Gerrard, Dalglish, Rush, Carragher and Fowler are but a few of the famous names to have made an impact for Liverpool and written themselves into the history and fabric of the club. A new generation has now dawned on Merseyside and Jürgen Klopp’s outlook on football is sure to give hungry young players a chance to emulate their predecessors and become heroes in their own right. Three in particular – Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold made a real impact in the EFL cup quarter-final victory over Leeds and we take a look at their future prospects:

Woodburn joined Liverpool aged seven and has progressed through the age grades, making his debut as a 16-year-old against Fleetwood in a friendly before the 2016-17 season. He scored in this game and then again against Wigan four days later. He made his competitive debut as a substitute in Liverpool’s Premier League win over Sunderland and in the process became the third youngest player to represent the reds. Three days later he came on in the 67th minute against Leeds. Fourteen minutes later, Woodburn ensured victory for the hosts with a cool finish following a sweeping attack. Klopp wants to protect the youngster from media hype after Woodburn overtook Liverpool legend Michael Owen as their youngest scorer by 98 days, but that wish, expressed post-match, was followed by headlines in the national media, including Young King of the Kop, Owen Mk II and Heaven 17.

A complicated situation means that Woodburn could end up playing for either Wales or England but he has made no secret of the inspiration he has gained from senior Wales stars saying that “Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are world class and I want to replicate what they do”. It now falls to Wales manager Chris Coleman and, perhaps, his England counterpart Gareth Southgate to decide if, when and for whom Woodburn makes his international bow.

Ejaria featured for Liverpool in pre-season against Fleetwood and Wigan then most notably in the US against Chelsea but an injury kept him out of the beginning of the season before he made a comeback for the Under-23s. He finally made his first team debut against Derby in the EFL cup and then in the next round started and played the full game against Spurs. Another eye catching display in the win over Leeds has made us take notice of his huge potential, “I have always played in the middle of the pitch,” he says. “Sometimes when I’ve been playing with the U23’s this season I’ve been used out wide on the left, but I don’t find that too hard because I’m used to playing in a No.10 position. So I can come inside on occasions and play as a second No.10”.

Ejaria was born in London but is eligible to represent Nigeria through his family. He started playing football competitively in south London where he met then-Chelsea coach Michael Beale, who now works with him at Liverpool. In 2005 he joined the Arsenal academy and moved through the age-groups, impressing coaches at clubs across the country including Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United then in 2014, having played for Liverpool as a triallist at the AEGON Futures Cup in the Netherlands, Ejaria agreed to move to Merseyside on a permanent basis, despite the attentions of Manchester United.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was another who impressed for Liverpool in the EFL Cup clash with Leeds having been a ball boy in the fixture between the two sides seven years ago! Before Klopp even arrived on Merseyside, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard had tipped the 18 year-old to be a success. Quite the praise for the teenager who admits he used to pretend to be Gerrard when he was playing as a kid. He was born in West Derby and grew up dreaming of playing for Liverpool. He played in the Under-16s under Neil Critchley, where he was made captain and a string of good performances earned him a call up to the England Under-17 side. He has scored twice in seven appearances in Premier League U23 league this season, including a scorcher against Spurs.

The 18 year old is a central midfielder, with a really good engine and the ability to get forward. He has a superb range of passing and his ability to play at right-back showcases his versatility. The Liverpool No.66, who now trains regularly with the first team, has impressed his Under 23 boss Michael Beale this season. “He’s young and playing ever so well. It’s not too long since he had his Under-23 debut against Manchester City and that was hard for him,” he said. It appears he’s on the fringes of the first team and after signing his first professional contract last October, his future looks bright. Off the field, he attributes his rise to his faith, as he looks to make his mark.

About the author – Liam Bailes

Liam has been a football fanatic since the early 1990s and continues to be delighted by the sport today. He follows the 5 bog European leagues as well as the npower championship and major cup competitions both domestically and internationally. He is an FA level 2 coach and loves to be involved with football at every opportunity.


