Klopp stands by Anfield comments after Liverpool fan group backing

Klopp stands by Anfield comments after Liverpool fan group backing
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted Friday he had no qualms about criticising the atmosphere at Anfield during a midweek rout of West Ham. (AP/File)
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Updated 22 December 2023
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Klopp stands by Anfield comments after Liverpool fan group backing

Klopp stands by Anfield comments after Liverpool fan group backing
  • “I am pretty sure not everyone is thinking ‘Oh my God, Klopp is right’,” the Reds boss told a pre-match news conference on Friday
  • “I have enjoyed 99.7 percent of each second in that stadium. I love it to bits”

LONDON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted Friday he had no qualms about criticizing the atmosphere at Anfield during a midweek rout of West Ham.
Klopp was unimpressed with the home crowd during a 5-1 League Cup quarter-final thrashing of the Hammers and told fans to give their tickets away if they are not prepared to get behind the side against Premier League title rivals Arsenal on Saturday.
“I am pretty sure not everyone is thinking ‘Oh my God, Klopp is right’,” the Reds boss told a pre-match news conference on Friday.
“It’s not about that, it is my feeling directly after a game. It was exactly like that.
“I turned around because people were talking after we had missed a chance. I turned around and people were like flat. What do you want? Creating a chance is the closest you can get to scoring a goal.”
The German added: “We are in a pretty good position in the league, maybe quicker than what people expected. The difference for me is, if you have a chance and you miss it is like ‘ohhh’ (shrugs). But after that the stadium goes bonkers because immediately we go for the next chance. That is the difference.”
But Klopp, a hugely popular figure with Liverpool fans since arriving on Merseyside in 2015, insisted his time at Anfield had been overwhelmingly positive.
“It is no criticism,” he said. “I have enjoyed 99.7 percent of each second in that stadium. I love it to bits. The atmosphere and these people. I am happy with everything, but if people can do better then show us. That is all... I have nothing more to say about the atmosphere.
“What I said is that we need Anfield tomorrow (against Arsenal). That is 100 percent true, and I can’t wait for when the first whistle goes.”
Earlier, Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly said it had “no argument” with Klopp’s initial comments about the atmosphere at home games but warned younger fans were being priced out of games at Anfield.
“It’s something our fans discuss regularly, it is central to the club’s and Anfield’s identity, and something the most passionate among us are keen to protect,” said a statement from the group.
“It is no accident that opposing teams, coaches and fans speak about the ‘Anfield effect’. We all know how intimidating the crowd can make it for visiting sides, how the atmosphere can be second to none.”
The group said it feared the club’s culture was at risk.
“We do have concerns though about the lack of opportunities for young supporters to go to the game, catch the bug and preserve this decades-long culture of the Kop, and deep-rooted worries that our culture is being watered down by greater corporate offerings and out-of-reach ticket prices — echoed by supporters across the Premier League.
“We are in constant dialogue with the club to explore ways we can improve the situation,” the group added.


Liverpool confirm Slot will replace Klopp as manager

Liverpool confirm Slot will replace Klopp as manager
Updated 20 May 2024
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Liverpool confirm Slot will replace Klopp as manager

Liverpool confirm Slot will replace Klopp as manager
  • Liverpool said in a statement that the Dutchman, 45, would take up the position of head coach on June 1, subject to a work permit
  • Slot’s arrival has been an open secret, with Liverpool reportedly agreeing a compensation deal worth up to $12 million

