Liverpool were met at Elland Road by protesting Leeds United fans and players ahead of last night’s Premier League fixture, with manager Jurgen Klopp brandishing the targeting of his squad for his club’s Super League involvement “a joke”.
Leeds’ players warmed up in t-shirts branded with the slogan ‘Earn it on the pitch. Football for the fans’, in reference to the plans of England’s rebel six.
A banner with the same words was placed behind one of the goals, and the same t-shirts were provocatively left in the Liverpool dressing room, inviting the visitors’ to join the movement.
“I heard there are warm-up shirts. We will not wear them,” said Klopp. “We cannot. And if somebody thinks they have to remind us that you have to earn it to go to the Champions League then it’s a joke.
“It’s a real joke and it makes me angry. If they put it in our dressing room and it was a Leeds’ idea? Thank you very much. Nobody needs to remind us. Maybe they should remind themselves.”
A group of Leeds fans gathered at the players’ entrance to jeer Liverpool’s arrival, while playing the Abba song ‘Money, Money Money’.
Klopp, who said in 2019 he was opposed to Super League plans, was taken aback by the hostility aimed at his players. “My opinion didn’t change,” he said. “I heard first time about it yesterday, when you are trying to prepare for a very difficult game against Leeds United. So far we got some information, not a lot to be honest, most of things you can read in newspapers more or less. It’s a tough one.
“People are not happy with that and I can understand that, but I cannot say a lot more about it to be honest because we were not involved in any processes, not the players and not me. We didn’t know about it. That’s the case. The facts are out there and now we have to wait and see how it develops.”
Klopp insisted he remains committed to a format which allows new clubs to qualify for the highest tier competition, retaining a meritocracy and he was backed up by his midfielder James Milner.
“I can only give my personal opinion and I don’t like it one bit and hopefully it doesn’t happen,” he said.
“It (the current system) has worked well for a long time, what has made it special, what we have done over the last few years is we have earned the right to win the Champions League and earned the right to win the Premier League. The product we have currently is very good.”
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