Tag Archives: Liverpool FC

Mourinho exits Old Trafford after exhausting United’s patience

The end came with Manchester United 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool and closer to the relegation zone than the top of the Premier League.

After an emphatic 3-1 defeat by their old rivals at Anfield on Sunday, United finally sacked Jose Mourinho as manager.

Having joined in May 2016, the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss led them to League Cup and Europa League success, and into the last 16 of this season’s Champions League.

Mourinho had lived at the Lowry Hotel since his appointment – perhaps a sign that he never truly believed he was at Old Trafford for the long haul.

Growing criticism of United’s style of play and endless tales of the Portuguese falling out with leading players, including record signing Paul Pogba, combined with poor results to seal his fate.

Attacking tradition

Despite spending nearly £400m on 11 players since he was first appointed, Mourinho let it be known that he felt let down by the club in terms of recruitment.

‘Whoever comes in will be charged with restoring United’s tradition of attack football’

However, many critics and fans argued that United’s local rivals Manchester City have spent roughly the same to much greater effect.

Whilst they weigh up their options, the United hierarchy have appointed former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager for the rest of the season.

Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino, Laurent Blanc and Leonardo Jardim are just a few of the names in the frame. Some pundits believe that Blanc, who played under Sir Alex Ferguson towards the end of his career, could be the man to bring the best out of French star Pogba and compatriot Anthony Martial.

Whoever comes in will be charged with restoring United’s tradition of attack football. Furthermore, with Mourinho, gone key players such as  Martial and De Gea are now more likely to sign new contracts.

Game over

Another mostly lacklustre, disjointed display in the defeat at Anfield proved to be the final straw for owners the Glazer family and the club’s board.

Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to hammer the final nail in Mourinho’s coffin with two deflected goals as Liverpool ran out easy victors.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring with a great volley after his cleverly timed run was picked out by an accurate lofted ball from Fabinho in the 24th minute.

Liverpool had dominated the game up to that point and deserved the lead.

However, an error by goalkeeper Alisson gave United an undeserved chance before the break when he spilled Romelu Lukaku’s seemingly unthreatening cross into the path of Jesse Lingard who, in fairness, did well to follow it up.

After the break, United looked much more fluid and compact. They were starting to frustrate Liverpool, who resorted to shooting from distance.

Afterwards, Mourinho said: ‘In the moment when the game was going down, Liverpool’s intensity was dying, the centre-backs were shooting from 30-40 metres because they could not find spaces in a dangerous area.”

Thus, Klopp then sent on the maverick number 10 Shaqiri to try and find those spaces, and there was a bit of luck about both of his goals. But on balance, it was nothing more than Liverpool deserved.

When the scores were tied at 1-1 it was a tale of two approaches. Mourinho opted to bring on a central defensive midfielder in Marouane Fellaini at half-time, whilst Klopp brought on Shaqiri to chase the win.

Incidentally, Liverpool substitutes have now scored eight goals this season. Those substitutions summed up the managers at the moment.

Mourinho, who hadn’t tasted defeat at Anfield since 2007, was in a fairly gracious mood after the game.

“They [Liverpool] are fast, they are intense, they are aggressive, they are physical. They play 200 miles per hour with and without the ball. I am still tired just looking at [Andy] Robertson. He makes 100m sprints every minute, absolutely incredible.

‘Robertson, Mane, Salah, Wijnaldum, Keita, Fabinho: they are physical players and on top of that they are good players technically. I have lot of good players technically but we don’t have lots of players with that intensity, that physicality, so when the game has high levels of intensity it is difficult for us.’

Walk away

Mourinho had previously promised the board he’d be fourth in the table by Christmas, but last week he backtracked on that prediction, saying it was impossible.

Although United fans have largely been patient with ‘The Special One’, many found this an unacceptable state of affairs for a team who finished second last season and spent £72.5m (Fred £52m; Dalot £19m and Lee Grant £1.5m) in the summer.

With their title hopes long gone, and having been knocked out the EFL Cup by Derby County, Mourinho had a relatively easy home tie against Reading in the FC Cup third round coming up in the new year.

