The Premier League returns this evening after a three-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic – here's all you need to know about its resumption.
The Reds, of course, pick up the action on Sunday evening with a scheduled trip to Goodison Park for an encounter against Everton.
But the top-flight programme begins again tonight for those teams with a game in hand. Aston Villa host Sheffield United before Arsenal travel to Manchester City.
How can I watch?
With games being played behind closed doors, all 92 remaining matches will be broadcast live in the UK by the Premier League's existing partners: Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime.
Click here for the latest broadcast schedule in your location.
What do Liverpool need?
Two wins would guarantee Liverpool their first league title in 30 years.
However, if Manchester City are beaten by Arsenal, then the Reds will be confirmed as champions with victory over Everton.
Liverpool's next five fixtures
All kick-off times are BST.
How the table looks...
Last Updated: 18/06/20 12:41pm
The Premier League has confirmed it has received one positive test for coronavirus in the latest phase of mass testing.
A total of 1541 tests were carried out in what is now the ninth round of testing in the Premier League.
More to follow...Domestic Super 6 IS BACK!
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In the latest edition of ‘My Liverpool Life’, commentator and TV presenter Keith Costigan shares tales and stories of his unique life as a Red.I started supporting Liverpool because…
Growing up in Ireland in the mid-1980s, it was going to be Liverpool or Man United at that time. I copied my brother all the time and he said he supported Liverpool as a joke – he was really a United fan – but I said I’m staying with Liverpool.
I remember watching them away at Aston Villa when they wore the all-yellow kit with the little red stripes. I think Rushie scored – he might have scored a hat-trick that day – and that Sunday in the newspaper they gave away a free colour photo of Rushie in the yellow kit. I was hooked, that went up on the wall and after that there was only one team for me.
At the end of that year, I remember sitting with my dad watching Liverpool beat Roma in the final. I always remember Phil Neal scoring and Bruce Grobbelaar doing the legs. After that I was completely hooked as a Liverpool fan.My first game was…
I watched a few in pre-season, but the one that sticks out is I went to Anfield in late 1986, and it was 6-2 to Liverpool against Norwich. They went 5-0 up and I remember the Norwich fans singing ‘we won the finish 2-1’, or something like that. I just was mesmerised by the atmosphere. I think Rushie and Paul Walsh got a few.
Once you walk into Anfield, the atmosphere, particularly at that time, was incredible. Liverpool were so all-conquering then. To have eight goals in your first game, and have Liverpool completely destroy the opposition, was incredible. It’s a day I will always remember.
I think I was with my youth team and my dad came as well, but not everybody was a Liverpool fan. You had to deal with some people trying to get at you saying Norwich were going to win.
Rushie was great, but I remember Paul Walsh was outstanding that day. I thought he was this incredible footballer. He was the one player who really stood out for me as being a top level player.My favourite season supporting the Reds was…
In the early days it was the 1987/88 season. I didn’t understand tactics then. When Liverpool went away to Newcastle and won 4-1 and Stevie Nic got a hat-trick, you don’t fully grasp that this player can play everywhere.
Liverpool had so many incredible players: John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Steve McMahon in midfield I absolutely adored. Rushie obviously, Aldo, that team was so good going forward. Then you had Steve Nicol who you could plug in anywhere and he could play at the very top level. Just watching that team was incredible for me.
That was my first introduction to the Liverpool way, starting to understand the style of play and what it meant. It wasn’t just winning, it was winning with flair.
In more modern times, the 2008/09 season, where we went so close, I thought we were so powerful, we had everything. I think Stevie was in his prime and Fernando Torres never had a season like that again. That season was absolutely incredible.
You look back now and you have to pick out individual seasons – the last few for me stand out. Even though we went close last season, there wasn’t a feeling that it was our chance ruined, you knew this club was being built again to challenge every year.
I came into this season just as excited and I’ve enjoyed it just as much. Towards the end of last season, I remember that feeling in my stomach away at Newcastle when it was 1-1 before Origi scored. I was thinking ‘this is so stressful’, and then I thought ‘you’ve waited a long time for this, we’re not battling for fourth now. This is where you want to be.’
