Liverpool chief admits regret over controversial plan to furlough club

‘We got it wrong’: Liverpool chairman Tom Werner admits regret over plan to furlough club staff before fans’ backlash prompted U-turn

  • Tom Werner has admitted Liverpool made a mistake over plan to furlough staff 
  • Fenway Sports Group, the Liverpool owners, faced fierce criticism in April
  • Furious backlash from fans and former players led FSG to reverse their decision

Chairman Tom Werner has admitted Liverpool made a mistake when they announced plans to furlough staff, but hopes the quick U-turn shows their commitment to the club.

Fenway Sports Group, the Liverpool owners, faced fierce criticism at the beginning of April when they revealed they would take advantage of the Government scheme paying 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 a month.

The furious backlash from fans and former players led FSG to reverse their decision within 48 hours, reminiscent of when they changed their stance on raising ticket prices to as much as £77 — which led to a mass walkout at Anfield in February 2016.

Chairman Tom Werner has admitted Liverpool made a mistake over plan to furlough staff

‘It’s better to admit a mistake than to dig your heels in,’ Werner said.

‘Hopefully people will know that all we really care about is trying to support the fans and support our players and our club in a way that is sustainable.’

Werner, who is one of the key figures at FSG alongside John W Henry and Mike Gordon, is approaching 10 years in charge of Liverpool and these unprecedented times have him yearning for football to resume.

‘It’s a terrible situation we’re all in,’ he said. ‘Someday, hopefully, there will be a vaccine and we can return to the joy of being in a stadium and watching the elegant play of great football players.

Liverpool performed a dramatic U-turn on their decision to furlough non-playing staff

‘The most important thing is safety and the Premier League are working on protocols. But there’s a hole in so many people’s lives. Football is central to their dreams and their hopes.

‘Certainly, as regards to Liverpool, we are playing magnificent football and we are just a couple of matches away from winning the trophy. But I do put it in perspective.’

Liverpool were on the brink of administration when FSG won the battle to buy the club from Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The last three years have been their most successful, with Jurgen Klopp’s side winning the Club World Cup, the European Super Cup and, best of all, the Champions League.

The last three years have been the club’s most successful under Jurgen Klopp’s 

‘The 4-0 win over Barcelona (in the semi-final) was the single greatest sporting event I’ve ever seen,’ Werner said. ‘The reaction our supporters had in the stadium that day and around the world is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

‘I thought I could never imagine experiencing anything like (the parade that followed the 2-0 win over Tottenham in the final).

‘Then somebody said, “Well if we win the Premier League, this parade will be dwarfed”. I’m looking forward to a parade when we can all congregate again.’ 

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Jurgen Klopp admits he is loving the return of Bundesliga

‘In this part I’m a strange person’: Jurgen Klopp admits he is loving the return of Bundesliga and reveals he wasn’t put off by the lack of fans because he likes to watch football without the sound on

  • The Bundesliga season resumed at the weekend after two months away
  • Jurgen Klopp says he wasn’t put off by the lack of fans in the stands
  • He insists it is ‘completely normal’ for him to watch games without sound on 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Jurgen Klopp admits he loved seeing football back in his homeland last weekend despite all games being played behind closed doors.

Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume its season after the coronavirus brought the game to a standstill over two months ago.

For the Liverpool boss it was a relief to have the sport he loves back on his screen – and he revealed he is already no stranger to football without fans because he likes to watch without the sound on anyway. 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted he is loving the return of the Bundesliga in Germany

‘Look, I love it,’ he told Liverpool’s official website. 

‘In this part I’m a strange person; when I watch football – other games, not our games – I watch them most of the time without sound because I don’t want to hear the commentary, I’m just interested in the game.

‘So now for me it’s completely normal to watch other football games. I love the game, I’m interested in what they do and stuff like this.

Much of the fallout around the Bundesliga’s return centred around the absence of supporters, with many Ultra groups protesting against its resumption behind closed doors.

