Liverpool will pay their own tribute at Melwood to the 96 people unlawfully killed at Hillsborough, with the manager Jürgen Klopp describing the 28th anniversary of the disaster as a significant day “for the whole of football”.
Saturday’s anniversary is the first to pass without a memorial service at Anfield after the Hillsborough Family Support Group informed the club last year that the 2016 service would be the last. A service is being held at the city’s Anglican cathedral at 2.45pm and will alternate with the Catholic cathedral on an annual basis, while Klopp will halt training to lead a tribute from the playing staff.
Liverpool’s manager and the captain, Jordan Henderson, will lay flowers at Anfield and later the squad and club staff will observe a minute’s silence in front of a Hillsborough memorial which has been temporarily moved to Melwood at the request of the HFSG. That will be at 3.06pm – the time the 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest was stopped.
Klopp said: “This is a day of special significance for the LFC family; in fact it is a day of significance for the whole of football – but us more so. We will of course mark the occasion as a team, this is important. I know, at the wish of the families, this is the first year where the service does not take place at Anfield but that doesn’t mean we won’t stop and remember in an appropriate manner.
“There is a memorial at Melwood, with the names of the 96 people who lost their lives on 15 April 1989. We, as a team, will pause, show our respect and remember them on this day. For the victims, the families of those who died and the survivors, their story will always be our story. Their memory and the spirit of those who fought for them long after their deaths, will always be a reason for inspiration and hope, as well as sorrow.”
Liverpool visit West Bromwich Albion on Sunday seeking to strengthen their claims on Champions League qualification, with six matches remaining. Klopp started without Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino at Stoke City last weekend because of illness and fatigue respectively, and was indebted to the influential Brazilian pair for the 2-1 victory. Firmino’s fitness remains an issue, according to Klopp, but the manager is hopeful the precautions taken at Stoke will be a one-off.
“Phil is absolutely OK to play but with Roberto I would say we still have to manage him,” he said. “I know how it sounds when I tell a player to play the whole game and then I say he was really ‘done’ after the Bournemouth game. Then it is all ‘He’s a professional, lots of money’ and all that. What is clear with Roberto is that he always gives everything. In the Bournemouth game he was different, not really fresh. After the game we had to think about it. It’s still a little bit like this but I’m pretty sure both will be fine for Sunday.
“In this week until now Roberto did the full programme so far. We worked on his freshness and getting back his freshness, that is all. In the second half when he came on against Stoke it was brilliant. Before the game we couldn’t imagine it would be like this but I’m so happy it was.”