Those couple of seasons stand out, but now under Klopp every season there seems to be something to look forward to and get up for. It’s an incredible time again to be a Liverpool fan.Nowadays, I follow the club…
Professionally, I’ve been completely blessed.
I had a boss in Jonty Whitehead at Fox who respected my work ethic in what we did. We covered the Europa League and Champions League and I always remember when Liverpool came back against Borussia Dortmund, I was calling a different game at the same time. My producer’s in my ear telling me ’3-1 Dortmund, 3-2 Dortmund’, then ‘I want you to stay calm here, but it’s 3-3’.
My game was 0-0 going into extra-time and he says ‘you’re not going to believe it, they’ve scored late’, so I had to remain calm on air and I’m going ‘0-0 here, we’re going to go for a break and we’ll be back for extra-time’.
When we went off air I went nuts and went over to Jonty afterwards, who’s a Sheffield Wednesday fan. He just gets it, he understands your bond with a club. He said that we should probably have someone there for the semi-final and he asked me if I was interested. I said I was and he sent me over and I got to interview Klopp before the Villarreal game, and it was absolutely incredible.
For the next couple of seasons it was the same, going to the Champions League run in Kyiv, doing stuff with Carragher, and Stevie Mac and Robbie Fowler at the final. I love my job, but at times you do look around and go ‘hang on a minute, this is the club I grew up loving. This is the best of both worlds’.
Not everybody gets that opportunity, so I’m blessed to work in this industry and when I’m covering Liverpool in a Champions League final that’s the icing on the cake. You can’t ask for more than that.You’ve interviewed a lot of the current squad.…
I think Jurgen is exactly how you see him on TV. We all have a mechanism in us that we read people and make a judgment on them.
I’ve interviewed a lot of players from different clubs and sometimes you’ll realise early on this guy doesn’t want to be here or his heart isn’t in this interview, but not with Jurgen.
The first time I interviewed him I said I really appreciated him taking the time and he said ‘no problem, Matt (LFC press officer) said I have to be here’, but when he’s there he’s so invested in your conversation. He won’t cut an answer short because he’s got to go somewhere, he’s in it and is completely straight up and honest with you.
You don’t feel like there is a stock answer. If you’re asking him a question that might be difficult, he will be honest. He’s just so engaging and he commands the room. I’ve heard players say he is an honest coach and he lets you know where you stand – you feel that when you are interviewing him. There’s so much to him.
On the players’ side, Gini Wijnaldum is a top-level person. Every player that I’ve interviewed has been great, but I think Jordan Henderson just does that little bit extra when you’re with the club and around them.
He doesn’t get enough credit for what he is as a leader. I remember we arrived in Germany for pre-season before 2017/18 and Jordan sees us, make a beeline towards us and says ‘hey, what time are we doing the interview today?’
I said I wasn’t sure and he made sure they were looking after us and getting us coffee, and went out of his way to make sure that we were comfortable. He didn’t have to do it, and not many do, but he did. In the interview he was absolutely incredible.
After the game against Bayern Munich (in that pre-season), I went down to the dressing room because I was getting some stuff from Jurgen, and Jordan came out and chatted again. He just gets it. It’s not just me, he was doing it with everybody. He understands what it means to wear that armband.
Jurgen had a line about him when I first interviewed him, he said he has big balls, because to take the armband after a Liverpool legend means you’ve got to have some belief. Jordan doesn’t get enough credit for that, and because of that he’s the one player I love interviewing. He’s a top person, as well as a top player.If I could have dinner with three people from Liverpool’s history I would you choose…
It has to be Bill Shankly. I think when you talk about building a culture, that’s what he did. There are times when the next manager really benefits, and while Bob Paisley won more European trophies, it’s building that foundation (that’s the key).
I think he is the most important figure in the history of Liverpool Football Club.
I would say Kenny Dalglish as well. I’ve been lucky enough to be around Kenny and I think people have this idea that he is quite shy and dry, but he’s not. He is a real smart arse.
