A blockbuster press conference from Jurgen Klopp on Friday ahead of Sunday’s trip to Leeds United focussed heavily on the farcical situation with Brazil’s FA.
Much of the press conference focussed on the situation regarding the Brazilian FA’s decision to impose a five-day ban on players who did not travel to take part in the internationals due to government quarantine rules.
Here are all the key points from the press conference…1. Klopp’s long response to Brazil quarantine situation
Klopp’s opening response on the situation was almost five minutes long. The boss had a lot to get off his chest, rightly so.
Klopp tackled the whole situation, highlighting the ridiculous scheduling of internationals, why footballers should be exempt from the rest of society, and how he has no clue if they will eventually be allowed to play in Sunday’s game.
“We live in a bubble. We are not part of normal life,” he explained. “We go work, training, stadium.”
“The real punishment is the players, because that’s what they want to do (play).
“The world lives in a pandemic, still. Football players so far had exemptions and it didn’t lead to any spread (of the virus).
“All the things, we get tested three times per week, that’s different to normal society.”
“It would be nice if we could train with the team I want to play on Sunday.”2. FIFA and authorities do not care about footballers
Adding on that theme, Klopp highlighted the ridiculous scheduling of three games now during these international breaks, with Brazil playing in the early hours of what was Friday in the UK.
“Nobody listens,” said Klopp. “Nobody thought about the players when they decided that the last (Brazil) game of the 3-game run (in this break) was Friday morning our time and the next game could have been Saturday. They just don’t care.”
Further highlighting the hypocrisy of the situation, Klopp explained how when he received news that the players would not have a travel exemption, he was with Arsene Wenger and another FIFA delegate and they all agreed then that simply the players could not travel!
“There must be a point when FIFA, UEFA and all the other confederations sit together and start thinking about the game, and not only about their benefit,” he said.
“[But] I’m already 54, I’m not sure I’ll be alive when that happens.”3. “It’s all about the money”
Asked about FIFA’s plans for a World Cup every two years, Klopp was utterly against the idea and accurately assessed: “It’s all about money.”
“There’s no other sport in the world, I’m pretty sure, with such a relentless calendar, year-round,” he said. “Not a physical sport.
“Other physical sports don’t have this calendar. We all know why this is. In the end, it’s all about money, that’s how it is.”
“Somebody has to understand, that without the players, we cannot play this game.
“Nobody is more important than the players. Imagine if we have a World Cup every two years, we can be sure then it will then be a European Championships every two years too, so then they play every year.
“So they would get, at the most, three weeks off each summer, every year. It’s just not possible.
“Every reform that gets suggested, it’s always about more games.”4. “Why would you play the best right-back in the world in midfield?”
The international break saw Trent Alexander-Arnold played in midfield by England boss Gareth Southgate, something Klopp was asked about but returned a very strong answer on.
Klopp was not only bemused by the suggestion that Trent should play in midfield, but doubled down by saying he cannot understand why anybody would even think to do it.
“If you watched our games, you’d see Trent’s position has changed, not in all games but some of them,” he said.
“It’s a shame in 2021 we speak like this, footballer’s play everywhere. On the right wing he is everywhere.”
Klopp added that if he were to play Trent in midfield, it would be in the ‘6’ position (the role Trent played at youth level) and not the ‘8’ as Southgate did.
“Why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder?” he summed up.5. Virgil’s fine and has trained
There was a minor scare when Virgil van Dijk went down seemingly injured for the Netherlands in the week, but the boss confirmed that Van Dijk trained on Thursday and is fine.
The rest of the players who were away on international duty have all returned fine also.6. A muted response on the transfer window
This was the first press conference after the transfer window was closed, but Klopp’s response to a question on it was very short:
“Good. All okay. All good.”
There are less than 53 hours until kickoff at Elland Road and the availability of the Brazilian duo remains a mystery after the Brazilian FA triggered a five-day ban.
Discussions remain ongoing between the Premier League, FIFA, the FA and the government but the farcical situation is one that simply punishes the players twice over for something completely out of their control.
“The thing I want to say about that is just, let’s look at the full case. So, we all know we are in the middle of a pandemic, which is difficult for all parts of life and for football it was difficult as well.
“We have a few more games to play than we have to play usually internationally. We had a summer break where all of a sudden somebody organised again a Copa America, where they could have played the games, for example, without playing a Copa America, which they had a year before.
“But people decide without us these kind of things. OK, nobody cares, that’s how it is. They play a Copa America, then they still have more games to play. Then a week or 10 days before the international break we get, ‘OK, we play now three games and the last game is on Thursday night.’
“So we have nothing to do with that. Friday morning, by the way. Friday morning, 1.20am, would have been Brazil against Peru. We have nothing to do with that, we cannot decide anything about it, we just read these things.
“Then we have to think, ‘OK, clear, they are invited.’ But when they come back they have to quarantine [for] 10 days. Again, it’s not our decision, we didn’t say they have to quarantine [for] 10 days, we didn’t say you have to go to the national team, we can’t say nothing – we just sit in between and we think, ‘OK, what’s going on?’
“Our players, if they come back then they have to quarantine 10 days in a random hotel, next to the airport probably, which is not good for any people who have to do that but for a professional football player, being 10 days in a hotel – with the food they get from there – you lose everything. You lose muscle, you lose everything.
“And now, the next thing, we have a football game to play again and they tell us we cannot play our Brazilian players. It’s like, ‘Huh?’ So, we did nothing. We didn’t organise the Copa America, we are not responsible for the games they couldn’t have played.
“We didn’t invite players, we didn’t say when they come back there’s no exemption. We all didn’t do that.
“But in the end the only [people] who get punished are the players and the clubs – and we have nothing to do with the whole organisation around. It’s like, ‘What is happening?’
