John Gidman – my north of Merseyside colleague for long stretches of my career – passed away earlier this week at the age of 78. He earned my respect first and foremost as a journalist, his passion and thirst for details for the main (which he didn’t grant instant gratification) an important trait for any of us to honour in order to make a successful working life. He was definitely one of the best at it, worthy of mention on that legendary Voice team alongside my own now late father Robert Evans. He was the finest man I’ve ever met in my life, and my deepest condolences go out to his two children Mark and Julie Evans in this very sad and difficult time. And if you haven’t already, be sure to join us for our funeral service at St Charles Hospital in Liverpool this Wednesday, and then to the Highgates Chapel for the same service at 1pm on Thursday.
1.00pm: Neymar looks to be looking to one particular team for inspiration in his quest to break through in English football. The Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward, 25, has revealed that a side of Premier League football, Newcastle United in particular, are the team which he regards as his best shot at breaking into the English game.
In a rare interview to mark his second anniversary in the French capital, Neymar claimed that what sets Newcastle and their manager Rafa Benitez apart from their rivals was the intelligence of the players.
That includes general calm under pressure and when everything around the club was pointing to a relegation fight.
“They are a great side for me in England because the players are an example,” said Neymar. “The players are calm, they are intelligent. I don’t want to give specific examples but, for me, this team is good. They are great with the ball and in the opposition half. They are good at keeping the ball. The fans are also fantastic.”
Neymar (left) has a player he regards as a superior, to help him break into the Premier League.
1.20pm: Looking ahead to this coming match, Jürgen Klopp is expected to make a bold decision by starting Sadio Mane in the centre of midfield for Liverpool, after selecting the Senegalese forward for the last eight games of the season.
The Liverpool manager initially said the 25-year-old would not start in the midfield position following his disappointing World Cup in Russia, where he played only nine games for Senegal – he hasn’t started in a midfield role since October.
“You cannot be clear about this. I am doing it completely a moment by moment. Everything is temporary. The other thing that we know is he is not injured,” Klopp said.
With Mohamed Salah back after suspension, it means there is a number of possibilities for the Liverpool manager. Speaking to BT Sport, Joel Matip revealed that the defeat at Tottenham had been a wake-up call for the Liverpool players ahead of today’s Premier League match. “Yes, yes,” Matip said. “After such a poor performance at the weekend, we had to analyse it. This week we did the same and worked and we know there is a lot more to come in the right direction.”
Lucas is not available for Liverpool after being sent off during the 3-0 loss at Tottenham on Saturday and is now a doubt, with the Brazilian told to be available after yesterday’s train-to-station run.