Nobody saw this coming but Steven Gerrard finds himself in the upper echelons of football management salaries, rivaling some of the Premier League’s most successful coaches. The Liverpool legend secured a contract extension with Al Ettifaq, a Saudi Arabian club, keeping him at the helm until 2027. However, the financial terms of this deal, reportedly at £15 million per year, have raised eyebrows, especially given Gerrard’s recent coaching struggles.
Gerrard’s coaching stint in the Middle East began on a positive note, with five wins in the initial seven games. Yet, the recent downturn in form has been undeniable, with Al Ettifaq going winless in their last eight matches. The team’s last victory dates back to October, leaving them languishing in the eighth spot, a considerable 25 points behind the league leaders, Al-Hilal.
Compounding matters, Gerrard has lost his captain and key player, Jordan Henderson, who opted for a return to Europe with Ajax. Additionally, trusted assistant coach Ian Foster departed for a managerial role at Plymouth Argyle in the Championship. Despite these setbacks, Gerrard’s contract extension includes a substantial salary increase, placing him among the highest-paid managers in the footballing world.
Remarkably, Gerrard’s reported annual salary of £15 million places him just behind the top three earners in football management. Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid leads the pack with £29.8 million, followed by Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. This places Gerrard as the fourth best-paid coach globally, an unexpected position given his recent coaching struggles.
Critics question the rationale behind awarding such a lucrative contract to a manager enduring a winless streak and holding a modest 30% win record. The financial commitment from Al Ettifaq seems disproportionate to the team’s recent performance, leaving many in the footballing community scratching their heads.
In response to his new contract, Gerrard expressed pride and attributed it to the hard work and commitment he has invested since taking charge in July 2023. He also highlighted the transformative experience of relocating his family to the Middle East, emphasizing personal growth through meeting new people, making friends, and embracing a new culture.
As Gerrard navigates the challenges in Saudi Arabian football, his coaching journey continues to intrigue the football world. The juxtaposition of financial reward against on-field results underscores the complexities of football management, where decisions often transcend mere performance metrics.