Erling Haaland kickstarted the return of football with Borussia Dortmund’s opening goal 

But Klopp sees little point in debating it with fans facing potentially a year before they can attend games again.

‘I know, football behind closed doors, of course it’s not the same. Why do we have to mention it?’, he continued.

‘We all love it when we have contact, when we get cheered up by the people, when they push us through the yards and all that stuff. We love that but we cannot have it.

‘Why would you think always about something you cannot have in the moment? Use the thing you have in the moment.

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Roy Hodgson admits cannot be forced to take part in Project Restart

‘It is a matter for the individual and the club’: Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson accepts he may not have all players available if they have concerns about Project Restart, but confirms he WILL be in the dugout when Premier League returns

  • Premier League players and bosses are preparing to return amid the coronavirus
  • Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson admits players could refuse to take part 
  • It is the first indication that teams may not have their full squad available to play
  • Hodgson has, however, confirmed that he will be in the technical area himself  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Roy Hodgson has conceded it should not be expected that all Premier League players will agree to return to action should Porject Restart get up and running. 

Top-flight clubs are continuing to meet in order to agree the perameters in which football can return to the UK, with discussions ongoing as to when matches can resume.

While clubs are desperate to get the season finished in a bid to plug the financial blackhole sucking away at funds, some players have expressed concern about returning to action in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Roy Hodgson admits players cannot be forced to take part in the Premier League’s restart 

The Crystal Palace manager was speaking to Richard Keys and Andy Gray in beIN Sports

Newcastle loanee Danny Rose and Sergio Aguero are among stars to express reservations about Project Restart, and, as revealed by Sportsmail on Tuesday evening, players are insisting they will not return to training this Monday. 

And Roy Hodgson has conceded that it could be the case that managers may find themselves without some members of their squads.

‘It’s a matter for the individual and for the club. I shall abide by whatever the club rules in that respect,’ he told the Keys and Gray Show on beIN Sports.

‘I would be very surprised, knowing my club as I do and knowing the chairman Steve Parish, that he would not be sympathetic to a player who came and said “I have serious reservations about playing”. 

‘I’m certain he would solve that situation, but it would be taken out of my hands. I wouldn’t have any problem with it.’

There was speculation that Hodgson himself may be prevented from taking his place in the dugout for the restart of the season, with it thought the 72-year-old may have been forced to continue self isolating due to his age. 

However, as revealed by Sportsmail last week, the former Inter and Liverpool boss has been given the green light to take his seat on the bench when play resumes, and the Eagles boss confirmed the news on Tuesday. 

Asked By Richard Keys if he would be able to return Hodgson answered: ‘Yes.  

It is the first time a Premier League boss has conceded some players may not be available

‘Age is age. It’s how you feel really. Your age doesn’t necessarily relate to your fitness or how you’re feeling, or your capacity to do a job. 

‘As far as I’m concerned, I feel every bit as good as I did on March 10th, in fact probably a little bit better because this time has given me more of a chance to work on my fitness than I had during the time I was working on a daily basis. 

‘When I’m called back to work I shall be very happy to go back to work.’

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Jamie Redknapp admits players may not feel 'totally safe' in training

Forget about PLAYING…players won’t even feel ‘totally safe’ at TRAINING, says Jamie Redknapp, despite Premier League bosses holding crucial meeting today to get Project Restart underway

  • The Premier League is meeting today to discuss the timetable for Project Restart
  • There are a number of concerns surrounding player safety and neutral venues 
  • Jamie Redknapp has voiced concern about the safety of players in training 
  • A third Brighton player tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Jamie Redknapp has voiced his concern about the safety of Premier League players returning to training, ahead of a crucial meeting on Monday about the resumption of the current season. 

Stakeholders from all 20 clubs will meet on Monday to discuss the timetable moving forward, in light of Boris Johnson’s statement on the coronavirus lockdown. 

But with a third Brighton player testing positive for Covid-19 over the weekend, former Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder Redknapp admitted if he was a player, he’d feel ‘nervous’ about returning to training due to concerns over safety. 

