Kenny Dalglish on his Knighthood

Sir Kenny Dalglish has been speaking about his Knighthood following today’s announcement of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Recognised for his contribution to football, the 67 year-old said he is “hugely grateful” for the award and immediately dedicated it to Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.  He said:

“Obviously it was for others with more education and knowledge than myself to decide whether or not I deserved a knighthood and it goes without saying that I am hugely grateful to them for the decision that they have made.”

“All I can say is that from my own point of view I am definitely no more deserving of an accolade like this than Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley were. I am just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and I would like to dedicate this honour to them because without the standards that they set at Glasgow Celtic and Liverpool, individuals like myself would not have been able to thrive as much as we did.”

In a hugely successful career in football for over 20 years, he played for Celtic and Liverpool winning major honours with both clubs. Internationally, he remains Scotland’s most capped player with 102 appearances.

During his managerial tenure at Liverpool, he secured three league titles, including a league and cup double in 1986 – the first person to ever achieve this feat as a player/manager. A further league title followed with Blackburn Rovers in 1995.

Dalglish went on to say:

“The most important thing to stress is that this honour is not a reflection of myself.

“It is a reflection of everyone who has played a part in my life and my career. Nobody achieves anything alone, especially in football, and in my case any success I have enjoyed has been due to the contributions made by my family, the players, coaches and managers that I was fortunate enough to work with and the supporters who backed me. This instance is no different.

“The enjoyment that I have derived from being involved in football for as long as I have is outstripped only by the sense that I’ve been hugely fortunate to have the right people around me at all times. None more so than my family whose support allowed me to focus on playing and managing, sometimes to the detriment of their own aspirations and ambitions. They share this honour as much as anyone else because without them none of this would have been possible.

“Similar sentiments apply to those in football who believed in me sufficiently to give me opportunities and who backed me on and off the pitch in a multitude of ways. At Milton Bank Primary, High Possil Secondary, Glasgow Boys, Cumbernauld United, Celtic, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United I was fortunate to be supported and accompanied by individuals who gave me a chance to do my job to the best of my ability, whether as a player or a manager. I have always appreciated the roles that they played in my life and that applies even more on this day as it does on any other.”

Dalglish’s Knighthood is also recognition for his contribution off the pitch in support of the Hillsborough families and The Marina Dalglish Appeal.  He has helped to raise over £10 million to improve cancer care across Merseyside.

Sir Kenny has thanked those who nominated him for this honour. He added:

“Last, but by no means least, I would like to express my gratitude to those who nominated me for a knighthood. I don’t know exactly what the process is but obviously something like this couldn’t happen unless someone puts your name forward so thank you to whoever it was who holds me in sufficient esteem that they believe me worthy of such an accolade. It is extremely humbling to have people who think of you in this way.”

Loris Karius apologises for Champions League Final mistakes

It’s been over 24 hours since Liverpool lost the Champions League Final to Real Madrid. It hurts for the club, it hurts for supporters, and it must hurt even more for the players who played. It certainly does for goalkeeper Loris Karius, accidentally, contributed more to the loss than anyone else. It was his two freak mistakes that led to two of the three goals scored by Madrid on Saturday.

He doesn’t need reminding of this.  Liverpool fans don’t need to tell him. He knows. Stop commenting on his Instagram, stop tweeting at him, stop abusing him.

Karius took to Instagram on Sunday following the match to apologise a second time. Of course, the first time happened immediately following the match, when he went over to the supporters section with tears in his eyes and on his face, and apologised.

It needs to be reminded that Karius is only 24 and was instrumental in getting Liverpool to the Final. He’s still so young and has so much to learn. This was his first major final. The squad as a whole’s first major final. To malign him completely is the antithesis of what we as Liverpool fans stand for. The very opposite of what the club stands for.

Given that Simon Mignolet is likely to leave this summer, we still need to buy a goalkeeper, but we don’t need to try and get rid of Karius.  Instead we need to support him, instead of getting rid of him and scapegoating him.

Mohamed Salah may miss World Cup with dislocated shoulder

The shoulder injury Mohamed Salah sustained during Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday evening is ‘serious’, Jürgen Klopp confirmed.

The forward was forced from the field after 30 minutes having failed to recover from a dodgy tackle by Sergio Ramos which saw the Spanish international lock arms with Salah, pull him over, and land on top of Salah’s arm and shoulder, with it appearing that the Liverpool star suffered a dislocated shoulder.  Salah later went to a local hospital in Kiev for assessment.

Klopp told his post-match press conference: “It’s a serious injury, a really serious injury.

“He is in the hospital for an X-ray. It’s either the collarbone or the shoulder itself. It doesn’t look good, that’s it.”

