Liverpool chairman eyes ‘sustained success’ for champions

Children celebrate the victory of Liverpool at Anfield. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Liverpool chairman eyes ‘sustained success’ for champions

  • Werner believes the winning mentality created by Klopp will keep the team hungry for more success

LONDON: Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has backed the newly crowned Premier League champions to enjoy a period of “sustained success” under boss Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool won the English title for the first time in 30 years on Thursday after Manchester City’s defeat at Chelsea sealed the title for the Reds.

Werner, part of the US-based Fenway Sports Group that owns Liverpool, believes the winning mentality created by Klopp since he took charge in 2015 will keep the team hungry for more success next season.

Liverpool also clinched the Club World Cup in December and were Champions League winners last season, but Werner is confident the good times are not over yet.

“We want to undersell and overdeliver. We hopefully would be ensuring another period of sustained success,” Werner told Liverpool’s website on Saturday.

“The competition is fierce and I know our rivals are working tirelessly to upend us. But we’ve got such talent in place as Jurgen, as Michael (Edwards, sporting director) and the team on the pitch.

“One of the things that stuck with me this year was their hunger for winning. I don’t think that will be diminished. They’re such a good group of players.

“I have such fondness for them as individuals off the pitch. They’re humble, they’re kind, they enjoy each other’s company. You could see that in the videos when they were all celebrating.

“It’s a lot to ask them to stay at this extraordinary level but it is our goal to continue to play with this quality.”

Werner heaped praise on Klopp for rescuing Liverpool from mediocrity, but stopped short of rating the German alongside the club’s iconic former managers Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

“I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing or watching the great football of (Bill) Shankly and (Bob) Paisley, so I don’t really want to compare Jurgen to previous managers,” said Werner, who has been chairman of the Merseyside club since 2010.

“I just know that the league is extremely competitive and when we first became involved in Liverpool over 10 years ago, we were not even thinking about winning the league.

“Our dream was to just become top four and make it to the Champions League.

“He has just created such an atmosphere at Liverpool that there’s no alternative except to win. He has created such an atmosphere.

“One of the things that I’m just joyful about whenever I watch the team is how many players contribute.”


F1 season kicks off with astonishing, chaotic race in Austria

Updated 06 July 2020

F1 season kicks off with astonishing, chaotic race in Austria

  • Mercedes dominance, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton leading the charge, and Red Bull providing the challenge

DUBAI: Formula 1 is back. And, for the majority of the season’s much delayed first race, it looked business as usual.

Mercedes dominance, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton leading the charge, and Red Bull providing the challenge.

But this, despite Bottas’  eventual victory, would prove anything but an ordinary race, for so many reasons.

The Austrian Grand Prix, the first race of the shortened season, was, like all top class sporting events around the world, taking place with no fans inside the Red Bull Ring, a legacy of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The empty stands may have given this the initial look of a practice session, but the race would prove anything but routine.

This was a dramatic, often chaotic, return to action for Formula 1’s finest.

No doubt, the absence of motorsports’ most passionate and colorful fans, who in normal circumstances would have descended on Spielberg, Austria, were missed.

But for those watching on television, the truth is that the intensity of Formula1 action, unlike in football, and perhaps other team sports when they resume, is not overly affected by taking place behind closed doors.

 And it is something that the public will no doubt quickly adapt to. For now, only seven other rounds of the 2020 season have been confirmed; in Austria again (Red Bull Ring, July 10-12), will be followed by the Hungarian Grand Prix (July 17-19), two British Grand Prix races (Silverstone, July 31-Aug. 2 and Aug. 7-9); the Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona, Aug. 14-16); Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps, 28-30); and the Italian Grand Prix (Monza, Sept. 4-6).

Other races are pending, and fans in the Middle East will be hoping that the restart continues to go according to plan, hopefully leading to the confirmation of the Bahrain Grand Prix later this year, and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the season’s finale.

Before the race the drivers had worn anti-racism T-shirts, though there was an element of controversy when several drivers, including Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc chose not to take the knee like their  rivals. Both explained  their stance on their social media accounts.

The early stages as expected were dominated by Mercedes and Red Bull, with Bottas and  Hamilton separated in first and fourth by Verstappen and Alexander Albon in 2nd and third.

After the reigning champion Hamilton overtook Albon in the early stages, one of the race’s turning points saw Verstappen retire after gear failure. With fewer points on offer this season, this could turn out to be a decisive incident, even at this early stage.

Bottas and Hamilton, now in first and second, seemed to have the race under control for Mercedes.

Lap 28 saw the safety car come out, but when the green light came back on Bottas streaked away followed by Hamilton with Albon in third and British driver Lando Norris, excelling in a McLaren, in fourth.

Within seconds from the restart, Vettel’s Ferrari spun as he attempted to overtake Carlos Sainz, and though he avoided an accident, it meant he dropped to 15th.

Less than half way through the race, the Austrian Grand Prix was providing more drama and incidents than millions glued to their televisions could have dared hope for.

The race now settled into a battle between Bottas and Hamilton, and even another intervention of the safety car after 52 laps could not put them out of their stride.

Kimi Raikkonen’s exit with 15 laps meant seven drivers had retired.

 But with with five laps left, Hamilton was penalized five seconds for an accident with Albon. Suddenly second place, for long seemingly a lock for Mercedes, was now up for grabs. Indeed, so was third.

Hamilton, to ensure a podium finish needed to beat Norris (in fourth) by more than five seconds. But Norris saved his best till last, his fastest lap ensuring the gap between him and the champion was sub-five seconds.

Bottas was the first winner of the season, second place went to Leclerc and Ferrari, and a disbelieving Norris and McLaren team in third.

Hamilton, in the blink of an eye, dropped to fourth.

The podium presentation no doubt lacked its usual celebratory vibe, but try telling that to Leclerc and Norris who could not have dreamed of this conclusion.

 If the remainder of the 2020 races live up to this astionishing Austrian Grand Prix, Formula 1’s shortest season could turn out to be one of its best.