Jamie Redknapp has voiced his concern about the safety of players returning to training

The ex-Liverpool man believes players would not be ‘totally safe’ even in training conditions

‘There are no assurances going forward to get to that next phase – full contact and being ready to play PL football,’ Redknapp said on The Football Show on Sky Sports. 

‘I’d have felt more nervous, players need assurances and it is vitally important when they go back to training, they feel totally safe. Right now, I don’t think the assurances are there. 

‘I am really nervous about the season getting started. Lots of clubs will have their own agendas. They are already having problems in Germany and we will have problems.’

The return of the Premier League, with Liverpool champions-in-waiting, is still up in the air

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is pushing ahead with Project Restart

The Bundesliga in Germany is due to restart this Saturday, though that’s despite two  Dynamo Dresden players testing positive for the virus, resulting in the cancellation of their 2.Bundesliga game against Hannover on May 17.  

‘We are talking about a global pandemic when hundreds of people are dying every day and we’re talking about going back and playing full contact,’ Redknapp continued.

‘We need football back to lift the nation, but only when people stop dying. We need to get to the end of this pandemic, when people feel more confident going back to work.’ 

Dynamo Dresden squad have been forced into quarantine after two players tested positive

Some Premier League teams returned to training last week, with players exercising within a safe distance of each other as per the government guidelines. 

Provisionally, a date of 18 May had been pencilled in for clubs to return to full training.

Not all are in favour of Project Restart though, with plenty of dissenting voices arguing that players’ safety could be compromised if the wrong moves are made. 

Gary Neville says Project Restart could get pushed further back after Boris Johnson’s speech

If a restart date is agreed, another hurdle to overcome is that of venues, with some arguing in favour of neutral grounds being used, while others – like Brighton chief Paul Barber – want usual home and away matches across the 20 top-flight stadia.  

While the Prime Minister insisted we are past the peak of the virus, lockdown was not lifted and few instant changes have been made to help the Premier League’s decision.

That leaves plenty still to be discussed in the latest Project Restart meeting on Monday, as executives of the 20 top-flight clubs continue their battle. 

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Rangnick admits Leipzig's £52m star Timo Werner WOULD suit Liverpool

‘He would fit a club like Liverpool’: RB Leipzig chief Ralf Rangnick admits £52m star man Timo Werner WOULD suit a switch to Anfield but insists: ‘I’d prefer him to stay here!’

  • Timo Werner has been consistently linked with a move from Leipzig to Liverpool
  • His old boss Ralf Rangnick has admitted he would fit Liverpool’s style of play
  • Rangnick heaped praise on Werner’s ‘quick movement and his powerful finish’
  • He did insist he would rather the striker stayed at Leipzig than go to Liverpool 

Timo Werner would be suited to Liverpool’s style of play should he complete a £52million move to the Premier League giants, according to his former coach Ralf Rangnick.

Werner has long been linked with a switch to Anfield and now one of the men who knows him best has admitted that he would be an astute signing for Jurgen Klopp and Co.

Rangnick is currently working with Leipzig and others in his role as Red Bull’s Head of Sport and Development having left as the club’s coach in 2019, and spent three seasons coaching Werner.

RB Leipzig star Timo Werner (right) has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool

His old coach Ralf Rangnick admits that Werner would be well-suited to a club like Liverpool

‘The league is less important, but the club, from a purely hypothetical point of view, I would better see him in good hands with a club that is not necessarily defined by ball possession football,’ Rangnick told BILD.

‘Since Timo has made progress under Julian Nagelsmann, his most important weapons, however, are the quick switching movement and his powerful finish.

‘Therefore, he would rather fit a club like Liverpool, which is similar to our style of play, but I would prefer him to stay here.’

This season Werner has once again shone for Leipzig, and he now has 88 goals in 150 games since joining from Stuttgart in 2016.

