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Ian Rush talks Liverpool hopes, Klopp, US tour, Wales, praises Klinsmann

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Liverpool legend Ian Rush is incredibly excited about what lies ahead for Liverpool.

Not only on their tour of the U.S. this summer but beyond it as the Reds aim to get back into the Premier League’s top four during the 2016-17 season.

[ MORE: Full PL preseason schedule ]

Rush, 54, is the all-time leading goalscorer for Liverpool and the Welsh national team, winning two European Cups, five league titles and three FA Cups during his distinguished career at Anfield. He is now a Global Ambassador for the club as well as being the Elite Performance Director for the Welsh Football Trust.

In an exclusive chat with ProSoccerTalk via phone ahead of their preseason trip to the USA, Rush spoke to us about Liverpool’s targets for the upcoming season, Jurgen Klopp‘s progress, his thoughts on the growth of the game in the USA, being part of Wales’ incredible success at EURO 2016 and also spoke highly of current U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Read the full transcript of our discussion below as Liverpool prepare to face Chelsea at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Wednesday Jul. 27 and AC Milan in Santa Clara on Jul. 30 in the International Champions Cup before heading to St. Louis to play AS Roma in a friendly on Aug. 1.


How have previous U.S. tours been with Liverpool?
It is the third time I’ve been now on the U.S. tour and the first time we went, we didn’t know what to expect. For me it was amazing. I didn’t realize how many Liverpool supporters there were in the USA. It is absolutely amazing and we are looking forward to it.

There seems to be a huge Liverpool fanbase in the USA, great experience to be around?
Without doubt, not just the players but for the supporters and everything about it. It is a big test for the players because they are playing quality teams. I think it is a great tournament and something that sets the standard as well.

What do you put soccer’s growth in popularity down to in the USA?
First of all I think you put that down to 1994 when they had the World Cup in America, that was a big thing. But I think when Jurgen Klinsmann took the U.S. in the World Cup, he did really well and I think they had a really good World Cup in 2014. When you have a good World Cup, just like in Wales when we had a good Euros, everyone wants to grow up and play soccer. It is amazing what it does, when a country does well in a football tournament. I think that is the reason why.

Liverpool have U.S. owners and obviously the club has close links with the USA. How important is this tour for them?
It is very important, we have an outreach worldwide, not just in Europe. We go to Asia, America and in Asia we all know they’re football crazy but when you go to America, there are so many sports there that you don’t really know what to expect. For me, the last time we went there it was amazing to see how many American people came to watch. That put a new light on it. Soccer in America is getting bigger and bigger all the time.

BOSTON, MA - JULY 25: Francesco Totti #10 of AS Roma takes a free kick against Liverpool during a pre-season tour friendly match on July 25, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

What is the message the club will look to spread to fans in the USA?
At Liverpool we see ourselves as a family club. At home there are only 54,000 that can come there but there are millions and millions who want to watch Liverpool, so what we have to do is take Liverpool to other parts of the world. Our message is that we don’t come in and get out. As a club we see ourselves as a family club and we want to leave a lasting legacy. We don’t want to go there and leave, we want to put something down there and maybe go back again two years later. That’s how you create a family club and Liverpool has always been a family club.

With Chelsea, AC Milan and Roma coming up, will these be good tests to see where team is at right now?
They are massive tests. As a player the most important thing is that once you get your preseason in you, you are ready for the season then. There’s no good playing easy teams and winning 5-0 or 6-0 but also you don’t want to play really difficult teams right from the start so you will have to try and build yourself up. When you look at the Chelsea game, it is a big test for Chelsea as well. They have a new manager, they don’t know what to expect. With AC Milan and Roma, you always know what you’re going to get, it is always going to be a difficult game. From Chelsea and Liverpool’s point of view it is going to be a big test for us.

Speaking as a player, how important is it to get a good preseason in you?
If you don’t do you preseason you are always playing catch up after. With Jurgen Klopp, if you look when he first took over Liverpool, there were maybe three or four injuries early on because what he demands of a team is to give 100 percent work rate. You look at his teams in the past, they are always teams which give 100 percent. But now he has got the team from the start so once he gets this preseason in, hopefully there won’t be as many injuries, they will know what to expect and I think that will set the standard for the season.

