Klopp ‘couldn’t be more proud’ of Liverpool’s 97-point season

1 Comment

By any measure other than “Did you win the title?”, Liverpool’s 2018-19 Premier League campaign was a massive success.

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings of the 2018-19 season ]

After finishing 25 points behind last season’s champions, Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds closed the gap by 24 points by posting the third-highest points total in PL history this season. The only problem with that, of course: the gap remained at one point, thus Liverpool finish as runners-up despite losing just one game all season, to Man City.

[ WATCH: Man City celebrate 2018-19 Premier League title ]

Could Klopp and Co., have done anything more (i.e., been not “close to perfection,” but actually perfect)? (quotes from the BBC):

“Not really. I know people will find something and say a point here or three. We had lucky moments, City had lucky moments — against Burnley and us. But we scored a strange goal against Everton and a late one against Newcastle.

“It’s not about outplaying everyone, it’s about keeping believing and staying in the race. City found it difficult to get rid of us, and we couldn’t get rid of them.

“Being second in the Premier League isn’t what we wanted tonight, but we’ll take it. This is a first step, that’s how we see it. The team who played the last couple of weeks were together last year apart from Alisson.

“We were 25 points off [Man City] last season. If we do those same steps again, that will be a season. The boys deserve 100 percent. Congratulations to Manchester City, they played a good season. They took 198 points in two seasons. Not bad.”

“We tried everything to make it as difficult as possible, but not difficult enough. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.

“It’s incredible what they did all season, and today was a strange situation. We were really good until 1-0, what happened then was clear. You can’t tell the people to calm down. At that moment [when Liverpool fans celebrated Brighton’s goal], it was a shock for everyone and Wolves were there. We had to fight. In the end, we scored two and kept a clean sheet. It’s nice, but not how we wanted it.

“It’s clear we had to work hard, and City, too. Our target during the week was to get 97 points, we got that — that’s special. We want to write our own history, and we did. Today feels not so good, but we have plenty of time to prepare for an important game in three weeks.”

That “important game in three weeks” is, of course, the Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur. All is not lost for Liverpool, who could still finish the season by lifting the one trophy which has eluded Man City — the trophy they desire the most.

Rapids name Robin Fraser as head coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) The Colorado Rapids have named former Major League Soccer player and longtime assistant Robin Fraser as their head coach.

Fraser steps in for Conor Casey, who’s been the interim coach since the team fired Anthony Hudson in May. Colorado is 7-14-6 and at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Fraser’s first match in charge will be Saturday at the New York Red Bulls.

The 52-year-old Fraser has served as an assistant coach at Toronto FC since 2015.

Fraser was the fourth overall pick in the 1996 MLS player draft by the Los Angeles Galaxy. Over his career, Fraser suited up for the Galaxy, the Rapids and the Columbus Crew. He said in a statement Sunday he considers Colorado home because he’s so familiar with the soccer community.

Rapids general manager Padraig Smith said Fraser has a “deep knowledge of what it takes to be successful in MLS.”

Pochettino upset with attacking stars, speaks on Eriksen status

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mauricio Pochettino might’ve understood Tottenham Hotspur dropping points last week at Man City, but he didn’t plan on not taking anything from Newcastle United on Sunday at home.

“You need the capacity to step up in this type of situation but we didn’t show that quality today,” Pochettino said. “When the ball arrives in the last third you need something from the talent and quality we have there and today we didn’t have that.”

[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Newcastle | Bruce reacts ]

So that’s pretty straight forward, but Pochettino was less happy to answer the question of why he didn’t start Christian Eriksen. Some (read: this writer) have questioned the philosophy of putting a man you may sell for $50 million on the bench. Either put him in the Starting XI and risk him, or leave him off the 18.

“When you lose, the players who don’t play are the best. With Christian we win and we lose a lot of games. I accept that situation is like this. If we won 3-0 today no one talks about different names.

“I cannot find excuses about the transfer window being open to justify that performance or the result. We cannot find the way to be solid and to have consistency for different reasons. I am going to be happy in 10 days after we play Arsenal when the transfer window closes in Europe and to have the player involved until the transfer window again in January.”

We’re not gonna read too much into it, but it does sound a bit like Pochettino is daring teams to bid for Eriksen. Would it make sense for him to hold onto Eriksen until January before cashing in?

Newcastle’s Bruce heard criticism, happy to beat Spurs

Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Steve Bruce heard a lot of the criticism from fans upon his hiring at Newcastle United, and it rang out louder after the Magpies started 0-2 including a loss at newly-promoted Norwich City.

[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Newcastle ]

He may well hear plenty more down the road, but the childhood Newcastle supporter was feeling relieved and maybe redeemed after a fortunate and wonderful 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. From the BBC:

“We came to this fantastic stadium, this fantastic club and we performed. I mean, to say I ‘cannot even do a warm up’ is mad. I have managed 900-odd games and over the years you would think there would be some sort of respect but I go back to the fact that whoever took over from Rafa Benitez was going to get the abuse.”

Newcastle faces struggling Watford at St. James’ Park next week, and another result will ease a lot of nerves (though certainly not all of them.

Wolves snatch late point versus Burnley

Photo by Darren Staples/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Raul Jimenez’s penalty seven minutes into stoppage time gave Wolves a point with a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Sunday at the Molineux Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Wolves now have three draws in three matches, while Burnley has four points.


Three things

  1. We’re paying rent in Ashley Barnes‘ world — Known most for his combustible, some-would-say dirty nature, the Burnley striker now has four goals this early season and more than one, including Sunday’s opener, have been bangers.
  2. Nuno’s men could use a break — Wolves fought well, but you can tell the Europa League schedule has heavily taxed their spirit. How tired are they? Here are the thoughts of an exhausted Raul Jimenez, and you can read the “Thank you, God” inside them –> “I think [the penalty] is the right decision. When I get in possession he tried to kick the ball, then he kicked me. It came at a good moment for us.”
  3. Don’t ever bet against Sean Dyche — We’ve written it 100 times. The big man can get a result from anywhere, at any time.

Burnley was easily the better unit over the first 45 minutes, and was rewarded with a goal even after VAR ruled one out.

Barnes chested a neatly-headed flick into shooting position and unleashed a missile that zipped past Rui Patricio for a 1-0 lead.

Both sides began the second half brightly, with Morgan Gibbs-White lashed a shot offf the outside of the netting and Barnes unable to get purchase on a ball over the top of the Wolves back line.

But Erik Pieters cut down Jimenez in the box late to set the Mexican international up for a win.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]