Werner has a big decision to make regarding his future when the transfer window next opens

His future is now up in the air, though, and Rangnick admits he has a decision to make if and when the transfer window opens this summer. 

‘In the end, it is up to Timo to decide what he wants to do. Here in Leipzig he knows what he has,’ he said.

‘Here he can play Champions League again next year. And Timo is someone who also needs trust. He only gets that if the respective trainer knows him and relies on him.’

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Paulo Dybala admits he would love to reunite with Paul Pobga

‘I had the chance to share great things with him and hopefully I can repeat that someday’: Paulo Dybala admits he would love to reunite with Paul Pobga after successful spell at Juventus

  • Juventus star Paulo Dybala says he wants to play with Paul Pogba again one day 
  • The pair won the double together at Juventus during the 2015-16 season 
  • Pogba and Dybala swapped shirts when Manchester United played Juventus

Juventus star Paulo Dybala has revealed that he would love to be team-mates with Paul Pogba again one day.

The pair played together at Juventus in the 2015-16 season, winning the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia before Pogba returned to Manchester United in 2016. 

Dybala was discussing his favourite shirts that he has collected during his career, with one such item being the shirt Pogba gave him when Juventus beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Champions League in 2018.

Paulo Dybala would like to play with his ex-Juventus team-mate Paul Pogba again one day

Dybala told UEFA’s official website: “I couldn’t overlook a shirt like this, of course.

“It’s from Manchester, from my friend Paul, whom I admire as a person even more than as a football player.

“I had the chance to share great things with him and hopefully I can repeat that someday.”

Pogba and Dybala swapped shirts after Manchester United took on Juventus in October 2018

Pogba and Dybala worked well together during their time at Juventus and it will be intriguing to see whether they will be on the same side again in the future.

There has been much speculation regarding whether Pogba will stay at United, and a return to Juventus has been mooted as a possibility..

The 27-year-old has shown glimpses of brilliance since returning to United but has struggled to perform consistently and this season has been hampered by injuries.

Dybala, meanwhile, has scored 13 goals and provided 12 assists in 34 appearances for Juventus this season.

The Argentina international has won the Serie A title in each season he has been at Juventus so far, and his side are currently one point clear at the top of the table.  

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Jason Roy admits to feeling like a 'pawn' amid coronavirus pandemic

England batsman Jason Roy admits to feeling like a ‘pawn in the sporting world’ amid coronavirus pandemic but insists no player should be forced into taking the field

  • Jason Roy has been hitting a tennis ball against the wall to try and keep his touch 
  • He is itching to return to action but said not if it at the expense of people’s health
  • If cricket does return in July it will be four months since Roy batted in any format
  • But the England white-ball opener is set on reclaiming a spot in the Test side 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Jason Roy has admitted he feels like a ‘pawn’ in the debate about the return of sport during the coronavirus pandemic – and warned that no player should take the field if they feel uncomfortable.

England’s white-ball opener says he has been going ‘stir crazy’ during the lockdown, hitting a tennis ball against a wall as he attempts to stay in some kind of touch.

And though he is itching to return to action as he bids both to build on last summer’s World Cup success and reclaim the Test place he lost during the Ashes, he is adamant he will not do so at the expense of his health.

Jason Roy has said he feels like a ‘pawn’ regarding the return of sport during the pandemic

Roy admitted he is itching to play again after the coronavirus crisis brought cricket to a halt

‘I won’t be going to my bosses and saying: ‘Put me in the front line’,’ he said. ‘I’ll just get told what to do. I’m just a pawn in the sporting world.

‘Everyone is missing sport, but safety comes first. If an individual wants to go on to the front line and put himself at risk, then good on him. But if somebody doesn’t want to, then I don’t think they should be criticised. I’m not sure it’s the case that the country desperately needs us to play cricket to make themselves feel better.’

The ECB, who have already ruled out any cricket before July, continue to investigate the possibility of staging matches in bio-secure environments and behind closed doors. Yet even a July 1 start would mean Roy hadn’t picked up a bat for nearly four months, stretching back to his appearances for Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.