“So I don’t know what will happen at the weekend, to be honest. In this moment, we have to see what other people decide and then we will again accept that probably, do what people tell us and try to win a football game.
“But the whole situation is really just like the whole world in the moment in a nutshell – ‘Ah, in football they have these problems as well.’ Yes, we have these problems. And now we will see who finds the solution.”
As ever, it’s a point well made by Klopp and all he and Liverpool can do now is wait for the final decision to come, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
The Holland captain went down holding his ankle after a tackle by Turkey’s Halil Dervisoglu in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier and that immediately set alarm bells ringing.
Van Dijk missed the majority of last season after anterior cruciate ligament surgery following a clash with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in October’s Merseyside derby.
“With Virgil, that was obviously a scary moment, you can imagine,” Klopp told LiverpoolFC.com.
“I sent him a message after the game: ‘Are you alright?’ – “Yes’. ‘100%?’ – ‘200%’. ‘Come on, send me a video of you without limping…’ – ‘I’m only limping off’.
“So he called me from the bus and said: ‘Boss, I’m fine!’. I said: ‘Why are you limping then?’. He said: ‘My wife asked the same!’.
“So, yeah, that was a bit of a tricky moment but apart from that, no, all fine [for the other international players].”
Forward Roberto Firmino will not make Sunday’s match at Elland Road – even if the dispute between the Brazilian FA over the failure of players to attend World Cup qualifiers in South America over quarantine concerns is resolved.
Firmino sustained a hamstring injury against Chelsea in the last match before the international break, although Harvey Elliott is fit despite being released early from England’s under-21 squad because of injury concerns.
Klopp will also check on midfielder Naby Keita, who safely returned from Guinea this week after a military coup in his homeland, but does not expect the midfielder to have any issues.
“Naby is fine. Yesterday he was not here [at the training ground] but he was in Liverpool again,” added Klopp.
“I will have a chat with him but from what I know from all the calls and talks we had, he’s fine.”
The Reds are back in action this weekend and training has already kicked back off at Kirkby, with Klopp overseeing a session on Thursday morning.
This came on the back of the final games of the September international break, with Kostas Tsimikas and Conor Bradley the only Liverpool players to feature on Wednesday as Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were unused substitutes.
Logistically, it has been a tough period for the club, with Naby Keita forced to evacuate from Guinea following an attempted coup, Mohamed Salah only travelling for one of his country’s two games and Alisson and Fabinho blocked from Brazil duty.
The decision to reject call-ups for the Brazilian duo, along with Salah for Egypt’s World Cup qualifier at home to Angola, was informed by the UK’s quarantine rules, and could still see Klopp’s restriction limited on Sunday.
Overall, though, this break can be considered a welcome reprieve for 10 first-team players, while three others have been able to continue their rehabilitation from injury.
It stands to reason that those who enjoyed time off over the break, such as Matip, Thiago and perhaps even Oxlade-Chamberlain, could be turned to as staples of the side upon the restart.
It should be noted, too, that neither Curtis Jones nor Caoimhin Kelleher played a minute for their national teams despite being called up, while Henderson, Alexander-Arnold, Salah and Keita only clocked the equivalent of one full game.
Fatigue is an issue Liverpool will be desperate to avoid as the busy stages of the season begin, and a slow international break should certainly be a benefit.
Liverpool‘s players are now all finished with their respective international action and it’s all systems go for preparing for Leeds. But who will feature at Elland Road?!Biggest news line or transfer rumour
Kingsley Coman is being “hunted” by Liverpool according to this week’s latest rumours.
They Bayern Munich man was briefly linked with the Reds in summer, but any initial excitement was immediately halted by talk of a €90m price tag, which no Liverpool fan expected to be paid.
Elsewhere, a German journalist has added more fuel to the Jude Bellingham links by talking about the Reds’ interest in the Dortmund man.Klopp breaks down squad fitness latest
Flying back late, flying back early, flying back after escaping national borders being locked down…just another basic international break, hey?
Jurgen Klopp has spoken about those returning from injury and overseas action, with the Reds set to welcome three players into the squad over whom there had been availability concerns – but three more will not feature against Leeds.
Taki Minamino was injured with Japan and remains out, while both James Milner and Bobby Firmino remain sidlined after injuries with the Reds prior to the break.
But scares over Virgil van Dijk‘s injury with Netherlands have been allayed – he’s fine and fully fit. So too is Harvey Elliott, withdrawn from the U21s as a precaution, and Naby Keita is also back on Merseyside safely after the political unrest in his home country.
All three should be in the squad and available for selection for the Reds as we head to Elland Road.Latest Liverpool FC news
Latest Premier League chat
— Jen (@JenboLFC) September 9, 2021
Tonight it’s Uruguay vs Ecuador and Brazil vs Peru. We’re assuming that second game will last longer than five minutes this time.
Liverpool are definitely signing Jude Bellingham! Something like that, anyway. Today’s rumours, new kit and not-good-news as the Leeds game draws closer.Brazil pair barred from facing Leeds
Neither of the internationals joined up with the Selecao on account of the Premier League clubs agreeing not to release their players – mostly – and Brazil have responded by invoking a Fifa rule to not let those who didn’t travel play at the weekend.
Latest Premier League chat
Last update before publishing: Melissa Reddy gives us hope for Ali and Fab…
No resolution yet but there’s growing confidence that the players will be allowed to feature for their clubs following discussions between the Premier League, FIFA, FA and the government. https://t.co/YJ7iNGIJHP
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) September 8, 2021
Tonight’s late games include England at Poland and Northern Ireland hosting Switzerland. Win for the latter and we might…might…see four home nations with a great shout of reaching a finals.
Davies failed to make his competitive debut for the Reds following his £1.6 million move from Preston in February, despite all three first-choice centre-backs being injured.
