Steven Gerrard admits he would be happy to give up his hero status at Liverpool in exchange for an Aston Villa win on Saturday as the Anfield great prepares to return to his former club.
Gerrard, who enjoyed a stellar 17-year playing career with Liverpool, returns there just a month into his reign as Villa boss determined to shut out the “noise”.
The 41-year-old, who left Rangers last month to move to the Premier League, has won three of his first four games in charge, with the only setback being a defeat to champions Manchester City.
“I’m going back to a club where I spent many years and it brings a smile to my face for a couple of reasons,” Gerrard said.
“One, 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. It was the team I supported growing up and I will always support that team.
“But at the same time it brings a smile to my face because I’ve got the opportunity to go there and compete against a good team and a good manager and try to win the game. That’s my only focus.
“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.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp started his own press conference on Friday by joking that he would not take questions about Gerrard.
Klopp was full of praise for Gerrard during the briefing and claimed he is destined to manage the club one day, adding: “I think it will definitely happen and that is good for everybody.”
Gerrard, who started his coaching career under Klopp in the club’s youth system, said he was grateful for the German’s help.
“The best bit of advice I got from him was take your own team and do it your own way,” he said.
“Evolve, start your own journey and I’ll give you whatever support you need.”
Klopp, whose in-form side sit second in the Premier League table, said Gerrard’s return to Anfield was a “wonderful story”.
“I can imagine a little bit how his feelings are,” he said. “Stevie is already an experienced coach and knows exactly how to approach games but he has probably no idea about how it will feel when he steps into the stadium or out of the dugout.
“I had that in a similar way... when I came for the first time back to (former club) Mainz or I came first time back to Dortmund.”
He added: “I never heard a negative word against Steven Gerrard since I’m here.
“He will come here and wants to win the football game so before I shake hands and after I shake hands and in between I will go full throttle and he will go full throttle.
“I remembered when we scored with Dortmund at Mainz, I forgot everything about my story at Mainz. I was celebrating like a crazy devil. He’s allowed to do that as well. I just hope he has no reason for it.”