‘It is a huge chunk out of my international career, for sure,’ he said. ‘I’m 29: the big three-O is in July and time is moving very fast, but I try not to look at it too negatively.

But Roy, who has not batted since the PSL two months ago, believes safety must come first

‘It is a huge shame what is happening now, and to be missing this amount of cricket is quite a daunting feeling, because you don’t quite know how you are going to feel when you get back. You can watch videos and make yourself feel good and train well but, until you’re facing that first ball in the middle, you don’t really know.

‘You’ve got a worry over your shoulder after three or four months out of the game… are you going to be able to bat?’

If and when cricket is deemed safe to return, Roy – who was dropped for the fifth Ashes Test after averaging 13 against Australia – has set himself the task of a Test comeback. It is a challenge made tougher by the winter success of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley.

If and when cricket does return, Roy has set the challenge of reclaiming a Test match spot

‘They found a nice couple of players to fill that spot,’ he said. ‘But I worked very hard to crack the nut in Test cricket, and for it to get taken away from me that quickly was really heartbreaking. I’m going to be trying my hardest to get back into the side, and more than anything to try and prove myself wrong.

‘Scoring the weight of runs in white-ball cricket, and then not being able to do that in Test cricket, was upsetting, because I really felt like I could. I still feel like I can, but I just need to fight for my position again.

‘Test cricket’s the pinnacle, so it’s hard for me to sit back and say I’m a Test cricketer, because I haven’t quite succeeded at that.

‘Last summer was ridiculous. I’ve never felt so high and so low in such a short period of time. But it’s a pretty small speed bump.’

Roy was dropped from the Ashes squad last summer after averaging 13 against Australia


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Gyan admits to crying after penalty miss in Ghana's defeat by Uruguay

‘This will haunt me for the rest of my life’: Asamoah Gyan admits he cried all night after missing last-minute penalty in Ghana’s World Cup quarter-final shootout defeat by Uruguay in 2010

  • Asamoah Gyan had the chance to put Ghana into the World Cup semi-finals
  • It came after Luis Suarez handled Dominic Adiyiah’s header late on in extra time 
  • Uruguay striker Suarez was subsequently sent off for the handball offence 
  • But Gyan’s spot kick hit the bar before going over to confirm a penalty shootout
  • Uruguay went on to win the penalty shootout 4-2 and book a semi-final spot

Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan has admitted his extra-time penalty miss for Ghana against Uruguay in their 2010 World Cup quarter-final will haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Black Stars reached the last-eight stage in South Africa in what was just their second World Cup campaign.

And Ghana were on the verge of becoming the first African team to reach a World Cup semi-final when they were awarded a penalty in added time of the second period of extra-time after Luis Suarez had used his hand to prevent Dominic Adiyiah’s header from finding the net.

Asamoah Gyan has admitted the penalty miss for Ghana against Uruguay still haunts him

Ghana were given the chance when Luis Suarez handled in added time of extra time in 2010

The Uruguayan was given a straight red card but Gyan wasted the consequent penalty after smashing it onto the bar before the ball looped over, and he admitted he cried all night after the miss.

‘Till today, any time alone, it still haunts me,’ the 34-year old told TV3 Ghana.

‘Sometimes I feel like the world should go back again so I can redeem myself, but I know this is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

‘I accept that because there is nothing I can do about it. I went there to save my country, but I ended up being the villain, which I accept because I know how people feel.

But Gyan wasted the chance for Ghana to be the first African side to qualify for the semi-finals

‘It was a disaster. It was crazy. I was also calm because I couldn’t sleep the whole night because I was crying the whole night until morning so I was somehow calm because I couldn’t cry anymore.

‘All I was telling myself was to get another chance because I knew I could redeem myself even if not football, something else. But even if I don’t, my kids will do it one day.’

Gyan’s latest competition action with his country saw him used twice as a substitute in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, where they crashed out to Tunisia on penalties in the Round of 16.