I remember once he saw me at the academy – I know Paul [Dalglish] well – and he came up and said ‘I knew you weren’t a player because I saw the size of your arse from back there!’ He’s just a top, top guy.
He was at a period of the club that was so important, and a difficult time through Hillsborough. He was there and held the club together.
The last one would be Jurgen, for me to have that conversation, and to see the dynamics of Shankly, Dalglish and Klopp together.
One of the keys for Jurgen is that I don’t think he is overawed by anybody, but he still shows respect for everybody.
I imagine Bill Shankly would absolutely love Jurgen Klopp, and vice versa. And Kenny would be the entertainment in between that could knit both of those generations together.
* Thanks to Keith for sharing his ‘Liverpool Life’. You can find Keith on Twitter @KeithCostigan.
Joe Hardy has signed a new contract with Liverpool FC.
The 21-year-old joined the club from Brentford in January of this year.
Taking his place in the U23 squad, the Wirral-born striker scored seven goals in just two months before the Academy season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His league highlights included doubles against Southampton and Sunderland, the latter in the final game before the enforced stoppage of the campaign.
In February, Hardy made his first-team debut when he came off the bench in the FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town at Anfield.
Defeat for City at the Etihad would ensure a victory at Goodison Park would be enough for Liverpool to seal the title, which Klopp has described as “our massively big target.”
But for Liverpool to do so, they will need to do so safely, and as part of a campaign to remind fans to stay at home and not visit stadiums while games are underway, the manager has delivered a strong message.
“Football is back! It will be, obviously for some reasons, completely different. But you can still make it really, really special,” he explained in a three-minute address.
“A lot of things have already been said in the last few weeks, we’ve thought about a lot of things in the last few weeks.
“Let’s go a little bit back a few months, when we all became aware of the really special problem we will have from now, all together in the same moment, the whole world.
“That was the moment that we all realised that obviously football is not as important as we thought the night before, when we played against Atletico.
“I think that’s a good lesson to learn, to be honest, and it was an important lesson. Not for me, not for you especially, because we all knew that.
“We have our own problems, we have family, health was always above all the other things, especially the health of our loved ones.
“We had to show responsibility, and we showed responsibility.
“There were times when we didn’t know exactly if we will play again this season, there were rumours about null and void, points per game and all that stuff.
“Now we stand here and in a couple of days the league will start again, because we behaved really responsibly, we showed responsibility.
“And we did the things we had to do, because we wanted to save our loved ones and all the others as well.
“So here’s the point: the league starts again, which is great. So we can play again, and we can go for our massively big target again.
“And for this, we need you. We always needed you. All the things are only really special because of you.
“We’ve had, now, a few sessions and games, internal games and one against Blackburn in our stadium, and the biggest difference was before the game, You’ll Never Walk Alone, without you.
“It’s still a wonderful song, it’s still great to hear, but without you, it’s not even five percent.
“But that’s how we have to take it in the moment, there will be a moment when the whole 300, 400 million choir can sing it, and that’s the moment we’re all waiting for.
“But until then, we still play football, and I said at the beginning it will be completely different.
“But it’s still football, and it’s still for you. So that means we’ll be in the stadium, you will be at home.
“I can promise you, we will feel your support. I will make the boys feel your support. We will use it. You are still 80, 90 percent of the petrol in our tanks, so we really will use that, and we need that.
“But the final message: stay safe, support us from home. We are still with you, and you will never walk alone.”
Well said, Kloppo. Well said.
Liverpool are just a few days from a return to action and the news today centres on match build-up, potential summer targets and what will be different for fans for the rest of 2019/20.Aouar in our sights this summer?
That means Lyon attacking midfielder Houssem Aouar is likely to be firmly on our radar, with the French club pushed into a corner in transfer terms and the youngster potentially offering more value and future upside than the likes of Timo Werner, who the club opted against moving for.
The Mirror‘s David Maddock says the Reds have been tracking him since youth tournament level and the suggestion is that while his club rate him at £50 million, they won’t be getting anywhere near that amount.