Mohamed Salah’s injury appears to be serious enough that his participation in the World Cup is now in question.

Liverpool FC seal spot in 2018-19 Champions League

Liverpool tied up qualification for the 2018-19 Champions League with a 4-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

The Reds claimed fourth place in the Premier League on the final day of the season through goals from Mohamed Salah, Dejan Lovren, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson.

Jürgen Klopp’s team will therefore go straight into the group stage of next term’s edition of Europe’s elite club competition.

Liverpool are set to contest the final of this season’s tournament against Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday May 26.

Mohamed Salah takes top prizes at LFC Players’ Awards

Mohamed Salah was named Liverpool’s star man for the season as the achievements of the first team, Academy, Ladies, legends and fans were celebrated at the 2018 LFC Players’ Awards on Thursday night.

The No.11, who has so far scored 43 goals in 50 appearances since joining the club last summer, was voted Player of the Season by both the fans – in an online vote on Liverpoolfc.com – and by his teammates at Melwood.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the man who has played the most matches in the club’s history, Ian Callaghan, while the 1978 European Cup-winning Reds side were acknowledged with the Outstanding Team Achievement Award on the 40th anniversary of their triumph over FC Bruges at Wembley.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent season, which has included 11 games and two goals throughout the Reds’ run to the Champions League final, was rewarded with the Young Player of the Season accolade, and Harry Wilson claimed the Academy Player of the Season honour.

Goal of the Season – shortlisted by supporters and decided by an LFC panel – went to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the midfielder’s stunning long-range blast during the European win against Manchester City at Anfield in April.

Gemma Bonner and Sophie Ingle were presented with the Ladies Player of the Season and Ladies Players’ Player of the Season awards respectively.

And there were special accolades for the Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative, in the form of the Bill Shankly Community Award, and New South Wales as the official Supporters’ Club of the Season.

2018 LFC Players’ Awards winners

Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Players’ Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Ladies Player of the Season: Gemma Bonner
Ladies Players’ Player of the Season: Sophie Ingle
Young Player of the Season: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Academy Player of the Season: Harry Wilson
Goal of the Season: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain v Manchester City (April 4)
Bill Shankly Community Award: Fans Supporting Foodbanks
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ian Callaghan
Outstanding Team Achievement Award: 1978 European Cup-winning team
Supporters’ Club of the Season: New South Wales

Salah on course to score 35 league goals this season

At his current rate of 0.93 goals per Premier League game, Salah is on course to score 35 league goals this season. There is good reason to think that he might easily hit that target given Liverpool still have to play Bournemouth, Stoke City and Brighton at Anfield, and Crystal Palace and West Brom away from home.

Should Salah reach that figure of 35, it would be a landmark achievement. The Egyptian only needs four goals to surpass the highest ever goal total in a 38-game Premier League season, but 35 would make him the highest goalscorer in any English top-flight season since Ron Davies for Southampton in 1966/67.

A player signed as a wide forward has not just scored goals at a surprising rate, but a rate above anything we have seen in 50 years of English football.

Jurgen Klopp’s post-game summation of Salah understandably generated plenty of headlines:

“I think Mo is on the way. I don’t think Mo or anybody else wants to be compared with Lionel Messi – he is the one who has been doing what he’s been doing for what feels like 20 years or so. The last player I know who had the same influence on a team performance was Diego Maradona. But Mo is in a fantastic way, that’s for sure.”

You can’t really doubt that assessment, although Klopp knows as well as anyone that saying the M-word will inevitably lead to Messi comparisons. Salah has produced a ‘Messi season’, one in which everything he touches turns to gold and one in which at times he is simply unplayable. There is no possible defence for this.

To judge this success story, we have to look at where it came from. Salah’s fee looks remarkably cheap now, but there was a reason for it. He was a creator as much as a finisher, but also a player who was prone to inconsistency. Liverpool were not fighting off interest from dozens of other clubs.

“It’s a lot of money for Liverpool to buy a player, who, if everybody is fit, I don’t think starts,” said former Liverpool player (and now pundit) Steve Nicol, and it was hardly an outrageous suggestion at the time with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in place.

From that place of doubt, Salah has potentially made himself the best single-season goalscorer in the last 50 years of English football. Kevin de Bruyne might have been the Premier League’s best player and thus deserving of the PFA’s award, but Salah has produced the single most astonishing achievement of the season.

Liverpool draw Manchester City in the Champions League Quarterfinals

Liverpool have been drawn to face Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Jürgen Klopp’s side will take on the fellow Premier League club over two legs next month, having progressed to the last eight with a 5-0 aggregate victory over FC Porto.