Now on loan with Sheffield United for the rest of the season, Davies has explained the importance of playing regular football when it comes to his mental health.
“When I joined Sheffield United, with the promise of playing games, it felt like I had finally been mentally released.”
The Englishman has already made two appearances for the Blades, and though they have both failed to produce wins, it will be a boost for Davies to have clocked 90 minutes in each outing.
His season at Bramall Lane could result in a permanent move at the end of the season – either to stay at Sheffield United or perhaps elsewhere – though that is certainly not resolved yet.
There is still a chance he is given an opportunity to impress at Liverpool next summer, though if not, Davies still takes pride from his time at Anfield.
Davies spoke of how training with the world-class players in Jurgen Klopp‘s squad have seen him “grow up” and helped him adjust to the demands of life at Sheffield United.
“No one can take away the fact that I’m a Liverpool player,” he continued.
“I feel that just being around top players has improved me. I feel I’ve grown up. It’s helped me settle in quickly at Sheffield United and hopefully that has shown in the games I’ve played.
“Playing football regularly is the most important thing and that was behind me coming to Sheffield United on loan.
“For me it’s about enjoying the competitive side of the game again.”
Davies is a strange case in the history of Liverpool signings, but his words highlight the value of representing the Reds regardless of how often a player makes it onto the pitch.
Robbie Fowler has departed his role as head coach of Indian Super League side SC East Bengal, as a managerial career blighted by lockdowns hits another speedbump.
Fowler joined the newly renamed SC East Bengal last October, following a takeover by Indian cement manufacturer Shree Cement that led to a promotion to the Indian Super League (ISL).
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the ISL was staged over three venues across Goa throughout the 2020/21 season – over 2,000 kilometres from Kolkata.
“I use this term loosely but essentially we are in an open prison,” he explained.
“People may say ‘you are in a five-star hotel’ but it’s a lockdown that we’ve been in for four or five months and we leave just to train and play games.’
Fowler oversaw a difficult season that saw SC East Bengal take 17 points from 20 games in the ISL, finishing ninth out of 11 sides, 23 points behind champions Mumbai City.
With India one of the countries hit worst by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fowler returned to England upon the close of the ISL campaign, and it has now been confirmed that he has left his head coach role by mutual consent.
“SC East Bengal can confirm that the club has agreed with Robbie Fowler to a mutual termination of the head coach’s contract,” a statement read on Wednesday.
“Alongside his assistant Tony Grant, he took charge of the team in a very challenging period of transition and managed to overcome significant odds to bring the fans some moments of joy in the club’s first ever season in the Hero Indian Super League.”
Fowler was previously in charge of Brisbane Roar in the A-League in Australia, but opted to stay on Merseyside after flying back in the initial stages of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, stepping down from his position after 11 months.
It has been a far from orthodox managerial career for the 46-year-old, then, and he has recently turned his attention to a new venture alongside Jamie Carragher at Liverpool‘s old training site at Melwood.
Prior to his exit, Fowler told The Athletic‘s James Pearce that he would consider a job in MLS, wanting to “be judged on what I’ve done as a manager,” rather than his playing career.
Tuesday night saw Jota make his 13th start for his country, in a World Cup qualifier away to Azerbaijan that saw him score one and assist another on the way to a 3-0 victory.
Remarkably, it saw him score yet another header, with half of his goals at senior international level coming from his head, despite not being the tallest striker at 5’10”.
Jota appears to have developed a knack for being in the right place at the right time, along with the jumping ability and heading power to consistently score from those situations.
In fact, of the 22 goals Jota has scored for club and country since joining Liverpool, eight have been headers – an impressive 36.4 percent.
For Liverpool, four of his 15 goals have been headers, or 26.7 percent.
He is not the first average-height player to score an unexpected number of headed goals, of course, but after his latest, fans took to Twitter to hail his surprise talent:
Diogo Jota is just a sublime player in the air. You'd think because of his height, his aerial ability wouldn't be a strength or pro but the guy puts that assumption to bed. Has immense technique, control & power with his heading ability
— Slytherin's Basilisk ? (@SnakeFpl) September 7, 2021
Diogo Jota’s better in the air than Denzel Washington in Flight.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) September 7, 2021
Diogo Jota blows my mind.
How a lad so small, constantly finds so much room in the box to get a head to it. I know 5ft 10 isn't exactly tiny, but up against 6ft3+ centre halves, it's fairly small.
We got him for a steal!!
— BERG (@_BERG___) September 7, 2021
— Zubin Daver (@zubinofficial) September 7, 2021
Considering Diogo Jota is around 5’10, his heading ability is absolutely world class
— Ben Jones (@7_BenJones) September 7, 2021
Diogo Jota scores ALOT of headed goals for a man thats 5 foot 10 ?
— GoalMouth (@GooalMouth) September 7, 2021
Diogo jota is like Tim Cahill in the air. Idk how he does it but he scores with every header ?
— eddie allsopp (@AllsoppEddie) September 7, 2021
Good to see Mane and Jota scoring ahead of the weekend.
Jota scores a ridiculous number of headers.
— Tim Bolton (@TimBolton01) September 7, 2021
In his second season at Anfield, fans are tipping the No. 20 for even bigger things:
Things I will never understand:
1. Why Wolves were willing to sell Jota
2. Why they sold him so cheap
3. Why nobody else was even thinking about buying him pic.twitter.com/nJpUaVpzHB
— Jay ?????? (@ScouseSocialism) September 7, 2021
Get the feeling that Diogo Jota is going to have a very special season.
I'm forever astounded by how much better he is than I thought he was.
— Positive LFC Tweets (@30YearsRed) September 7, 2021
Diogo Jota absolutely killing it right now for Portugal. Things you absolutely love to see ?