However, the draw for the Champions League knockout stages was less kind and saw United pitted against French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, which just about summed up Mourinho’s week.

 Leaky defence

Normally, teams under Mourinho are renowned for not conceding too many goals, but this season United’s leaky defence have already conceded 29 which is more than the whole of last campaign.

Furthermore, it wasn’t just the fact that they conceded lots – it’s the fact they have been utterly dominated too often.

‘At Inter, he once looked forward to a Champions League tie at Old Trafford, saying “I want to destroy United”. Unfortunately for their fans, Mourinho has pretty well done just that’

At Anfield, they only registered six shots in the whole game, whilst Liverpool managed to muster 36.

When Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto, he raved that his team were amazing at regaining possession, comparing them to mad dogs with a big bite.

At Real Madrid, he hailed his players’ clinical counter attacking, whilst at Inter he boasted how they could defend for five straight hours without conceding.

None of the above applied at United, where Mourinho generally seemed more determined to throw his players under the bus than praise them.

Whilst with Inter, he once looked forward to a Champions League tie at Old Trafford, saying: ‘I want to destroy United.’

Unfortunately for United fans, Mourinho has pretty well done just that – but whilst sitting in the Old Trafford hot seat – and walks away with £22m for his troubles.

Liverpool stun Man City in Champions League quarter-finals

Mohammed Salah, Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain and Sadio Mané all scored as Liverpool took control of  their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City.

The Reds ran out 3-0 winners in the first leg at Anfield, leaving Pep Guardiola’s team shell-shocked and needing to regroup before this weekend’s crucial derby against Man Utd, when they could clinch the Premier League title.

Liverpool made their home advantage count, scoring all three of their goals before the half-time break. City took control of the game in the second half but failed to register an away goal despite their attacking intent.

Jürgen Klopp’s side lost intensity after the interval but are now in prime position to qualify to for the semi-finals if next week’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium goes their way.

Security concerns cast a shadow over this eagerly-anticipated clash when City’s team coach had bottles and other objects thrown at it en route to Anfield.

Guardiola said after the game: “We come here to play football, and I don’t understand this situation. The bus is destroyed, and I didn’t expect this from a club which is prestigious like Liverpool. Of course, it is not Liverpool it’s the [fans]. But hopefully, this doesn’t happen again.”

Failure

Having endured a torrid journey to the stadium, City’s evening got even worse as the match officials failed to spot Mohammed Salah was marginally offside in the build-up to Liverpool’s first goal in the 12th minute.

But even the most die-hard Blue must accept that Liverpool were hungrier, more determined and fully deserved their victory on one of the great nights of European football at Anfield.

Guardiola erred tactically by starting Ilkay Gündogan in midfield. Seemingly overwhelmed by the occasion, the German had a poor game and failed to step up to when needed in his role as a box-to-box player.

Liverpool’s defending was brilliant on the night, allowing the front three of Salah, Mané and Roberto Firmino to stay high up the pitch, ready to counter-attack, which was how the first goal was scored.

Leroy Sańe sloppily gave away possession deep in the Liverpool half, James Milner drilled the ball down the right, and Salah had anticipated the options when playing in Firmino who got a shot off.

City’s clueless defending saw Kyle Walker failed to clear the danger, allowing Salah to score and send the home fans wild.

Unstoppable

Moments later, Milner was too strong for Gündogan, and the ball was released to allow Oxlade-Chamberlain in space just outside the box before he thundered an unstoppable shot past ‘keeper Ederson and into the top left corner.

Guardiola turned away and closed his eyes in disappointment and disbelief at the concession of such a goal.

City lacked character and organisation in defence, with Aymeric Laporte, an excellent centre-back, struggling out of position throughout the match.

With Andy Robertson and Mane on the left flank causing problems for Walker, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi looked like strangers in the centre, failing to deal with Liverpool’s menace.

Firmino set the scene for the third, pressing from midfield before releasing the ball to Salah who attempted a cross that was blocked.

He calmly regained the ball before lifting it towards the far post, cutting out Kompany and finding Mané who headed accurately past Ederson who did not stand a chance.