Suarez was sent off but celebrated after his side won the World Cup quarter-final on penalties

The 34-year-old was not due to play after announcing his retirement just before the tournament, but was persuaded to reverse his decision following talks with Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo.

And Gyan, who is Ghana’s all-time top scorer with 51 goals in 109 caps, insists retirement has taken a back seat in his bid to try and secure national team honours, which is yet to happen in his 17-year international career.

‘It looks like people want to retire me, but I’m not done yet,’ the former Sunderland forward continued.

Gyan has not played a competition for Ghana since last year’s Africa Cup of Nations

‘I had a couple of injuries, but I’m getting back to full fitness. I’m now okay and feel good in my body. I have added a bit of weight that I have to work on and get back to shape.

‘Not winning a trophy with the Black Stars bothers me. Since 2003, I’ve gotten a bronze medal and silver; I want the gold, which I don’t have. So that is what bothers me until now and that is what I want to achieve.

‘For me, what will make somebody quit football is dedication, but it is still there so I feel I have a lot to prove and do on the field; when I see certain things, I feel like I can still do it.

‘A lot of people have tried, but I always say to myself I will call it a day on my own terms: nobody can retire me.’

But the country’s top scorer insists he wants to claim national honours before he retires


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Denly admits handing Crawley his first England cap made him nervous

Attack of the nerves! Joe Denly admits handing Zak Crawley his first England cap gave him the wobbles as veteran opens up on his Kent team-mate, Ollie Pope and series win in South Africa

  • Joe Denly admitted his nerves when presenting the England cap to Zak Crawley 
  • The Kent veteran is one of the older heads in a youthful England dressing room 
  • Denly says fellow batsmen Crawley and Ollie Pope are ‘outstanding’ prospects
  • The 34-year-old said England played some ‘incredible’ cricket in South Africa 

Joe Denly admits his nerves almost got the better of him during this winter’s tour to South Africa.

Surprisingly, however, it happened not when he was facing up to fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada or Vernon Philander, but when he was about to present Kent team-mate Zak Crawley with his first England cap.

The 34-year-old Denly is now one of the older heads in a youthful England dressing room that, at times this winter, contained six players under the age of 24. 

Among them was Crawley, who Denly has seen come through the Kent academy before graduating to county cricket and on into the England side. Which is why he didn’t want to fluff his lines for a moment that no England cricketer ever forgets.

Joe Denly admits he got nervous when he presented Zak Crawley with his first England cap

The 34-year-old Denly is now one of the older heads in a youthful England dressing room

‘It was a huge moment in my cricket career when I was asked to present him with his first Test cap,’ Denly told Sportsmail.

‘Normally, when you’re presented your England cap it’s from a former player who has played a lot for his country. But Joe Root asked me. What an honour that was.

‘To be honest, I was probably more nervous presenting him with his cap than I was when I walked out for my Test debut. It’s such a big deal for them and their family that you really want to get it right. In the end, thankfully, it was a lovely moment.

‘It’s been a while since Kent have had two players in the England side, you probably have to go back to when Geraint Jones and Rob Key played, so it’s great for the county. Above all, Zak is a top, top lad. I’m very proud to be playing alongside him at the start of his England career.’

Crawley’s performances in South Africa certainly suggest that he could be part of this England set-up for a long time.

Denly (R) said he is very proud to play alongside Kent teammate Crawley for England in Tests

His partnership at the top of the order with Dom Sibley laid the foundations for a series of convincing England batting displays — creating a platform for the likes of Surrey’s Ollie Pope to make hay once the shine had been taken off the ball. After scrabbling around attempting to find top-order batsmen capable of building an innings, England now appear to have a surplus of them.

‘You’ve got Zak and Ollie Pope who are both still only 22 — they’re two outstanding young cricketers,’ said Denly. ‘It’s exciting for English cricket, isn’t it? Zak got his opportunity through Rory Burns’ injury but I think everyone will agree that he looks every inch a Test cricketer.

