Steven Gerrard insists he is focused on delivering “a positive result for Aston Villa” ahead of his return to Anfield, claiming the “noise” surrounding the game does not affect him.
Gerrard played 710 times for boyhood club Liverpool, winning the Champions League, two FA Cups, three EFL Cups, the UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup in the process.
The Liverpool legend will face his former club for the first time on Saturday as Aston Villa boss, having won three of his first four games since leaving Rangers to replace Dean Smith.
“The noise is for other people to get excited about,” Gerrard said ahead of Saturday’s game. “For me, it’s about preparing the team in the best way I can to try to get a positive result for Aston Villa.
“For everyone else, it’s a massive occasion. For me, it’s three points, it’s a big game of football, and it’s 90 minutes that we need to focus on.
“If I’m on the bus, heading back down the M6 towards Birmingham, and I’m not the most popular at Anfield, so be it.”
Gerrard did, however, say that he understood why his return had generated excitement and acknowledged he is looking forward to the reunion.
“I really respect and understand all the noise around the game for obvious reasons, because I’m going back to a club [where] I spent many years,” Gerrard said.
“It brings a smile to my face for a couple of reasons. One, because, obviously, I’ve got a good relationship with a lot of people at the club.
“I had a fantastic time there, a really good journey, I’m a local boy, [they’re] the team I supported growing up, and I always will support that team – of course I will.
“But at the same time, it brings a smile to my face because I have the opportunity to go there and compete against a good team, a good manager with the opportunity to try to win the game, and that’s my main focus.”
Steven Gerrard joined the media this morning to preview our trip to Anfield.
Updates to follow… pic.twitter.com/ntxVceHRxt
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 10, 2021
Gerrard has overseen defensive improvement in his short Villa tenure, conceding four goals in four games versus 20 in 11 before that, but he is keen to see his side on the front foot.
“We’re a good team, we’ve got top players, we’re a threat, and we want to make it as difficult as we can for Liverpool,” Gerrard added.
“We’re at our best when we play with controlled aggression and we’re on the front foot. At this level, if you’re passive in any area of the pitch, you can be punished quickly.”