Impressive

The second period saw Liverpool defending for most of the 45 minutes, but doing so expertly and remaining organised, allowing no space for Sané or Raheem Sterling, who came on as a replacement for Gündogan, to run in behind.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was particularly impressive at right-back. Up against Sańe, the 19-year-old was composed and played a big part in preventing City from creating any clear-cut chances.

Liverpool left-back Robertson also looked sharp, intercepting crucial passes, and has established himself as a fixture in Klopp’s starting XI.

Attacking hungrily to try and cross the ball in the danger area, the  £8m signing from Hull City is looking increasingly like a real bargain for such as a developed young talent.

Only the horrific pre-match scenes outside the stadium took a shine off Liverpool’s night, and Klopp apologised before kick-off, saying: “I have to say sorry for Liverpool FC.”

The tie is not over, but it is hard not to see Liverpool scoring at the Etihad, meaning City would need to score five times if they concede on the night.

Kenny film poster

Review: Kenny – a fitting tribute to Liverpool’s ‘King’

Kenny is a retrospective look into the career of the Liverpool player, manager and Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish.

Directed by Stewart Sugg, the 86-minute documentary explore the extreme highs of Dalglish’s career, including winning six league titles, and the tragic lows of experiencing three of football’s most devastating tragedies.

The film examines how the Scot has struggled to make peace with the disasters he witnessed between 1971 and 1989 at Ibrox, Heysel and Hillsborough. The last of those claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, and Dalglish – as the club’s manager – attended most of their funerals.

The film is a well put-together compilation of interviews, clips from Dalglish’s playing days, re-enactments and comments from former team-mates, world football figures and family.

They come together to form an all-round insight into Dalglish as a player, a manager (and a player-manager at one point), family man and leader.

Liverpool’s greatest signing?

Dalglish joined Liverpool from Celtic in 1977 for a then British record fee of £440,000 and helped the team achieve an era of dominance, both as a player as well as manager.

Former team-mates Alan Hansen and John Barnes sit with Dalglish together on a round table to shed light on those glory days. Dalglish also talks with former attacking partner Ian Rush.

‘He could see things before anyone else’ — Ian Rush

“He could see things before anyone else. He made things easy for me,” says Rush, talking about their deadly partnership upfront. “For me, he’s the best player in Liverpool’s history. He’s the king, without a doubt.”

Sir Alex Ferguson – not always the best of friends with his fellow Glaswegian – even makes a cameo, describing how Dalglish asked him for advice before becoming player-manager in 1985.

At 34, Dalglish was given the task of managing the team as well as playing, a task he couldn’t turn down, especially as his club needed uplifting after the 1985 Heysel disaster.

Player-manager

“I thought it was going to be difficult but I thought if they had belief in me, the most I could do is try to see if I had any believe in myself,” he said.

He would then go on the mark an incredible season with Liverpool winning a League and FA Cup double. Hansen said it was “probably his greatest achievement”.

The documentary really puts into perspective the sheer genius Dalglish possessed as a player and a manager.

Sadly, the second part of the narrative shines light on Dalglish’s struggle with the impact of experiencing three colossal football disasters, with Hillsborough being the one that really broke him.

‘He was falling apart after Hillsborough’ – Marina Dalglish

“I don’t want to go back, I don’t want those memories to come back to the forefront of my mind. People might say you are running away from it, if I am, I am.

“But at the end of the day it still won’t get me back,” he says as he parks his car atop a hill in Sheffield and walks over the end of the road which overlooks the ground of Hillsborough.

It’s the closest he can bring himself to going back to the scene of the tragedy.

Reds resignation

Marina, his wife, speaks about how the event affected her husband’s well-being. “He was falling apart after Hillsborough,” she says.

These effects lead to the early resignation of Dalglish as manager of Liverpool as his struggles proved too much for him to cope with while also making the right calls and leading his team.

The documentary ends with the same flashback footage it started with of Dalglish sitting at a press conference announcing his resignation as Liverpool manager in 1991.

Kenny is extremely well made and I can say, even as an Arsenal supporter, that it is a great watch for any football fan.

Mo Salah Liverpool shirt

Liverpool reaps the dividends as Salah’s star continues to rise

You know a footballer is making waves with his scintillating performances when fans and the media decide that he’s ‘the Messi of [insert country here]’.

