Thomas Tuchel admits seeking Jurgen Klopp advice before Blues move ahead of reunion


Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he sought advice from Jurgen Klopp before making the move to the Premier League.

The Chelsea boss succeeded his compatriot at Borussia Dortmund back in 2015.

He and Klopp have since met on several occasions in European competitions.

They will now meet in England’s top flight for the first time with Tuchel admitting he discussed the league with Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

That meant that when Chelsea came calling he was primed and ready to take up their offer.

Klopp and Guardiola have won the league during their time in England and the Blues boss believes their teams are “the benchmark”.



Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp will renew acquaintances on Thursday

Chelsea and Liverpool are embroiled in a battle for the top four this term and a win for the Blues would see them move four points clear of the outgoing champions.

“No, it was pretty clear what I expected from the Premier League,” he said.

“I mean, I was talking to him and talking to Pep regularly and got their feelings about it when we would meet when I was the coach in Dortmund and in Paris and we’d meet in the Champions League or at [Uefa] coach’s meetings.

“The feedback was always pretty clear and so I stepped into this adventure without his advice.



The now Chelsea boss and Pep Guardiola were in the Bundesliga together
The now Chelsea boss and Pep Guardiola were in the Bundesliga together

“If I called him I hoped he would have called me back, because he does not want to play against me but I’m not sure! No, I’m just joking!

“It’s nice to meet him, it’s always nice to meet him. It’s super hard to play against him and his teams.

“For me Liverpool with Jurgen and Manchester City with Pep are the two teams who are the benchmark, the teams we have to close the gap to.

“This is our target and we are fighting hard for this. And I don’t feel like I fight alone. I have a strong club behind me, and a strong team at my side, so it feels good.”



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RB Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool: Reds defied expectation, says Klopp after Salah and Mane secure win


Salah’s goal was his seventh in seven games and takes him to 24 for the season – one more than he managed last campaign

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says his side defied many people’s expectations with their first-leg victory over RB Leipzig in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane struck in the space of five minutes near the start of the second half in an away leg played in Budapest’s Puskas Arena because of Covid-19 restrictions.

It came after the Reds had fallen to three straight defeats in the Premier League – results that have led Klopp to concede defeat in their defence of the English top-flight title.

But Tuesday’s display was far more like the dominant side of last season, with their greater experience and quality ultimately telling against an error-prone German side.

“A lot of people probably expected us to slip again because of the situation, and the boys didn’t and I’m really happy about that,” Klopp told BT Sport.

“It was the game we wanted, the game we needed. Leipzig can be a real monster – they overrun teams, they are really physical and tonight we controlled them in an exceptional way.

“For two years we’ve been really good and this year we have some problems. It’s normal that the talks start – I have no problem with that. But the boys showed what they can do.”

Liverpool had largely dominated possession and created the better chances before the break but two defensive errors and two neat finishes swung the game and the tie their way.

Salah showed superb awareness to quickly latch on to a loose back-pass before finishing neatly.

Mane was then equally alert to take advantage of a fluffed attempted clearance from Nordi Mukiele to charge through and side-foot past Peter Gulacsi.

However, they had been fortunate not to fall behind inside five minutes when Dani Olmo’s header from an Angelino cross struck the base of the post.

Having managed the game well after going 2-0 up, Klopp’s side will defend their advantage at Anfield on 10 March, when they will be firm favourites to go one round further than they managed last season.

Liverpool take first step on road to recovery

In the gap between their final group game and this, Liverpool’s season has imploded somewhat. Their long unbeaten domestic home record has come to an end, as has their challenge for this season’s FA Cup, and their last three league matches have ended in defeat – leading Klopp to wave the white flag on their title defence.

Tuesday night, though, was a much-needed reminder of the qualities that drove them to that league win and the Champions League trophy the season before it.

Having survived Olmo’s early header, they grew into the game, wresting control away from Leipzig before shellshocking opponents who reached the semi-finals of this competition last year, saw off Manchester United in this season’s group stage and currently sit second in the Bundesliga.

The game was billed as master versus apprentice, one of Germany’s finest managerial exports of the modern era in Klopp up against the country’s – possibly the continent’s – brightest young thing in Julian Nagelsmann.

It showcased a shared DNA between two sides intent on playing on the front foot in enemy territory. Players charged forward when they had the ball and harried in a high press when they did not. Fire fought with fire.

