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    Tuesday, 24 August 2021

    'More nonsense' - Shearer takes aim at Klopp for comments after Burnley win

    Alan Shearer has taken aim at Jurgen Klopp for comments that he believes are 'nothing more than more nonsense'


    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was critical of some of the challenges from a couple of Burnley players during his side’s 2-0 win over the Clarets at Anfield on Saturday.

    Klopp opined after the game that the new Premier League directive aimed at letting games flow more freely needs further discussion.

    The Reds boss also called for extra protection for players from officials to avoid the risk of injuries, while Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also made the same plea 24 hours later.

    But now reacting to the comments made by both managers, Shearer believes the pair have got it massively wrong.

    "The Premier League is back, fans are back and so, too, is our great English pantomime, complete with managers deflecting and insinuating, prodding and testing everywhere as they search for marginal gains,” he wrote for The Athletic .

    “That explains the narrative of last weekend because, so far, the football has been good and free-flowing and quick. There has been no thuggery that I’ve seen, no horrific tackles, no “rugby”.”

    Before the former Newcastle United man continued: “After Liverpool beat Burnley at Anfield , Jurgen Klopp drew attention to the confrontation between Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes and his own defenders, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip and said, “Watch wrestling if you like that kind of thing.” Maybe the idea this season is to let the game flow, he carried on, but “we have to stick to protecting the players”. It is “too dangerous”, and “it feels like we are going 10-15 years back”. More nonsense

    “The beauty of the Premier League is that success takes many forms and so does football itself. For Liverpool and Manchester United, success might be winning the trophy, but for Burnley or Norwich City, say, it’s more about earning yourself another season there. To do either, you will be posed different problems to solve. How do you combat the fluid brilliance of Manchester City? And how do you counter Burnley’s toughness, Leeds United’s energy and so on?

    “To date, Sean Dyche has a net spend of about £4 million this summer. City, the runaway Champions, forked out £100 million on Jack Grealish. Burnley cannot take on the big boys at their own game; Dyche’s budget dictates the kind of talent and character he can bring into his club. As he has put it himself, “All I ask of our players is to play firm but fair, play hard, play like you want to win.” This is Burnley’s version of success.”

    Shearer then added: “We have to protect a form of physicality. You can’t have football without contact. There are going to be fouls, accidents are going to happen and you will get injuries, unfortunately, but it’s elite sport level played at lightning speed and these are the trade-offs you make. To repeat, I’m delighted the hack from behind has been outlawed (I’d have fewer scars if it had been done earlier), but the art of the game and winning matches is multi-faceted.

    “What do City often do when they concede possession or the opposition are on the break? What do Liverpool do in similar circumstances? They commit fouls and it’s a deliberate tactic.

    “At the same time, Van Dijk loves a physical challenge and very few attackers get the better of him in that department. Without their imposing centre-halves, Liverpool struggled last season. All the top teams still require power and understand when to use it.

    "I didn’t see anything untoward in the Liverpool game and nothing that warranted Klopp saying what he did. I certainly didn’t agree with Ole’s comments about Southampton and “rugby”; the manager should be more concerned about the substantive reasons his team didn’t get a better result rather than shouting for a free kick that wasn’t, never, ever in a million years. Jack Stephens made a good, strong, successful challenge on Bruno Fernandes. There was no decision to make.

    "The flow that Klopp talked about? It’s early days, but the game has been far better for it over the last couple of weeks. Nothing and nobody is perfect and Newcastle have arguably been hard done by with a couple of big decisions, but it has been a marked improvement on the stop-start nature of last season, when it took far too long for the officials to pass down judgement. A higher bar has been set for fouls and quite rightly, too.

    "So what are Ole and Klopp getting at? Who are they talking to? It’s what Sir Alex did for years, hunkering down for the next match and the games after that, highlighting “fouls” that haven’t been given, saying, “Oh, we can’t allow that again,” exerting a tiny bit of pressure on referees and trying to gain any advantage. Next time there’s a 50/50, perhaps there will be something in the referee’s head, even buried deep in the subconscious. Pantomime, pure and simple."

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