Sure enough, Mohamed Salah – with his dribbling skills, lightning speed and goals galore – has become known as ‘the Messi of Egypt’.

After his (bargain) £34.3m summer move from Roma, the 25-year-old forward has become the fastest-ever Liverpool player to reach 20 goals in the Premier League.

Salah was able to achieve it in 25 games compared to Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge, who both did it in 27. He’s currently on 28 goals.

How Chelsea must be kicking themselves that they didn’t persevere with him, after spending £11m to sign him from Basel in 2014.

Egypt’s icon

Salah is also a star on the international scene, where his heroic two-goal display against Congo back in October secured Egypt’s qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia – their first appearance on football’s biggest stage since 1990.

His status as a hero in his homeland is helped by the fact that Salah cuts a modest and humble figure who cares about the plight of those less fortunate.

‘With the Premier League televised around the world, Salah is fast becoming his nation’s most famous son’

He once donated 30,000 euros to the Veteran Association of Egyptian Players. After his match-winning performance against Congo, he was offered a villa by a rich businessman but declined and asked that the money instead go to help improve living standards in his hometown of Nagrig.

Egyptian football expert Marwan Saeed said: “He is a very down to earth, a quiet footballer and person. He barely interacts with the media in Egypt or abroad.

“He uses social media to a moderate level. He doesn’t like to talk much and that is a good thing as we see many stars saying things they shouldn’t on TV or posting things they shouldn’t.”

His exquisite skills on the field of play, and down-to-earth demeanour away from it, have made him an iconic figure and a source of pride for all Egyptians.

And with the Premier League televised around the world, Salah – having notched 36 goals in 41 appearances for Liverpool – is fast becoming his nation’s most famous son.

Salah steps up

Fans at Anfield feared the worst when favourite Phillipe Coutinho finally departed for Barcelona for £142m in the January transfer window.

 

But the Brazilian’s exit created an opportunity for Salah – who was signed for £39m in the summer of 2017 from Roma – and he has grabbed it with both hands.

Doubts might have lingered in the minds some Liverpool supporters, given he was shown the door at Chelsea in 2016 after just two goals in 13 appearances.

Jose Mourinho had recruited Salah after the Egyptian impressed against the Blues in the Champions League.

But he failed to shine at Stamford Bridge and after a year was loaned out, first to Fiorentina and then to Roma, who signed him permanently in August 2016.

Mourinho’s rigid tactical approach failed to get the best out of the free-spirited Salah, but he blossomed again in Italy, and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had no qualms about bringing him back to England.

Golden Shoe race 

The German’s decision has been more than justified, and further proof of that was delivered as Salah scored four times in Liverpool’s recent 5-0 win over Watford.

His latest haul put him in the lead for the European Golden Shoe award, and took his goal tally in the Premier League to 28 in 30 appearances.

It put the Egyptian on 56 points, six ahead of favourite Lionel Messi, who scored twice against Athletic Bilbao.

If Salah goes on to win the Golden Shoe he will be the first Premier League player to win it outright, since Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 31 goals in 2007-08 to help Manchester United claim the title.

Can Liverpool keep Salah?

With big performances week in week out, fans and pundits alike are already asking if Liverpool can hold on to Salah, as his exploits spark interest from the likes of Real Madrid.

Even though the player himself looks to have settled at Anfield, no-one knows where a massive offer for him might lead.

At least with Coutinho, Liverpool got five years of service, 142 appearances, 41 goals and numerous assists before the lure of Barca became too strong.

Salah is already well on his way to eclipsing those attacking stats, and may yet help Liverpool to Champions League success this season – if they can first get past Manchester City in the quarter-finals.

If he also stars for Egypt in Russia this summer, expect the club’s resolve to keep him at Anfield to be severely tested…

Premier League ‘will have safe standing by summer 2018’

Safe standing areas could be installed at Premier League grounds as early as next summer, despite ongoing government concerns, according to expert Jon Darch.

The founder of the Safe Standing Roadshow predicts that a system known as rail seating is on the horizon for the English football’s top flight, and said: “My gut feeling is that we are heading for its introduction in August 2018.”