It made for a frenetic and fascinating spectacle, which tested even the most lauded of defenders and forced them into errors, chief among them Bayern Munich-bound Dayot Upamecano, who repeatedly gave the ball away as Mane and Salah buzzed around him.

Despite having the better of the first half, applying the more consistent pressure and producing the greater number of chances, Klopp’s side were unable to get their noses in front.

In the space of 30 seconds, Salah saw an effort blocked by Gulacsi after he had darted in behind the Leipzig defence before Roberto Firmino fired into the side-netting from an angle.

Mane headed over another opportunity, Robertson was inches away from the beating the back-peddling Gulacsi with an effort from near halfway and Firmino had the ball in the net but only after the ball had gone out of play before being hooked back into the middle.

However, these were all forgotten before the hour mark was reached as the German side snapped and Salah and Mane took advantage.

Leipzig never fully recovered, their only real chance of salvaging anything to take to Merseyside being a shot from an angle that substitute Hwang Hee-chan pulled wide in added time.

It represents a big foot forward towards the quarter-finals for the Reds and a first step on the road to potentially reigniting their flagging season.

Klopp’s side leads the way for clean sheets – the stats

  • Since Jurgen Klopp took charge of his first Champions League match at Liverpool in September 2017, the Reds have registered more clean sheets in the competition than any other side (18).
  • RB Leipzig have managed only two clean sheets in their 11 home Champions League matches (W6 D2 L3) though this is their first such defeat since October 2019 against Lyon.
  • Among all players within the top five European leagues this season, only Robert Lewandowski (30) has scored more goals in all competitions than Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (24).
  • Salah has scored 24 goals in 34 matches in all competitions this season, surpassing his tally for the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign, in which he netted 23 times in 48 appearances.
  • In Curtis Jones and Ozan Kabak (both 20), Liverpool named two players under the age of 21 in their starting XI for an Champions League knockout stage game for the second time, also doing so v Juventus in April 2005 (Scott Carson and Anthony le Tallec).
  • Liverpool midfielder Thiago has now enjoyed a win in each of his past 11 Champions League appearances, the joint-longest run of wins by a Spaniard in the history of the competition alongside Javi Martinez (November 2020) and Dani Carvajal (April 2018).
  • In what was his 114th appearance for Liverpool in all competitions, Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson registered his 50th clean sheet for the Reds, with only Jan Oblak (59) and Ederson (64) managing more among goalkeepers within the top five European leagues since he joined the Reds in 2018-19.
  • English sides have now won each of their four European Cup/Champions League encounters to be played in Hungary, with Leeds United (in 1969 & 1974) and Liverpool (in 2009 and 2021) winning twice each.
  • RB Leipzig against Liverpool was the first European Cup/Champions League knockout match to be played in Hungary in just under 30 years, since Budapest Honved beat Sampdoria 2-1 in the last 16 of the 1991-92 competition.

Player of the match

Mohamed SalahMohamed Salah

RB Leipzig

  1. Squad number3Player nameAngelino

  2. Squad number11Player nameHwang Hee-Chan

  3. Squad number1Player nameGulácsi

  4. Squad number25Player nameOlmo

  5. Squad number18Player nameNkunku

  6. Squad number7Player nameSabitzer

  7. Squad number14Player nameAdams

  8. Squad number44Player nameKampl

  9. Squad number8Player nameHaidara

  10. Squad number16Player nameKlostermann

  11. Squad number22Player nameMukiele

  12. Squad number9Player namePoulsen

  13. Squad number5Player nameUpamecano

  14. Squad number4Player nameOrban

Line-ups

RB Leipzig

Formation 3-1-4-2

  • 1Gulácsi
  • 22MukieleBooked at 6minsSubstituted forOrbanat 64′minutes
  • 5Upamecano
  • 16Klostermann
  • 44KamplSubstituted forHwang Hee-Chanat 73′minutes
  • 14Adams
  • 8HaidaraBooked at 5minsSubstituted forPoulsenat 64′minutes
  • 7Sabitzer
  • 3AngelinoBooked at 65mins
  • 25OlmoBooked at 76mins
  • 18NkunkuBooked at 52mins

Substitutes

  • 4Orban
  • 6Konaté
  • 9Poulsen
  • 11Hwang Hee-Chan
  • 19Sørloth
  • 20Samardzic
  • 21Kluivert
  • 23Halstenberg
  • 33Martínez
  • 35Hartmann
  • 39Henrichs