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This year’s summer transfer window looks set to be yet another transitional period for Liverpool, as the club looks to implement the ways of their new manager Jurgen Klopp. The objective for the next season is clear – return to the Champions League. However, that might prove to be the toughest job Klopp has ever had in his entire managerial career.

What follows are the five simple steps that could potentially return Liverpool to the Champions League.

5) Sell Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho

When Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool, Martin Skrtel quickly fell down the pecking order due to his inconsistency and troubling injuries, but he may now be gone for good, considering rumors that Besiktas is reportedly ready to offer as much as €9m to acquire his services. With Joel Matip already lined up to join Liverpool, it’s hard to see the Reds rejecting this sizeable offer.

Meanwhile, Mamadou Sakho should also be heading for the exit door this summer – and rightly so. Although his initial suspension has recently been lifted, Sakho is yet to stand trial for his reported substance abuse and the outcome is still anyone’s guess.

As far as Liverpool goes, the damage is already done and they might as well part ways with the talented center-back. This summer will represent the start of a new era for the Reds and they should be looking to avoid any potential controversy surrounding the team.

4) Sign a center-back

If Klopp decides to sell Skrtel and Sakho, he will be left with a gaping hole in the heart of his defense, which should undoubtedly prompt him to sign a new center-back. The aforementioned Joel Matip is a smart addition to the Liverpool backline, but the Reds will need at least one more defender in order to challenge for the top four.

Unsurprisingly, Neven Subotic has been linked with Liverpool ever since Klopp took over and it is not hard to see why the rumored transfer would suit all parties involved. Dortmund no longer need Subotic in their starting lineup and he will therefore be looking for a summer move. A reunion with Klopp might be the perfect solution for the towering Serbian center-back who was at his best when Klopp was in charge of Dortmund and in return, Liverpool could get a decent center-back in a cut-price deal.

Finally, if there is anyone who can help Subotic regain confidence in his abilities, it is Klopp and Liverpool should be trying to close this deal as soon as possible.

Read all about Liverpool target Mahmoud Dahoud in our Future Stars series

3) Sign a left-back

When Alberto Moreno joined Liverpool in 2014, many were hoping he would solve the left-back problem that has haunted almost every Liverpool side in the last 10 years.

The former Sevilla defender impressed in his early performances, but soon enough the honeymoon period was over and Moreno started struggling to recreate the heroics that dubbed him one of the most promising Liverpool players.

His forward runs may have left the Reds defense unprotected on numerous occasions, but it was his tendency to crumble under pressure that made him the biggest liability in the Liverpool starting XI. Klopp consequently tried moving Moreno further upfield and the Spaniard’s performances improved noticeably. However, that leaves the left-back position vacant once more.

As if Liverpool needed any more reason to find a new defender, Jose Enrique recently left Anfield, meaning that the Reds are now well out of their depth in the left-back spot.

FC Koln’s Jonas Hector could be the answer to the current Liverpool left-back problem, but his steep price tag (reportedly around €30m) might eventually put off the Reds. Nevertheless, if Liverpool truly want to challenge the top four next year, they will need to spend a lot this summer and Hector should be one of their priorities.

2) Do not sell Philippe Coutinho

This might seem like a no-brainer for most Liverpool fans, but the club might be tempted to sell Philippe Coutinho as Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly ready to offer €60m for the skillful Brazilian.

However, under no circumstances can Liverpool afford to lose their star player right now. If they decide to cash in on Coutinho, their position in the transfer market will be severely damaged and they might miss out on a number of transfer targets due to a simple lack of appeal.

Keeping Coutinho for at least one more year would be a strong statement of intent from the club and it might eventually prove to be the decisive move in the upcoming season.

1) Sign a defensive midfielder

It is common knowledge that Liverpool desperately need a holding midfielder who can bring some stability and consistency to the current side.

At the moment, Emre Can is covering the defensive midfield position for the Reds, but it is clear that he is far more suitable to play further upfront as a central midfielder. Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and James Milner are all players that can fill the necessary role, but neither of them is a natural holding midfielder, which was more than evident in their recent Europa League final. Lucas Leiva, meanwhile, is well past his peak and can no longer perform regularly.