Premier League clubs have discussed the possibility of using rail seating, formally adopted in Germany in the 1998/99 season.

Currently, their stadia have to be all-seater because of legislation implemented after the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989 in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed.

Celtic introduced a 2,600-capacity section of rail seating at Celtic Park in last year, and it has been widely hailed as a success.

Despite this, the UK government recently stated that it remains “unconvinced” by safe standing but says it will continue to “monitor the situation”.

Crushing

However, Darch told me that Celtic’s rail seating ‘trial’ has put safe standing firmly on the agenda of both politicians and football’s administrators.

“Celtic don’t like to use the word ‘trial’ when talking about their rail seating section. As far as they are concerned, it’s here to stay, but they call it a ‘trial’ to keep  Glasgow city council happy,” he said.

Celtic's safe standing section
Safe standing at Celtic Park

England’s top-flight grounds have been all-seater since the 1994-95 season for safety reasons.

But fans continue to rise to their feet during games, and away fans often stand throughout a match.

Many supporters have called for the introduction of rail seating, which allows standing but prevents the kind of dangerous crushing that was once common on the terraces.

Since 2011, Darch has been on a mission to enhance the credibility of rail seating by touring a roadshow around the UK to give people a real taste of the benefits of a system which has worked so successfully in other countries, most notably Germany.

“Most big German grounds were once almost two-thirds standing, and the reason they invented rail seats was because Uefa said games in its competitions in the future had to be played in all-seater stadia.

“That was a problem for German clubs because they had these big terraces. Also, they were member-controlled,  their members were fans, and the fans wanted to carry on standing.”

On the agenda

Although Darch is pleased at the progress he still can’t quite understand why it has taken until now for the Premier League to explore the idea. In a TalkSPORT poll, just over 90% of fans questioned said they supported the introduction of safe standing.

“I think it’s very likely that the clubs will mandate [Premier League executive chairman] Richard Scudamore to explore further the possibilities with the government, and my gut feeling is that we are heading for the introduction of rail seating in August 2018,” he said.

John Darch
Darch (top right) in Hanover’s safe standing area

“It’s strange that the Premier League has never discussed it with their clubs, and the clubs have never sat down together to discuss the topic until now.

“But the main thing is that it’s on the agenda and the government will listen to Scudamore a lot more than they do to clubs and especially fans on the matter.

“With the power the Premier League has, it can certainly make it happen.”

Darch stressed that comparisons between traditional open terraces and modern safe standing/rail seating sections are “daft and irrelevant”.

Poor management

“People fall very easily into the trap that conventional terraces were unsafe,” he said.

“Yes, the design of safe standing is different and, yes, there is far less possibility of movement in a rail seating area. But well-maintained and well-managed terraces like they have at Burton Albion’s ground are completely safe.

“What caused Hillsborough, and what causes nearly every major every disaster at sports stadia or other large public assemblies of people is poor management of a moving crowd.

“It happened at Ellis Park in South Africa in 2001 – 43 people lost their lives, and if you read the judge’s views of that disaster, it read nearly exactly the same as Lord Justice Taylor’s on Hillsborough.

“That stadium was and is an all-seater ground and a top five-star Fifa stadium. It’s a good stadium, but because there was a failure of management of a moving crowd at the point of entry, people died.”

Safe standing economics

Some cite the cost of introducing safe standing as the main reasons for clubs’ hesitation to progress with the idea.

The Safe Standing Roadshow website gives an example of how it could impact on a club’s matchday revenue:

Stadium A

Current capacity: 35,000

Two-tier stand behind each goal

Lower tier of the home end (3,500 seats) converted to safe standing

A section of the away end (1,750) converted to safe standing

Total seat spaces converted: 5,250 (15% of capacity)

Total standing spaces created: 9,450 (5,250 x 1.8)

Revised total capacity: 39,200 (+4,200, i.e. +12%)

Example seat price: £25

Example standing price: £18

Total gate receipt potential before: £875,000 per match / £17.5m per 20 games

Total gate receipt potential after: £913,850 per match / £18.25m per 20 games

Potential gate receipt increase per 20-game season: £750,000

Potential total extra revenue (incl. fans’  spend on catering etc.): £1.4m

Source: The Safe Standing Roadshow.

