Football: Klopp hits back at Neville brothers

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp

War of words over Karius' form continues as Klopp refuses to reveal if stopper starts today

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has launched a scathing attack on Gary Neville, claiming that his failure as Valencia coach has undermined his credibility when judging players, as the war of words intensified over the form of Loris Karius.

The Liverpool goalkeeper was at fault for conceding Dimitri Payet's free kick in the 2-2 draw with West Ham on Sunday, a week after his error handed Bournemouth a 4-3 comeback victory.

Jamie Carragher, the Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool defender, had led the criticism. Former Manchester United defender Neville weighed in and his brother, Phil, who also played for United as well as Everton, also questioned the performances of the summer signing from Mainz.

Klopp hit back on Monday, saying of Gary: "He showed he struggled with the job to judge players, so why do we let him talk about players on television?"

While the Liverpool manager went on the offensive, aiming that blast at Neville for his four-month stint in charge of Valencia, he stopped short of revealing whether he would keep faith with Karius for the Premier League match at Middlesbrough today.

"First of all, my job is to protect the players as much as I can," said Klopp, whose side have hit their first wobble of the league campaign, taking five points from their last four games.

FAILED AS A MANAGER

He showed he struggled with the job to judge players, so why do we let him talk about players on television?

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender who lasted just four months as manager of Valencia. Neville, now a Sky Sports pundit, was critical of recent performances by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.

"Criticism from outside is normal... (But) the pundits, former players most of them, forget completely how it felt when they got criticised, especially the Neville brothers. The one who was the manager, he obviously should know that too much criticism never helps.

"He is not interested in helping a Liverpool player, I imagine. Obviously the Neville brothers don't like Liverpool... By the way, you can tell (Gary) I am not on Twitter so if he wants to tell me something, Twitter doesn't help."

After Klopp's outburst, Gary tweeted: "Haha. I'm not a chef but I know a good steak!"

For all the name-calling, the crux of the issue remains Karius' ability to establish himself as Liverpool's first-choice goalkeeper for the foreseeable future. Today's game comes with debate among fans as to whether Simon Mignolet, unhappy at losing his No. 1 status this season, should return and Karius, 23, taken out of the line of fire.

"No answer for this," said Klopp, when asked whether the German would remain in goal on Teesside.

Klopp is likely to be without Daniel Sturridge again while Dejan Lovren is also a doubt. Emre Can will miss out because of a knee injury. Philippe Coutinho is targeting the match at home to Manchester City on New Year's Eve for his return from ligament damage to his right ankle.

Boro midfielder Adam Forshaw urged his team-mates not to dwell on Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Southampton, which left Aitor Karanka's side three points above the relegation zone. Boro won two of their last three home games and can be encouraged as Liverpool are without a win on their last seven visits.

"We've been playing some decent stuff, and we're on a good run at home," said Forshaw.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

MIDDLESBROUGH V LIVERPOOL
Singtel TV Ch105 & StarHub Ch230, tomorrow, 3.45am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Klopp hits back at Neville brothers'. Print Edition | Subscribe