The first leg of the tie will take place at Anfield on Wednesday April 4, with the return meeting at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday April 10.  Click here to view an updated fixture list.

The teams have met twice already this season in league football, each winning on home soil, with the Reds 4-3 victors over Pep Guardiola’s men in January.

Elsewhere in the draw, FC Barcelona will face AS Roma, Sevilla take on Bayern Munich, and Juventus meet Real Madrid.

Klopp said:

“I’ve said it before and it’s still the truth, it’s always common in a draw that you’ll get your neighbour, more or less, but to be honest I don’t mind, really.

 

“It is exactly like it was before – we take what we’ve got. Now it’s Manchester City, let’s go.

 

“We’ve lost once and we’ve won once against them in the league – and I don’t think they thought before the best draw they could have got is Liverpool. That’s a sign for us and how strong we can be.

 

“We are for sure not the favourites in this round, but in the last eight there are not a lot of favourites – maybe two of them, Bayern and Barcelona – but thank God it’s football and nothing is decided.

 

“We have a few games to play until then, but I am really looking forward to it and we will give it everything.”

Just six days separate the two legs, and Klopp doesn’t feel hosting the first game will make too much difference to the final outcome of the tie.  He said:

“In this case, it’s not too important. For us, it’s completely normal. We can get a result at home for sure, but it’s obviously a difficult game – but good news for both teams.

 

“It is like it should be in the last eight. It was clear we would face a strong team. Now we have Man City. The good thing is they are the team we know most about. It’s not too cool for England because now only one team can go to the semis. But we will try everything.”

Klopp: We have to respond, 100 per cent

Liverpool entered Saturday’s match against Manchester United as the Premier League’s in-form side, having outperformed Manchester City in 2018 and looking likely to finish next best to them in the final table. They left it looking rather shakier.

They’re down to fourth in the table, five points behind United in second, and looked largely ineffective on Saturday against their rivals. It’s left manager Jürgen Klopp in a rather annoyed mood, eager for the chance to show his side can bounce back.

Klopp told the club’s official website when asked about Saturday’s stinging 2-1 defeat. 

“We have to respond, 100 per cent.  I still have to work to swallow this one and it’s quite difficult. It’s really difficult to take. The mistakes were obvious.

 

“Before the two goals, after the two goals, I thought we were dominant. We don’t ignore the goals we conceded, but you would say, ‘OK, that’s how you have to play.’ We had these things in pretty much all moments, but we didn’t score. “

 

“I think we deserved the goal and then it was the situation with the best piece of football in the whole game, the one-two between Roberto and Sadio and a clear foul and no penalty. That’s hard, but not to change anymore.

 

“I think with all the minutes around the two goals we conceded then a draw would have been deserved for us, but because we made these two mistakes we have to take the result like it is.

 

“It feels massively rubbish and that’s not nice. We will carry on of course, but in the moment it’s a big disappointment.”

How Mo Salah made an eight-year-old’s shirt dream come true

Within minutes of scoring one of the great individual goals at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, Mohamed Salah made an eight-year-old fan’s dream come true.

Joseph Clarendon was sat with his mum, Angela, for Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, his first ever game at the stadium.

When he found out he would be attending the match earlier in the day, the young supporter instantly made a decision that led to an unforgettable moment with his hero.  Joe created a homemade sign reading: “Mo Salah, can I have your shirt please?”

But he could not have imagined the hopeful request would be fulfilled.  His grandfather, Jimmy McKenna, takes up the story.

“It was my 60th birthday on Sunday and I should have gone to the match as a birthday present. But we had a party on Saturday night and I was a bit worse for wear!”

“I was supposed to go with Joe’s brother but he was up with us and didn’t want to go, so my daughter took Joe.

“It is the first game he has ever been to and he did the sign himself when he found out he was going. He held the sign up for the whole 90 minutes.

“He told his mum halfway through the game that his arms were hurting him, but he just held it up higher! He loved the game and he was made up when Mo Salah scored because he’s his favourite player.”

Despite Salah’s sensational solo strike in the 91st minute to put Liverpool ahead, further late drama denied Jürgen Klopp’s team three points.

Harry Kane’s penalty with virtually the last kick of the game snatched a 2-2 draw for Spurs and left Joe with a ‘broken heart’.

His despair turned to delight in a matter of seconds, though. With the help of the supporters sat nearby him grabbing Salah’s attention, the Egyptian made a course towards the crowd before he headed back to the dressing room.

Joe’s spot in the stand was his destination, that much-desired shirt his special gift to the young Red.

“My daughter wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, she just let him make the sign,” said Jimmy.