‘I’m sure every England fan out there will be excited at watching those two players develop.

Denly believes England fans will be excited to discover how Crawley and Ollie Pope develop

‘What a player Ollie Pope is. His first-class record is absolutely phenomenal. I hadn’t played a great deal against him for Kent but having played with him in the winter and seeing the way he goes about his business — not just in games but also the way he trains and how he looks in the nets — he’s the full package.’

Denly himself continues to look the part for England without having kicked on to that big score which would truly cement his place in the side.

The closest he has come was his 94 in the final innings of last summer’s Ashes at the Oval but a run of five 50s in six Tests in 2019 suggests he has started to find his feet at the highest level.

Denly himself continues to look the part for England without having kicked on to that big score

As cricket, along with the rest of sport, goes into enforced hibernation, he can sustain himself with memories of some extra-ordinary England performances in the three Tests they have played so far this year.

Not least of those was their fifth-day triumph at Newlands in their first win over the hosts at the ground since 1957.

‘There was some incredible cricket in that South Africa series,’ he said. ‘That Cape Town Test was something else.

Denly maintains that England played some ‘incredible’ cricket during the South Africa series

‘I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game like that. It was a real old-school kind of Test that went down to the wire. It was phenomenal and then we had that end spell from Ben Stokes when he just blew them away.

‘It was pure elation at the end. You put a lot of hard graft into five days of cricket and to come out on top at the end was just sensational.’

Denly, like cricket fans up and down the country, will hope there are some more moments of magic to celebrate before 2020 is out.

Among the highlights there for Denly was Ben Stokes’ match-winning display at Newlands


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Klopp admits it was 'difficult' to deny Coutinho his Barcelona move

‘It was really clear he would not have asked me for any other club’: Jurgen Klopp admits it was ‘difficult’ to deny former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho his dream move to Barcelona

  • Jurgen Klopp says it was ‘difficult’ to deny Philippe Coutinho his Barcelona move
  • Coutinho made the move from Merseyside to the Nou Camp in 2018 for £145m
  • Klopp denied him the chance to move six months earlier due to an injury crisis
  • Coutinho has struggled at Barcelona and is now out on loan at Bayern Munich 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted it was ‘difficult’ to deny Philippe Coutinho his dream move to Barcelona when he left Anfield.

The Brazilian midfielder finally got his move to the Nou Camp in January 2018 in a deal worth £145million after drawn-out negotiations between the Reds and the Spanish giants.

Coutinho wanted to leave Anfield in the summer of 2017 but stayed put out of loyalty to the Reds who needed midfield cover due to injuries. 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says it was ‘difficult’ to deny Philippe Coutinho a Barcelona move

Coutinho eventually joined the Spanish giants in a huge deal worth £145m in January 2018

But when Barcelona came back in for him in the winter window Klopp admitted he had no chance but to grant the Brazilian his dream move. 

Speaking to the Pure Football Podcast, Klopp said: ‘I really respected Phil’s switch from the first second.

‘Not that I do that all the time but it felt “oh wow that could be difficult”.

‘So it’s not about yes we signed a new contract so many weeks before that but it was really clear he would not have asked me for any other club but for this club, there was no chance.

‘Then we had to be hard in the summer (2017) because we had no other solution. We lost Adam Lallana [to injury] in that time as well, we would have lost two players.

‘That’s not possible, you cannot solve that on the transfer market.

‘He was open to that [staying] and that was really cool. Then you have to be fair in the window (January 2018) and say we can do it, we don’t like it but we can do it.’ 

He has struggled for form since arriving in Spain and has been on loan at Bayern this season

Coutinho has struggled to prove value for money though, struggling for form in his two years at the Nou Camp.

He was cast aside last summer and joined Bayern Munch on loan but again has struggled to put together a consistent run of form.

Talk of a return to England is on the rise and Manchester United reportedly lead Leicester, Chelsea and Tottenham in trying to bring him back to the Premier League. 

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