Liverpool

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 19KabakBooked at 68mins
  • 14HendersonBooked at 81mins
  • 26Robertson
  • 17Jones
  • 5Wijnaldum
  • 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 72′minutes
  • 11SalahSubstituted forN Williamsat 90′minutes
  • 9FirminoSubstituted forShaqiriat 72′minutes
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 13Adrián
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 21Tsimikas
  • 23Shaqiri
  • 27Origi
  • 28Davies
  • 46R Williams
  • 47Phillips
  • 62Kelleher
  • 64Cain
  • 65Clarkson
  • 76N Williams

Live Text

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp spots “clear” issue with VAR decision on James Maddison goal


Jurgen Klopp took aim at VAR after a narrow onside call saw Leicester equalise and sparked Liverpool’s collapse at the King Power.

The Reds had the lead heading into the final 15 minutes courtesy of Mohamed Salah’s opener, but three quick-fire goals saw Leicester turn the game on its head.

James Maddison pulled one back from a powerful free kick which hung low, before Jamie Vardy capitalised on a coming together between Alisson and Ozan Kabak to give the Foxes the lead.

Harvey Barnes punished Liverpool’s lacklustre defending to add a third in the closing stages, but it was Maddison’s goal which irked Klopp.



Klopp pointed out what he perceived as a “clear” VAR error

VAR drew lines to determine no Foxes player was in an offside position and obstructing Alisson’s vision as Maddison’s free kick fizzed in from a tight angle.

But Klopp claimed the VAR check was examining a moment before Maddison had struck the set piece, telling BT Sport : “We conceded a goal, which is a really tough one to take.

“I know we discuss a lot about VAR but I think we all agree it was a turning point in the game.

“I saw it now a couple of times, the goal and the moment when they stop the situation where you look who is offside, who is not offside, he didn’t even touch the ball yet.



Vardy put Leicester ahead minutes after Maddison's equaliser
Vardy put Leicester ahead minutes after Maddison’s equaliser



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“So it means it’s still an individual decision of someone who makes it in the end, who is offside and who is not offside.

“That’s really hard because, for me, it looks like a clear offside in that moment because he has to touch the ball, that’s the moment when the offside is yes or no.

“When I saw it now, Bobby’s foot should be a little bit closer than whatever they throw in there. That was it, it was a turning point.

“The second goal is a misunderstanding which we spoke about before, we said we need to get used to each other.



Klopp insisted Liverpool were the "clear dominant side"
Klopp insisted Liverpool were the “clear dominant side”

Were Liverpool on the receiving end of a poor VAR decision? Have your say in the comments.

“We were used to each other until I don’t know when the goal happened, 75 minutes or so.

“It was a really, really good football game. They were one position ahead of us, maybe now more, I don’t know, but on the pitch that was not obvious.

“We were the clear dominant side. We played the football we wanted to play, we avoided their counter-attacks, we did pretty much everything we had to do.

“We scored a really nice goal, had more chances but that’s normal. We have to work harder in our situation to create more chances to get more goals.

“But the game was really good then you concede these two goals, and the third one obviously lose the ball too easy and one pass, they are done.

“That’s something I don’t like because we were obviously much too open in that moment. I told the boys already that’s not OK.

“But that’s the situation we are in.”

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Brighton defeat Liverpool, Premier League results, Jurgen Klopp


Brighton condemned Liverpool to their second straight Premier League home defeat on Wednesday, winning 1-0 to leave the champions with a mountain to climb if they are going to retain their title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men appeared to have turned the corner with impressive victories at Tottenham and West Ham after a five-match winless run.

But defeat to lowly Brighton at Anfield leaves them in fourth place, seven points behind leaders Manchester City, who also have a game in hand and look increasingly likely to win their third title in four years.

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Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League was ended by Burnley last month and they have now lost consecutive league games at Anfield for the first time since 2012.

Troublingly for Klopp, his side have failed to score in three consecutive home league games for the first time since 1984.

Graham Potter’s men executed their game plan to perfection, snuffing out Liverpool’s dangermen and offering a threat up front.

The only goal of the game came in the 56th minute courtesy of a Steven Alzate strike.

Klopp, who must prepare his team for the daunting task of facing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Sunday, said his team were not mentally fresh.