Clubs needing to offload stars, being in financial trouble or having to sell to buy will likely dictate other clubs’ impact on the transfer market and have a domino effect later this summer.Golden Boys and baby steps
Liverpool’s youth drive is non-stop right now: we’ve brought in talented youngsters, we’ve developed our own and plenty are getting the chance at first-team level.
If the Bundesliga is anything to go by with the extra subs rules, we might even see a few more of the Liverpool U23s over the last nine games, particularly once the title is sewn up.
For Neco Williams, the big target right now is to make his Premier League debut after shining in the cups. The right-back says it’s a “massive opportunity” coming up for young players and he firmly believes Jurgen Klopp “would have no hesitation” in playing them at the right time.
Elsewhere, three Reds youngsters have been named on the 100-strong European Golden Boy longlist.
Not long now…! The Reds will be back on the pitch in next to no time and the title will follow soon after.Quickfire LFC news
Juve boss Sarri wants Chelsea duo Jorginho and Alonso. Honestly, it feels like we’re approaching the point where some players should sign for a manager, not a club, and just be included in the compensation when bosses are sacked and hired.Tweet of the day
Children in our region will benefit because of the actions of this remarkable role model ??
From Liverpool With Love. https://t.co/mSatwzZZ2E
— Liverpool FC (at ?) (@LFC) June 16, 2020What we’re reading
Well played Marcus Rashford. The Man United striker’s campaign to get the government to continue providing meals to schoolkids has won the day.
Bremen vs. Bayern for the away side to win the title, at 7.30pm on BT. Barca are home to Leganes at 9pm on LaLiga TV.
Jürgen Klopp has delivered a personal message to Liverpool supporters around the world ahead of the resumption of the Premier League season.
The Reds will restart the 2019-20 top-flight campaign with a Merseyside derby against Everton on Sunday evening - the first of nine games still to be played.
With all remaining fixtures this season to take place behind closed doors, Klopp spoke directly to fans and explained how their support from home will be used as motivation during the run-in.
Watch the manager's message in full below.
Leighanne Robe has signed a new contract with Liverpool FC Women.
The versatile defender has been a first-team regular since joining the Reds two years ago.
The 26-year-old is best known as a tough-tackling left-back but has also played on the right and as a centre-back.
“I’m really happy to be staying at the club for another two years,” Robe told Liverpoolfc.com. “I love it in Liverpool, the club’s amazing and the fans always make you feel welcome and a big part of the club, so I’m looking forward to staying.
“Liverpool’s a huge club so I’m delighted to still be a part of it, fighting to get us back to where we should be in the top league.
“We have a very close-knit group and we’re sticking together. There’s not many changes in the team and we want to fight for each other and fight for the club.”
Robe is already looking forward to getting back into training alongside manager Vicky Jepson and the rest of the squad after the Women’s Super League season was ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She continued: “Vicky’s great, she puts a lot of belief in me and we’ve got a good working relationship and that’s important to have.
“I’ve really missed it. It was hard especially in the first few months because you were doing a lot of training individually. We’re back in two weeks and I just can’t wait.”
The Reds will play in the Championship next season and Robe knows they will have a tough battle ahead to fulfil the aim of bouncing straight back to the WSL.
“Every team is going to raise their standards when they play us, it’s still a tough league,” she said. “It’s going to be like a cup final in every single game for us but we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“The fans are really supportive and it’s always nice to have them singing. Obviously last season didn’t go well for us but regardless of the results, they would still turn out and be singing.”
Jepson believes Robe was just the type of character needed for the challenge ahead.
The Reds boss commented: “Robey has shown great growth in the last two seasons. She’s proven she’s a tough defender to come up against and was leading the WSL tackling stats for much of last season, which highlights her out-of-possession qualities.
“She’s a natural competitor and has the right mindset for the challenge we have ahead to bounce straight back into the WSL.
“I’m delighted to see her commit to the club and I’m looking forward to working with her again.