‘Huge potential’

Darch said: “Rail seating has huge potential to bring the price of tickets down, with more space created by the system. There is a £30 cap now on away tickets in the Premier League [thanks to] protests by fans.

“We can make more progress on this in the future and if and when rail seating is introduced.

If the rules and regulations in this country permit more than one spectator per space – there’s room to do that- then clubs could reduce their ticket prices for that area and still make the same amount of money or even more.”

Darch predicts fans to have a big say on prices, as they did at Liverpool earlier this season when fans staged a walkout protest after the club’s owners proposed a hike in certain tickets.

“Liverpool fans are the perfect example of the amount of power spectators hold,” he explained. “They made the clubs owners change their mind on the ticket increase idea and it typified that football is all about the fans. It was a great moment.”

“Outrageous insult”

Darch believes that the introduction of safe standing would be a fitting tribute to the victims of Hillsborough and their families, that the link between the disaster and the standing ban is built on a “falsehood”.

“It’s based on the idea that fans who like to stand are hooligans, and therefore it says the 96 were hooligans and implies indirectly that they were guilty of the disaster which unfolded that day”

“It is assumed that the standing ban was brought in because Lord Justice Taylor decided that standing up at football was somehow dangerous and the only way to watch it was to be sit down. That isn’t the truth.

“The truth is: the standing ban was brought in because the Thatcher government saw it as a means of countering hooliganism in the same way that they saw the idea of a national ID card scheme as a means of countering hooliganism.

“Before April 15th 1989, Thatcher’s government were already moving towards all-seater stadia and the national ID card scheme.

“In many ways, the disaster at Hillsborough gave them an excuse to bring in a piece of legislation which they probably wouldn’t have been able to bring in due to the opposition they would had faced had there not been that disaster.

“If the Hillsborough families who still oppose standing think about that, the reality is that the standing ban is actually a huge outrageous insult to the good names of their loved ones.

“It’s based on the idea that football fans who like to stand are hooligans, and therefore it says the 96 were hooligans and implies indirectly that they were guilty of the disaster which unfolded that day.”

Views changing on Merseyside

Liverpool have in the past made it known that they do not wish to contribute or engage to the debate on safe-standing out of respect for the Hillsborough families who oppose the idea. But Darch believes it is a view which is changing.

“Every single member in that room at the spirit of Shankly AGM were in favour of rail seating” – John Darch

Liverpool Echo journalist James Pearce says Liverpool and the Hillsborough families should be deeply involved in any discussion which takes place on the topic, but Darch feels it shouldn’t be dismissed if they choose not to.

“It would be nice to have them heavily involved, not only the families but the fans as well. But if they don’t wish to engage in the discussion then it shouldn’t be held back,” he said.

In September 2016 Liverpool supporter group The Spirit of Shankly held a meeting on whether they should formally adopt a position of safe-standing and the reaction by the members was very positive.

Group chairman Jay McKenna told the Liverpool Echo: “As an organisation, we have always taken a step back from the conversation on ‘safe standing’ and never really joined in.”

In favour

But following the Hillsborough inquest last year, which ruled the fans were unlawfully killed, and the successful trial at Celtic, the group felt it was the right time to have a discussion on whether now is the time to formally adopt a position.

The supporters’ group decided to ask all their members online their views of rail-seating and the return of standing, and the results which came back were staggering.

“The first person who had to speak in the room was a man who had lost his brother at Hillsborough and Spirit of Shankly then widened that question to all their membership online,” said Darch.

“Every single member present at the at the Spirit of Shankly AGM who spoke were in favour of rail seating. Online, 93% came back saying ‘yes we should adopt a formal position of safe standing’ and now they have set out a long and very in-depth consultation time table.

That will take them through to late spring-early summer 2017 where they will announce their formal position on standing.”

Five famous footballing returns

Many Liverpool fans were hoping against hope that club icon Steven Gerrard might have one last hurrah at Anfield after leaving MLS club LA Galaxy.

Gerrard, 36, opted to end his playing career last week, but may one day return to Liverpool in another role – possibly as a coach and potential manager?