“As Mo Salah was running over and taking his shirt off, all the fans around him were shouting, ‘you’re going to get the shirt!’ It was a good experience for him.

“We saw him afterwards and he had the shirt on over his coat. He was made up!”

Klopp: Brewster will get all the support he needs

Jürgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool will offer Rhian Brewster ‘all the support he needs’ after the young striker this week spoke out about the racial abuse he has faced during his fledgling career.

In an interview with the Guardian published on Thursday, Brewster detailed instances where he has been targeted by fans and opponents while representing Chelsea, Liverpool and England at youth level.

Speaking in his pre-Leicester press conference on Friday, when asked about Brewster’s comments, Klopp said:

“He will get all the support he needs and wants and we can give.

“I’m really long in this sport and I’ve never faced a situation like that but obviously it happens all the time.

“I’m really happy that he is brave enough to do what he did. It’s such an important thing – I can’t believe people still have these thoughts in their minds.

“Obviously, we needed a 17-year-old boy to shout out, to say, ‘it’s still happening and it happens all the time – I need help, we need help and we have to stop that’.

“It’s not a situation that you want a 17-year-old boy (to be) in but, if it is like this, then he needs help and we will give it to him, of course.”

Philippe Coutinho’s 200 LFC appearances in numbers

Philippe Coutinho reached the landmark of 200 Liverpool appearances on Boxing Day – here are some statistics of the Brazilian’s double-century with the Reds to date:

1,779 – days separated his Liverpool debut, as a 78th-minute substitute against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield, and his 200th outing

500 – the playmaker has had 500 shots at goal in the Premier League, including 155 on target

54 – goals he has scored for the club, at a ratio of almost exactly one every four matches

52 – appearances in 2014-15 remains the highest number of games the attacker has clocked up, in all competitions, during one season

44.07 – passes per match is Coutinho’s average after 151 Premier League games

41 – Premier League goals make Philippe the most prolific Brazilian in the competition’s history

35 – assists in the English top flight have been recorded by the No.10

25 – per cent of fans nominated Coutinho’s sensational solo effort against Manchester United at Old Trafford in March 2016 as his best goal for Liverpool

14 – goals in the 2016-17 season represent Philippe’s best return across a single campaign for Liverpool so far

12 – appearances against Chelsea, more than any other opponent since he joined the club in January 2013

12 – times Coutinho has hit the woodwork in Premier League action

7 – goals so far this December – his most prolific single month for the Reds

6 – free-kicks converted by the Brazilian, his most recent set-piece success the clever under-the-wall conversion against Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this month

5 – goals against Manchester City, the most common victims of the No.10’s scoring touch

3 – times Coutinho has worn the captain’s armband for Liverpool – all this season

1 – successful penalty scored, in the 7-0 Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow

1 – competitive hat-trick, in the aforementioned thrashing of the Russian side at Anfield

Liverpool agree world-record £75m deal for Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool have finally won the race to sign Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk after agreeing a world record £75 million fee for a defender.

The two clubs have again been in discreet negotiations in recent days following the acrimonious breakdown of a potential deal last summer and have today reached agreement on the transfer.

Manchester City and Chelsea are both also interested and have made inquiries at different stages of the past six months but, barring any late super-bid from another club, Van Dijk will get his move to Liverpool.

Liverpool did not ultimately make a formal offer to Southampton last summer but were ready to pay around £60 million after it became clear that Van Dijk wanted to join them. Southampton were furious at the leak of information before a fee had been agreed and their complaint to the Premier League prompted an apology from Liverpool and an agreement not to pursue the deal.

That position held throughout the summer transfer window, with Southampton also turning down a large offer from Chelsea. Van Dijk then missed the start of the season amid concern at his focus before being reintegrated back into the team under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino. He has since been left out of the recent games against Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

Premier League leaders Manchester City are also keen and were preparing a £60 million opening bid but the situation has moved on quickly in recent days and Southampton are now extremely close to an agreement with Liverpool.

Personal terms on around £180,000-a-week are likely to be a formality and there is a growing feeling that a deal may even be completed ahead of the transfer window formally opening next Monday. Van Dijk’s preference has been Liverpool and the chance to work with their manager, Jurgen Klopp.

The world record transfer for a defender is the £54 million that Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker last summer.

A fee of £75 million would also be level with Romelu Lukaku as the second most expensive transfer in Premier League history, behind only Manchester United’s £90 million purchase of Paul Pogba.

Southampton have won one of their last 11 games and have now decided that it would be better to sell Van Dijk and reinvest the fee this January. Pellegrino is under growing pressure but has had the Van Dijk situation hanging over him since replacing Claude Puel as manager last summer.

Source: Telegraph