“I’m sure all the fans will be as pleased as I am to see her stay with the Reds.”
Last Updated: 16/06/20 1:25pmMike Dean will referee the Merseyside derby for the second time this season
Mike Dean will referee Sunday's Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park, live on Sky Sports.
Dean was the official in charge in the first league fixture between the sides this season, when Liverpool won 5-2 at Anfield.
The match officials for all of the Matchweek 30 fixtures have been appointed, with the Premier League returning on Wednesday after a 100-day shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.Aston Villa v Sheffield United - June 17
Referee: Michael Oliver. Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett. Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh. VAR: Paul Tierney. Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis.Manchester City v Arsenal - June 17
Referee: Anthony Taylor. Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn. Fourth official: Martin Atkinson. VAR: Stuart Attwell. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.Norwich v Southampton - June 19
Referee: Kevin Friend. Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Simon Beck. Fourth official: Dean Whitestone. VAR: Simon Hooper. Assistant VAR: Mark Scholes.Tottenham v Manchester United - June 19
Referee: Jonathan Moss. Assistants: Eddie Smart, Neil Davies. Fourth official: Andre Marriner. VAR: Graham Scott. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.Watford v Leicester - June 20
Referee: Craig Pawson. Assistants: Daniel Cook, Dan Robathan. Fourth official: Gavin Ward. VAR: Andy Madley. Assistant VAR: Andy Garratt.Brighton v Arsenal - June 20
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Assistants: Stuart Burt, Peter Kirkup. Fourth official: Keith Stroud. VAR: Michael Oliver. Assistant VAR: Richard West.West Ham v Wolves - June 20
Referee: Anthony Taylor. Assistants: Adam Nunn, Lee Betts. Fourth official: Dean Whitestone. VAR: David Coote. Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - June 20
Referee: Stuart Attwell. Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Simon Long. Fourth official: Tim Robinson. VAR: Simon Hooper. Assistant VAR: Derek Eaton.Newcastle v Sheffield United - June 21
Referee: David Coote. Assistants: Gary Beswick, Nick Hopton. Fourth official: Darren England. VAR: Peter Bankes. Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard.Aston Villa v Chelsea - June 21
Referee: Paul Tierney. Assistants: Scott Ledger, Mark Scholes. Fourth official: Graham Scott. VAR: Lee Mason. Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin.Everton v Liverpool - June 21
Referee: Mike Dean. Assistants: Simon Bennett, Darren Cann. Fourth official: Anthony Taylor. VAR: Chris Kavanagh. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.Manchester City v Burnley - June 22
Referee: Andre Marriner. Assistants: Marc Perry, Adrian Holmes. Fourth official: Andy Madley. VAR: Kevin Friend. Assistant VAR: Simon Beck.Domestic Super 6 IS BACK!
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Those living and working in care homes have been among those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with the vulnerable communities left in isolation and struggling with health.
It has been over three months since some have seen their family members due to restrictions on visiting and contact, which will have taken an emotional toll.
While it is only a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, Nivea donated iPads to residents in the Simonsfield, Breckside Park and Roxburgh House care homes on Merseyside in order to help them speak to their loved ones.
And as part of Liverpool’s partnership with the company, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana were all on the other end of Zoom calls with residents.
Lallana’s story is particularly poignant, having grown up in the care home his parents opened in Bournemouth, and he explained how he has “amazing memories” of the time, and “sad ones as well.”
“Me, my mum, my dad and my sister lived on the top floor of the care home for the first four or five years, with between 15 and 20 residents,” he said.
“I’ve got amazing memories, sad ones as well because you’d get to know them and then they’d pass away.
“It’s a big part of our family, really.”
Debbie, who works at Roxburgh House, told Oxlade-Chamberlain it has been a “really traumatic time,” as residents have been unable to see their families and some have lost their lives, and the midfielder explained how his grandad is in a similar situation.
Henderson spoke to Simonsfield resident Ron, who told him his favourite Liverpool player was Roger Hunt, and the captain also surprised one of the care home’s Everton-supporting workers.
