"One-hundred and seven caps isn’t bad for someone who isn’t 'a top, top player,' is it?" was Steven Gerrard's cheeky response this week to the suggestions made by former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's in his latest book that, just maybe, Steven Gerrard wasn't all his reputation set him out to be. It always seemed a foolish suggestion, one most interested in selling books and sparking controversy, but then that's hardly a surprise given the source.
As for Gerrard, whether he gets caps 108 and 109 with England over the November break remains uncertain given a minor hip injury picked up against Arsenal continues to bother him, but he's certain to add a few more before the close of next summer's World Cup and end his international career as one of England's most capped players of all time. Most Liverpool fans, though, will be more interested in his reaction to Ferguson.
"Listen, he’s entitled to his opinion," Gerrard said when pressed on the matter. "I’m a fan of his; he's one of the best managers in the world. I won’t lose any sleep over it. Throughout my career I have had praise from all types of people—including him—and I am not vain enough to take it all. I have had some unbelievable praise from him and he tried to buy me, certainly on one occasion. Maybe even two."
Any quibbles put aside about a Liverpool player finding room to be a fan of the man whose life was to try and knock Liverpool off their perch, that Ferguson had the nerve to seek to buy Liverpool's captain manages to be both shocking and completely believable. Controversy has always been his aim, whether it's patently ridiculous statements or attempts to buy rival players, and chuckling and shrugging it off as Gerrard has is really the only way to win against somebody whose goal is getting a rise out of people.