Pundit doubles down on Liverpool prediction as Shearer, Fowler pick out one player for criticism

Gabby Agbonlahor has doubled down on his prediction that Liverpool will finish outside the top four after they lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest.

The Reds suffered their third defeat of the season at the City Ground on Saturday with Taiwo Awoniyi scoring the only goal of the game against his former side.

Awoniyi was loaned out seven times during his six-year spell at Liverpool before eventually leaving to join Bundesliga side Union Berlin.

He’s now back in the Premier League with Nottingham Forest and his 55th-minute goal sees Liverpool remain in seventh place and five points off the top four.

After predicting earlier in the campaign that Liverpool would struggle to qualify for the Champions League, former Aston Villa striker Agbonlahor insists he hasn’t seen anything to change his mind.

“Every player apart from Alisson was below a 5/10,” Agbonlahor said on talkSPORT. “Liverpool were looking like they’ll try and get back in the top four but can you name four better teams than Liverpool at the moment? Easily.

“I said at the start of the season, Liverpool will not get into the Champions League and I don’t think they will. I’m not going to get carried away by them beating Rangers – who were dreadful – I’m not going to get carried away by them beating Man City with Pep’s mistakes and his tactics.

“Today, a tough game away from home, a cold day in Nottingham, didn’t fancy it at all.”

And former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer thinks Liverpool got their attitude wrong on Saturday with Jurgen Klopp’s players expecting to win by simply turning up.

“It’s difficult to work out Liverpool,” Shearer told Premier League Productions. “Last week they were full of energy against Man City. But Forest had work-rate and hunger to get the ball. We thought Liverpool would win but from the off they started like they just needed to turn up. You can’t turn up and expect to win in any game.”

Shearer and fellow pundit Robbie Fowler were both critical of Joe Gomez’s performance at Forest, especially in the build up to the goal.

“What a touch from Cook on the right hand side, and then to have the ability to get it across into the danger area,” Shearer continued after the match. “He doesn’t really pick anyone, it was just get it in there and hoping.

“[Awoniyi] times his run to perfection, but the two [Liverpool] centre-halves, Gomez in particular, he’s not marking anyone.”

Fowler added: “He’s [Gomez] got loads of time. He’s got 10 yards of space and all of a sudden it becomes a battle.

“He gives the free-kick away, he gets a yellow card. He has literally got 10 yards of space. Premier League players should be able to find whatever pass they need [in that position].”

READ MORE: Liverpool made a ‘major mistake’ over Salah, Man Utd now have a solid defence but an ‘atrocious’ Sancho…


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‘Why ask the question then?’ – Klopp salty in response to individual Liverpool mistakes

Jurgen Klopp was typically salty in response to a question about Liverpool’s individual mistakes in their 2-1 defeat to Leeds on Sunday.

Crysencio Summerville scored a last-gasp winner at Anfield to hand Liverpool their fourth defeat of the season and their first home loss for 19 months.

Mohamed Salah had levelled for the Reds after Joe Gomez gifted Rodrigo the opener.

Illan Meslier pulled off several top saved to deny Liverpool but Jurgen Klopp’s side looked fallible throughout and the result leaves them eight points off the top four after 12 games.

Liverpool’s all-round display was well short of what we saw last season, but Gomez’s error, as well as the defending (or lack of it) from Virgil van Dijk for Leeds’ winner, were examples of individuals costing Klopp’s side.

It’s not clear from the Football Daily clip what Klopp was asked by the reporter, but it appeared to be something about whether the poor results Liverpool are now getting are down to individual errors as much as the team’s display as a whole.

Klopp responded: “The team performance is always a summation of individual performances. It’s always the same, it’s never different, so how could it be different?”

“I don’t know,” the reporter said.

“Why you ask the question then?” asked Klopp. “It’s of course because of that.”

Clarifying his question, the reporter said: “I suppose what I’m asking, is it a unity thing, a team thing, or is it not solvable on the training pitch because its individuals?”

Klopp responded: “You can see that we have very good moments like a lot of parts of the game, but all over it’s not enough.

“Again if you don’t finish situations off you leave it open. We can watch this game completely and you cannot defend like we defend around the second goal. It’s just not possible, but we did.

“It happened anyway, and that’s why we lost.”

On whether Liverpool can recover from their loss to Leeds, Klopp added: “We have to bring our quality on to the pitch and we fight against it. We had problems from the first day, injury wise.

“Players have had to play from the first day. It’s our situation and it means we have to help ourselves, and that is what we will do.”