The conversations between the players and those both working and living in the care homes sheds a light into the challenges they have faced in lockdown.
And it is another example of the genuine warmth from the Liverpool squad, who have been committed to supporting the local community during a particularly difficult period.
Premier League clubs can give their supporters the chance to appear on a live video fan wall that will be streamed into stadiums as part of the top-flight restart this week.
The move is part of a plan to minimise the impact of games having to be played behind closed doors due to the social distancing implications of the coronavirus pandemic.
Other moves include a club-specific wrap around each stadium’s lower tiers, the use of music at key moments, and a designated ‘celebration cam’ for players to share their goalscoring exploits.
The live video feeds, each of which will feature 16 supporters from each club, will be made available to broadcasters and to clubs for use on big screens during matches.
Tottenham were among the clubs to respond swiftly, confirming the video wall would be in place in time for their top-flight resumption against Manchester United on Friday night.
Spurs fans must enter a competition, showing themselves kitted out on the sofa and will be encouraged to react to events in the game as they happen, though no audio will be played into the stadium.
A club statement read: “We are giving supporters the chance to be part of a live video fan wall during our first ever behind-closed-doors Premier League match against Manchester United on Friday night.
“Spurs Inside is another first for the club, streamed live on our giant video screens in the stadium bowl intermittently throughout the match so that the players will know fans are watching and cheering them on.
“We are providing a select number of season ticket holders and executive members – our regular match attenders – the opportunity to be part of this unique experience.”
The Premier League’s ‘Season 2019/20 Restart Guide’ also confirmed fans would have access to live tunnel cameras, although these will be without audio, while audio from the coin toss will be captured live.
The topic of statues is a particularly delicate one in the UK at present, but there is little denying the merit of those currently outside Anfield.
Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley have already been honoured, while a bust of founder John Houlding was installed in front of the Main Stand in 2018.
Sir Kenny Dalglish has also been honoured with his own stand, meaning the club’s three most successful managers already have a permanent place at the stadium—and Gerrard has called for Klopp to follow them.
Liverpool are just six points from a first Premier League title, and a first top-flight title since 1990, which will be the club’s 19th throughout their history, dating back to the first in 1901.
To restore the Reds to the pinnacle is an exceptional feat from Klopp, and speaking to The Athletic, Gerrard insisted the German deserves a statue even before his career, or his time with the club, comes to an end.
“When you look at the scale of the job he’s done, for sure he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those iconic managers,” he said.
“What you need to take into consideration is that when Jurgen took over Liverpool they weren’t close to being the best team in the country, they weren’t even in the top four.
“To come to Liverpool when he did, get to the amount of finals that he has, deliver the sixth European Cup and then deliver the first league title after 30 years…
“For me, someone like Jurgen should be rewarded now. It seems like in football we often wait until people get older before their achievements are fully recognised.
“But I know the owners of Liverpool won’t let that happen. When Jurgen delivers the league they should already be starting work on a statue of him.”
It would be unprecedented for the club to erect a statue of a manager while he is still in charge, but as Gerrard attests it would be a deserved marker of the prestige Klopp has restored on Merseyside.
In the final months under Brendan Rodgers, the Reds were languishing, having failed to capitalise on the title challenge of 2013/14 and dropped back down to totem pole in Europe.
Klopp has brought Liverpool back to the top, and Gerrard has argued that he is “the best manager in the world.”
“I have nothing but respect for Jurgen,” the Rangers manager continued.
“The way the man handles himself, the way he’s been with myself, the way he goes about his business, the way he comes across. I think he’s got a heart and I think he’s got a head.
“He just works for Liverpool. He has come and taken the club to the next level.”
It seems unlikely Liverpool will build a statue for Klopp any time soon, and it is unlikely the manager would be open to the idea during his tenure in charge.
But if his fine work continues it would certainly be an honour earned.
The 1990s were in many ways wilderness years for Liverpool, who were strong enough to win silverware but never managed to consistently, as Rob Jones tells This Is Anfield.
