Gerrard boosted by Bordeaux performance
Steven Gerrard finally ended his scoring drought with a critical European strike and revealed the deep-rooted fears that have dogged him over his own form this season.
The Liverpool skipper scored the all-important second goal against Bordeaux last night that set the Anfield men on their way to a 3-0 victory and a place in the Champions League knockout stages with two group games still to play.
It was a pivotal moment for Gerrard, who scored 23 goals last term but had failed to net in 14 matches so far this season.
Gerrard said: 'I know I needed to look at my own performances and I know I need to play better.
'I needed to find my own form first, but as captain I have to help other players find their best form.
'The only way this can happen is to take responsibility for yourself and your performances. In terms of our league position, you have to realise you are not doing your job properly if Liverpool are in the position we are in.'
With that in mind, Gerrard's goal against the French side, plus his hugely improved display against Aston Villa last weekend, have gone a long way to settling his own concerns.
And Gerrard admits he has been upset by the rumours buzzing around Merseyside about his attitude towards the club and boss Rafael Benitez as well his own personal life.
He said: 'I've heard it all, my body language isn't right, there's a problem and I am not happy at the club, I've got problems off the field, my head`s not in it. I've heard them all and I'll say now that it is just not the case.
'I'm a professional footballer and the only thing on my mind when I'm playing is the game.
'Walking away from Old Trafford for instance, having lost 2-0 to Manchester United and having let the supporters and ourselves down while watching United celebrate hurt me.
'I'm the Liverpool captain, and a Liverpool fan. It's not a time for me to be smiling or chatting to United players because I'm hurting like hell.'
He added: 'No-one is satisfied with the start we have made to the season in the Premiership. It's not a position we are happy with.
'We have been satisfied with the Champions League form, and it was a weight off my mind to get that goal. I'd had a few chances before and you could see I was getting too anxious. But I had a feeling it was going to come right against Bordeaux.
'My form has been a lot better in training and I knew it was only a matter of time before I took it onto the pitch. The most important thing for me is the team, and I know if I am playing to my best I can have a big influence on our form.
'I've been missing something since the start of the season and I have not had that spark to my game. I think coming back from the World Cup has been a factor.'
Benitez has been quick to praise Gerrard's improved performances in the last two games, saying: 'We needed to score the second to finish the game against Bordeaux and Steven needed to score to stop all the talk about his goal-scoring form.
'He has been playing well, but now it will be easier for him to be focused on matches and not just whether he can score or not.
'This is almost perfect, yes, it is how I would have wanted the European campaign to go, to be qualified as early as this.
'But we have won three group games now, and drawn in Eindhoven. It shows we understand how to play in Europe. Now we can monitor players and give some youngsters experience in Europe.'
And Gerrard - who found himself again linked with Real Madrid at the weekend - added: 'There had to be a reaction from us after the defeat at Old Trafford. And in the last few games you have seen that.
'What gets me down is losing games and hearing so much rubbish about me. I could go on about what was said last weekend and we are all a bit sick reading the same things.
'I'm sick of it, the players are sick of it and so is the manager and the fans. I feel really sorry for the fans who have to see the focus put on me again, but what can I do about it?
'I feel from the reaction of the fans at the Bordeaux game that they are not taking any notice of that stuff any more and that is exactly how I want it to be.'