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Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson disappointed as Liverpool legends face new low in Saudi

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Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson’s Al-Ettifaq suffered a 1-0 defeat against Khalid Al-Shuwayyi’s side in front of just 696 fans at the King Abdullah Sports City

Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson’s team Al-Ettifaq were watched by under 700 fans as they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Al-Riyadh at the weekend.

This is shockingly low for a top-tier match, even though Al-Riyadh aren’t one of the most popular teams in the Saudi Pro League. It wasn’t the first time Al-Ettifaq have seen such a small crowd.

Only 976 fans turned up for their 3-1 win at Abha in September. In contrast, more people (702) watched Clitheroe’s 2-1 victory over Newcastle Town in the eighth tier of English football on Saturday.

Playing for Al-Ettifaq is a totally new experience for Henderson, who was used to performing in front of more than 50,000 Liverpool fans at Anfield last season. Even when playing away, the smallest crowd he would have faced in the Premier League was Bournemouth’s 10,536.


Other big names in the Al-Ettifaq squad are also adjusting, including ex-Everton winger Demarai Gray and former Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. They were both in the starting line-up against Al-Riyadh, along with Sweden’s Robin Quaison and Scotland’s Jack Hendry.

Moussa Dembele, another experienced forward, is also part of the club but didn’t play over the weekend. Jesse Lingard has been training with Al-Ettifaq recently, but Gerrard’s side can’t sign the 30 year old due to rules about foreign players.


The Dammam-based team would need to let go of two non-Saudi players by January to make room for him. Lingard’s current financial demands are also higher than what Al-Ettifaq are willing to offer, making it unlikely that the former Manchester United forward will sign, despite playing for them a friendly earlier this month, scoring a goal just four minutes into the match.

Former Liverpool captain Gerrard expressed his disappointment as Al-Ettifaq’s winless streak extended to three games. “We didn’t show what was required of us,” he said. “We weren’t at the level we’d hope to be at. The opposition’s plan was clear to frustrate and wait for the opportunities. The mistakes cost us today, we gifted three points to Al-Riyadh.”

Since leaving Rangers for Aston Villa in November 2021, Gerrard’s reputation as a manager has taken a hit. He had a successful stint at Ibrox, winning the Scottish Premiership title and securing 125 victories in 193 matches but his time at Villa Park was less successful.

After a promising start at Villa, things quickly soured between Gerrard and the fans. It led to his dismissal following a lacklustre 3-0 defeat to Fulham, leaving Villa 17th in the league.

Unai Emery took over from Gerrard and managed to guide Villa to a seventh-place finish last season. Liverpool aren’t feeling Henderson’s absence too much in the early month of the new campaign.

Jurgen Klopp fielded a fresh midfield trio in the win against Everton, with Ryan Gravenberch teaming up with fellow newbies Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister while Curtis Jones sat out the second game of his three-match domestic ban.




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