Liverpool chairman eyes ‘sustained success’ for champions

Children celebrate the victory of Liverpool at Anfield. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Liverpool chairman eyes ‘sustained success’ for champions

  • Werner believes the winning mentality created by Klopp will keep the team hungry for more success

LONDON: Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has backed the newly crowned Premier League champions to enjoy a period of “sustained success” under boss Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool won the English title for the first time in 30 years on Thursday after Manchester City’s defeat at Chelsea sealed the title for the Reds.

Werner, part of the US-based Fenway Sports Group that owns Liverpool, believes the winning mentality created by Klopp since he took charge in 2015 will keep the team hungry for more success next season.

Liverpool also clinched the Club World Cup in December and were Champions League winners last season, but Werner is confident the good times are not over yet.

“We want to undersell and overdeliver. We hopefully would be ensuring another period of sustained success,” Werner told Liverpool’s website on Saturday.

“The competition is fierce and I know our rivals are working tirelessly to upend us. But we’ve got such talent in place as Jurgen, as Michael (Edwards, sporting director) and the team on the pitch.

“One of the things that stuck with me this year was their hunger for winning. I don’t think that will be diminished. They’re such a good group of players.

“I have such fondness for them as individuals off the pitch. They’re humble, they’re kind, they enjoy each other’s company. You could see that in the videos when they were all celebrating.

“It’s a lot to ask them to stay at this extraordinary level but it is our goal to continue to play with this quality.”

Werner heaped praise on Klopp for rescuing Liverpool from mediocrity, but stopped short of rating the German alongside the club’s iconic former managers Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

“I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing or watching the great football of (Bill) Shankly and (Bob) Paisley, so I don’t really want to compare Jurgen to previous managers,” said Werner, who has been chairman of the Merseyside club since 2010.

“I just know that the league is extremely competitive and when we first became involved in Liverpool over 10 years ago, we were not even thinking about winning the league.

“Our dream was to just become top four and make it to the Champions League.

“He has just created such an atmosphere at Liverpool that there’s no alternative except to win. He has created such an atmosphere.

“One of the things that I’m just joyful about whenever I watch the team is how many players contribute.”


Formula One in brave new world as Verstappen seeks repeat Austria triumph

Updated 5 min 10 sec ago

Formula One in brave new world as Verstappen seeks repeat Austria triumph

  • Teams are cut to a maximum of 80 staff, all in protective equipment

SPIELBERG, South Africa: Max Verstappen will seek a hat trick of home wins for Red Bull and an early lead in the drivers championship at this weekend’s delayed and somewhat surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

For everyone involved, the race will be an unprecedented experience — the calendar is unknown beyond the first eight races in Europe in 10 weeks, all to be run behind closed doors and severe limitations introduced with a new paddock protocol forbidding meetings.

As racing returns, the COVID-19 virus remains in circulation, which requires all participants to be tested before travel to Austria on private chartered jets, ongoing tests, the separation of teams and car crews into “bubbles” and controlled hotels.

Teams are cut to a maximum of 80 staff, all in protective equipment, there will be no sponsors, no guests and only a limited number of accredited broadcast and written news media.

Journalists, limited to a dozen instead of 300 or more, have to pass a test within 72 hours in advance of arrival and will not be allowed to leave the media center.

All interviews and news conferences will take place by video.

The teams will be kept isolated, based in tents with awnings instead of their usual grand motorhomes — and there is expected to be a synchronized taking the knee by the drivers on the grid, to support Black Lives Matter, ahead of Sunday’s race.

Afterwards, there will be no podium ceremony.

When the race begins, it will end the longest gap between races in the sport since 1962, but with two successive races in Austria and then one in Hungary, the pressure will be immediate and intense.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: “There’s been a long drought. We all do this because we love it. We’ve missed it, so we can’t wait to start.”

“It’s going to be exciting and intense. The races come thick and fast.”

Dutch driver Verstappen, who bullied his way past Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc to triumph in front of a mass of his “orange army” of fans last year, says he is unfazed by high expectations or the absence of spectators at the Red Bull Ring, a remote and compact circuit in the Styrian Alps.

“I am not thinking about a hat trick,” he said.

“The most important thing for me is to have a competitive car and to perform at my best.

“I never consider myself as a favorite because, actually, when you look at the track, it’s not even our best one, but last year it was very warm and we were good at keeping the engine cool.

“So I don’t expect an easy win. I think Mercedes will be very strong again and they are the ones to beat.”

Verstappen, who has kept a low profile during the lockdown, delivered three wins and eight podiums last year as Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth title with Mercedes, who this year seek an unprecedented seventh constructors’ and drivers’ double in succession.

Verstappen and teammate Alex Albon will have an upgraded Honda engine package, developed since the coronavirus lockdown ended, to boost them at the contest in the Styrian Alps where the 800-meter altitude can affect engine performance.

Mercedes will also have an updated package while Ferrari, struggling to match them in pre-season testing, announced Tuesday that they are updating their cars for the third race in Hungary.

Hamilton this year bids for a record-equalling seventh drivers title as he campaigns passionately for greater diversity, and against racism, in the sport.

“We are preparing the best way we can for what is going to be the most difficult season that F1 and all of us have experienced,” he said in a video from the team, which — at his prompting — is running black livery this year to support equality and diversity.