Premier League

No Mersey mission for Gerrard

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Sat, 04 May 2013 11:21:00

Coach Remi Garde does not believe his future at Lyon will depend on whether his side qualify for the Champions League.

Lyon are embroiled in a five-way battle for a place in next year's competition with four games remaining in the Ligue 1 season.

Garde's team entered this weekend in the final Champions League qualification place, but they could even drop outside the European positions by the time they kick-off against in-form Nancy on Sunday.

Despite being in a relegation scrap, Nancy are one of the form teams at the moment, having picked up 14 of the past 18 points on offer to edge out of the bottom three.

And with the visit of champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain looming large next weekend, there is little room for Garde to trip up if he is to provide a convincing argument to remain at Stade Gerland next season.

"In my mind, my future at OL does not depend on the last four games, even if I have goals set in my mind," he told a press conference.

"At the end of the season, it is not me who decides whether I stay."

Asked if he had in mind a points tally his team would require over the closing month, he added: "No. We will take it match by match.

"We are still holding on by our fingertips to our goal and it is up to us to stay there.

"We go to Nancy to get the points. It will not be easy against a team that does not have the same face in 2013.

"Solidarity and cohesion will be very important. The mood will be a key."

Lyon will be without their first-choice goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre after he had knee surgery on Thursday, while a groin injury is set to sideline Rachid Ghezzal. Lisandro Lopez should take his place despite a calf problem.

United have privately confirmed reports that Ferguson is booked in for surgery immediately after the club return from their three-week pre-season tour at the end of July.

That Ferguson will have his summer break and then travel to Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong before the operation suggests he is not going to be sidelined for too long.

However, United must face either Manchester City or Wigan in the Community Shield at Wembley on August 11, with their title defence due to begin the following weekend.

No timescale is being put on Ferguson's likely absence but it would require a rapid recovery from the 71-year-old in order for him to be back in the dug-out by then.

Ferguson has always said his health would dictate how long he would carry on as United manager.

He was taken ill at a function in his native Scotland almost 12 months ago, although his nosebleeds were put down to the amount of short flights he had undertaken.

Ferguson subsequently missed pre-season matches in Norway and Germany and also sat out a mid-winter break in Qatar.

Other than that though, he has remained in bullish mood and yesterday poured champagne for journalists attending his press conference at United's Carrington training ground in recognition of a 13th Premier League title.

The Reds host their near-neighbours at Anfield on Sunday lunchtime knowing defeat will mean they will definitely end the season below Everton for a third consecutive season.

That has led to claims of a power shift on Merseyside but Gerrard is not so sure.

The 32-year-old points to the fact Everton have not won a major trophy since 1995 as reason not to be swayed, adding also that the relevance of the derby battles have been diminished because both sides are well adrift of the title race.

"If Everton finish above us and their supporters are really happy and their players and everyone is really happy, then that's up to them," he told various newspapers.

"But if we finish above Everton, there will be no celebrating or anything around here because it's nothing really.

"It's no big deal. We want to win the derby of course we do. We want to finish above Everton, of course we do. In the big picture, is it really important?

"I don't know - maybe not."

Asked if Everton were now the major force on Merseyside, he added: "Yeah, but they haven't won anything have they?

"It's nothing to finish sixth or seventh in this league."

Gerrard did admit, however, that veteran defender Jamie Carragher would be desperate to win his final Merseyside derby before he retires at the end of the season.

"He'll want to win his last derby and finish above Everton," he said.

"That will definitely be in Carra's head, 100 per cent."

Meanwhile, Gerrard is confident he will sort out his own future at Anfield in the next couple of months.

He has already started negotiations with Liverpool over a contract extension, and he is waiting to iron out the details.

"They want me to extend, I want to extend, so it's just a matter of time really," Gerrard said.

"How long for I'm not too sure yet. That's under discussion at the moment. But it will get sorted one way or another in the summer."

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