The players having a full preseason under Jurgen Klopp, will that make a big difference?
100 percent. They all know what to expect now. The players who were with him last season, they all know what to expect. Maybe you will get teams that train twice a day but with Jurgen Klopp you will train maybe three times a day. That is the pressure he puts on and those are the demands. If you look at his teams with Dortmund in the past, he plays a high-pressing game. If you don’t give him 100 percent, you will not be playing for Jurgen Klopp. The demands are so high and that is the expectation so far.

Philippe Coutinho

So far, what have you made of Liverpool and the results in preseason?
The results have been fantastic but when you look at it, even the players on the fringe, what you have to do as a player is give the manager a problem. These players that have been playing have to give the manager a problem. Instead of the manager saying ‘this is my automatic starting XI’ he should be saying here’s 20 players… and then the manager has a problem. I think these young players that have come in, they’ve done that so far. It has been fantastic for the fringe players. When the first team players come back then Liverpool will say ‘hold up, we’ve been winning. We’ve got a problem here.’ There is competition for places and that is what Jurgen Klopp has done well so far.

Any players who have stood out in preseason? Danny Ings impressing after his recovery?
There are three or four I could mention but I don’t want to mention them because I don’t want to put the pressure on the players. Let them build their way in. Danny Ings, for me is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully he will be like a new signing. What I like about him is he plays off the shoulder of defenders. He is like an old fashioned center forward. He doesn’t go deep and he wants to get around the back of them and that causes defenders problems. It is really nice to see him get among the goals. For me, let’s see what he can do. He is experienced. He knows the Premier League and hopefully he will be like a new signing for Liverpool.

What about Liverpool’s Premier League hopes. Seems so open this season, so what is the target? Top four? Domestic trophy?
Top four. Simple as that. You are looking to make the Champions League next year. A trophy would be a bonus but because we are not in Europe now, it gives us a little bit more time to concentrate on the domestic trophies but also the league. The most important thing now is to get back in the Champions League. That is a realistic target. Chelsea have a new manager. Manchester United have a new manager. Manchester City have a new manager. Leicester won the league last year… I think we all have to look at Leicester and see what they achieved last year. Personally I think Liverpool have better individuals than Leicester, so if Leicester can do it, why not Liverpool? That’s what we are looking at, to get back in that top four. I would love them to win a trophy and because now we aren’t in Europe we have time to concentrate on the league and one of the trophies as well. That is the target.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 07: Ian Rush of Liverpool FC Legends celebrates after the match between Liverpool FC Legends and the Australian Legends at ANZ Stadium on January 7, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)
(Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)

This summer Wales excelled at EURO 2016, was is special to witness that in France as a proud Welshman?
It was absolutely amazing. I was out there for three-and-a-half weeks with Wales when they were out there. It just goes to show if Leicester could do it, Wales could do it, it is all about team spirit. If you look at it, England had better individuals than Wales. Wales got to the semifinals, England didn’t. That comes down to the team spirit, the manager, the coaching staff. I look at it similar to Liverpool. It is all about the fanbase and the team spirit. Liverpool have that. Wales have that 100 percent. It was absolutely amazing. It was the first time in 58 years that Wales were in a major tournament and they went over there, the fans responded and the players responded to that. It was an amazing occasion and we want to go on to better things now. We want to qualify for the World Cup. It is like Liverpool. We don’t want to get in and get out. Once you get in there, you want to stay there. Hopefully that is what we want to do for Wales. I am the Elite Performance Director of the Welsh FA. We put in the program eight years ago and it is bearing its fruits now, so it is amazing to see that. As a Welshman I was so proud to see them get to the semifinals.

Can the USA follow the same model as the likes of Wales and Iceland who did so well this summer?
100 percent. There are so many more people in America aren’t there? If you look at Wales and if they can do it, why can’t the USA do it? College soccer has been massive but to break through and to get it ready you need the grass roots in it. I know America has been doing it and I speak to Jurgen Klinsmann quite a lot. It has been bearing its fruit for about 15 years now and once you get the first team to do well, you need to kick on. I am sure the USA could kick on as well.

What are the best memories you have of the USA?
When you got to Disney Land, I went with my kids and it amazing and all that and I’ve been to LA, that was great. Funny enough, in 1994 I went to the World Cup with Nike and we were based in San Francisco and it was great to go and see that part of the world for me. I am looking forward to it. 1994 was the last time I was in San Francisco, going to Alcatraz and things like that, it is going to be amazing to see the difference this time around.

