Gerrard: Takeover has helped form

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes John Henry’s takeover of the Anfield club has been a factor in the team’s improved form.

American Henry completed his buy-out of the Anfield giants last month after a turbulent period under his compatriots and previous owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

A seventh-placed Premier League finish last season preceded a woeful start to the current campaign, which saw the team stuck in the bottom three under new boss Roy Hodgson.

Defeat in the Merseyside derby against Everton greeted Henry in his first game as owner, but since then Gerrard and company have put together a five-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

England midfielder Gerrard re-iterated that off-field matters were no excuse for the team’s poor form, but believes a more settled boardroom has played a part recently.

The Reds skipper said: "I think it helps. Listen, everyone wants to go onto the football pitch with everything right off the pitch and Liverpool had a hard 12 months with what’s been going on off the pitch.

"We certainly wouldn’t use it as an excuse for results on the pitch but it is nice and refreshing to know that we’re in safe hands now, everyone wants to move the club forward and everyone can concentrate on the football and on making headlines on the back pages rather than the front."

Gerrard, whose side travel to Stoke on Saturday, maintained: "At the beginning of the season our target was top four and that hasn’t changed, but at the moment I don’t want to get carried away.

"We are still in a position in the league we are not totally happy with so we need to keep this run going and see where it takes us."

Gerrard this week took time out to visit Salisbury Amateur Boxing Club in Liverpool to support his friend Paul Smith, who defends his British super-middleweight title against James DeGale next month.

And the England star believes some footballers could benefit from spending time in such down-to-earth environments.

"Maybe they could learn something," he said. "I think it would certainly be an eye-opener for those type of players. I think sport, first and foremost, is about dedication and hard work, you get to the top of the game by putting all the hard work in and then you get your rewards at the end."

Gerrard, however, has never opted to don the gloves himself.

He said: "I’ve never even fancied the training!

"To be honest I’ve got so much respect for boxers, with how hard they train and the condition they get themselves in and sacrifices they make. I think that’s why I’ve got such a big interest in boxing, really.

"It fascinates me, the courage and bravery they show to get in the ring and fight in front of so many people. They put their careers on the line every time they fight and it’s fascinating to see and watch."