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Is this Liverpool team at the end of an era? Klopp wants you to wait to judge

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has rejected suggestions his current team has reached the end of its useful lifespan and insists judgement should be reserved until the end of the season.

Back-to-back defeats against the Premier League’s bottom two clubs in Nottingham Forest and Leeds have left his side closer to the relegation zone than the top four in terms of points.

Liverpool have already lost four times in the league and have taken just four points from matches against Forest, Leeds, Everton, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Brighton.

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The current starting XI has one of the oldest average ages in the Premier League, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Thiago Alcantara all the wrong side of 30.

But Klopp insists it is too early to write off his side.

“I think the judgement for this should come later on in the season, or maybe at the end,” he said ahead of the Champions League visit of Napoli.

“If you say ‘That’s it’ for this group of players or for this manager I don’t think that’s 100 percent fair in this moment, to judge the team or the squad, because we never had them available.

“We miss players, especially now up front, we miss top quality which is not helpful.

“Even if it’s unfair, it’s fine. It’s normal, it’s our life and it’s absolutely fair to ask these questions. But we have to answer that later on.”

Klopp said Leeds’ late winner on Saturday which inflicted their first Premier League defeat at Anfield in front of fans since April 2017 had him waking up at night.

However, he insists he is able to handle the pressure of his most frustrating spell at the club and dismissed suggestions – not for the first time this season – he has lost his spark.

“I didn’t read anything but everything will be judged on me and that is absolutely fine,” he added.

“People will look at me and say ‘He looks tired’. That’s normal as well but I am not. I am not. I cannot give that excuse. (People say) ‘It’s so much for me..’ – it’s not.

“My job is not only being here in the moment when the sun is shining and someone gives us a trophy, my job is as well to be here when we have to go through a really tough period and I will do that with all I have and, if possible, more.

“It is a rough moment, no doubt about that, and no one is flying here and (thinking) life is great but there is only one chance to face it: go for it and that’s what we will do.”

Klopp has had to contend with a debilitating series of injuries but that still cannot detract from the fact a number of his players are performing well below their best.

Midfield has been a key area where the high-pressing game which previously protected the defence has dissolved but the Reds boss denied the players had lost the appetite for the battle.

Asked what he wanted to see from his side against Napoli, considering they are already qualified for the knockout stage, Klopp said: “Fight.

“You think I want to see we start passing around them with backheels and bicycle kicks and these kind of things? Of course not.

“You lose a game and people tell you you didn’t try hard enough. You can fight in different ways.

“The fighting spirit is not our problem at this moment. This group in that aspect did not change and will not change but all of a sudden everybody thinks you are not trying hard enough.

“That’s the life we live. That’s completely normal.

Klopp also knows their inconsistent form is helping perpetuate their difficulties as opposition teams feel they have a greater chance of succeeding at Anfield.

“None of them will come here and just say ‘Liverpool are in a difficult moment, let’s give them an easy run’,” he added.

“It’s actually the opposite, they all smell the chance and that is what they want to use. That is our situation.”

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Ric Flair cleared to get “knocked down in the ring” once again

Ric Flair spoke to the Steve Austin Show and revealed that he’s back to doing 500 free squats and he claims that he has officially been cleared to get “knocked down in the ring” once again as well.
“I had difficulty doing anything when I still had that bag on my side that was attached to my intestines because it sat right at my waistline and it was hard, but as soon as I got that off, I was back doing 500 free squats. To me, I just need a goal. Does that make sense? But I finally got the weight back on and then I found myself putting more weight back on than I wanted, so I have to be careful with that, but I’ve been working out. I can do anything, benchpress.”
“I have to be careful after surgery, the second surgery, for hernia issues. But I literally took it easy. I didn’t do anything. And now I’m full speed ahead. The guys have cleared me to do anything. I’ve actually been cleared to get knocked down in the ring. I didn’t know if they were going to use me in some capacity and [Austin] know[s] the clearances you have to have with the health policy, which is so adamant.”
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“Macho Man” Randy Savage Taught Shane McMahon to Wrestle