LONDON: Feyenoord coach Arne Slot was Monday confirmed as Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Liverpool by the Premier League club.
Liverpool said in a statement that the Dutchman, 45, would take up the position of head coach on June 1, subject to a work permit.
The club did not specify the length of his contract in their statement but Sky Sports said it understood Slot had signed a three-year deal.
Slot’s arrival has been an open secret, with Liverpool reportedly agreeing a compensation deal worth up to £9.4 million ($12 million).
He confirmed Anfield was his next destination at his final pre-match press conference at the Eredivisie club on Friday.
Klopp announced his departure in January and took charge of his final game on Sunday, a 2-0 win against Wolves.
In his final speech to the Anfield crowd, the German urged fans to throw their full support behind Slot.
“You welcome the new manager like you welcomed me,” he said. “You go all-in from the first day. And you keep believing and you push the team.”
Slot moved to Feyenoord in 2021 after impressing in his first managerial role at AZ Alkmaar.
He led the Dutch giants to the inaugural Europa Conference League final at the end of his first season. They narrowly lost 1-0 to Jose Mourinho’s Roma.
Slot then delivered just a second league title in 24 years to De Kuip last season before penning a new three-year deal.
“You can see people are genuinely sorry you are leaving,” he said on Friday.
“You can say that with words, but when you see it in people’s faces, it affects me quite a lot.”
Feyenoord have enjoyed a strong season, winning the Dutch Cup and coming second to an all-conquering PSV Eindhoven side.
Liverpool captain and fellow Dutchman Virgil van Dijk has hailed Slot’s attacking mindset, saying it would suit the philosophy at Anfield.
Initially, Bayer Leverkusen boss and former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso was the favorite to succeed Klopp at Anfield.
However, Alonso has committed to staying at Leverkusen after leading them to a first-ever Bundesliga title.
Liverpool won the League Cup in Klopp’s final season in charge and finished third in the Premier League, qualifying for next season’s Champions League.


Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius

Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius
Updated 20 May 2024
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Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius

Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius
  • FIFA award for devastating displays in Mexico will be up for auction on June 6 at the world famous Aguttes International Auction House in Paris

Diego Maradona played once in Saudi Arabia, incredibly wearing the shirt of Jeddah powerhouse Al-Ahli in 1987, for a friendly game against Brondby of Denmark.

Yet it was the year before when he really made football history.

Many think Maradona is the best to have ever played the game, but all would surely agree that he was the star of the 1986 World Cup, and dragged Argentina to the title in heroic fashion. FIFA certainly thought so, and awarded the legend the Adidas Golden Ball trophy after it all finished, the prize given to the tournament’s best player.

Now, a piece of World Cup history is up for grabs, as the award is set to go up for auction on June 6 at the world famous Aguttes International Auction House in Paris. Serious interest is expected.

“At that 1986 World Cup, Diego shone like never before or since in his career; it was his monument,” Jorge Burruchaga, Argentina teammate of Maradona and scorer of the winning goal in the 1986 World Cup final as the South Americans defeated West Germany 3-2, said. “We knew we had the best player in the world, there was no doubt about it, we knew it for a fact.”

As dramatic as that final was, it is the 2-1 quarterfinal win against England in Mexico City that everyone remembers. Maradona’s first goal was the “Hand of God” goal, when he punched the ball into the net. It remains one of the most famous goals ever scored, matched only, perhaps, by the second he scored that day. Maradona picked the ball up from inside his own half, ran past half the England team, and the rest is history.

“My favorite recollection of this World Cup is the second goal he scored against England, which remains the most beautiful in history for me, because you must consider the state of the pitch, the altitude, the context between the two countries, and what he managed to do,” said Burruchaga.

“He breezed past six players ... It was divine. On that day, he created a lasting legacy for all Argentinian sportsmen and women, not just footballers, showing just how much you have to fight to be worthy of wearing the Argentine jersey.”

That shirt was handed by the man himself to England midfielder Steve Hodge at the final whistle. In 2022, it was sold at auction by Hodge for a figure reported to be around $7 million.

The golden ball, which was fittingly awarded to Maradona in Paris 38 years ago, is another piece of football history according to Francois Thierry, sports expert for Aguttes Auction House.

“Used far too often wrongly, the word ‘legend’ fits Diego Maradona perfectly,” Thierry said. “He is to football what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Michael Jordan to basketball — an icon who goes far beyond the boundaries of his sport. He is certainly one of the most human athletes we have ever known, with his strengths and weaknesses. The golden kid, ‘El Pibe de Oro,’ is a special case … The history of football with a capital H is closely linked to that of Maradona.”


Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title

Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title
Updated 20 May 2024
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Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title

Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title
  • The two-leg final finished 2-2 on aggregate with the Cairo club winning the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League on away goals
  • It was a historic triumph for Zamalek boss Jose Gomes, who became the first Portuguese coach to win the Confederation Cup

CAIRO: Ahmed Hamdy scored midway through the first half to give Zamalek of Egypt a 1-0 victory over Renaissance Berkane of Morocco on Sunday and a second CAF Confederation Cup title.

The two-leg final finished 2-2 on aggregate with the Cairo club winning the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League on away goals.

