Steven Gerrard returns to Anfield this weekend with his Aston Villa side but Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admits their is no time for sentiment.
Gerrard spent over 20 years with Liverpool, working his way up through the academy set-up before going on to become a club legend.
The Villa boss took over at Villa Park last month after impressing with Rangers in recent years and will return to Anfield for the first time on Saturday afternoon with his in-form side.
Much has been made of Gerrard’s links with Liverpool, with many tipping him to take over from Jurgen Klopp in the Reds’ dugout when the German’s contract runs out.
However, Gerrard’s successor as Liverpool captain, Henderson, has admitted that whilst the 41-year-old means a lot to the club, their will be no time for sentiment on Saturday.
Speaking in his matchday programme notes, Henderson said: “Everyone knows what Steven means to Liverpool FC and to our supporters, so I have no doubt that he will be given a wonderful reception, the kind that is reserved for the greatest legends and those who helped make this club what it is.
“I know there has been some discussion about how Steven will act on his homecoming, but I can only think that anyone who isn’t sure hasn’t been paying attention over the last couple of decades.
“Steven was a winner as a player and now he is a winner as a manager. He will be coming to Anfield to win. It really is that simple. Our job is to do everything in our power to ensure that this doesn’t happen, but having been fortunate enough to train alongside him during his final years I have no doubts whatsoever that his sole motivation will be to be on the winning side.
“Sentiment will not come into it for him, but nor will it for us and knowing Steven as I do he wouldn’t expect anything different from his former club.
“As one of those who set the standards, his expectation will be for a contest every bit as tough as the 50/50 tackles he used to relish when we were teammates and competitors at Melwood.
“This fixture will be a big challenge, there is no question about that. Villa’s results since Steven’s arrival as manager speak for themselves and they come as no surprise to anyone who has ever worked with him because if there is one thing that he always demands it is that everyone gives their absolute best.
“As a young player at Liverpool, this approach made a massive impact on me. I saw the way Steven conducted himself, motivated himself and prepared himself and the influence it had was huge.
“No corners could be cut and no stones were to be left unturned – if there was anything that could be done to improve yourself as a player or help Liverpool as a team you had to do it. Nothing else was acceptable.
“So this will be what the Villa players will be experiencing now and I can say with the benefit of my own experience that it will be to their advantage that they have a leader who will inspire them in so many ways.”
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