Steven Gerrard has ruled out the prospect of ever managing Everton but admits he was not particularly surprised that Rafael Benitez has crossed the Merseyside divide.
Benitez, who used to manage Gerrard in his playing days at Liverpool, recently became the new Everton head coach. He replaced Carlo Ancelotti for the second time in his career, having also done so at Real Madrid. But this appointment was more controversial given his past on the red side of the city.
The Spaniard said at his introductory press conference that he didn’t think twice about even entering talks with Everton, let alone accepting the job. Now, he is ready to represent the blue colours instead.
Benitez was part of a lengthy shortlist of managerial candidates at Everton following Ancelotti’s exit. Some reports even suggested that Gerrard himself was under consideration after leading Rangers to the Scottish title.
The ex-England international has now confirmed he would never have taken the job – but is not surprised that Benitez has.
“Rafa wasn’t born in the city, he’s not a red through-and-through and he never played against Everton for 20 years and competed against them, so I think it’s a very different situation [to mine],” Gerrard told ESPN.
“Rafa is his own man and will make his own professional decisions, so there’s no surprise that he wanted to get back in the Premier League at a big club and have the opportunity to compete against all the top teams in the league. So I wasn’t very shocked and surprised at all in all honesty.
“I was very shocked and surprised that my name was linked to the job. I don’t know where it came from, whether it was paper talk or if there was any truth in it, I’m not sure.
“[Managing Everton] is never a possibility as far as I’m concerned.”
Gerrard will lock horns with Ancelotti on Sunday, when Rangers face Real Madrid in a friendly.
The Gers boss lauded the Italian as one of the best in the business. But while he was not caught off guard by Benitez’s move, he wasn’t expecting Ancelotti to leave Everton in the first place.
“I must admit, it was a surprise [when Carlo left Everton], but I’m not complaining,” Gerrard said. “He was the manager at my big rivals and was doing a superb job. He’s one of the best managers in the world, he has been for some time.
“I’ve experienced playing against him and it will be an absolute pleasure to share a touchline with him and to try and learn and tap into his knowledge if I get the opportunity because he is someone I have looked up to for a long time.
“I have watched a lot of footage of him as a player as well and what he has given to this sport is incredible. He’s a winner as a player and a manager, so it will be a pleasure to have him at Ibrox.”
Gerrard flattered Ancelotti wanted him
There was a chance that Gerrard could have played under Ancelotti when the latter was at AC Milan. However, he did not know about it until after his playing career.
“Liverpool never brought that to me, so they must have kept that a secret,” he said. “I did actually see the interview that [Ancelotti] did on that and it was very flattering and very humbling for sure.
“I was very happy at Liverpool. There was no way any team in the world would have got me away from there at that time, going into the peak years of my career from a personal point of view and I was really happy and content to try to be successful at Liverpool.
“But when a name like Carlo Ancelotti or AC Milan talk about wanting you as a player, it is certainly very flattering.”