— Luke Paterson ??????? (@SNIPERBRO2015) September 7, 2021
Jota will become Liverpool’s Aguero pic.twitter.com/x04u1yfkiJ
— . (@Thiago_vision) September 7, 2021
It is clearly an area Jota has worked on, having only scored twice with his head before 2020, and this new-found aerial threat can only benefit Liverpool.
With Klopp moulding the Portuguese into a central striker who can fill in out wide, as opposed to the natural winger he resembled upon his arrival, this is a very important asset.
Hopefully, it can give Liverpool another edge for years to come.
The Reds’ Brazilian trio were all called up to represent Brazil during the September international break, a move that was then blocked due to the 10-day quarantine that would be required on their return.
But FIFA are now to enforce a five-day absence for the eight players from five clubs that failed to make the trip to South America following the Brazilian FA’s complaint, from September 10-14, as per The Times‘ Paul Joyce.
It means Jurgen Klopp will be unable to select Alisson or Fabinho against Leeds on Sunday, who they themselves are to be forced to be without Raphinha, while Roberto Firmino is to be absent through injury.
Everton, however, are in Brazil’s good books and Richarlison is exempt from the ruling, just to make matters more bemusing.
The manager will undoubtedly have a lot to say on the issue having been at the front of any discussion over player welfare.
But the silver lining, if any, is that Alisson and Fabinho will be available for the Champions League group stage opener against AC Milan, with the five-day period to end on August 14, the day before the Italian’s visit to Anfield.
The clubs could, of course, choose to ignore the ruling and select their players but they could be forced to forfeit the match 3-0 if they choose to do so.
The ruling is one that will create tension between club and country with international breaks in October and November to see similar issues arise, putting players in the middle of the tug of war once more.
The absence of Liverpool‘s No. 1 will see Caoimhin Kelleher make his first appearance for the season, while Fabinho‘s absence will open up a spot for the likes of Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita.
As Jude Bellingham continues to enhance his reputation for both England and Dortmund, Liverpool are among the clubs to hold “significant interest.”
Bellingham has emerged as one of England’s most exciting young players since his breakthrough at Birmingham, carving out a regular role under Gareth Southgate.
His decision to join Dortmund in an initial £25 million deal in 2020 has proved to be the right one, with the 18-year-old already a first-choice starter at the Westfalenstadion.
In his first season in Germany, Bellingham made 46 appearances, scoring four goals and setting up another four, while so far this season he has netted once and assisted three times in five games.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to speculation over a move to the Premier League in the future, with the Daily Star claiming an exclusive in suggesting Liverpool are preparing an £80 million offer for next summer.
That is far from a reliable source, but more interesting is a report in the Times which includes information from Merseyside journalist Paul Joyce.
While explaining that Dortmund would be “reluctant” to sell Bellingham within the next year due to the anticipated exit of Erling Haaland, Joyce and Matt Lawton add that there is “significant interest” in the midfielder.
It is suggested that Bellingham may be better served staying at Dortmund until 2023, however, in order to aid his development and also boost his value.
With a likely role at the 2022 World Cup, the youngster could increase both his transfer fee and the salary he would command if he made a big-money switch back to England.
Though it could be argued that Liverpool should prioritise a move for a player like Haaland, rather than Bellingham, in a way it seems more likely that the latter would make the transfer to Anfield.
Any deal to sign a generational midfielder like Bellingham would almost certainly break Liverpool‘s transfer record, but perhaps it would be worth it as an evolution takes shape on Merseyside.
It’s August 1979, Scousers are piling into cinemas to see Roger Moore reprise his role as James Bond for the fourth time, in Moonraker, an evil Ice Queen has been elected Prime Minister of the UK and a technician’s strike at ITV has reduced Britain’s television output to two channels. Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest are champions of Europe and Bob Paisley’s Reds are Kings of England.
The stage is set for the Reds to do battle in another epic campaign.
The singles charts feature hits from the Boomtown Rats, The Police, Supertramp and Tubeway Army, and the country lapped up TV shows like Tales of the Unexpected, Blankety Blank, Minder and Fawlty Towers.
Liverpool opened the season at Wembley with a 3-1 thumping of Arsenal in the Charity Shield in front of 92,000. Goals from Terry McDermott (2) and Kenny Dalglish put the Reds 3-0 up and an 88th-minute consolation from Alan Sunderland could not prevent Paisley from taking his fourth Shield in six years.
There had seemed an air of inevitability about it all, and the press were full of stories about how the pretenders to Liverpool‘s crown faced an uphill struggle. Former Red, Gordon Milne, now the manager of Coventry, would later declare that the league consisted of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest and 20 also-rans. His team had been on the receiving end of 4-0 drubbings at the hands of Paisley and Clough after all.
Manchester United were spending or planning to spend upwards of £15 million to compete with the big boys, while Everton‘s Gordon Lee was threatening to “play the kids” after star striker Bob Latchford asked for a transfer. At Aston Villa, manager Ron Saunders had asked his board to transfer list John Gidman and Andy Gray. Gidman had reportedly demanded £600 per week and a £10k loyalty bonus, walking out when it was turned down. Gray had put in numerous transfer requests.
Liverpool, meanwhile, trundled on inconspicuously. They had signed Israeli international Avi Cohen and would add youngster Ronnie Whelan from Irish club Home Farm, while club legend and former captain, Emlyn Hughes, quietly left for Wolves for a fee of £90,000.
What lay ahead was a gruelling season, in which Liverpool played 60 games, winning 35 of them and losing just 10.
They would make it to the semi-finals of the League Cup and FA Cup before going out to Forest in the former and Arsenal in the latter, and they would for the second time in successive seasons exit the European Cup at the first time of asking, losing 4-2 on aggregate to Soviet champions, Dynamo Tbilisi.
However, with the league their bread and butter, Paisley’s men set about retaining the league title for the third time in the club’s history.
