Jurgen Klopp hits back at Gary Neville's suggestion Liverpool should tank Champions League

Carl Markham 14/09/2018
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Jurgen Klopp is angry with Gary Neville

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at pundit Gary Neville after the former Manchester United defender suggested Liverpool should abandon the Champions League to boost their Premier League title hopes.

Neville this week said the Reds’ best chance of ending a 29-year wait to be English champions would be enhanced if they “kicked into touch” their European ambitions.

Klopp found the suggestion from the 43-year-old, who having had a spell as England assistant coach was sacked after three months as Valencia boss, laughable.

“How should that work? What do we do? We don’t play Champions League or what?” said the German, whose side currently top the table with a 100 per cent record after four matches and are widely seen as the main challengers to defending champions Manchester City.

“Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work. You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny!

“I don’t want to be too critical because I don’t know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job, to be honest.

“What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he’s more interested in. Nothing?

“I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly.

“If it’s late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff.

“Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don’t think that even Gary Neville would have said: ‘Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win’.”

Liverpool head to Tottenham on Saturday for their first real big test of the season.

It is the start of a packed schedule of seven matches – including Champions League matches against Paris St Germain and Napoli – in 23 days.

That means Klopp, who has so far made just one change to his starting line-up, will have to utilise his squad and that is likely to see a debut for summer signing Fabinho.

The £43.7million summer arrival has not featured in the matchday squad since being an unused substitute on the opening day of the campaign as he has been given time to adjust to Klopp’s training methods.

“Actually I don’t like to compare players but we had similar players and questions about Robbo (Andrew Robertson) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain,” he said.

“The thing is it is absolutely no problem. I don’t like the situation. Fabinho is full of desire and wants to be involved and I have to tell him ‘You’re not involved this week’ and that’s not nice.

“It is only the job to do sometimes because we have players that work together that much longer.

“He comes from another league, a completely different system which Monaco played, and we have a good team together so that takes time.

“The plan was – and is still – he will make us better and that is what we are working on.

“Sometimes it takes more time, sometimes a bit less but from my point of view it is all fine but I know the situation is not like a few people would have expected.”

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Liverpool and PSG cannot sell tickets to Red Star Belgrade fans, UEFA order

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Red Star Belgrade will not be able to sell tickets to their fans when they visit Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool in the Champions League, UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has announced.

The Serbian champions advanced to the group stage of European club football’s premier competition on the away-goals rule when they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Red Bull Salzburg last month.

That achievement was tarnished, though, by their fans’ poor behaviour and the dismissal from the bench of assistant coach Milan Kosanovic.

Having found Red Star’s fans guilty of invading the pitch, setting off fireworks, damaging Salzburg’s stadium and throwing objects, the UEFA disciplinary body has effectively banned the club’s supporters from the next two European games. This means they will not be able to visit PSG on October 3 and Liverpool on October 24.

The club has also been fined €30,000 and been ordered to pay for the damage caused at Salzburg within 30 days. Kosanovic has also been banned for the PSG game.

Salzburg, however, have also been fined €23,000 for their fans’ pitch invasions during the game and blocking stairways.

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Fantasy Premier League tips: Stick with Mohamed Salah or switch to Sadio Mane?

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Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah?

It’s the question that haunts Fantasy Premier League managers this season and with several Wildcard chips being played over the international break, it has only become more relevant.

The outlook of your team can be completely different depending on which Liverpool attacker you decide to go with. The current 3.1m gulf in value can transform your team one way or the other. Going with both however, is highly unprecedented and not entirely efficient as you would sacrifice on premium assets from other teams.

On the one hand we have Salah who in just his first season, established himself as FPL royalty and is already a Hall of Famer. On the other is Mane, who spent last season in his team-mate’s shadow but is threatening to steal his crown this term.

WHY CHOOSE MANE

The Senegalese international has scored four goals already and is playing in a similar role to Salah on the opposite flank. He started at a value 4m cheaper than Salah at 9m but has since risen to 9.9m because of his good form.

Even now, the 3.1m saved from opting for him over the Egyptian can enable you to afford another premium midfielder as well like Eden Hazard (10.7m). Choosing Salah would mean surrendering that luxury and settling for a mid-range midfielder instead in the region of 7m.

In terms of value, Mane is currently twice as good as Salah. According to the FPL’s Value index (form vs price), he boasts a ratings of 1.0 to Salah’s 0.5.

WHY CHOOSE SALAH

For starters, he delivered 303 points last season, an all-time high, and deserves more than four gameweeks of your loyalty. He hasn’t done badly either, he just hasn’t hit the heights of last season yet.

However, his underlying stats are identical to what they were last term, suggesting that he’s currently underachieving while Mane is clearly overachieving. Sooner or later, it will start to tell in the points column.

An under-performing Salah has still managed two goals and two assists so far. Not too shabby at all. He also doubles Mane in terms of key passes per game (3.3 to 1.5) and shots per game (4.8 to 2.5).

CONCLUSION

What is more likely? Mane continues to put away every chance and maintain the kind of run in form he has never achieved before or Salah starts to be a little more efficient and surpass him?

Last season’s Player the Year has more shots at goal and is attempting more assists that his team-mate. At the end of the day, it may just come down to Salah taking his chances. The Egyptian has missed four big chances so far this season, Mane has missed none.

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