Klopp rules out Gerrard playing for Liverpool again

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Jurgen Klopp has ruled out Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard returning to Anfield in a playing capacity.

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Rumors were rife on Wednesday that Gerrard could return to the Reds in a playing role as his debut season in Major League Soccer ended prematurely last Sunday when the LA Galaxy lost 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Western Conference knockout round.

Gerrard, 35, left Liverpool in May amid much fanfare as the local lad and long-time captain came through the ranks at his hometown and led them to numerous trophies during his glittering 17-year career at Anfield.

[ MORE: Lampard on Pirlo: “The rest of us get ignored” ]

Below is the snippet posted on Liverpool’s website regarding the Gerrard rumors, as Klopp told reporters in Russia ahead of Liverpool’s Europa League clash against Rubin Kazan on Thursday that the former captain will not return to Anfield as a player.

I’m sure you would have seen some of the reports about Steven Gerrard today. I’m wondering if you could fill us in on what may or may not happen – will he come back to train with Liverpool? Could there be more for him at the club? What can you say about that?

Yes, I heard about it a few moments ago – one of your colleagues told me. I can say I have had contact with Stevie. We’ve had one phone call and a few messages. Of course, I said the door is always open. Stevie is a legend and it’s clear that is if he is here in Liverpool and is young enough and healthy enough to want to train for the next season in LA, then absolutely no problem. That’s clear, but nothing else. He didn’t ask and I don’t have to think about this. He is an LFC legend and our doors are always open.

So, there you have it. Klopp has spoken with Gerrard but that “nothing else” comment firmly ends speculation that Gerrard would be able to return in a playing capacity. Just like Thierry Henry and David Beckham did during the MLS offseason when they were in the league, Gerrard will train with Liverpool and make use of the facilities while he is back in the UK.

Could Gerrard still do a job for Liverpool? Of course he could. However, with Brendan Rodgers gone and a new backroom staff and manager trying to stamp their mark on a hungry, young squad, the last thing Klopp really needs is a reminder of the past glories of Liverpool with Gerrard returning on loan. Yes, he is a quality player but that ship has sailed. It is time for Liverpool to move on from Gerrard, the player, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean he can’t help Klopp in any way he can during his first few months at Melwood but that should be the extent of it until he hangs up his boots, which right now looks like being at the end of the 2016 MLS season, and perhaps turns to a career in coaching.

Klopp could have easily welcomed Gerrard back in on loan for a few months but you have to respect his wish to start fresh and be the top dog at Anfield.

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.


Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.


Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?


Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).


Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.