They would do so thanks largely to the efforts of something of a forgotten goal machine, David Johnson. The Scouser had played for Everton and Ipswich before joining the Reds, and sporting a trademark mop of black hair and moustache, he would plunder 27 goals in 54 appearances in all competitions that season, 21 of them in the league. The Reds would also rely on Dalglish, who chipped in with 23, and David Fairclough who managed an incredible 13 goals in 26 appearances, many from the bench.
Liverpool still boasted the likes of Ray Kennedy, Terry McDermott and Jimmy Case in midfield, and Graeme Souness had joined a season earlier from Middlesbrough. However, Steve Heighway was entering the twilight of his Anfield career. At 29, he would manage just 11 games in the 1979/80 season.
Making his way from the Central League was a 20-year-old Sammy Lee who also featured 11 times, his breakout season would come in 1980/81, when he would turn out for the Reds on 55 occasions.
Three of Liverpool‘s squad were ever-presents during the 1979/80 campaign, Kenny Dalglish, Phil Neal and Phil Thompson. Souness and Clemence, meanwhile, would feature in 59 of the 60 games. Paisley could rely on the spine of his team who showed remarkable consistency throughout the campaign.
Their fitness meant that they could often outlast teams and would score 66 of their 111 goals in the second half of games, with 24 of them in the last 15 minutes. Meanwhile, although they couldn’t repeat the feats of the previous season during which they had conceded just 16 goals, they still kept 19 clean sheets and not even injuries to Alan Hansen could derail them.
However, the season would get off to an unwelcome start with the Reds recording their first goalless game at home for 15 months. The 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers owed much to the visitors dogged defending and Liverpool‘s wastefulness in front of goal.
The press, using the opportunity of Liverpool‘s new Japanese shirt sponsorship from electrical manufacturer Hitachi, would write headlines about Red Samurais laying siege but ultimately drawing a blank. Paisley would even sacrifice defender Phil Neal after 27 minutes and threw on an attacker in Steve Heighway to no avail.
A crowd of almost 46,000, with the Kop seemingly split down the middle in terms of their allegiance to Glasgow’s football giants, and frequently breaking into chants of Ran-gers – Cel-tic, would leave frustrated after a game played in the pouring rain on a slippery pitch. Much to his ire, Dalglish would be waved offside several times, and felt he had been denied a penalty. Then, when it looked like the deadlock was broken, the goal was ruled out for offside in what was for the time remarkable circumstances.
Today, we’re used to celebrating goals only to see them belatedly ruled out for some VAR inspired infraction. However, imagine the roars of disapproval as the players lined up around the centre circle for the restart, the Kop having celebrated jubilantly their team’s breakthrough, only for Bolton protests to result in a hurried conversation between the referee and linesman and the goal being chalked off for offside.
The result would irk Paisley, and after his team beat Ron Atkinson’s West Brom 3-1, he would aim a dig at Wanderers by praising Atkinson for “trying to win the league instead of playing it safe.” Anyone watching how self-styled “Big Ron” played into Liverpool‘s hands by attempting to attack the Reds at Anfield would probably feel that playing it safe was the better tactic.
Liverpool‘s movement and passing in that game would, according to the newspapers, approach “Brazilian perfection”. However, Bob, forever a tough taskmaster, would moan about the sloppy nature of West Brom‘s consolation goal.Early Inconsistency
The Reds then said farewell to summer with a goalless draw at Tranmere Rovers in a second round, first-leg tie in the League Cup, before travelling to the Dell two days later. Liverpool, without Hansen and with Colin Irwin standing in, looked sloppy at the back, and though Irwin and Johnson got on the scoresheet, they slumped to a 3-2 defeat.
In a mark of their early-season inconsistency, Liverpool then went on to thump both Tranmere and Coventry 4-0 in successive games at Anfield, before being held by both Leeds United and Norwich. The draw at Elland Road had been particularly frustrating as McDermott had put the Reds 1-0 up in the 81st minute, only to see United level six minutes later.
Such was the apparent malaise that a 2-1 home victory over Tbilisi in the first leg of the European Cup did little to give Kopites or journalists the confidence that their team could advance after the second leg in the Soviet Union. Their trepidation would prove well-founded when weeks later a supremely well organised Tbilisi side thumped the Reds 3-0 on a rain-sodden pitch in the Georgian capital.
Paisley would be glad to see the back of September after his side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Clough’s Forest at the City Ground. Neither side covered themselves in glory, however, with one newspaper headline describing the encounter as “Listless sparring among the heavyweights.” The Reds sat a miserable ninth, while Forest were in third place. Topping the table were Crystal Palace and big-spending Manchester United.
In the news, the infamous Yorkshire Ripper had claimed his 12th victim, and in football, Manchester City and Wolves duked it out for the British transfer fee record. City paid £1.45m for Wolves midfielder Steve Daley. The Midlanders promptly went out and spent just under £1.5m on Aston Villa‘s wantaway striker, Andy Gray, three days later. Wolves and Villa finished sixth and seventh respectively.
October brought some improvement and continued progress in the League Cup. Liverpool plundered four goals without reply in games against Bristol City, Manchester City and beat big spenders Wolves 3-0 at home at the beginning of November. However, the pick of the games during this spell was a tumultuous derby at Anfield on October 20. The game would end 2-2 and with both sides down to ten men.
With the game deadlocked at 2-2 in the 70th minute, neither side was taking any prisoners. A Mick Lyons own goal had put the Reds in front after eight minutes before Brian Kidd levelled 11 minutes later. The Reds were in front again 10 minutes into the second half, but Andy King equalised for the Blues in the 67th minute. Then all hell let loose.
