LONDON: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has apologised for dismissing rivals Everton as a long-ball team in the aftermath of a stormy Merseyside derby.
Gerrard described Everton as playing like Stoke, a team notorious for their direct approach and aggressive tactics, following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.
But the England midfielder has moved to make amends for his controversial comments by claiming he was speaking out of frustration after Liverpool striker Luis Suarez had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside in the closing moments.
“Just to clarify I’ve watched the game again and I’ve seen some of Everton’s matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,” Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo newspaper.
“I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things (diving allegations) that have been said about Luis in recent weeks which haven’t been fair in my opinion.
“As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out.
“But it wasn’t my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn’t intend any disrespect to their manager or players.
“I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.”
Like Gerrard, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had also angered Everton by revealing he had changed his tactics to cope with a “direct” Everton who “smashed the ball up to two tall strikers”.
But Rodgers was quick to make it clear he has respect for Everton manager David Moyes and the way he gets the most out of his players.
“I believe there was two different styles (on Sunday),” Rodgers said.
“This is a club which has been brought up in a certain way of playing, its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here.
“You have to win games but you have to win games playing in a certain style. But it is the beauty of the Premier League that there are so many diverse ways of working and playing.
“Analytically, if you look at Everton and a number of other teams they are more direct and play off the front players. But they (Everton) have players of finesse, players like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman who are terrific footballers.”