We recently began a series on Liverpool players that we as supporters felt aren’t perhaps appreciated as much as they should be. We kicked things off with Steve McManaman—a player whose quality and legacy is tarnished by the manner of his departure.
Whatever your thoughts on McManaman’s exit—the first big-name Bosman deal of the ’90s—it doesn’t need to overshadow what happened before that, when he was the Reds’ talisman for over eight seasons.
Ultimately, perhaps, it’s trophies that ensure how a player is truly remembered, with plenty of inferior players being appreciated more widely than some of the ’90s squad purely as they were part of a trophy-winning side.
Seeking a player’s view on this, we spoke to a man who played alongside McManaman and Fowler throughout the ’90s, with Rob Jones arriving at Anfield in 1991 and departing in 1999.No surprises
Jones’ arrival, and fast-paced debut—just 48 hours after signing for the club, lining up at Old Trafford up against Ryan Giggs—may have come as a surprise, but to the lifelong Liverpool fan there wasn’t much to be surprised about in training.
“I was a Liverpool fan, so that team I went in to, with John Barnes, Ian Rush, Jan Molby, Steve Nicol, Ronnie Whelan, I knew how good they were because I’d watched them,” explains Jones, who now works as a mentor at the Reds’ academy.
“In training, they were even better. If I’m picking one [who surprised me], it was Ronnie Whelan.
“When you see him close up and play with him, you appreciate what a talent he was. He was great to play with, he made it look so easy.
“Ray Houghton was another one. When I first joined, he played just in front of me and helped me a lot. He’s an unsung hero.
“They were all good, because in the years before I joined they were winning trophy and trophy.”
In terms of the league, Liverpool missed out to Man United in the ’90s, with their manager, Alex Ferguson, earmarking McManaman as the Reds’ major threat in his pre-match team talks.
So just how good was the Bootle-born winger, who left for Real Madrid in 1999?
“Unbelievable,” says Jones, who often had to mark the winger in training. “When he used to come onto my side, he made it look so simple.
“It helped me, because if I was ever in a difficult situation at right-back you could give the ball to Macca in any angle, or give him a dodgy ball and he’d get it under control, or do a little jink and skip away from the left-back or left midfielder.
“He was just a massive talent.”
While McManaman’s exit to Madrid left a sour note, on the footballing side it further underlined his qualities.
“When he went to Real Madrid he adapted his game,” explains Jones. “When he played for Liverpool he would constantly be dribbling all the time, but he got hold of the ball more in Madrid and became more of a playmaker and made great runs.
“To see a player be able to adapt like that—he knew that the game was completely different in Spain—shows that he was an unbelievable player and a great, great talent, who succeeded whichever club he went to.
“Macca’s quick but he can run with the ball close to him.
“A lot of people are fast without the ball, but it’s difficult keeping it close to your body. He used to get into full pace and then get the ball under control close to his feet and run just as fast, which is very difficult to do.
“He was a bit George Best-like, stepping over challenges that came in. You can forget about players like that, but he achieved so much in the game and was great to play with.”
And what about Fowler?
“Robbie is just a natural goalscorer,” says Jones. “Even when we were working at the academy we used to join in in training—once he pulls that left foot back, you think ‘there’s no way he’s scoring’, and it just goes in.
“Sometimes you can see he actually kicks the ball into the ground, which makes it very difficult for goalkeepers.
“He’s just got the perfect eye for goal. The amount of crosses I would put in—maybe not the best crosses—and Robbie would just produce a goal out of it. He was one of the most natural finishers of the ’90s.”
Fowler and McManaman made over 700 appearances for Liverpool between them, scoring a combined 249 goals, so would they make it into what is arguably, and statistically, Liverpool’s greatest-ever team?
“They would definitely get into Liverpool’s team now,” believes Jones. “Although I’m not sure they’d play every game because there’s so much talent at the moment. They would fit in well.”‘I scored in training… a couple of times!’
As for Jones, Jamie Carragher once said of the full-back: “I think if he’d have stayed fit he probably would have gone on to win 70 or 80 caps for England instead of Gary Neville.”