“The only explanation now is that we are a fatigued team, mentally more or less,” he told BT Sport. “That leads to not the maximum freshness in your legs.

“We had our moments but they deserved to win.”

He added: “The only thing we can do is use the things that happen and learn from them. The solution is always the players. It has been a tough week and tonight it was not enough. City are flying and we have to find solutions.”

DEFENSIVE CRISIS

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was again drafted into central defence in the absence of any of the club’s senior centre-backs, with new signing Ben Davies on the substitutes’ bench.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker was absent due to illness, meaning Caoimhin Kelleher made only his second Premier League appearance, and forward Sadio Mane was also missing.

Liverpool enjoyed the bulk of possession in the early stages but in-form Brighton were organised at the back and pushed forward when they could.

Mohamed Salah had a golden chance to give Liverpool the lead in the opening minutes when he collected a long ball from Henderson but put his shot over the bar.

Salah offered an occasional threat down the right but Liverpool looked short of ideas in the final third when faced with the massed blue shirts of Brighton.

READ MORE: Insta influencer’s bizarre nude tribute

The in-form visitors had a chance to take the lead midway through the first half when the ball fell to Dan Burn after Neal Maupay’s shot was blocked but he skied over from close range.

Klopp’s men went in at halftime having failed to muster a single shot on goal. The second half shaped up like the first, with Liverpool probing but looking short of inspiration.

Instead it was Brighton who took the lead with the game’s first shot on target. Burn, on the left side of the Liverpool area, headed a cross-field ball back across goal and Alzate combined with Leandro Trossard to steer the ball into the net.

Klopp threw on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi for Georginio Wijnaldum and Xherdan Shaqiri as he sought a way back into the match.

Salah flashed a left-footed shot over after Trent Alexander-Arnold fizzed a ball across the area and Adam Webster produced a superb, muscular challenge to stop the Egypt forward in his tracks.

But Brighton were still threatening at the other end. Kelleher saved smartly from Pascal Gross and Trossard also forced a save.

The result lifts Brighton to 15th in the table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

“It’s not an easy place to get points,” said Potter. “They’re a top team. We’re just trying our best in this league.

“Every game we face a huge task. It’s one for the supporters and everyone involved in the club. It’s not often a club like us come here and win.”

— AFP

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Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool unlikely to sign centre-back, says manager


Virgil van Dijk damaged anterior cruciate ligaments in a challenge with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 Premier League draw on 17 October

Jurgen Klopp said it is unlikely Liverpool will sign a centre-back in January because of the economic issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Defenders Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are out long term and Joel Matip has endured several injuries since joining in 2016.

The Reds manager said: “There might be some clubs with no financial problems.

“But this club was, and always will be with these owners, very responsible with the things we do.”

Liverpool still lead the Premier League but have stuttered in recent games, taking only two points from their past three matches.

They are due to face Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round on Friday but their opponents are dealing with a “significant” coronavirus outbreak at the club.

On the possibility of signing a centre-back, Klopp added: “I cannot say definitely we will not bring one in but it is just not likely because of the situation in the world.

“If the world would be in a normal place, everything would be fine: we won the league, won the Champions League, the club is in the best possible situation and then you have three senior centre-halves injured, is that a situation when you would usually do something?

“Yes, definitely, but we are not in that situation. I don’t know if something will happen or not.

“You maybe could do something but it would be a short-term solution and we don’t have that short-term solution and that is not right because it doesn’t help.”

Klopp has been using defensive midfielder Fabinho in the backline alongside 19-year-old Rhys Williams, with both inexperienced 23-year-old Nathaniel Phillips and midfielder and captain Jordan Henderson also utilised.

The champions lead the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester United, but have 16 fewer points than they did at this stage last season.

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Jamie Carragher hints Jurgen Klopp selection could cause disharmony in Liverpool squad


Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher admits that Jurgen Klopp’s recent team selections could cause disharmony amongst his squad.

The Reds suffered only their second defeat of the season on Monday night against Southampton as Danny Ings’ strike was all that separated the two sides.

The result means Liverpool could be leapfrogged by Manchester United at the top of the table if the Red Devils win their game in hand.

Their plight has not been helped by the injuries to star centre-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

But Sky Sports pundit Carragher insists that playing Jordan Henderson when Klopp has two genuine, younger options available was a bad call.