In the latest episode of his Something to Wrestle podcast, Bruce Prichard revealed that ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was one of the first wrestlers to train Shane McMahon on what to do in the ring. Here are highlights:
On Shane wanting to wrestle: “From the first day I met him because he was always a performer. He was a performer when he was graduating high school and hanging around his buddies at the house. He just was one of those kids that was going to steal whatever environment he was in at the time; all eyes were going to be on him. That is who Shane McMahon is. Plus, I remember when he was on the road with us on the ring crew and as a referee. We were given strict instructions about not giving Shane any bumps and to take care of him and all this other crap, but he would get to the towns early and set up the ring and would ask me and Randy Savage whether Randy minded him showing Shane some stuff.”
On how Savage trained Shane: “So, Randy and I would go to the buildings early in the afternoon after the ring was set up and work with him. I was the first one that had to take some of those stiff a** crazy tackles from that crazy son of a b***h, and I remember the first time he locked up with Randy and Randy telling him to loosen up. It’s a dance, not a fight, so loosen up. We would go in the ring and every day we were on the road we would get in the ring with him during the day and work out in the ring a little bit, then go to the gym and work out. That was early on when he was on the ring crew.”Click Here: Borussia Dortmund Jersey Sale

Chelsea star ‘could win Premier League’ for Spurs but ‘wants to wear’ another team’s shirt

Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech has sent ‘new signals’ to AC Milan as he tries to force a January exit from Stamford Bridge.

The Morocco international has struggled for consistent game time since joining the Blues since his £36m move from Ajax two years ago.

Ziyech has made 50 Premier League appearances for the Premier League side, managing just six goals and six assists in that time.

He’s only started once this term – in the 2-1 loss at Southampton – after being linked with a summer switch to AC Milan.

And Calciomercato (via Sport Witness) claim Ziyech still ‘wants to wear the Milan jersey’, with his agents contacting Paulo Maldini and Federico Massara at the Serie A club to ‘express’ the player’s desire to join them.

A loan deal has also been proposed and Milan are said to be ‘intrigued’ by the idea.

They’ve been boosted by their qualification for the Champions League knockout stages and will chase a couple of ‘high-level shots’ in January.

Ziyech’s apparent desire to join Milan will come as a huge blow to Tottenham, who can now forget winning the Premier League this season, which they absolutely would have done had they managed to persuade the 29-year-old to move to north London.

That’s according to Rafael van der Vaart, who is clearly a huge fan of the former Ajax star.

“Hakim Ziyech has to join Tottenham,” Van der Vaart said on Ziggo Sport.

“If Tottenham get Hakim Ziyech, they could win the Premier League.

“I am serious.”

Netherlands legend Marco van Basten thinks it is time for Ziyech to move on as it’s “not good for football” to see him on the bench at Chelsea.

“There is another transfer window coming up,” Van Basten said.

“It is sad and a shame. Ziyech is a great player. We have to see someone like that, we watch TV for such a player and we come to the stadium.

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“It is a pity for the whole of football that he is on the bench. If these kinds of players do not get minutes, it is not good for football.”

Connacht visit Galway Hospital and Ability West to spread Xmas cheer

CONNACHT DECIDED NOT to have their annual secret santa this Christmas, instead opting to get out and visit children at University College Hospital Galway and Ability West in Tuam.

Connacht players with five-month-old Darragh Reddington at Galway Hospital. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Yesterday, John Muldoon, Mils Muliaina and 23 other players visited the children’s ward of the Galway Hospital to meet with the young patients there. Meanwhile, Sligo man Sean Henry and 20 of his team mates were in the Ability West centre in Tuam.

Ability West is dedicated to helping children and adults with intellectual disability.

“Instead, we said we’d go out and visit Ability West and we’d go to the Children’s Hospital in Galway, just hand out a few selection boxes and a few things here and there. It was something different and it’s great to get some young fans on board.”


Dave Heffernan, Dave McSharry, Craig Ronaldson and John Muldoon with Katie Salmon (2) and Deirdre Kennedy

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

John Muldoon alongside Aisling Kennedy (4) from Ballymoe

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ultan Dillane, Matt Healy and Willie Faloon met with Eoin Kiely (10) from Knocknacarra and his father John

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

John Muldoon, Dave McSharry, Aly Muldowney, Eoin McKeon and Dave Heffernan around Katie Lenihan (10)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Conor McPhillips meets Caoimhe Grealish (13) from Carnmore

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ultan Dillane and Matt Healy pack down with Oisin O’Donnell (10) from Killanin

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Over in Ability West, the Connacht players were warmly welcomed too

Source: Connacht Rugby

Paul Cannon knows the players well having recently been the Connacht mascot for the game against Bayonne in Galway

Source: Connacht Rugby

Source: Connacht Rugby

Take me to Church: Leinster stars greet children from trio of charitiesIreland have automatically qualified for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup

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WWE Stars React to Women’s Tag Titles Announcement

Santa Vince McMahon appeared on Raw tonight as Santa Claus and announced the new WWE women’s tag team titles, with the first champions to be crowned later in 2019. A number of WWE Superstars have reacted to the women’s tag team title announcement on social media…

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The story behind this euphoric picture of Brian O’Driscoll retiring a champion

THERE’S AN ENORMOUS amount of skill and know-how involved in taking the perfect photograph at precisely the perfect moment. But there is a large portion of luck required too.