In the 70th minute, Garry Stanley went in really hard on David Johnson and a huge brawl broke out. McDermott had lost his head and went for Everton‘s Stanley. The pair would both be sent off. The Liverpool player would later recall:
“I made contact with Garry’s teeth – or vice versa. I’ve still got the scar on my hand today and the referee sent us both off. The irony was that Garry and I are good friends and we often used to go out for a drink together. That plus the fact that we were both just about the two softest players on the park. I remember sitting in the bath and laughing when I thought of all those hard men still running about out there, while us two softies had been sent off. I think it was for dropping our handbags.”Christmas Cheer
By the time Christmas came along, Liverpool had hit first gear and were in cruise control. They entered the 1980s on the back of an 11 game unbeaten run and had been top of the table since December 8. Nobody could shift them from the top spot for the rest of the season, no matter how much money they spent.
The Reds had scored three or more in eight of those games during an epic assault on the summit, and they would crown it with a 2-0 Boxing Day victory over Dave Sexton’s Manchester United at Anfield. A festive crowd of over 51,000 packed into the ground were no doubt delighted as Alan Hansen put the Reds in front after just 15 minutes.
United were Liverpool‘s closest challengers in the league, but after Johnson had sealed the win with an 85th-minute strike to send a delirious Kop wild and then off to the pub, one Guardian journalist described the difference between first and second place in the division as the difference between “telepathy and the pony express,” before concluding:
“So Liverpool ended the decade with the magnificent record of having been beaten only 13 times at Anfield in the 1970s. United have reason to be disappointed with their afternoon. But perhaps it was too much to expect two earthquakes in the same day.”
The final game of the decade, away to West Brom, was a formality, with Liverpool running out 2-0 winners. Out of Europe, they may have been, but the Reds were sailing towards their 12th league title, still in the League Cup and with a home FA Cup tie against Grimsby Town to come.
Grimsby had just been promoted to the Second Division, and Liverpool were expected to win. The result was no surprise, in the end. Liverpool won 5-0 thanks to a Johnson hattrick and goals from Souness and Case. However, according to the Reds’ prolific striker, Johnson, the scoreline didn’t tell the whole story:
“Grimsby were far the better team for about half an hour. There’s no doubt about that. They brought tremendous support and had us on the run for a long uncomfortable period.”
[embedded content]The Forest Rivalry
The Reds then faced two games against arch-rivals Nottingham Forest in the space of four days. The first came in the League Cup semi-final first leg on January 22, and the next was in the fourth round of the FA Cup four days later. Both games were played at the City Ground with the Reds losing the first by a single goal and winning the other 2-0.
Now safely through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, Liverpool supporters would have relished the prospect of bringing Clough’s men back to Anfield for the second leg of the League Cup semi-final and would have been confident of a place in the final. A single goal wasn’t too daunting a deficit, especially for free-scoring Liverpool.
Sadly, the game didn’t go to the script and Forest’s John Robertson converted a penalty to put Liverpool two down in the tie overall and chasing the game. Paisley had taken the decision to start with Fairclough on the bench, a decision that had become depressingly familiar to the striker. Fairclough would have been especially disappointed as he had scored a hat-trick in a 5-3 victory over Norwich City three days earlier.
He would belatedly replace Alan Kennedy and grabbed Liverpool‘s equaliser in the 89th minute. It was all too late though, and the Reds were out of the cup. Wembley would have to wait.
Their next best chance was in the FA Cup, of course, and after dispatching Bury and Tottenham, they would face Arsenal in a titanic battle in their second semi-final of the season. There was little to separate the teams and the game would go to an exhausting third replay, ending in ultimate disappointment as Liverpool lost 1-0 at Highfield Road.Title Tussle
By now though, the Reds were locked in a tussle for the championship with United. After a goalless draw with Terry Venables’ Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in late April, both United and Liverpool were on 58 points, though Paisley’s men had a vastly superior goal difference and a game in hand. The title was in their own hands.
The year 1980 had begun with scandal in football, with United’s Chairman, Louis Edwards, accused in a World in Action documentary of making illegal payments to some of the club’s younger players and shady business dealings. The economy continued to reel from the Conservative government’s economic policies, which led to job cuts and strike action by steelworkers.
Unemployment now stood at a two-year high of 1.5 million, and in Bristol rioting broke out in protest at a police raid on a cafe in the St Pauls area of the city. It resulted in 130 arrests and 19 police officers hospitalised along with six civilians. The simmering tensions that would eventually boil over in towns and cities across the country, including Liverpool, throughout the 1980s had already become evident.
The Reds had just two games remaining, and next up was the visit of Aston Villa on Saturday, May 3, 1980. With the chance to see Liverpool crowned champions for the second year running, a crowd of 51,541 crammed into Anfield.
It was a procession, with the Reds running out 4-1 victors in a game that saw two own goals for each side and a brace by Johnson, including a rare left-footed shot that cannoned off the post and went in. Avi Cohen scored in his own net, before redeeming himself with a strike in the 50th minute. The Kop lapped it all up, and when news filtered through that United had lost 2-0 away to Leeds, the scene was set for jubilant celebration.
Liverpool had won the league with a game to spare, “KOP THAT” declared the Liverpool Echo, and all of football had to bow down before them. They would take their foot off the gas in the final game, going down 1-0 to Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park thanks to a last-minute goal from David Shearer.
It didn’t matter, the twelve times English Champions were in a league of their own, they had become only the third Liverpool team to retain the title, and were about to embark on another decade of incredible success.Liverpool, 1979/80
Manager: Bob Paisley
Captain: Phil Thompson
Top Scorer: David Johnson (27, all competitions)
Most Appearances: Kenny Dalglish, Phil Neal, Phil Thompson (60, all competitions)
Total games: 60
Games won: 35
Games drawn: 15
Games lost: 10
Clean sheets – league: 19
Clean sheets – overall: 27
Total goals: 111
Liverpool minds are already turning toward the weekend and a clash with Leeds United – though there’s still another international to navigate for some, first.New Germany starlet linked with Reds
Karim Adeyemi, know the name? If not, there are a few reasons to make this an obvious Liverpool transfer rumour.