You’ve spoken highly of Jurgen Klinsmann, what do you think about the job he’s done with the U.S. national team?
I think he has done an amazing job. As a German, they want everything to be perfect and for me when you talk about England manager, if they had to be English that’s fair enough but Jurgen Klinsmann would definitely be high up on my list because he knows everything about the technical side. He has been a player, a world class player I played against in Italy and he came to play in England and he knows about all the leagues. Not just the USA. He knows about the German, the Italian… For me, him and Arsene Wenger are perfect examples to be the next England manager.

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 06: Former Wales striker Ian Rush watches the action during the UEFA EURO 2016 group B qualifying match between Wales and Israel at Cardiff City Stadium on September 6, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Preview, schedule: Huge 2016 International Champions Cup set to kick off

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Marcos Rojo of Manchester United slides in as Sergio Aguero of Manchester City and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United battle for the ball as during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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The 2016 International Champions Cup gets underway on Friday with the biggest collective summer preseason tournament on the planet kicking off.

The fourth edition is the biggest so far and features 17 teams from England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Italy Australia and France playing games in China, Europe, Australia and the USA.

[ MORE: Allardyce to England ]

American soccer entrepreneur Charlie Stillitano — the chairman of Relevant Sports which runs the ICC — and owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen M. Ross, are the men behind this competition as it continues to grow each summer.

Seven Premier League teams will be in ICC action with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all taking part, plus European giants Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.

[ VIDEO: Worst own goal ever by a goalkeeper? ]

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will square off as managers of Manchester United and Manchester City for the first time in Beijing, as one of the most eagerly anticipated rivalries in world soccer begins. German giants Borussia Dortmund will join them in China.

New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will face Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool at the Rose Bowl and they will both play AC Milan in the USA, plus Leicester City will travel to California to take on PSG and then travel back to Stockholm to play Barcelona as Claudio Ranieri‘s side get ready for their adventure in the UEFA Champions League for the upcoming season.

Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus and Atletico Madrid will all be based in Australia for the tournament, while local side Melbourne Victory will also take part in their homeland.

Below is the full schedule for the tournament, while there is also a pretty neat infographic via ticketbis which shows the eye-watering value of some of the squads taking part in the tournament.

Infographic, ICC, 2016


Full International Champions Cup schedule, 2016-17

USA 

24 July – Inter Milan v PSG – Eugene, Oregon
27 July – Real Madrid v PSG – Columbus, Ohio
27 July – Bayern Munich v AC Milan – Chicago, Illinois
27 July – Chelsea v Liverpool – Pasadena, California
30 July – Real Madrid v Chelsea – Ann Arbor, Michigan
30 July – Inter Milan v Bayern Munich – Charlotte, North Carolina
30 July – Liverpool v AC Milan – Santa Clara, California
30 July – PSG v Leicester City – Carson, California
3 August – Bayern Munich v Real Madrid – New Jersey
3 August – AC Milan v Chelsea – Minneapolis, Minnesota

China

22 July – Manchester United v Borussia Dortmund – Shanghai
25 July – Manchester City v Manchester United – Beijing
28 July – Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City – Shenzhen

Europe

23 July – Celtic v Leicester City – Glasgow
30 July – Celtic v Barcelona – Dublin
3 August – Barcelona v Leicester City – Stockholm
6 August – Liverpool v Barcelona – London
13 August – Inter Milan v Celtic – Limerick

Australia

23 July – Melbourne Victory v Juventus – Melbourne
26 July – Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur – Melbourne
29 July – Tottenham Hotspur v Atletico Madrid – Melbourne

Right man, right time: Why Sam Allardyce is perfect for England

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 19:  Manager Sam Allardyce of West Ham United looks concerned during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Crystal Palace at Boleyn Ground on April 19, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
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Sam Allardyce is expected to be named as the new England manager in the next 24 hours on a two-year contract.

[ MORE: Mourinho coy on Pogba talk ]  

This decision has split opinion but I believe the English Football Association have made a fine choice.

Quite simply: Allardyce is the right man for the job at this specific moment in time.

