Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp and James Milner critical of Super League plans

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Andy Hunter
·4-min read
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Jürgen Klopp has criticised the European Super League plan being pursued by his own employers at Liverpool but vowed not to resign and insisted he would try to “sort it somehow” with Fenway Sports Group. The Liverpool manager remains opposed to any super league project and was stung by the furious reaction of Leeds’ supporters towards himself and his team before the 1-1 draw at Elland Road.

“The team has nothing to do with it,” Klopp said, after James Milner spoke out against the proposal and confirmed: “I don’t like it and I don’t want it to happen.” Klopp was only informed of FSG’s plans on Sunday and is unhappy at the lack of competitiveness in the proposed league, with 15 self-appointed founding members having permanent residence in the competition, and the division it has created between Liverpool supporters and the club.

Related: Revealed: unpublished Super League document justifying breakaway

But the manager who delivered Liverpool’s first league title in 30 years last season insists he would not walk away from the job, despite the latest rupture caused by FSG. “I am here as a football coach and manager and I will do that as long as people let me do that,” he said. “I heard today that I will resign. That makes me more sticky that I will stay. I feel responsible for the team, I feel responsible for the club and the relationship we have with our fans. It is a very tough time but I will try to help to sort it somehow.”

Klopp was aggrieved by Leeds’ players wearing T-shirts in the warm-up that stated: “Football is for the fans. Earn it.” He also criticised Gary Neville, the Sky pundit, for bringing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” into his condemnation of the project and believes personal criticism of Liverpool’s football staff is grossly unfair.

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He added: “The team has nothing to do with it and I have not really anything to do with it but people treat us like we do. Leeds supporters came here today before the game and were shouting at us.

“In the city when we had a walk this afternoon people were shouting at us. We are employees of the club. I am responsible for a lot of things and when I am involved in things I take the criticism easily, but we are not involved in this.

Related: Power grab in a pandemic: how absence of fans gave greedy owners their chance | Barney Ronay

“It is a tough one at the moment when you hear all your pundits talking about it. This club is bigger than all of us. We should not forget this. This club was built in difficult times and went through difficult times. That is really important to mention because when people like Martin Samuel [Daily Mail journalist] say they should condemn us to hell, that is not right. Gary Neville has not the right to talk about our anthem. Our owners made a decision but that is one part of the club. The whole club is bigger than any of us. They should calm it down a bit. We are human beings. The Leeds supporters did not know we had nothing to do with it. They were shouting at us like I said: ‘Let’s go to the Super League!’ You are dealing with human beings here.”

Liverpool supporters’ groups responsible for decorating the Kop during lockdown are to remove their banners and flags this week in protest. Spion Kop 1906 announced on Twitter: “We feel we can no longer give our support to a club which puts financial greed above integrity of the game.”

Klopp said: “I understand that they are angry, absolutely, my problem is that the banners are there for the team. I would leave them there. We still have a lot to go for. The last six years we created a great relationship with the supporters and I understand that we want to act and want to show anger but we should not forget the team had nothing to do with it. In these moments they take their support away from the team and nobody else.”

After Monday’s game, the Leeds forward Patrick Bamford also spoke out. “I can’t quite comprehend [it]”, Bamford said. “It’s amazing the amount of uproar when somebody’s pocket is being hurt. It’s a shame that doesn’t happen with issues like racism.”