“It’s great to hear ex-professionals who you’ve played with or against say nice things about you,” says Jones, whose grandfather, Bill, made 277 appearances for the Reds between 1938 and 1954.
Without injuries, Rob would have overtaken that number of appearances.
“The injury side of it can affect any player,” he looks back. “If any player has a long-term injury it’s really difficult to get back.
“I still look back and realise I played 240 games for Liverpool—which is a lot of games considering I had a lot of injuries. I played a lot and started young. I played about 70 games for Crewe when I was 16, so maybe I peaked too early.
“Michael Owen said that. He played at such a young age, against men, that sometimes the body isn’t ready for it.
“Maybe that had something to do with me picking up injuries later on. Mine were never little muscle injuries, they always seemed to be big ones.
“The shin splints kept me out for six months on and off. Then I was looking to go to Euro 96 and fractured my back, so I didn’t have much luck, but I still look at the whole career, and to play for Liverpool was an absolute dream.
“To play that many games and win a couple of trophies, and play for my country—a lot of players would give their left arm to achieve anything like that.
“It’s always nice to get praise off players. I know Ryan Giggs has said a few nice things in the past.”
Jones famously, thanks to a long-running joke on the then-cult TV show Soccer AM, never scored for Liverpool. So did he ever hit the back of the net in training?!
“Yeah, only a couple of times!” he told This Is Anfield.
“I just didn’t seem to have that bit of luck. I think I had it cleared off the line about three times, I’ve hit both posts and the crossbar a couple of times. It just wouldn’t go in.
“I scored two goals for Crewe, but it just wasn’t meant to be [at Liverpool]. I probably owe a lot of money to fans on the Kop, who still tell me on Twitter that I’ve cost them a fortune. I think everyone used to put £1 on me at 50/1.
“It’s because I used to get forward a lot, people thought I was bound to score, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“But at the end of the day, it wasn’t about me scoring, as long as the team won. But of course, it would have been nice to have scored.
“I think the fans were really urging me to score because they could see the effort and the runs I was making. I think they thought at some stage one of them was bound to go in, but it wasn’t meant to be.”“We should have won more”
Jones, like many of Liverpool’s best players in the ’90s, ended his Reds career with just the 1992 FA Cup and 1995 League Cup on his honours list, but many believe the team should have halted United’s domestic dominance and ensured No. 19 arrived at Anfield much sooner.
“That’s what wins you the league, that little bit of consistency to get you over the finish line.
“We had a good team with some great players. We had a good mixture.
“We had the young ones like me, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Jamie Redknapp, mixed with the older experienced players like John Barnes, Ian Rush and Bruce Grobbelaar. There was a good mixture of youth and experience.
“We should have won more.”
Liverpool played another intra-squad friendly as part of their preparations for the return of the Premier League, as the Reds close in on that long-awaited title triumph.Transfer window extension possible
The world of football finances has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting impact on the sport.
No fans in stadiums, games postponed or cancelled, club shops closed and uncertainty over competitions—it’s understandable why there is so much hesitation over who can spend money and how much.
Now the latest suggestion is that, to combat that concern and ease clubs back into normality when matters are clearer, the summer transfer window will be extended—potentially up until January.
That’s not certain, but an extended window seems likely and thus transfer plans might not be carried out early on as would usually be the ideal scenario.Salah and Robbo return to action
It should be a strong side and squad that Klopp picks for the derby on Sunday, as we look to wrap up the title in the coming fixtures.Targets and titles
Intensity is on the agenda for the skipper and a key member of our data team has explained his role.Quickfire LFC news
Happy birthday, Mo!
Happy 28th birthday, Mohamed Salah! ?
91 goals in just 144 Liverpool appearances ?
£34 million very, very well spent ? pic.twitter.com/B6FuHJuYzH
— Goal (@goal) June 15, 2020What we’re reading
Marcus Rashford’s plea to the government over plans to cut meal funding for vulnerable families throughout the country.
Another Andalucian derby as Real Betis host Granada in LaLiga, 9pm on LaLiga TV.