That means Liverpool will have to sign a new defensive midfielder and Mahmoud Dahoud has already been tipped to join Liverpool this year. The youngster would be the perfect signing for Klopp, but it might be hard to pursue Borussia Monchengladbach to part ways with another midfielder following the departure of Granit Xhaka.

Nuri Sahin is another possible solution for Klopp, but it remains to be seen whether the player would like to return to a club that treated him poorly during his previous, temporary stay at Anfield a few years ago.

About the author – Dusan Lucic

Dusan has been writing sports-related article for 5 years and has a keen interest in the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serbian SuperLiga. He has previously written for Bleacher report, Arena sport,  Sportal and The News Hub. He is currently studying Serbian language and literature at the university of Belgrade.


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The new Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was ushered into the English game with an incredible fanfare, some even likening it to the revolution that swept the game in the country with Arsene Wenger’s arrival.

We ask is it really such a big deal and was the revolution really Wenger’s?

There was a huge air of inevitability about Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Anfield. He had been linked with the post since word got out he was leaving Dortmund at the end of last season and the Reds continued to splutter and stall under Brendan Rodgers.

Klopp’s main competition for the post was said to be Carlo Ancelotti who had previously enjoyed a solid spell at Chelsea before being relieved of his duties and heading to Madrid via PSG. The other outside candidate mentioned was the American Bob Bradley, a long shot at best.

The interesting part of all of this is that not a single British – never mind English – candidate was in the frame. It has been de rigour for some time now in the Premiership to shop abroad, not just for players but for the manager or ‘coach’.

Of course, none of this is to say that the English game hasn’t developed immensely by learning methods from overseas. British managers had become hugely stereotyped, either overcoat wearing cigar smoking mavericks such as Ron Atkinson or John Bond from days gone by or ‘up and at ’em’ motivators with little care for aesthetics or niceties, managers such as Neil Warnock or Dave Bassett.

But this is of course to do a huge dis-service to a huge amount of great British managers, many of whom were English. Along the way and going back to the ’80s we have had greats such as Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Bobby Robson, George Graham, Sir Alex Ferguson and Terry Venables. Glenn Hoddle was considered by many to be one of the great tacticians of his time even if his man management skills left much to be desired.

Along the way however, what has been constant has been the reduction in access to the very top jobs in England – granted that Wenger and Ferguson have had two of the top jobs locked down for the longest time. Few British managers have any experience of managing in the Champions League for instance.

Other than David Moyes’ ill fated nine months at the helm of Manchester United and Mark Hughes’ slightly odd and truncated spell at neighbours City, only Brendan Rodgers and Harry Redknapp have had any real aspirations of managing a team capable of mounting a top four challenge over a period of time and managing in the CL.

The British of course, do have a slightly odd relationship with the rest of the world and there are many assumptions that things are better just because of how they sound or where they come from.

Food will always be considered to be better if it is from Italy or France, a car will be more efficient if it is from Germany or sexier if it is from Italy and footballers will always be better if they have a name that sounds remotely Brazilian.

Jose Mourinho is a prime example if we compare him – and indulge me here a little – with Sam Allardyce.

Mourinho’s teams play a brand of football that Chelsea fans would call pragmatic (and winning) and other fans would just call plain negative. Yet Mourinho is one of the most sought after coaches in the world despite his rampant short termism and typically needing a sizeable transfer budget. He gets results and that is what counts.

Sam Allardyce is not the most popular of figures in English football. Yet, with the playing talent he has had at his disposal, he has done a pretty decent job by most measures, especially at Bolton where he did a wonderful job. He played a relatively conservative brand of football yet was still able to integrate the likes of Youri Djorkaeff, Jay-Jay Okacha and Hidetoshi Nakata into his teams.

Allardyce was laughed out of court and to this day is still sarcastically referred to as ‘Allardici’ for having the temerity to state that he believed he could do a good job of managing the likes of Inter Milan or Real Madrid.