Jordan Henderson was picked at centre-back for the 1-0 loss to Southampton

“It’s almost like having a goalkeeper you don’t fully trust. Forget Van Dijk and Joe Gomes, they’re out,” he said.

“I think No.1 it’s imperative Liverpool sign someone in January – that’s obvious, I’m not saying anything different.

“But I think the fact they played Jordan Henderson tonight at centre-back it’s not going to do a lot for the two lads [Nathanial Phillips and Rhys Williams] on the bench confidence wise so if he goes back to them how do they feel if there’s two midfield players playing there.



Jamie Carragher has given his verdict on Steven Gerrard taking over from Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool
Jamie Carragher thought it was a bad call from Jurgen Klopp

“That tells me they’re not going to be feeling great if they go back in. Jordan Henderson’s not a centre-back. He found it tough today. He done OK, done well considering it’s not his position.

“I can’t see Liverpool winning the league if they don’t bring in a centre-back and I said that on the back Everton vs Liverpool with Van Dijk out. It’s going to be very difficult.

“I still think Liverpool have enough quality to go for the title but I think it’s a really tough ask.”



Danny Ings’ goal won the game for Southampton

Carragher also compared Liverpool’s performance to that of the struggling Arsenal team which lost 2-0 to Tottenham in December.

“Jordan Henderson then just mentioned that he felt Liverpool should have got something out of the game, they played well in second half,” he added. “I don’t agree with that.

“When you actually look at the stats there you say ‘Liverpool are much better than Southampton’ but we had this argument a few weeks ago when we were talking about Arsenal vs Spurs. The stats for Arsenal compared to Spurs.



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“When a team score the early goal the onus is on the team who are behind to do something to get back into the game.

:Naturally a team drop off. They’re not too bothered about possession. It’s up to Liverpool to get on the ball. But the biggest thing when you’re in that situation is not having more possession, you’re always going to have more possession when you’re losing.

“It always happens. It’s what you do with the possession. You said one shot on target. I can’t think of chance where I thought ‘how’s he missed that’ for a Liverpool player. Or the keeper’s made a great save.”



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Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss says ‘other teams would get a penalty’ at Southampton


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp felt his side were denied a clear penalty in Monday’s Premier League defeat at Southampton and said other teams would have been awarded one.

As the Reds searched for an equaliser in the second half, Georginio Wijnaldum had a shot blocked by the hand of Jack Stephens, while forward Sadio Mane went down under a challenge from Kyle Walker-Peters.

Danny Ings’ second-minute goal ended up being enough to earn the Saints all three points, and leaders Liverpool can now be leapfrogged by both second-placed Manchester United and Manchester City, who are fifth, if they win their games in hand.

“[The handball] looked like a clear penalty,” Klopp said. “I turned to the fourth official, he said: ‘We checked already, no penalty.’

“What [referee] Andre Marriner did with Sadio Mane tonight, I’m not sure that’s OK, to be honest.”

Klopp added: “I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five and a half years. I’ve no idea if that’s my fault, or how that can happen.

“But it’s no excuse for the performance. We cannot change it, we have to respect the decisions. But we can change our performance. That’s our focus now.”

32Manchester United
24Leicester City
18Manchester City
17Liverpool
Premier League matches only

Klopp was frustrated by his side’s lack of cutting edge after former Reds striker Ings’ early goal – a fine lob over keeper Alisson following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s failure to deal with a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.

And the manager felt that at least one of his side’s penalty shouts should have been given.

The German told Sky Sports: “The best situations we had were with Sadio having the ball at his feet.

“For anyone to say he is a diver is the biggest joke in the world. He tries to stay on his feet. He had two situations where other teams would get a penalty for it.

“The handball – I don’t know who will explain that to me. In these situations we were unfortunate.”

Liverpool face a resurgent Manchester United in their next league match on Sunday, 17 January. United will be ahead of the Anfield side by then if they are not beaten at Burnley on 12 January.

Liverpool stay on top of the league but Manchester United now have a game in hand

Where have the goals gone?

Liverpool have now failed to score in 258 minutes of league action – and Klopp’s side managed just one tame shot on target at St Mary’s.

The reigning champions have netted with one of 41 efforts against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton.

“These are our problems,” Klopp said. “Yes, we are worried about that, but football problems you solve with football and that’s what we are working on.

“We know about the situation. We are not silly and we have to show a reaction – 100%.”

‘I’m not crying – it’s the wind!’

