What Sir Alex Ferguson said in 2004 shows what he really thought about Steven Gerrard

Liverpool' Steven Gerrard celebrates aft

The Premier League turned 25 in August and to mark the occasion BBC Sport asked football fans to name their all-time Premier League XI.

More than 379,000 people cast their votes - and the resulting XI contained very few surprises.

Peter Schmeichel in goal; a back-four comprised of Ashley Cole, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville; Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard in central midfield with Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo on the left and right flanks, respectively; and Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer upfront.

A few players could consider themselves unlucky to miss out - Frank Lampard and Patrick Vieira being the obvious examples - but it was difficult to have too many complaints with the outcome.

Only one of those players never managed to win a Premier League winners’ medal. But the fact Gerrard made the XI sums up what an extraordinary player he was for Liverpool.

The Anfield legend is unquestionably one of the finest players of the Premier League era. The Independent named him as the seventh best player in Premier League history last year while talkSPORT had him down as the 10th.


Ferguson in 2013: 'Gerrard was not a top, top player'

However, Gerrard isn’t universally regarded as an elite-level player. In fact, arguably the biggest personality of the Premier League era wrote in 2013 that the retired midfielder was not ‘a top, top player’ - even at his peak.

“I'm one of the few who felt Gerrard was not a top, top player,” Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his autobiography five years ago, to the astonishment of many.


Gerrard admitted he was “a bit gutted” to hear Ferguson make those comments but assumed it must be because he rejected the chance to sign for United in the early 2000s.

"He tried to sign me in early 2002/03, he tried to sign me again to play for United, I obviously refused, so I can’t really take it to heart too much,” he said on BT Sport a couple of years ago.


What Ferguson said about Gerrard in 2004

However, Gerrard might be interested to hear what Ferguson said about him in an interview with the Sunday Times back in May 2004.

It just goes to show what Fergie really thought about Gerrard when the midfielder was at his brilliant best.

“He has become the most influential player in England, bar none,” the former United manager said, per the Daily Mail. “More than Vieira. Not that Vieira lacks anything, but I think he does more for his team than Vieira does and has way more to his game.

"I’ve watched him quite a lot. Anyone would love to have him in their team.”

West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool

And here's what Fergoe said about Gerrard in 2000...

Oh, and he also said this four years earlier, in 2000: “He is physically and technically precocious. He’s got a good engine and remarkable energy. He reads the game and he passes quickly.

"I would hate to think Liverpool have someone as good as Roy Keane.”

Kevin Horlock, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher

This proves Fergie was an admirer of Gerrard

So, there you have it.

Perhaps Ferguson was thinking about the latter-day Gerrard when he claimed the midfielder wasn’t a ‘top, top player’.

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But we now know for sure the Scottish coach was, in fact, a huge admirer of the Liverpudlian.

That should make Gerrard feel a bit less gutted.

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