Steven Gerrard might have unwittingly set himself up to fail at out-of-form Al-Ettifaq after admitting that management is a “results business”. The Liverpool icon has penned a two-year contract extension but that will mean little if the Saudi Pro League side’s form continues to slide.
Gerrard enjoyed a positive start to the season at his new club, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr on the opening day of the season before losing just three of the next nine matches. That run put them the Dammam-based side in early contention for the title.
But Al-Ettifaq endured a terrible run leading up to the mid-season break. They are winless in nine matches in all competitions, including four defeats. It is why a contract extension and a subsequently upbeat reaction from Gerrard came as a small surprise.
“It’s a results business,” the 43-year-old said after penning his new deal. But it was an intriguing reaction for a manager whose side has suffered some dismal form.
Getting sacked by Al-Ettifaq would surely leave Gerrard struggling to find another management job. While the club are not one of the four majority-owned by the Public Investment Fund, serious money was spent on a squad that consists of the likes of Moussa Dembele, Georginio Wijnaldum and Demarai Gray. They had Jordan Henderson until his abrupt departure earlier this week.
Currently sitting ninth, ending the season that far down the table would be a disappointment. Gerrard therefore piling pressure on his own job therefore seems strange, especially after his reputation was dented by a disastrous end to his Aston Villa reign.
“We had to put in place new infrastructure, like building a new training ground in phases and building a new stadium, but a lot has been achieved. It’s a relationship that’s growing, building and getting stronger, and I’m really looking forward to the future,” Gerrard said about his new contract.