For a footballer, leaving the club where you are seen as a legend is an incredibly hard decision, but the chance to return as a player or manager can be an even bigger one.

Remind everyone why you became a hero in the first place, or ruin your reputation; which way will it fall?

Here are five of those who did it best:

5 – Graeme Le Saux – Chelsea

Graeme Le Saux’s first spell at Chelsea ended in anger but the second was glorious.

Le Saux was the most expensive defender in England at the time at £5m – a far cry from the £30m Chelsea recently paid for David Luiz to return to the club after a £50million move to PSG two years earlier – when he returned after a controversial first spell in west London. 17 Sep 2000: Graeme Le Saux of Chelsea in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge in London. Leicester City won the match 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Dave Cannon /Allsport

In 1993 Le Saux was a regular starter at Stamford Bridge, but rarely lasted the whole match, and when he was taken off at Southampton, it proved too much for him to take and he ripped off his shirt in disgust, throwing it on the feet of manager Ian Portfield.

The defender was soon on his way to Blackburn Rovers, where in his first full season, he helped them win the Premier League title and became an England regular.

In 1997 he returned to Chelsea, making him English football’s most expensive defender and in the next three years, they won the FA Cup, League Cup, Cup winner’s Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

Leaving Chelsea as the “villain” for showing disrespect to the manager was tough enough, but returning to the club that sold you after your misdemeanours is a risk Le Saux took and evidently it paid off.

4 – Thierry Henry – Arsenal

When Arsenal’s record goalscorer Thierry Henry left for Barcelona in 2007, after eight years, 245 appearances and 174 goals, a huge part of his heart remained in north London.

So in some ways it was no surprise when five years later he returned to train with the team, and, inevitably, play for them again. Henry celebrates after scoring the winner on his return to Arsenal.

By then Henry was playing for MLS side New York Red Bulls, and during their 2012 off-season, he trained with the Gunners to keep in shape.

But when they suffered an injury crisis, manager Arsene Wenger looked to his former talisman and he signed a two-month loan deal. ‘King’ Henry was back.

He made four appearances and scored twice; the first came in his debut when he scored the winner goal in an FA Cup tie against Leeds.

His last ever Gunners goal came in his final match under Wenger – again, the winner, in injury time for a 2-1 triumph at Sunderland. No wonder there is a statue of him outside the Emirates Stadium.

Henry is now Belgium’s assistant manager and a pundit on Sky Sports. Many Arsenal fans would love to see him succeed Wenger as manager one day. Is another hero’s return too much to ask for?

3 – Ian Rush – Liverpool

Ian Rush’s 346 goals in two spells at Liverpool make him the club’s all-time record goalscorer. At his peak in the 1980s, there was no-one to rival him in English football. Ian rush celebrates scoring at Wembley for Liverpool.

Having won four league titles and two European Cups in six years with the Reds, in 1987 Rush left to join Serie A giants Juventus. It did not go well, with just seven goals in 29 appearances for the Italians.

Loaned back to Liverpool for the second year of his Juventus contract, Rush’s Midas touch returned, as he scored 30 goals in 42 matches.

A permanent return home was just a matter of time, and the Welsh striker spent another eight seasons at Anfield, making 245 more appearances and adding a further 90 goals. During this time he also won another league title, two FA Cups and became their record goalscorer.

A legend? Unquestionably.

2 – Didier Drogba – Chelsea

Didier Drogba was not just a legend as a player; over two spells at Chelsea, he helped change the history of his club.

His first spell, after joining from Marseille in 2004, saw Chelsea win their first league title in 50 years, in his debut season.

Another Premier League title followed the next year, setting up a glorious era in which he became the first ever player to score in four different FA Cup finals, as well as the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals. But nothing compared to how he signed off his first stint at the club.

His 88th minute equaliser in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, in Munich, took the game to extra time and then penalties. And who scored the winner? Drogba, of course.Drogba celebrates scoring the winning goal in the Champions League final.

When he left that summer to join Chinese league side Shanghai Shenhua, after eight years, 226 appearances, 100 goals and eight trophies, a fan poll by Chelsea’s official club magazine saw the Ivorian named as the club’s best-ever player.

