Steven Gerrard marked the end of his 14-game scoring drought for Liverpool with a read-my-lips rebuttal of reports that he is unsettled at Anfield and tempted by Real Madrid, unhappy with the management of Rafael Benitez and distracted by personal turmoil.
The Liverpool captain struck the second goal in a 3-0 victory over Bordeaux which sent Benitez's side through to the knockout stages of the Champions' League with two group fixtures still to play.
Rather than basking in the moment, Gerrard took the chance to describe the speculation surrounding him as "rubbish" that he was "sick of reading". He said: "I've heard it all - my body language isn't right, I'm not happy at the club, I've got problems off the field, my head isn't in it. I'll say it now: it's just not the case.
"I'm a professional and the only thing on my mind while I'm playing is the game. For instance, it hurt like hell watching Manchester United celebrate their 2-0 win over us knowing we had let down ourselves and our supporters.
"No one is satisfied with the start we've made. It's not a position we're happy with. But I've been satisfied with our form in Europe, and it was a weight off my mind to get that goal."
Gerrard also offered a candid assessment of his form since his summer exertions for England. "I've been missing something since the start of the season. I haven't had that spark to my game," he said. "I think coming back from the World Cup has been a factor.
"I know I needed to look at my own performances and that I have to play better. But as captain I also have to help others find their form. In terms of our Premiership position (eighth), you have to realise you're not doing your job properly if Liverpool are where we are."
Even before the finish that finally got last season's 23-goal midfielder off the mark, Gerrard had sensed an improvement. "My form has been much better in training. I knew it was only a matter of time before I took that on to the pitch. But the most important thing for me is the team. And I know I can have a big influence if I'm at my best."
Liverpool were not at their collective best against Bordeaux, adding to Luis Garcia's first-half goal only after Fernando Menegazzo's 67th-minute dismissal. Yet they can win Group C by beating PSV Eindhoven in their next game.Reuse content