But why is it so ridiculous of him to state that fact? He employs cutting edge methods including nutrition, sports science and by all accounts studies games and players using huge amounts of technology. He is hugely adept tactically also.

But it is of course Arsene Wenger who is credited with revolutionising football in England in these broad terms.

The problem for the likes of Big Sam these days is that they simply are not afforded the opportunities in the first place or given the time to grow in the job in the case of Davie Moyes. I personally find it hard to believe that had he been given the same transfer budget and time as Louis Van Gaal, that United under Moyes would be doing any worse or playing any less well than they are now.

Moyes in turn took the progressive step of going abroad to manage Real Sociedad to attempt to rebuild his career in the same way that Steve McLaren did after his stint in charge of England although that ultimately ended in failure for the Scotsman.

McLaren of course was pilloried for his spell in charge of the national team, and yes they missed out on 2008 but were England really that much better under the vastly more experienced (and infinitely better paid) duo of Sven Goran Eriksen and Fabio Cappello?

Football is of course like everything else far more global these days, only around a third of Premiership players hail from its’ own shores so it is logical that the coaching staff should be no different, and of course Britain suffers continually from its’ utter paralysis in being prepared to move abroad and further their footballing educations that way, mobility suffers from being on a one way street it would seem.

But despite all of this, it does seem that English managers are penalised for being, well English. Even at its’ height a few years ago, there were only so many British managers in the Premier League because someone somewhere had decided that managers born in Glasgow were of almost supernatural powers. Once that theory wore off, the numbers steeply declined again.

One possible explanation may be that much of the world has moved away from the traditional ‘manager’ towards very much a structure where this a first team coach.

Even the great Sir Alex is far more renowned as a man manager rather than for exceptional coaching or tactical abilities. Indeed the likes of Carlos Quieroz were often given the credit for the tactics of the team.

Clubs such as Chelsea and Liverpool have moved very much away from the scenario where the manager is buying and selling the players or indeed even choosing them in the first place. Only possibly Arsene Wenger retains complete autonomy within the English game and even he is said to have little or no involvement on the training pitch anymore.

For all the vast wealth being accumulated, the English game does seem to have got itself in a bit of a jam of late – as European results and the constant and repeated failure of the national team demonstrates – and it maybe just is possible that a bit more faith and perseverance with the domestic talent available maybe wouldn’t do any harm.

About the Author – Steven McBain

Steven is the lead colunmist at One Shot Football. A huge Chelsea fan and season ticket holder slowly brainwashing his children into being young Blues. Aspiring football blogger, radio pundit and all round football fan.

twitter: @duffnguff


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At the start of October, Liverpool’s imposing central defender, Mamadou Sakho, vented his frustration towards Brendan Rodgers, who refused to hand the Frenchman a start in Liverpool’s opening five matches of the season.

“Let’s say that during the short period when I was not playing, I was like a little caged lion who has not fed for a while,” he told L’Equipe.

“(Like a caged lion) when you open the door, he charges.”

Although it’s never pleasant to see a manager lose his job, Sakho would’ve quietly been thinking the sacking of Rodgers should provide the perfect platform for him to nail down a starting berth with the Reds.

If the early indications of the Jurgen Klopp era are anything to go by, he looks every chance to cement his spot in the heart of the Reds defence.

Against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, in Klopp’s first game in charge of the Merseyside outfit, Sakho, from his left sided central defensive station, repaid the German tactician’s faith to start him by putting in an outstanding shift that was full of upside.

Sakho, a much derided figure in recent times, undertook his duties with a palpable sense of authority, conviction and command, in a game where Liverpool crucially kept a clean sheet.

Charged with marking Spurs’ superbly talented centre forward, Harry Kane, Sakho performed his duty wondrously well. Whenever the pair were engaged in 1v1 situations, the physicality and sheer strength of the former PSG man shone through, as he hardly allowed Kane any joy.

In aerial duels, Sakho used his power and hulking frame to out-jump and outmuscle the lanky Kane, who struggled to find answers to the robust manner in which Sakho defends.