Supporters probably thought they would never see his like again. They were wrong.

Drogba’s stint in China was short-lived, and soon he was playing for Galatasaray in Turkey, where he added the 2013 Turkish Super Cup to his medal collection.

The following year, he was back at the Bridge, signing a one-year contract for manager Jose Mourinho – like Drogba, enjoying his second spell at Chelsea.

Drogba managed four more goal in 28 appearances, before announcing that the final game of the season against Sunderland would be his last for the club.

After half an hour, he had to come off injured, but rather than limping off, he was chaired off the field by his team-mates. Now that’s a stylish exit.

The success Drogba enjoyed in his first spell at Chelsea meant that coming back for a second time he had to be as good, if not better than he was previously. Undoubtedly, he was a good playing an integral part in saving Chelsea’s season and thats why he is second.

1 – Paul Scholes – Manchester United

An increasingly rare one-club man, Paul Scholes’ 466 appearances for Manchester United over 17 years make him one of the modern greats.

In his testimonial match in August 2011, the midfielder signed off with a 25-yard finish, showing that even though he was retiring, he had still not lost his touch and he could have played on for a while yet. But no-one expected that he would actually do so.

Five months later, with United going through an uncharacteristic rough patch, he was back, making his ‘second debut’ by coming on to score in the Manchester derby, and also finding the net in his first start second time around. Scholes makes his second debut for United in a Manchester derby.

He was persuaded to sign another one year contract extension, keeping him at United until the end of the following season, and retired for good at the end of the 2012-13 season – fittingly, picking up a yellow card in his farewell match. Well, he never was much of a tackler…

His total of 25 major trophies makes him the most decorated English footballer of all time, and he is now co-owner of Salford City FC, a coach at United and a pundit on BT Sport.

The fact that Scholes completely retired from football before returning to top level football looking fitter than ever, makes his comeback the greatest of all.

Q&A with Nathaniel Clyne

Liverpool and England right-back Nathaniel Clyne make his professional debut for Crystal Palace in October 2008 against Barnsley.

In his four years at Selhurst Park, the full-back made 122 appearances and was named Young Player of the Year before his move to Southampton in 2012.

On the south coast, he was a key figure in Saints success under both under both Nigel Adkins and Mauricio Pochettino, earning him a £12.5m move to Liverpool in the summer of 2015.

Stockwell-born Clyne, 24, is known for his smart, incisive passing and pace down the right flank. In November 2014, he made his international debut against Slovenia in a 3-1 victory and has earned nine caps to date.

At Anfield, he slotted straight into the first team and, although signed by previous manager Brendan Rodgers, has continued to progress under new boss Jurgen Klopp.

Nathaniel took time out to answer some quick-fire question for Elephant Sport:

What’s a typical morning like for you? Wake up, have breakfast, go into training.

What’s your breakfast of preference? Ham and cheese omelette and one slice of thick brown toast

When you’re not playing football what are your hobbies? Shopping, cinemas, Xbox, going to concerts and events.

You’re at your third top-flight club now what would you say are the biggest differences between the three clubs/cities/fans? London lifestyles quicker than Liverpool and Southampton. All clubs are pretty much the same, family clubs and the fans are passionate. Being at Liverpool, you notice the size of the club by how many fans they have around the globe in places like Asia, Australia and America

In the past two years you’ve become arguably one the best full backs in the league what do you think that’s down to? Keeping up consistently good performances, keeping fit, staying away from injury and keeping a hunger for the game.

What has been your proudest moment to date as a footballer? Making my debut for England senior team.

Klopp seems very animated on the touchline: what’s your take on him as a manager and his style of coaching? How does it differ from other managers you’ve played under such as Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Neil Warnock? He’s very charismatic always smiling and cracking jokes. He brings confidence for the team to go out and express ourselves.

With Euro 2016 looming you’re in contention to be on the plane with England – what would you consider to be a success at the tournament? Success for me would be to get called up for the Euros and to get into the starting line-up. As for the team, it would be to do our best in the tournament and try to win it!

Follow Nathaniel Clyne on Twitter @Nathaniel_Clyne and on Instagram