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was hugely emotional at the final whistle, sinking to his knees on the sideline as he celebrated three points which lifted his team back into the top six.

The Austrian has transformed the club since arriving two years ago and was proud of his side’s “perfect” night.

“There were tears in my eyes – but because of the wind!” he told BBC Sport.

“When you see our guys fighting with everything they have it makes me really proud. You need to have the perfect game against Liverpool and I think we did have that.

“It was an intense game; my voice is nearly gone. The guys are tired, you have to be to win against such a team. The guys believed in what they were doing.

“In the 92nd minute I though: ‘OK, it can be something for us.’ It’s a perfect evening.”

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Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp keeps feet firmly on ground amid coronavirus chaos


Mask up you bastards!

NRL 1, Boofheads 0

Goodness!

There was so much pearl-clutching going on over the new NRL Simply the Best ad in February it was hard to keep up. As you know, 30 years ago that ad, featuring Tina Turner singing her anthemic song spliced with footage of the game and the game’s best-loved characters, was so good it became the gold standard of global sports ads.

This year the idea was to re-release the same song, spliced with some of the best footage of the last 30 years, all with a different narrative. Roll tape, please maestro.

Here come the strains of the anthem, and now the action, as what purports to be the young Cameron Smith watches the original ad on a television in his living room, football in hand, before charging out to play footy in his backyard and to dream of a rugby league future for himself.

And now action aplenty from the last three decades. The Benji Marshall behind-the-back pass. The Darren Albert try to win the 1997 grand final for Newcastle. Brad Fittler being congratulated after a try. Cameron Smith living the dream. Raiders fans doing the Viking clap. Some Johnathan Thurston magic. The Macklemore song in 2017, th …

WAIT!

What the hell’s Macklemore doing there? He didn’t play rugby league! He just sang his own anthem to marriage equality at the 2017 grand final. Yup. It was a brave move by Todd Greenberg to give that the go-ahead at the time, but it paid off many times over. If anything, ever, made the statement that the game has grown from being a mere parish pump game of big boofy blokes running into each other into a sophisticated and seriously professional game that wants and deserves the support of everyone, then it was that moment. And so Macklemore’s not worth a second’s footage in a two minute ad? Please! Ditto all the other things that drew flak.

Mention of the Super League war, and the Souths fans marching in the streets to ensure their club’s survival. What’s not to celebrate? That was the most almighty sporting ruckus there ever was, but the game was so strong it survived. And Souths fought back from near extinction to be the toast of the league.

Latrell Mitchell draped in the Aboriginal flag? Fabulous!

In the move to Indigenous justice in this country, rugby league is not the poor slob up the back who simply has no clue we are in the 21st century, it is helping to lead the way. They are ahead of the curve, and Mitchell is emblematic of that. What’s not to celebrate? (Unless of course, you are one of the poor slobs up the back that just doesn’t get it.)

Double ditto the famous kiss between Karina Brown (Queensland) and Vanessa Foliaki (NSW) after an Origin game. Some of the blokes at the bowlo didn’t like it. Who cares? Women playing Origin was as unthinkable 30 years ago as it was that opposing players might not only be lovers but be proud of it. But that is how far the country and rugby league has come. When you put together the 10 most iconic moments of league in the last 10 years – a moment that brought the attention of people far beyond the usual league market – in whose universe does that not make the cut?

After all, what is the aim of advertising? I say it is to bring in new customers, those who live around the margins of the products on display, who might be tempted to come over and give it a go.

Vanessa Foliaki and Karina Brown kiss after Origin in 2018.Credit:NRL Photos

So yes, a red-meat, hairy-chested, white-bread ad might have received a hearty tick of approval from the red-meat, hairy-chested, white-bread mob. But so what? They are already the rugby league heartland. The joy of the game in recent times has been to embrace diversity and inclusion, and it has reaped the rewards accordingly and grown because of it.

This is what the critics don’t get, that the professionals do: diversify and include, or wither and die. It is as simple as that.

My erstwhile colleague Steve Mascord put it beautifully, for rugbyleaguehub.com. “The new NRL commercial seems to upset the same people who get annoyed by Greta Thunberg,” he wrote. “The young environmentalist does seem to trigger her critics in ways that are not entirely logical. It seems as annoying to them that others listen to Thunberg as it is that they disagree with the substance of what Thunberg actually does and says.

