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gerrard snub Remembering the night Brendan Rodgers started his own downfall at Liverpool

The date of November 4th, 2014 had been circled in Steven Gerrard's diary as an occasion when he would end his five-year wait to walk the boards on one of the game's ultimate stages.

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Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers were previously in charge of Rangers and Celtic respectively (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers were previously in charge of Rangers and Celtic respectively (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers were previously in charge of Rangers and Celtic respectively (Andrew Milligan/PA)

IT was the beginning of the end for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.

The date of November 4th, 2014 had been circled in Steven Gerrard's diary as an occasion when he would end his five-year wait to walk the boards on one of the game's ultimate stages.

A few months after his infamous slip against Chelsea that effectively cost Liverpool a Premier League title they came so close to winning, the consolation prize of a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009 threw up the prospect of a game against Real Madrid at their iconic Bernabeu home.

Yet Rodgers had other ideas and when his Liverpool team sheet dropped in Madrid, Gerrard was among the star names left on the sidelines as he, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho were all left out by Rodgers.

He may have been in charge of one of the world's biggest clubs, but Rodgers effectively decided a Real Madrid that had won 3-0 at Anfield a few weeks earlier were too good for his team and he would hold his star names back for a Premier League game against leaders Chelsea the following Saturday.

It was a decision that backfired horribly, as Liverpool lost 1-0 in Madrid and then succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat against Jose Mourinho's Blues the following Saturday.

While Rodgers clung on to power at Liverpool for another ten months after that chastening week, the perception that he couldn't handle big-name players like Gerrard and deal with the demands of managing one of the world's biggest clubs had been cast.

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Steven Gerrard was Brendan Rodgers’ captain at Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

Steven Gerrard was Brendan Rodgers’ captain at Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

Steven Gerrard was Brendan Rodgers’ captain at Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

"Of course it hurt," reflected Gerrard's on his omission from the Real Madrid game in a BT Sport documentary. "This was round about the time when I was doing a lot of thinking about what's next for me.

"I'd had a couple of initial chats with Brendan saying to me 'I'm going to start managing your games and I have to look after you and I want you to be fresh and I don't want you to be playing three games in a week because you may be tired'.

"But this situation was a bit unique because it was Real Madrid and I wanted to play. When I was told I wasn't playing, for the sake of the team and the squad and my relationship with Brendan, I took it and I accepted it.

"I had to, but I wasn't happy about it.

"It sort of pushed me more towards making the decision to move on and try something different."

Gerrard bid an emotional farewell to Liverpool at the end of that season as he signed for LA Galaxy, with Rodgers following him out of the Anfield exit door a few months later as he was sacked and replaced by Jurgen Klopp.

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Rodgers may well reflect that his decision to phase an ageing Gerrard out of his Liverpool picture was a task that could only end badly for him, as a club legend of that magnitude will always be held in higher esteem than a manager that failed to win a trophy for the club.

The trophy successes Rodgers enjoyed with Celtic and his FA Cup win with Leicester last season have ensured his managerial health has been restored from his scarring exit at Liverpool and Gerrard has followed a similar path by building his own coaching reputation during a spell in Scotland with Rangers.

Indeed, Gerrard came out on top the last time he took on Rodgers, as his Rangers beat Celtic in an Old Firm game at Ibrox three years ago.

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Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers.  Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Now they are meeting in the biggest league of them all and Gerrard has been keen to play down any suggestion that there is enduring animosity towards the manager who brought down the curtain on his Liverpool story.

"There is a mutual respect there with Brendan," said Gerrard ahead of today's game. "He always helped me as a player and I'll always remember that.

"He is one of many managers who I watch closely and, in my position, when you are new and starting out and trying to gain that experience then they are the type of people you try to learn from.

"He came in at Liverpool at a time when we needed someone like him in terms of a modern coach who was going to take us forward but also play some attractive football.

"I think the biggest thing was his delivery on the training pitch. You could see quite clearly that he had got a lot of experience and he was a good manager to play for in terms of a personal relationship."

Those platitudes were reciprocated by Rodgers, who insisted any suggestion of a fall-out with Gerrard in his final months at Liverpool are misplaced.

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 14:  (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Steven Gerrard talks with Brendan Rodgers manager of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on May 14, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 14: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Steven Gerrard talks with Brendan Rodgers manager of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on May 14, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 14: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Steven Gerrard talks with Brendan Rodgers manager of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on May 14, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

"Steven was brilliant for me as a captain at Liverpool and always very supportive," reflected Rodgers. "He had the respect of all the players and everyone at the club for what he had done. He never rested on that.

"In the first couple of seasons I was there, he was fantastic and it doesn't surprise me that he's made this step going into management.

"I wouldn't say we are friends as you follow your own path in this game, but I'll drop Steven a text from time to time and it will be good to see him again on Sunday."

It's disrespectful to a club of Villa's stature to bill this game as Liverpool's former boss squaring off against their future leader, yet that may well be the case.

Rodgers' time as Liverpool boss has come and gone and while Gerrard's current focus may be on establishing himself as a Premier League manager, those Shankly Gates at Anfield and the chance to succeed Klopp as Liverpool manager is his ultimate dream.

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