European Super League: Klopp urges Liverpool fans and players to be united

By Sports Desk April 19, 2021

Jurgen Klopp expressed his support for "competitive football" but urged Liverpool's players and fans to be united as opposition to the proposed European Super League mounts.

Liverpool were one of 12 clubs included in an announcement on Sunday for a breakaway competition featuring some of Europe's elite teams, including all of the Premier League's 'big six'.

Condemnation of the project has been vitriolic and near-universal throughout football, while Klopp himself has previously voiced opposition when such proposals were mooted.

The Liverpool manager maintained that stance in defiance of his club's owners ahead of Monday's Premier League match against Leeds United, but he bridled at reports of fans removing banners from Anfield and the hosts warming up at Elland Road with shirts reading "Earn it" – in reference to the Reds' bid to qualify for the Champions League – and "Football is for the fans".

"I'm 53 years old and since I was a professional player the Champions League was there, I think. It was not possible as a player, but as a manager the aim was always to coach a team there," he told Sky Sports, whose pre-match coverage featured a sustained assault on the Super League plans from pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

"I obviously have no issues with the Champions League, I like the competitive fact of football as well. I like the fact that West Ham may play Champions League football next year, I don't want them to, to be honest, because we want to do that, but I like that they have the chance.

"What can I say, it's really not easy. Liverpool Football Club is much more than some decisions and the most important part of football is the supporters and the team. We have to make sure that really nothing gets in between that.

"I have heard we have pulled banners down at Anfield and I don't understand that because the players didn't do anything wrong. We didn't win all the games, but we go with everything. We want to qualify for the Champions League next year. We need to stick together.

"When other people from other clubs use our anthem [You'll Never Walk Alone] against us, I don't like it as well. We can show that nobody has to walk alone in these moments. There are things that we have to sort, obviously, but it has nothing to do with the relationship between the supporters and the team – that, for me, is really important.

"In tough times, you have to show that you really stick together. That doesn't mean that you agree to everything, but – again – the boys didn't do anything wrong apart from not winning all the games. I really want to make sure everyone knows that."

On Monday, UEFA announced its own plans for an expanded 36-team Champions League format, another development that wearies Klopp.

"I know some things will change in football, I know some things have to change, for sure," he said. "The power, where it is at is not quite right.

"UEFA cannot just decide things, FIFA cannot just decide things, everybody plans more competitions. UEFA showed me [the Champions League plans] few months ago and I told them there are more games, so I don't like it.

"For the [Super League] clubs it's about money, but what do you think for UEFA it's about? FIFA wants the Club World Cup whenever that should be, but that's about money, nothing else.

"It's not only these clubs, things will change, some things have to change.

"One thing I can understand that the people think is not right is the competitiveness. I get that. I said that before."

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    "We definitely want to keep Erling with us next season. You can see his value, you saw how committed he is last Saturday against Leipzig, with joy.

    "Besides we still have it in our own hands, we just have to win twice more now. We have managed the club solidly for so many years, when we go into the second or third year of the coronavirus, then we have to take out a few loans at some point we will pay them back.

    "But there is absolutely no economic need to sell him, regardless of whether it is a Europa League or Champions League."

    Watzke also casually revealed that interim head coach Edin Terzic had extended his deal with the club to presumably work as an assistant under Marco Rose.

    "Edin Terzic did a great job," he said. "He took over the team in December, it was half dead, and he brought it to life. That is a huge achievement at his first coaching station.

    "He's holding the keys in his hand. He extended a long-term contract a few weeks ago.

    "He's a Dortmund boy, he lives and breathes the club. If Edin wants to do something different, then we have to work with him. But we won't do that now."

    Terzic was delighted with the DFB-Pokal success but remained focused on the bigger picture, with Dortmund determined to confirm a top four league spot with two games to play.

    "That was definitely not our best game, but we found the key to success," he said.

    "Now we all deserve to enjoy this evening tonight but the season is not over for us yet."

    Outgoing Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who will finish his time at the club without a trophy, said it was a "painful" loss.

    "You can imagine that I'm not doing well but it's not about me, it's about the club," he said.

    "It's painful. I know what the headlines are like now… We still have two Bundesliga games that are not that pleasant. I'm not thinking about my move [to Bayern Munich] now.

    "I'm proud of the boys. "We weren't the worse team, we just scored fewer goals. Dortmund makes a lot out of a little."

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