The previous Zamalek triumph in the second-tier competition also came against Berkane with the Egyptians winning on penalties in 2019 after another aggregate draw.

It was a historic triumph for Zamalek boss Jose Gomes, who became the first Portuguese coach to win the Confederation Cup.

Zamalek made one change to the team that started the first leg in Morocco last Sunday with Senegalese Ibrahima Ndiaye replacing Nigeria-born fellow winger Samson Akinyoola.

Berkane were unchanged with Burkina Faso center-back Issoufou Dayo captaining the team and Senegalese Paul Bassene leading the attack.

A sell-out crowd in the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium cheered, chanted and waved large flags as Zamalek attacked relentlessly in the early stages.

It seemed a matter of time before Berkane conceded, and Zamalek took the lead on 23 minutes through Hamdy, a midfielder who joined the White Knights four months ago.

An attempted clearance by Berkane was blocked and Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Sayed pushed the ball to unmarked Hamdy, who rifled a low shot wide of goalkeeper Hamza Hamiani into the corner of the net.

Level on aggregate but behind on away goals, Berkane came out of their defensive shell and Dayo almost levelled soon after with a far-post header after a free kick.

Paul Bassene had his first sight of goal on 32 minutes, but blazed over, then Yassine Labhiri was much closer to equalising with a shot from just outside the area.

Zamalek finished the opening half strongly and Berkane had to defend desperately with defenders blocking several goal attempts after Hamiani failed to grasp a cross.

The Berkane goalkeeper nearly gifted Zamalek a second goal just past the hour mark as he initially hesitated to clear the ball and came close to being dispossessed by Seifeddine Jaziri.

Berkane threatened with 14 minutes remaining when awarded a free kick close to the area, but a poor attempt by Ayoub Khairi sailed over.

The Moroccans were reduced to 10 men two minutes into added time when Hamza El Moussaoui was red-carded for stamping on Zizo after fouling the winger.


Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title

Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title
Updated 20 May 2024
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Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title

Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title
  • The champions’ relentless surge to the finishing line has included 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa in early December
  • The Gunners, without a Premier League trophy since 2004, came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 but had to content themselves with second place for a second straight season

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester City created English football history on Sunday, beating West Ham 3-1 to win their fourth straight Premier League title and break Arsenal’s hearts as Jurgen Klopp made an emotional Liverpool exit.

Phil Foden scored two early goals — including one after 79 seconds — at an expectant Etihad to lay the foundations for City’s victory.

West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus pulled a goal back with a spectacular overhead kick to give Arsenal renewed hope but Rodri struck just before the hour mark to effectively wrap up the title.

The Gunners, without a Premier League trophy since 2004, came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 but had to content themselves with second place for a second straight season after they finished two points behind City’s tally of 91.

The champions’ relentless surge to the finishing line has included 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa in early December.

City, who have now won six titles in seven seasons, stand alone as the only English team to have won four straight top-flight titles, eclipsing the achievements of the great Liverpool and Manchester United teams of the past.

“When I moved here, if someone had said I would win six leagues in seven seasons I would say ‘You’re insane — no way’,” said City manager Pep Guardiola.

“All these players for Manchester United and Liverpool and Chelsea, all these teams. Now is our period. We are part of that.”

But while City have set new standards in English football, they remain under a cloud as a result of 115 Premier League charges for alleged financial irregularities, levelled early last year.

Elsewhere on the final day of the Premier League season, Luton’s relegation was confirmed with a 4-2 loss at home to Fulham. They will join Burnley and Sheffield United in the Championship next season.

Tottenham beat Sheffield United 3-0 to seal fifth spot and a place in next season’s Europa League while Chelsea guaranteed a sixth-place finish and European football with a 2-1 win against Bournemouth.

Newcastle’s 4-2 win at Brentford condemned Manchester United to an eighth-place finish — their lowest since 1990.

Erik ten Hag’s men, who beat Brighton 2-0 in Roberto De Zerbi’s last game in charge of the south coast club, have a chance to salvage something from a disastrous season in next week’s FA Cup final against City.

But if United lose that they will miss out on European football.

Foden, 23, has enjoyed his most impressive season yet for City, taking his tally to 27 goals in all competitions on Sunday, together with 11 assists.