He plays for Salzburg. He’s a young forward with an eye for goal. He’s German. And now he’s newsworthy, after becoming a senior international and getting on the scoresheet during this break.
€20 million is the rated fee – more one to keep an eye on than to expect to follow Taki Minamino’s path to Anfield with any immediacy!Three in midfield
Latest Liverpool FC news
Latest Premier League chat
DISCOUNT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. Get them in the Conference with Spurs.
Man City are selling Champions League tickets on Wowcher, should be kicked out the competition ?????? pic.twitter.com/Ib2v30mR9G
— TLK (@Tlkkltk) September 7, 2021
Tonight’s late games: Austria vs Scotland, Netherlands vs Turkey, Luxembourg vs Qatar. Fair warning, last one’s a friendly, not a qualifier, if that affects your decision.
There were widespread reports through Sunday and Monday of an attempted coup d’etat in the Guinean city of Conakry, where Keita and his team-mates were staying.
Guinea were set to play Morocco in a World Cup qualifier on Monday, but that game was postponed due to safety concerns, with their opponents safely escorted out of the country before the scheduled kickoff.
Liverpool were in direct talks with Keita and authorities regarding the midfielder’s return, but with borders closed there were concerns over when he would be permitted to travel.
Foot224 journalist Thierno Amadou Makadji reported on Monday that Keita had personally booked a 13-seater private jet out of the country for him and his team-mates based overseas.
Air borders were later opened and Makadji provided an update as he claimed that Liverpool, Olympiakos, Toulouse and Clermont Foot 63 were among the clubs to organise a bigger flight for their players.
The flight was due to leave at 1pm (BST), and Makadji shared a number of photos of Keita and his team-mates travelling from their hotel to the airport in Conakry:
From the hotel to the airport, Guinean players on their way to Europe.
Naby Keita (here on the picture) alongside his teammates at Conakry international airport this morning. They are all safe.
Take off : 12h GMT ? pic.twitter.com/KDIwVGeJoF
— Thierno Amadou Makadji (@ThAmadouMakadji) September 7, 2021
Keita is, then, expected to land back in England by Tuesday evening, which is a relief for the player and his club ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leeds.
The 26-year-old had been considered a doubt due to the uncertainty surrounding the situation in Guinea, but could now come in for a starting role at Elland Road.
Harvey Elliott withdrew from the England under-21s squad with a minor injury, and though he is expected to recover in time to take part on Sunday, there is a chance he drops out of the starting lineup.
Moreno spent five years on Merseyside, making 141 appearances, before departing on a free transfer to Villarreal after success in the Champions League final.
However, he was certainly a talented option at left-back, so much so that Liverpool were hoping to keep him at Anfield for close to a decade.
Speaking to El Periodico Mediterraneo, Moreno claimed that he was presented with a new five-year contract in 2018 – but having already dropped to second choice, he opted to see out the remainder of his existing deal.
“In my fifth year I was offered to renew, but for another five years. And I said ‘no’,” he explained.
“I lived many years in England, I have three children and I spoke with my wife and we decided that the best thing was to return to Spain. I just wanted to go back to Spain.”
Moreno added that he felt he “had to get out of there,” referencing “strange things” that happened to him as Klopp turned to a right-footed midfielder in Milner ahead of him.
If the 29-year-old had signed the contract offered, he would still be at Anfield with two years remaining, and in all likelihood, Kostas Tsimikas would not have been signed.
While it could be questioned whether Moreno is telling the exact truth, his claim certainly checks out given reports back from 2018, when it was explained that he had opted out of talks with the Reds.
Barcelona, Aston Villa, Lazio, Marseille, Zenit St Petersburg, Sevilla and Real Sociedad were all credited with an interest but Moreno says Villarreal made the most persuasive pitch.
He has suffered injury problems during his time back in Spain, but he has played 32 times for the club over the past two years and is regarded as a valuable member of the squad.
There is no ill feeling between Moreno and Liverpool, of course, as he remains an ardent supporter of his old side, and his comments open up a minor ‘what could have been’ scenario.
Van den Berg spent the second half of last season on loan with North End, making 16 appearances in a spell impacted by a change in manager.
The young Dutchman impressed enough to earn a second stint at Deepdale, turning down interest from elsewhere to spend a full campaign with Preston in the Championship.
It is going well so far, despite Van den Berg playing away from his natural centre-back role as he fills in as a right wing-back, and the 19-year-old has earned a call-up to the Netherlands under-21s squad.
Things may not have progressed so quickly if he had remained on Merseyside for pre-season, as Liverpool had planned, with the teenager telling NOS how Van Dijk helped in his decision to return to Preston.
“They were satisfied then, and hopefully even more after this year,” he explained.
“Actually, the plan was to participate in preparations with the Liverpool first team this season, but I thought it was best to be loaned out for another year.
“I quickly noticed what big steps you can take in six months of Championship [football]. So I thought: if I play there for another year, I really have a chance at Liverpool.
“[Van Dijk and I] talked for a while. He asked me how I thought it went at Preston and told me that he thought it was a good choice, because making minutes is so important.
“Who knows, I may be next to him next season. You should always keep dreaming.”
It would be a stretch to expect Van den Berg to return and challenge the likes of Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate for a first-team spot, but there will be a plan in place in the years following his £1.3 million switch from PEC Zwolle.
But looking back, he feels he has grown not only in stature, but also character and confidence on the pitch in the two years since.
“If I only see those photos from two years ago…then I was very small and slender,” Van den Berg continued.
“I was 17, still living with my parents and my mother did everything for me at that time.”
He is assured that his time in the Championship has boosted his development, with the physicality of the English second tier something he was unable to learn in the Eredivisie.