As soon as England decided to name an Englishman as their new manager, Allardyce, 61, was the standout choice.

Looking at some of the reasons why “Big Sam” is the man to rebuild England following their devastating exit from EURO 2016, it starts to become quite clear why the FA have tagged him to be the chief of a mammoth reclamation project.

Allardyce will need to instill belief, self-confidence and discipline into the Three Lions. If he heard that in the interview process he will be thinking ‘good’ because he’s done that wherever he has managed before. If anyone can restore hunger to England’s players, something which looked to be severely lacking this summer under Roy Hodgson, it’s Allardyce.

The fact of the matter is, Allardyce has overachieved with every team he has managed. Look at the facts.

He took Bolton Wanderers from the second-tier to the Premier League’s upper echelons, attracting players like Ivan Campo, Youri Djorkaeff and Jay-Jay Okocha to Lancashire. He left Wanderers in 2007 but in eight years he had transformed them with his use of ProZone and other advanced technology which allowed him to get the most out of his scant resources.

[ MORE: Everton appoint Leicester guru Walsh ]

He then had a brief stint at Newcastle United where he clashed with owner Mike Ashley but it wasn’t exactly disastrous as they were midtable. He joined Blackburn for two years from 2008-10, rescuing them from a perilous situation and finishing in the top half of the table in his only full season in charge. After that he led West Ham United to promotion from the Championship to the Premier League and although criticized for long-ball tactics by his own fans, he worked with what he had and stabilized the Hammers as a PL club, building a base for Slaven Bilic to take to the next level.

Joining Sunderland in 2015 he again showed his penchant for being a master of reclamation as he kept the Black Cats up with a game to spare after they were left in a mess by Dick Advocaat. He went back to basics and found ways of grinding out results, by being horrible to play against a clinical in attack.

Now, that’s all well and good but what does it prove? To me it proves Allardyce has got the most out of the resources at his disposal wherever he has gone.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Sam Allardyce, manager of Sunderland gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on May 7, 2016 in Sunderland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

He has some simple philosophies that he shares in his autobiography and also openly speaks about in the media. He is a brash character from northern England who speaks his mind and has a presence about him when he walks into a press conference. You sit up and take notice.

From a soccer point of view, he has strong values in setting his teams up to be organized and tough to beat. Ask anybody who has watched his teams play regularly. They will tell you it isn’t always the most riveting to watch but he will get results and you will hardly see one of his teams collapse after leading. His players stand up and fight for each other and England need that now more than ever as they look to bounce back from a huge disappointment. They need to become hard to beat and not throw away games at pivotal moments.

In fact, looking at stats released by Opta, Allardyce’s teams have won 64 percent of their games in the PL when they’ve scored the first goal. He is a big believer in strong defensive performances, in protecting what you have. When you look at England’s results at EURO 2016 — giving up a late goal against Russia to draw 1-1 then losing to Iceland 2-1 in the Round of 16 after going 1-0 up — this is something they badly need.

Allardyce is also flexible when it comes to formations. He is not so rigid where he will play 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 consistently but he likes to mix it up. That shows that you have a manager who is confident in his own ability to organize players into shapes and systems because he believes they all want to work with him and under him. They often do. It is very rare you here a player speak poorly of Allardyce. He is honest and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. That is exactly what this young England team needs.

I remember sat at a Sunderland game against Crystal Palace last season where they won 1-0 thanks to a late Jermain Defoe strike. Allardyce played Patrick Van Aanholt and Billy Jones as wing backs and totally nullified the threat of Palace’s wingers Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha. He had done his homework and wasn’t afraid to tweak things as the game went on and that’s just one example of how he’s a thinking man’s coach, no matter if his gruff demeanor and penchant for chewing vast wads of chewing gum suggest otherwise.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Sam Allardyce, manager of Sunderland celebrates staying in the Premier League after victory during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

We are talking about a man who has vast experience in game management and isn’t afraid to try new things. He’s spoken about how he has embraced transcendental meditation for well over a decade to switch off and given the stresses and pressures of the England job, he will be doing a lot more of that in the months to come.

Allardyce is called “Big Sam” for a reason and that’s not just going back to his days as a bruising central defender.

He has the ability to galvanize teams and help them achieve more than they should. He has never been afforded the opportunity to work with such a talented group of players as he will with England.

