the highest level. Steven will be given time and resources to continue on this journey and build something special.”
Nice words, and it's refreshing to see a manager given time to build his project, without the imminent threat of getting sacked. But is this really helping Gerrard become a top manager?
Gerrard doubles down on Al Ettifaq project...
Making his own statement, Gerrard was also overly upbeat and positive about the news,
"This is very pleasing for myself and my family and feels like recognition for a lot of hard work and commitment. We knew at the beginning this was a big job and a challenging job. We had to put in place new infrastructure, like building a new training ground in phases and building a new stadium, but a lot has been achieved. It's a relationship that's growing, building and getting stronger, and I'm really looking forward to the future."
"We all know it's not going to be an overnight fix, but it's really exciting in terms of where we believe we can get the club to. We want to build a special club and build an elite culture around the team and squad.”
So will Gerrard be successful? And what does that success look like? In financial terms, Gerrard and his family have been very successful. With millions already in the bank, and the promise of more to come, Gerrard can provide for his children, and grand children, and great grand children. His lifestly too is very comfortable. Instead of living in Dammam, where Al Ettifaq are based, Gerrard and his family live in Manama, Bahrain, in a gated community where attitudes are more relaxed.
But for an elite level sportsman, with the history that Gerrard has created, is money and a large villa really how he wants to measure his success? A manager lives and dies by their win record, and at the moment, Gerrard's is pretty poor. His long term aim has always been to manage Liverpool. After a promising start at Rangers, where he won the League Title, his credability took a knock at Aston Villa, where after a strong start, he won just four of his last twenty two games. His time at Al Ettifaq is beginning to look similar, winning his first six matches, before winning one of the last eleven. Are Liverpool really going to come knocking with figures like those. And even if Liverpool is not his next managerial step, which clubs in England will take a chance on a manager with a poor record in a weak leak, who gets rewarded for mediocrity.
Maybe in time Gerrard will build his 'project' with Al Ettifaq, and return to manage in England with much greater success. It just seems very unlikely at the moment.
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... About The Author ...
Peter Farrell - Editor and Chief Article Writer, LFC - Back On Our Perch
Articles written by Author :: 352
Lifelong fan with a passion for all things Liverpool. First memory of football is watching John Barnes score a dramatic last minute equaliser in the FA Cup when he was 4. Feels lucky to be a part of the 'Klopp' era.
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