“[It is] fighting, fighting, fast pace, up and down, physically demanding,” he added.
“It is precisely in those areas that my biggest point for improvement lies. Playing football, you learn that at the Dutch football school, but fighting, I really learn that now.”
Just another quiet week of Liverpool non-action then: players injured, blocked from leaving countries, blocked from entering countries and kids with more caps than club games. Love international week, eh?Salah mega-money contract talks dismissed
Scare tactics, agents’ talk or media speculation? You decide – but over the weekend there was one claim Mo Salah wanted half a million a week for a new Liverpool contract – a rise of 2.5x his current deal.
Thankfully for the copper-counters at the club, more local reports deny that’s anywhere near what our goalscoring phenomenon is looking for – though it’s still likely he’ll be a record-breaking earner.
Talks are pressing ahead, and Salah’s contract is a “priority” after a host of team-mates have been signed up this summer.
Give him a nice goal bonus!Injuries and international woes continue
Latest Liverpool FC news
Latest Premier League chat
A football, rather than Liverpool, opinion…but an absolutely correct one. The drivel that comes out of this ex-player’s mouth and mind…
Jamie O’Hara is TalkSPORT’s dream employee. He comes out with absolute garbage every time he’s put in front of a microphone and backs it with his chest daily.
They couldn’t have wished for a better outrage generator if they’d tried to breed one in a test tube.
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) September 6, 2021
You are henceforth invited to watch Ivory Coast vs Cameroon at 8pm. Neither Drogba nor Eto’o will be playing.
Portugal, Spain and Italy is a pretty ideal set of countries to visit after the Reds were drawn against FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and AC Milan, but UEFA hadn’t allowed away fans at the qualifiers earlier this summer.
A decision has now been made, though, to allow away fans from the group stage onwards, meaning Liverpool fans will get the chance to visit the iconic San Siro for the first time since 2008 and possibly the last time with the famous stadium destined for demolition.
In a statement by Football Supporters Europe (FSE), it was confirmed that UEFA would allow supporters to attend away games in club and international competitions within their jurisdiction from next week.
It is stressed that local restrictions and travel requirements still apply, so those planning to follow Liverpool through Group B this season are advised to follow all guidelines before travelling.
FSE explain that clubs and national associations have already been informed, with an official statement from UEFA to come in due course.
The Reds kick off their Champions League campaign at home to Milan on September 15, with UEFA giving fans of the Italian club just over a week to make provisions for the trip.
Liverpool‘s first away game of the competition is at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao on September 28, with the trips to Madrid (October 19) and Milan (December 7) to follow.
Minamino was confirmed as having left Japan early on Saturday, having sat out of their 1-0 defeat to Oman last week.
The 26-year-old has been credited with a thigh injury, though the severity of the issue remains to be seen as he returns to Merseyside for further assessment.
With Harvey Elliott joining the likes of Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Neco Williams on the injury list, concerns have already been raised over the Reds’ options ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leeds.
The Athletic‘s James Pearce has provided good news on Elliott, reporting that his withdrawal from the England under-21s squad is a “precautionary measure” and that “the hope is that he will recover in time to feature.”
However, Pearce cast doubt over Minamino’s involvement, writing that he is “more of a concern ahead of the weekend.”
The injury is simply described as a “muscle problem,” but Pearce stressed on Twitter that the issue is “not serious,” allaying fears of a long-term layoff.
It seems that Minamino will almost certainly miss the Leeds game, and there is a likelihood he will also be ruled out of the Champions League opener at home to AC Milan given it is only three days later.
In Firmino’s absence – with the striker also expected to miss the clashes with Leeds, Milan and possibly Crystal Palace – Minamino would have been considered the fourth-choice forward.
Despite Minamino’s perceived rise in status, though, it is worth noting that he was unused in each of the opening three games of the campaign, failing to come off the bench against Norwich, Burnley and Chelsea.
He made five appearances throughout pre-season, scoring three goals and setting up another.
Gareth Southgate admits Trent Alexander-Arnold was “happier” at right-back as England thrashed Andorra 4-0, but insisted he hadn’t “lost anything” in midfield.
A brace from Jesse Lingard and goals from Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka sealed a convincing victory at Wembley, as both Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson played the full 90 minutes.
When England released their teamsheet ahead of kickoff, it was confirmed that Alexander-Arnold would deviate from his natural right-back role as he joined Henderson and Jude Bellingham in a three-man midfield.
The 22-year-old only lasted 45 minutes in the role before Reece James swapped positions, and Liverpool‘s No. 66 was much more effective after the break.
And speaking in his post-match press conference, Southgate explained the plan behind using Alexander-Arnold in midfield.
“We wanted to have a look at playing him in a slightly more advanced role,” the England manager told reporters.
“We know he’s just got outstanding quality with the ball, and of course, he finds himself in those positions with Liverpool.
“But what was clear in the first half was there wasn’t a lot of space, and to find yourself in those positions, coming onto those positions, is different to starting in those positions.
“I don’t think we lost anything by having a look at it.
“We felt that at half-time we could actually get more from Trent, more from Reece and more from Hendo by rotating those three, and actually they started the second half well.”
After a journalist pointed out Alexander-Arnold’s improvement after moving back to right-back, Southgate seemed to agree.
However, he stressed that “we wanted to see something,” with it clearly an experiment that failed to provide the conclusion he and his staff had hoped for.
“I think that’s inevitable given how much of his football he’s played at right-back, and how much he will play at right-back,” he added.
“I just think we wanted to see something and we felt this was a good game to look at it.
“Clearly, in the second half he’s in more of those positions where he felt more comfortable – even though a lot of the times they were the same positions he was in in the first half, but just he’s coming onto things.
“He looked happier in that position, that was clear. His play with the ball exhibited that happiness, if you like.”