Even in scenarios where Kane would drop deep searching to link midfield and attack, Sakho would track him vigorously and heap pressure on his adversary to ensure that whenever Kane received the ball he never had an easy touch. This worked very nicely indeed, for Sakho’s relentless harrying impeded Kane’s time and freedom to make good, clear decisions once in possession, which he so often does in such instances.

In addition, the 25-year-old defender used his blistering covering speed to get across and support his teammates effectively. Being able to rapidly jet across the turf and cut out potentially dangerous attacks acted as something of a safety blanket for his team and provided another reason why his athleticism is so valuable to Liverpool. Alberto Moreno and Martin Skrtel were the predominant beneficiaries of this, and while they’ll be hoping to limit the occasions when Sakho is required to do this, they’d surely be comforted by the fact that, if they’re beaten, Sakho will more often than not mop up behind them.

In a positional sense, Sakho was nigh on flawless, hardly putting a foot wrong throughout. He showed a high level of discipline and concentration, which ensured he was never caught out by the multifaceted Tottenham attack. Such diligence in his duties saw him, when he wasn’t monitoring Kane, astutely pick up Spurs wingers Erik Lamela and Clinton N’Jie, when they drifted inside, plus he assisted in marking the intelligent Christian Eriksen when he looked to occupy zones in front of the Liverpool defence.

Another aspect of the Frenchman’s strong body of work that deserved mention came by way of his peristent communication with his colleagues. Showing his great leadership qualities, Sakho intently shouted and gestured to his midfielders and fellow defenders on where to best position themselves to deal with Tottenham’s attacking forays.

Sakho, who calls himself a “Liverpool soldier”, certainly lived up to his own billing, for his imposing and influential performance underlined what a vital component of Klopp’s side he should be.

The former Borussia Dortmund manager was straight onto the pitch after the final whistle to congratulate his lynchpin on a fine afternoon’s work, demonstrating his clear appreciation of Sakho’s display.

By the numbers, Sakho stacked up beautifully too, successfully completing nine of nine clearances, one tackle, three interceptions and bravely blocking two shots, as per StatsZone.

All things considered, after Sakho’s extremely accomplished effort, it’s somewhat baffling to reflect back and ponder why Rodgers under utilised his colossal stopper.

After all, upon analysing Liverpool’s central defenders, he’s quite possibly the best man in his position, with only Skrtel near him. With Dejan Lovren now playing like a shadow of his former self, Joe Gomez unfortunately out injured, Emre Can featuring in Klopp’s midfield and Kolo Toure an adequate backup, there’s absolutely no reason why Sakho shouldn’t be a mainstay at the back.

Another big challenge awaits Sakho this weekend in the form of Southampton’s burly, in-form forward, Graziano Pelle. The Italian international, while not as athletic as Kane, will pose a stronger physical obstacle for Sakho, who’ll surely relish this battle and see the clash as another opportunity to impress his new manager.

When recently speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Sakho touched upon the new found sense of positivity that’s surrounded the club with the Klopp appointment, saying: “It’s very good. All of the team feel the same. It’s a new manager, a new mentality, new training – everything is new.

“We have to adapt and we are ready to listen to what he says. He is here to help the team and to help every player and he wants to give 100 per cent for the club.”

Having put in another solid performance against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, it’s great to see the stars aligning once again for Sakho.

It’ll be fascinating to see how things pan out for him under Klopp from now on, and the Southampton game will be another stern examination.

If he can keep up his promising form then Liverpool should have themselves a wildly gifted defender who should lead the club for many years to come.

Only time will tell if this will, in fact, be the case, but one thing’s for sure, and that’s that Sakho will be given every chance to earn his stripes under the expert tutelage of Jurgen Klopp. And for the man who possesses just about all the ingredients necessary to be a high quality defender, there’s no reason why he can’t do just that.

