Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard had a dig at Chelsea supporters after he was given a standing ovation by the Stamford Bridge crowd when he was substituted towards the end of Sunday’s 1-1 draw.
Gerrard, who will leave the Premier League to play for LA Galaxy in the summer, has had a tempestuous relationship with Chelsea fans ever since he turned down a mooted £20 million move from Anfield in the summer of 2004.
Blues fans have never let Gerrard forget that, and have also revelled in his slip at Anfield last April which allowed Demba Ba through to score and wreck Liverpool’s title challenge.
While Gerrard was pleased to receive the ovation, it was a bittersweet moment.
“I was more happy with the ovation from the Liverpool fans,” Gerrard, who scored Liverpool’s equaliser, told Sky Sports after the game. “The Chelsea fans showed respect for a couple of seconds for me, but slaughtered me all game so I’m not going to get drawn into wishing the Chelsea fans well.
“It’s nice of them to turn up for once today. The standing ovation from a stadium is always nice, but what’s important to me is the Liverpool fans and they have been there since day one.”
Mourinho had just taken charge of Chelsea when Gerrard did a late U-turn to turn his back on a move to West London, and the Chelsea boss revealed last week he tried to sign the former England international for both Inter Milan and Real Madrid too.
“I have got huge respect for Mourinho,” Gerrard added. “He is the best manager in the world for me. I’d have signed for him three times if I wasn’t a Liverpool fan.
“He is the reason why my head was turned on a couple of occasions, but he understood why I couldn’t do it, and it’s because I love Liverpool Football Club.
“There is a great core of players here with terrific potential and the future is looking alright, but it is important that you try and compete with the giant clubs in the league.
“They are all going to spend big and this league is getting more and more difficult every year. We found that out this year. We lost Luis Suarez, we haven’t had Daniel Sturridge available, and it’s been pretty tough.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said: “Steven’s taken a lot of stick here over the years, but Chelsea’s supporters have recognised him as a superstar player and they showed their appreciation. It was nice for him to get that ovation.”