Jurgen Klopp says he has been hurt by the way Liverpool’s reputation has been “trashed” in the wake of the Super League debacle.
The Reds were one of the 12 founding clubs of the breakaway league which was announced on Sunday. The plans rapidly fell apart, however, as most clubs have pulled out of the competition following outrage from football associations, fans and pundits.
Liverpool were among those heavily criticised but Klopp fears their reputation is being regarded as irredeemable.
What did Klopp say?
“It is difficult for me in truth, because I have found some of the reaction around it difficult to take. And by this I don’t mean those who were against it or the protests. This was a great victory for football supporters – I want to make this clear from the outset. I agreed with their opposition. I made this clear to our owners,” Klopp wrote in his programme notes ahead of Saturday’s Premier League match against Newcastle.
“The part I have struggled with is seeing this club, a place I love and am now proud to call my home, trashed. And done so in a manner which suggests no redemption is possible. That I can’t take.
“It was right to take apart the concept and it was fair to criticise it, along with those who came up with it and also how it was presented. All legitimate in my view. The anger and disappointment was justified.
“But there were times when the distinction between ‘club’ and this decision (and yes, those responsible for it) were too quickly blurred into one. To do so is an insult to the supporters in my view. And the players.
“The supporters’ actions have earned them distinction. Likewise the players. And THEY are the club. They always have been and always will be.
“I am not free from blame either for letting emotion get the better of me during this. Particularly after the Leeds United game. When I found out that the flags were being removed from the Kop in protest it hurt me and I reacted in a way I wish I hadn’t.
“Of all the things that we have achieved at Liverpool I would argue that the bond between this team and our fans is arguably the most important because without it none of the success we have enjoyed would have been possible.
“So seeing a division appear was very difficult for me to accept. I now better understand the reasons why the supporters groups felt it necessary and I respect them but I would hope that we are never in this kind of situation again. They are always the solution and never the problem.”
How did Liverpool fans react to the Super League?
Liverpool players and supporters united to reject the club’s plans to enter the Super League, with captain Jordan Henderson and club legend Kenny Dalglish among those voicing their disappointment.
Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool supporters’ union, then urged Fenway Sports Group to consider giving up ownership of the club. Liverpool confirmed on Wednesday that they were pulling out of the project.
Liverpool owner John W Henry then released a video message apologising to the club’s fans and taking responsibility for their role in the plot to form the breakaway league.