The England midfielder opened the scoring on Sunday in the second minute with a vicious left-footed shot from outside the penalty area, settling nerves among the home fans. He then stroked the ball into the net in the 18th minute after an assist from Jeremy Doku.

The title race briefly came alive again when Takehiro Tomiyasu side-footed home to level for Arsenal at the Emirates before Kudus pulled one back for West Ham.

The atmosphere became more subdued at the Etihad but the visitors rarely threatened again in David Moyes’s final game in charge for the visitors and Rodri’s goal in the 59th minute ultimately made the game safe.

Kai Havertz’s late winner for Arsenal proved irrelevant.

Arteta gave a rousing speech to the fans in the immediate aftermath of the match, urging them to crave more.

“All this is happening because you started believing, you started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do,” he said.

“All the credit has to go to the players and the staff. Don’t be satisfied. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it.”

Klopp ended his Liverpool reign with a 2-0 win at home to Wolves but the match was merely a sideshow as the fans paid a warm tribute to a manager who has transformed the club since arriving in 2015.

“It doesn’t feel like an end,” the German told a packed Anfield. “It just feels like a start. Today I saw a football team play full of talent, youth, creativity, desire, greed.”

He added: “We have this wonderful stadium, training center and you — the superpower of world football. Wow.”


Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid

Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid
Updated 20 May 2024
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Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid

Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid
  • Real Sociedad secured the last Europa League spot with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, who were left with a place in the Europa Conference League
  • Atletico Madrid will finish fourth after a 4-1 loss to midtable Osasuna at their Metropolitano stadium

MADRID: Barcelona routed Rayo Vallecano 3-0 to secure the lucrative second place in the Spanish league on Sunday, while champion Real Madrid drew 4-4 at Villarreal with Norway striker Alexander Sorloth scoring all four goals for the hosts.

There won’t be much left to fight for in the final round next weekend as Cadiz became the last team to be relegated after being held to a 0-0 draw at home against Las Palmas.

Real Sociedad secured the last Europa League spot with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, who were left with a place in the Europa Conference League.

Pedri scored twice and Robert Lewandowski once for Barcelona, who kept a four-point gap to Catalan rival Girona with a round to go. Girona won 3-1 at Valencia for their first-ever third place finish in the Spanish league. They had already clinched a Champions League place in advance.

Atletico Madrid will finish fourth after a 4-1 loss to midtable Osasuna at their Metropolitano stadium.

BARCELONA SECOND

Lewandowski scored in the third minute and Pedri added goals in the 72nd and 75th as Barcelona won for the fourth time in five matches to seal second place and a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Madrid and Copa del Rey finalists Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao also will play in the Super Cup next season.

The victory came a day after Xavi denied a slew of reports in Spanish media outlets that Barcelona’s leadership is considering firing the coach for having said that the club’s poor finances will impede it from competing with Madrid.

“The situation hasn’t changed,” Xavi said. “I imagine I’ll speak with the president tomorrow or the next day. We needed the win to secure second place and we did it.”

Some fans chanted in support of Xavi and against Laporta during Sunday’s match.

Rayo are in 16th place.

SORLOTH THRIVES

Sorloth scored once in the first half and three times in the second to give eighth-place Villarreal a draw against Madrid, who scored all of their goals before halftime.

Arda Guler scored twice and Joselu and Lucas Vázquez added a goal each for Madrid, which played with a mostly reserve squad as it continues to prepare for the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1 in London.

Madrid had clinched their 36th league title three rounds ago.

CADIZ DEMOTED

Cadiz needed a win against Las Palmas to avoid returning to the second division for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

Cadiz, coming off two consecutive victories, had a goal disallowed by video review for offside in the first half, and saw defender Victor Chust sent off with a straight red card in the 74th.

Cadiz had spent 14 straight seasons in the lower divisions — including seven years in the third tier — before making it to the top flight in 2020-21.

Almeria and Granada had already been relegated before Sunday’s games.

SOCIEDAD SIXTH

Sociedad sealed the final Europa League spot with the win against Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis.

Brais Mendez and Mikel Merino scored first-half goals for Sociedad, who won three of their last four games.

The other Europa League place had been secured by Athletic Bilbao, who beat 13th-place Sevilla 2-0.

In other results, 17th-place Mallorca drew 2-2 against last-place Almeria and Celta Vigo won 2-1 at second-to-last Granada.