“If there are triggers in the NRL ad, then they might be: the ‘Love Is Love’ pro-LGBT+ message, the prominence of the Aboriginal flag, women’s sport … have I missed any? If referencing these issues is divisive, I know what side of that particular divide I’d like to be on.”

Exactly. History will vote that the NRL got its positions on these matters right, and it will get a larger slab of the future because of it. But give them one last burst, Steve Mascord, if you would. “If the ad leaves you cold, chances are you’ll be cold and six-foot deep a lot sooner than those who like it.”

It certainly won’t be the young girl we see at the end of the ad, watching Cameron Smith play, before charging out into her backyard, football in hand, to dream of her rugby league future.
Simply the best!

What they said

Kerry O’Keeffe, commentating on Fox, as India collapsed for 36 in Adelaide before losing the first Test: “There hasn’t been a Greek wedding this year with more Nicks in it than the Indian batters.”

Rooster Jake Friend, in March, on the team replacing high-fives and handshakes as a method of preventing the spread of coronavirus: “We fist-bump and then we go and wrestle each other all sweaty after that.”

NBA statement as it shut down the entire competition in mid-March, because of coronavirus: “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.” The National Hockey League followed suit the next day.

Shane Warne.

Shane Warne.Credit:AAP

Shane Warne was not a fan of Scott Morrison’s leadership: “Listening to the PM like everyone here in Australia and what I understood was, ‘It’s essential, unless it’s not. Then it’s essentially not essential. I can’t be clearer’. Plus people can buy a new shirt at a shopping centre? WTF? PM just had a shocker. Surely should be in lockdown now.”

Andrew Bogut on the anthem and the flag: “We can piss off the Union Jack, for starters. Tweaking a few lines of the anthem? I have no issue with that … What I’m all for is a new flag. Having an Indigenous component to our flag part is important, in my eyes. I’d definitely support that.”

Simone Higgins, wife of John, on the former Rooster suing the NRL for brain damage he alleges came from repeated concussions: “I mean it when I say I love John, but I’m grieving the loss of the life that I thought we were going to have together. I wouldn’t be anywhere but to look after him. But in one way I feel we’ve been robbed of what we should be doing at our age. John pretty much has to have a full-time carer. He’s 62 can’t be left at home alone for any length of time.”

Adam Goodes, in The Guardian, on the racial vilification he endured at the hands of AFL fans: “Being booed for two years was tough. In the first year, 2014, the Swans finished top of the table. That was my FU to the booing. I walked off with my head held high. We then got absolutely smashed by Hawthorn in the grand final. The vilification from the Hawthorn supporters was really bad.”

Manager of David Warner, James Erskine, thinks Malcolm Turnbull was to blame for all the hysteria about Sandpapergate: “One, Malcolm Turnbull, who in fairness knows bugger all about sport, jumped up and down like a pork chop and said it was a disgrace and wanted answers.” Nup, James. He spoke for us all

Team of the year

The Australian women’s T20 cricket team. An amazing crowd of 86,174 came to watch the final against India at the MCG, where the hosts were crowned world champions days before the Plague hit.

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Cameron Smith. Captained the Storm to victory in the NRL grand final, while whole tankers of printers’ ink were expended on whether he would retire. That was two months ago, and there is still no word.

Lewis Hamilton. Broke Michael Schumacher’s record for number of Formula One wins, on his way to his seventh world championship.

Todd Greenberg. Resigned from running the NRL in April after a successful stint.

Peter V’landys. I did not always agree with him but he was the most influential figure in sport in 2020.

Andy Marinos. Was announced this week as the new CEO of Rugby Australia. It means Australia now has South Africans running rugby, rugby league and tennis.

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Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss says Fabinho’s injury is a ‘shock for the team’


Fabinho has played in nine league and cup matches for Liverpool this season

Fabinho’s injury is “exactly the last thing we needed”, said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp after seeing the club’s defensive problems mount during the Champions League win over Midtjylland.

The Brazilian joined Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip on the sidelines after pulling up with a hamstring injury during the 2-0 Group D win at Anfield.

Midfielder Fabinho has been filling in for Van Dijk in the centre of defence since the Netherlands international suffered a serious knee injury in the Merseyside derby against Everton on 17 October.

“He felt his hamstring, and that’s not good,” said Klopp when asked about Fabinho’s injury after the Reds went two points clear at the top of Group D.

