Liverpool notebook – Jurgen Klopp sets documentary boundaries as Mohamed Salah standoff ends
All the latest off-diary Reds news as Paul Gorst brings you the titbits from around Anfield in his Liverpool Notebook.
Liverpool are riding high at the top of the Premier League with a five-point cushion courtesy of Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Chelsea at Anfield.
Next up for the Reds is a trip to Arsenal, on Sunday afternoon, in a fixture that will have a huge say on the title race this season.
Some eyebrows were raised when it was announced this week that Liverpool are opening their doors to film crews and cameras to document the final months of Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield tenure.
Klopp had previously said, way back in October 2019, that he would leave the club if owners Fenway Sports Group decided they wanted to make the Reds the subject of such a series, but those views were delivered many moons ago. While the manager’s stance hasn’t softened entirely, the idea of footage capturing the last weeks of a legendary career promises to be fascinating for its target audience.
It’s also not linked to the manager’s decision to call time on his storied tenure at Anfield at the end of the season and filming actually began in December, some weeks after Klopp had informed Mike Gordon, Fenway Sports Group president, of his intention to leave at the end of the campaign.
The timing of both announcements is perhaps not ideal from an optics point of view given Klopp’s previous comments but the interest will surely be ramped up ten-fold now supporters know these are the final days of an historic period.
The large camera crew that was on site at the AXA Centre on Tuesday gave the game away before the official announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
It will be filmed, directed and produced by Lorton Entertainment, the company responsible for the likes of the movie ‘Diego Maradona’ and the Steven Gerrard film, ‘Make Us Dream’, on Amazon Prime as well the ‘Coleen Rooney: The Real Wagatha Story’ on Disney+.
People who have been working on the project, however, have dismissed the idea of it running roughshod over the AXA Training Centre and it’s understood that Klopp has made it known that there are boundaries that cannot and won’t be crossed.
While he has rowed back on his initial beliefs some years ago, it’s said that there are still parts of the operation that will remain out of reach for the cameras and the public.
It feels a long time ago now but Liverpool found themselves embroiled in something of a storm last week regarding Mohamed Salah.
It would be fair to say many at the club were initially surprised by the furore surrounding Salah’s situation after he was returned to Merseyside to undergo treatment and rehabilitation on a muscle injury he suffered while on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
After undergoing two X-rays, it was decided that Salah would fly back to Liverpool to undertake a specially-designed training regime aimed at getting him back to fitness as soon as possible to aid Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations fight before the Pharaohs were dumped out at the last-16 stage.
Salah and Liverpool both came under fire from high-profile figures in Egyptian football with their most-capped player, Ahmed Hassan, saying: “He should stay with the team no matter what, even if he only had one leg to stand on.”
Former Tottenham striker Mido, another popular figure in Egypt, posted sarcastically about Salah’s Liverpool-based training programme on Twitter, writing: “Oh, these exercises are so dirty and rigid, it is difficult to do them except in Liverpool.”
The reference, which was uploaded alongside a screenshotted image of Salah in the gym of the club’s AXA Centre, was posted after it was decided between the Egypt FA and Liverpool that it would be better for the forward to make use of the facilities at the £50m Kirkby base rather than ad-hoc sessions in a gym of wherever the national side happened to be based as they continued to move around the Ivory Coast.
Mido eventually attempted to clarify the message, saying: “Guys, I’m joking, I swear, and I defend Salah’s position the most, but if he were in his place right now, I would post a picture of me in a spacecraft being treated with ozone, not a picture of plastic reinforcement.”
Despite that, though, some at Liverpool had been bemused by some of the criticism and comments that had been forthcoming around the club and the player himself, while the comments of Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas, last Thursday, indicated the No.11’s camp felt similarly disillusioned with it all.
Even the normally mild-mannered Salah was moved to comment about the backlash surrounding the decision for him to leave Egypt camp.
“Yesterday I started the treatment and rehabilitation program,” he wrote last week. “And I will do everything possible to be ready as soon as possible and return to the national team as was agreed upon from the beginning…I also love it and its people…try harder.”
As it turned out, Klopp’s bombshell announcement instantly focused the headline and the attention elsewhere and Egypt’s exit at the hands of DR Congo has quietly ended the ongoing story of Salah’s club-versus-country row.
The Egypt captain himself has quietly been going about his business on his own during sessions at the Kirkby facility, declining against offering a public reaction to Klopp’s news last week so far. Right now, Salah’s focus is clear: get back to fitness as soon as possible.