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legend returns Jurgen Klopp gives his verdict on Steven Gerrard succeeding him as Liverpool beat Aston Villa

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Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard received the heroes welcome he was due as he returned to Liverpool as Aston Villa manager and he left with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp backing him to succeed him at Anfied.

Gerrard’s homecoming ended in disappointment and a 1-0 defeat at the boot of Mohamed Salah as Villa’s resilient display could not eke out a point against Liverpool.

The former Reds captain was back at his boyhood club in a professional capacity for the first time since leaving in 2015 and while the locals were pleased to see him again, they were happier he left empty-handed.

Liverpool had their chances but it was not until Tyrone Mings pulled down Salah in the 67th minute that their resistance was broken by the Egyptian’s 15th consecutive successful penalty – his 21st of the season.

"The first 75 minutes was incredible football," declared Klopp. "The opponent defended compact. It looked really good, we played in the spaces we wanted to play but we did not finish the situations which is tricky.

"We came out in the second half and knew we had to keep going - and improve in moments. We were not calm enough in the last pass. We kept going. We scored with the penalty then the relief was obviously too big and it was an unnecessary open game. Like tooth pain! Nobody needs that. There are areas to improve even when we win football games, which is good."

When asked whether he believes Gerrard will be a candidate to take over as Liverpool boss when his time at the club ends in 2024, Klopp added: "The good thing is I have no problem with this sort of thing. I will not be here forever so I would love it to be Stevie."

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Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side's first goal from the penalty spot. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side's first goal from the penalty spot. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side's first goal from the penalty spot. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Gerrard was in reflective mood after the game, as he admitted his side did well to stay with a powerful Liverpool side for as long as they did.

"I thought Liverpool were better in terms of general play," said the Villa boss. Their style was better than ours, but we’ve done so well to contain them for large periods. Ultimately the game has been decided by a penalty. There were two penalty incidents in the game, Liverpool got theirs – if you look at that one, Salah fouls Mings first.

"It’s always hard to take when you lose football matches. We knew it was going to be a containing job. You have to ride the first 20-25 minutes against sides like this. We finished the game stronger, with more belief and some good opportunities.

"In hindsight I should have thrown a bit more at it a bit earlier, but you have to be careful Liverpool don’t hit you for two, three or four. We’ve lost to a soft penalty because if you watch it properly, Tyrone’s been fouled first. The disappointing thing is that the referee hasn’t gone to look at it.

"In terms of commitment and application, I couldn’t be more pleased and proud. We have a tough game at Norwich in midweek. It’s an opportunity for us to go there, bounce back and get a positive result."

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