“He said he could have played on but no sprints, which doesn’t help. We will see, we will know more after a scan but clearly it isn’t good.”

Nineteen-year-old Rhys Williams, who was on loan at National League North Kidderminster Harriers in the sixth-tier of English football last season, was sent on to partner Joe Gomez at the back.

“We’re doing really well but it’s a shock for a team because now we have to sort that injury,” added Klopp.

What are Klopp’s centre-back options?

With games coming thick and fast, Liverpool’s options are stretched to the limit in terms of fit and experienced centre-backs.

Already resigned to being without the influential Van Dijk for the majority of the season, Klopp has yet to welcome Matip back to training since he suffered a muscle injury in the Merseyside derby.

Asked if Matip might be fit for Saturday’s 17:30 GMT home game with West Ham, Klopp said: “I don’t know. We have to see.

“If it was one game at the end of the season, we could probably make one or the other play. But we have a game three days later. The players need a proper build-up.”

Klopp mentioned 23-year-old Nathaniel Phillips in his post-match news conference.

Phillips made his first-team debut on 5 January 2020 in an FA Cup third round match against Everton before re-joining Stuttgart on loan until the end of the season.

“We have very young and inexperienced alternatives, and in the moment it looks like we have to choose one of them,” added Klopp.

“But Rhys played a really good game.”

Who is Rhys Williams?

Williams was handed his first-team debut when he partnered Van Dijk in the 7-2 win over Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup on 24 September.

Born in Preston, the England youth international signed his first professional contract with Liverpool in February 2019.

Gary O’Neil, assistant coach of Liverpool’s Under-23 side, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Rhys’ years at the academy have given him good fundamentals, he’s a good defender.

“He was on loan at Kidderminster last season and he had a lot of tools from academy football, but playing at a team like that will give you more game time and probably toughen you up a bit.

Nineteen-year-old Liverpool defender Rhys Williams (right) in action against Midtjylland in the Champions League
Rhys Williams was on loan at Kidderminster Harriers in the sixth tier of English football last season

“Injuries have accelerated his involvement with the first team. I’d like to think he can take it in his stride.

“There are some fantastic professionals in that Liverpool team who will make him feel more comfortable.

“Players like Jordan Henderson and James Milner, they will be getting around him and making sure he feels like he’s part of it.

“I think he should do absolutely fine.”

‘Klopp will relish this’

Former Liverpool player Adam Lallana believes Klopp will use Fabinho’s setback as a challenge ahead of a busy run of games.

After this weekend’s game against West Ham, the Reds head to Italy to face Atalanta in the Champions League before an away game at Manchester City on 8 November.

“He won’t use anything as an excuse,” Lallana told BT Sport.

“He will meet the challenge face on. It is going to be a test but the lads will all get together and help each other out.

“Klopp enjoys these tests and will be fired up for it.”

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Virgil van Dijk injury is not good, says Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool draw with Everton


Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford escaped action over this challenge on Virgil van Dijk during the Merseyside derby

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk’s knee injury is “not good”, says the champions’ manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Netherlands defender, 29, could not continue and will see a specialist on Sunday to discover the extent of the injury.

“Virgil played I don’t know how many games in a row, he plays with pain, but he couldn’t play on,” said Klopp.

“That’s not good.”

Liverpool’s claims for a penalty from the incident were turned down as Van Dijk was ruled to be offside before England number one Pickford clattered into him.

“It was a clear penalty I saw and then we saw the flag went up. I thought they would still look at the foul but that didn’t happen,” said Klopp.

“I don’t want to say Jordan Pickford wanted to do it but it is not a challenge a goalie can do in the box.”

New Liverpool signing Thiago, who was starting his first Premier League game, was injured when he was fouled by Richarlison late on, with the Toffees forward sent off as a result.

Klopp added: “When I leave the pitch, Thiago tells me that in the Richarlison red card situation, he thinks he got injured.”

Thiago went for a scan along with Van Dijk and, while the club are hopeful his injury is not serious, they will see how it settles.

Everton’s Brazilian said he had sent a message of apology to the Liverpool midfielder, and insisted the collision was an accident.

“I did not intend to hurt Thiago,” he wrote in a tweet,external-link adding that he lifted his foot out of the way when he realised there was going to be impact.

“I also apologise to my team-mates, my club and my fans for leaving them with one less player at the end of the game. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to change what happened, other than to reflect, work and move on.”





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