INPHO managing director Billy Stickland has captured too many iconic images and too many duds to believe anything different.

Yet his is the name beside one of the most captivating images from Ireland’s Six Nations victory over France in Paris last March. Not the shot directly below here, that may have been a story to tell on another day.

His photograph of a celebrating/retiring Brian O’Driscoll on the full-time whistle was a moment of rare unbridled joy from Ireland’s most-capped player.

The Kearney brothers plead for the mercy of a TMO after France cross the try-line. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“If France had scored that try it would be exactly the opposite,” Stickland says philosophically to TheScore.ie.

“Remi Tales would be jumping in the air and Brian O’Driscoll would be pissed off. You just have to go with whatever it is.”

Stickland was on ‘BOD duty’ in those final, frantic minutes as Ireland scrambled to hold Les Bleus at bay and keep their hands on the Six Nations title. It’s a job description that had become a regular fixture in the life of sports photographers, but now they are left to follow other figures in his absence.

Stickland camped behind the French try-line, his long lens trained on the number 13 for the final five minutes of the game.

“Over in the far corner, France should have scored a try, it was a forward pass, but I wasn’t concentrating on that. I was just on O’Driscoll.

“Basically it was just a matter of concentrating and waiting on the final whistle. Normally, you’d be amazed that they don’t actually celebrate, but the tension was great at the end of that game that he just exploded when the final whistle went.”

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“It’s grand when it works out the way you’re planning it. The number of times you’re waiting for a photograph and somebody step in front of it, or they don’t celebrate, or they turn the wrong way…”

And the presence of Tales, the distraught perfectly-out-of-focus French number 10, was another variable factor that provided the ideal contrast to O’Driscoll’s elation:

“Again, you can’t legislate for that. You couldn’t really be running around trying to get into position because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re in a fixed position and hope it works out.

“You just try and control the things you can control. That’s the icing on the cake, but it doesn’t always work out like that.”

Stickland captures O’Driscoll’s horror as New Zealand take a last-gasp win in the Aviva.Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

One obvious example of that point was another memorable image Stickland took of O’Driscoll in 2013 (above). Again, he was on ‘BOD watch’, again Ireland were hanging on. On that occasion, however, O’Driscoll was sidelined early and Ireland slipped to defeat against New Zealand.

“We were following Brian for the whole season, because there was always a ‘last’ something,” jokes the photographer.

“It was important to have his goodbyes. A lot of players like, say, Ronan O’Gara sort of just disappeared at the end rather than getting the acknowledgement he deserved. But Brian O’Driscoll deserves everything he gets.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Bite, The Catch and 9 more great memes the internet gave us this yearWraparounds, offloads and lots of fends: 10 of Ireland’s best tries in 2014

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Mount Leinster Rangers and Mullins magic – Carlow’s 2014 sporting highlights

But what about [insert your county here]? Don’t worry, we’ll be producing a series of articles that will cover every county in Ireland – even yours – over the next few weeks. See the ones we’ve already covered here.

1. Mount Leinster Rangers triumphed in the All Ireland club hurling semi-final

Source: Presseye/John McIlwaine/INPHO

Click Here: factory direct products2. And then became the first Carlow team to feature in the All Ireland final on St Patrick’s Day

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. Prop Ed Byrne broke into the Leinster set-up

Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

4. As did twin brother Bryan, a hooker who also played with Carlow RFC as a youth

Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

5. Sean O’Brien lined out for the Fighting Cocks in a Junior B match

6. Helping Leinster to a Pro12 title was the highlight of the back row’s injury-hit year in rugby

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

7. Willie Mullins had trained 185 winners at his Closutton yard

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

8. Chief among the highlights was Quevega winning the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham for a sixth straight year

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

9. Bernard Jackman was promoted to the role of head coach at Grenoble

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

10. Carlow Coyotes got to the final of All-Ireland League Division 2, before losing out to Cooke

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

What have we forgotten? Let us know in the comments section below.

See more of our county-by-county sporting highlights here >Foleys go from strength to strength, U21 dynasty and more of Clare’s 2014 sporting highlights