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Watch: ‘Klopp is the right man to put Liverpool back on track’ say Liverpool legends

The past week has been one to remember for the Liverpool fans in Malta and Gozo after club legends Bruce Grobbelaar, Sammy Lee and Phil Thompson made the trip to the Sister Island to inaugurate a new supporters club in Xewkija.

The Gozitan branch was celebrating its 25th anniversary and this feat was marked by various activities, organised by the club president Charlie Farrugia, together with the Gozo Supporters Club, to commemorate this milestone.

The highlight of the event was the official opening of the OLSC Gozo premises by Grobbelaar, Lee, and Thompson, who unveiled a commemorative plaque, symbolising the club’s longevity and dedication.

Charlie Farrugia, the chairman of OLSC Gozo, delivered a heartfelt message on the occasion of the club’s 25th anniversary. He expressed his gratitude towards the supporters and highlighted the club’s journey over the years.

The message conveyed the strong bond between OLSC Gozo and Liverpool FC, emphasising the shared passion for the club.

The Times of Malta, thanks to the assistance of Liverpool Supporters Club Malta co-founder and ex-committee member Matthew Pace, spoke to the Liverpool legends on the English Premier League club’s fortunes this season and the emotions they felt meeting club fans from Malta and Gozo this week.

Phil Thompson gives his thoughts on Liverpool’s season. Video: Matthew Pace

Phil Thompson, a three-time European Cup winner with Liverpool in the 1970s, admitted that the 2022-23 season was a very difficult one for the Reds and said that having the season starting earlier due to the 2022 World Cup it left a huge toll on their players.

“It wasn’t definitely what we wanted or expected,” he said.

“The season had started in the best way after we beat Manchester City in the Community Shield. It was a big game and as a player at Liverpool you are always ready for a big game.

“But in reality, the season before, our players were involved in every game as we battled for all four trophies, which is something unique, and that campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

“That season left its toll on the players and with the World Cup coming up in Qatar midway through the campaign, the new season started earlier and the players had little time to recover fully from both a physical and mental point of view.

“To be able to play Klopp’s style of football you need a lot of energy and the players didn’t get enough rest and it effected their confidence.”

Thompson said that one of the positives to take from last season, was how the team evolved.

“If you look at what Klopp did with Trent Alexander Arnold who was pushed from a rightback into a midfield role and in football you want your best players to always be on the ball so that they can create chances,” he said.

“I think we are seeing a new style of play under Jurgen Klopp but we have lost three midfielders – Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and James Milner and that is certainly one area we need to strengthen.

“We need to lower the team’s average age and bring in players with good experience in playing in the Premier League. Alexis Mac Allister is a great addition to the team, has high energy, can create chances and can score goals, something that we lack at the moment in our midfield.”

Asked about this week’s experience, seeing so many Liverpool fans filling the new club premises in Gozo, Thompson said that it was an occasion that blew him away.

“It is always wonderful coming to Malta and to go to Gozo and seeing Charlie Farrugia opening a bigger club premises, with all the memorabilia that he has is something that blew my mind,” he said.

“Charlie has some unique memorabilia but the thing that makes it more special is the fans. Liverpool have a lot of fans around the world, but to come to Gozo and seeing so many people showing so much love towards Liverpool has certainly warmed our hearts.”

Sammy Lee speaks on Liverpool’s future under Jurgen Klopp. Video: Matthew Pace

On his part, Sammy Lee said that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is fully aware that last season was not good enough in Liverpool standards and he is convinced that he is already working hard to put the team where it belongs.

“Last year wasn’t a great season but our main man, Jurgen Klopp, knows this very well and I’m sure that he is already working hard to put the team back where it belongs,” Sammy Lee said.

“Liverpool have been fantastic for the past five seasons and I have full faith in him. One of the key issues for the team to get back to the top is our work in the transfer market. Once my friend Brian Kidd had told me that the key to success is recruitment.

“It is going to be crucial to see who is coming in but I’m sure Klopp has already identified the right targets and is working tirelessly to ensure we show a lot of improvement in the coming season.

“I just want to conclude by thanking Charles Farrugia and Matthew Pace, who I have known for several years, as you have promoted the Liverpool values at your club for many years.”

Charles Farrugia speaks on the inauguration of the new Liverpool supporters club in Gozo. Video: Matthew Pace

On his part Charles Farrugia described the occasion as a memorable night for all fans of Liverpool in Malta and Gozo.

“It was a fantastic night for all the Liverpool fans present for the occasion,” Farrugia said.

“Last year I decided to open new club premises in Gozo and I decided to bring in Liverpool legends Phil Thompson, Sammy Lee and Bruce Grobbelaar for the occasion as they were the same people who opened our first club 24 years ago,” Farrugia said.

“I would like to thank Matthew Pace with whom I worked for so many years at the Liverpool Supporters Club and gave me a lot of assistance. It was truly a memorable day for all our members who had the chance to meet with their idols.”

The Official Liverpool Supporters Club Gozo officials with club legends Bruce Grobbelaar, Sammy Lee and Phil Thompson.

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