Going forward, it may not be the most exciting product to watch but Allardyce will get results. I think he may surprise a few people too because now he has great players to work with and his tactics may be slightly different than before.

Allardyce’s beliefs of strong defense first will always remain but now he has the job he’s craved, let’s see if he can repair a damaged England side by going back to basics. Right now, he is perfect for what they need.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Wijnaldum to Liverpool, Sane to Man City stalls

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06:  Georginio Wijnaldum of Newcastle United celebrates as his cross deflects off Martin Skrtel of Liverpool for their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on December 6, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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According to multiple reports Georginio Wijnaldum is having a medical at Liverpool.

The Dutch midfielder, 25, scored 11 times in his debut season in the Premier League in 2015-16 but was relegated with Newcastle United.

[ MORE: Mourinho coy on Pogba talk ] 

A report in the Guardian claims that Wijnaldum will join Liverpool for $32 million.

Wijnaldum is able to play a varity of positions with attacking midfield and out of the wing his most favored but he can also play in central midfield. Jurgen Klopp has already had a busy summer, signing five players and letting plenty more leave Anfield.

Wijnaldum would be a little different to Liverpool’s other attacking midfielders but they are stacked in that area of the pitch with Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana in those positions. Perhaps Klopp would use Wijnaldum in central midfield to add more dynamism to that area of the field.


Manchester City seem to have hit a stumbling block regarding the signing of German international Leroy Sane.

Sane, 20, wants to leave his team Schalke according to their officials but it is believed neither City or Bayern Munich are willing to pay the $55 million asking price for the young winger.

[ MORE: Everton appoint Leicester guru Walsh ]

Speaking to the media in Munich following City’s 1-0 defeat to his old club Bayern on Wednesday, Guardiola revealed Sane is a player City is watching but no fee has been agreed.

“Sane is a player of Schalke. Of course we talk to him – Schalke knows we are interested, but at this moment we don’t have many possibilities to get him,” Guardiola said. “There is a difference between Manchester City and Schalke and it is quite big. I do not know what is going to happen but right now he is with Schalke.”

If the winger does arrive then the likes of Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and even Raheem Sterling may be questioning their future at City. With Guardiola also signing Spaniard Nolito in the summer, City are undergoing a huge shakeup in the attacking third of the pitch.


Joe Allen is set to complete his move to Stoke City with the Potters reportedly having a $19 million fee accepted by Liverpool for the Welsh midfielder.

Allen, 26, excelled for Wales during EURO 2016 and although he became more of a regular for Jurgen Klopp during the closing months of last season, he isn’t believed to be in Klopp’s plans at Anfield.

Stoke will be looking for Allen to replicate the excellent form he had at Swansea City and in his early days at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers as the passing maestro can link up the play and connect with playmakers Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic, if he decides to stay on at Stoke next season and beyond. That is a mouth-watering prospect for Mark Hughes and seems like a good fit for everyone concerned with Allen set to get regular minutes in the PL.

Per the report above, Swansea City could make a last-minute bid to sign Allen but more than likely he will be heading to Stoke.

Spanish national team name Julen Lopetegui as new manager

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 18:  Head coach Julen Lopetegui of Spain walks over the pitch after winning the UEFA European U21 Championship final match against Italy at Teddy Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
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The Spanish national team have appointed Julen Lopetegui as their new manager.

Vicente del Bosque left his post as Spain’s coach following their exit at the Round of 16 stage to Italy at EURO 2016.

[ MORE: Mourinho talks Pogba ]

Del Bosque delivered a World Cup success in 2010 plus won EURO 2012 before a group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup and a disappointing display in France this summer.

Lopetegui, 49, managed FC Porto for the past two seasons but was fired by the Portuguese giants in January.

The Spanish coach was involved with the Spanish national team setup from 2010-14 as the coach of Spain’s U-19, U-20 and U-21 teams. The former goalkeeper made one appearance for the Spanish national team in 1994 and his playing career saw him make one appearance for Real Madrid, while also playing for Las Palmas, Rayo Vallecano, Logrones, Barcelona and Castilla.

Lopetegui led the Spanish U-19 side to the European Championship title in 2012, while he also won the U-21 European Championship in 2013.

He will be tasked with bringing through the next generation of Spanish stars after two failures in their last two major tournaments.