About the author – Edward Stratmann

Edward Stratmann writes regularly about the on-field aspects of the game, with a particular focus on tactics and analysis. In addition to featuring on These Football Times, Inside Spanish Football, Anfield Index, Just Football, The Eagles Beak, Think Football Ideas and JuveFC, you can also find Edward’s work at Licence to Roam, a football blog he started with his brother in 2013.

twitter: @licencetoroam


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Jurgen Klopp’s infectious enthusiasm and energy make him the Heart, but it is Željko Buva? who is definitely the Brains. Together they make the perfect combination.

It’s an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp has caused quite a stir and restored the faith at Anfield. The German manager is a brand, and his appointment has been seen as a clear message by the Liverpool board – Reds are aiming for the top.

Behind all the excitement there stood a problem. Liverpool wanted to keep Brendan Rodgers’ first-team staff and Sean O’Driscoll, Gary McAllister, Glen Driscool and Chris Davies were all seen as the stumbling block during the negotiations with Klopp who insisted on brining his own men. Do not attribute it to his stubbornness, it is quite simple – Klopp can not function without his people.

Best known member of Klopp’s backroom staff is definitely Željko Buva?.

Bosnian Serb born in Prijedor is not the man of many words. “I talk only when I have something to say”, Buva? said in what has perhaps been his only public statement so far. Perhaps it is a secret to his successful cooperation with his long-time friend, chatty and more verbal Jurgen Klopp. The pair played together in Mainz in the ’90s when they became inseparable friends and confidants, two ‘telepathically’ connected individuals.

“Željko is the epiphany of football reason. I learn from him every day. He is a football genius, a master of every practice drill”, Klopp used to say about his assistant.

Buva? has been working alongside Klopp for the past 14 years. Liverpool manager ended his career at 33 as the Mainz player, immediately taking reins of the only club he ever played for in his career. Klopp was anxious and scared to jump from the pitch straight on to the bench so he called his best friend to join him, and honoured the agreement the two had made – the first one to land a managerial job would bring the other to work with him. Three years of playing together with Buva? were more than enough for the pair to form an unbreakable bond.

Klopp is not ashamed to confess his every decision has to be approved by Buva?. Jurgen himself calls Željko ‘the brain’ and it was the Serb who has been credited for developing that recognizable high-speed attacking football at Borussia Dortmund which propelled Jurgen Klopp to stardom. Influence and significance of his faithful assistant have never been hidden from the public.

In fact, former BVB player Miloš Jovi? who was brought from Partizan in 2014 explained that Klopp’s first words to him were about Željko Buva?.

“He is the brain, I am the stomach. Those were the first words Klopp told me upon arrival to Dortmund. Jurgen is the one who does the talking, but Željko is the engine. They form a formidable duo”, said the Serbian midfielder.

During Klopp’s touchline suspension in 2013 when former Borussia Dortmund manager was sent of against Napoli for berating the fourth official Nuri Sahin described the pair as ‘twins’, claiming there was no difference between them in practice when Buva? took over all of the responsibilities.

“Both of them see football the same way”, he said in a testimony to pair’s vision and philosophy that has yielded some remarkable results.

Klopp and Buva? won the total of six trophies during their time in Dortmund. Back-to-back Bundesliga titles were obtained in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, along with the DFB Pokal title in the same year. Klopp’s Dortmund also won three DFL Supercups in 2008, 2013 and 2014. Most regretted results has perhaps been the defeat in Champions League final to Bayern Munich in 2012-13, but Klopp and Buva?’s tenure at Dortmund had been nothing short of amazing.

The story of two friends is filled with Shakespearean romance and will most certainly be a good addition to all the hype and atmosphere created around the Liverpool’s charismatic manager. As a club whose stature was build upon the values that are hard to find in contemporary football, Liverpool are the perfect place for Buva? and Klopp, modern-day football’s Robin Hood and Little John.

About the author – Miloš Markovic

Sports journalist from Serbia, Editor in Cheif at and contributor to FutbolgradLive. Worked with Inforstrada and FIFA covering Serbia’s international games during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

twitter: @milosemarkovicu


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