Sport shorts: Jurgen Klopp’s letter to ‘cheeky’ Man Utd fan goes viral and Mercedes steering system will be banned under 2021 FIA rules


1. Klopp replies to ‘cheeky’ United fan

A letter sent by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in response to a young Manchester United fan who had asked his team to lose a few games has gone viral. 

Ten-year-old schoolboy Daragh Curley, from County Donegal in Ireland, wrote in the letter: “Liverpool are winning too many games. If you win nine more games then you have the best unbeaten run in English football. Being a United fan that is very sad. 

“So the next time Liverpool play, please make them lose. You should just let the other team score. I hope I have convinced you to not win the league or any other match ever again.”

In his reply, Klopp praised Curley’s passion but says he cannot let down his own club’s fans.

“Unfortunately, on this occasion I cannot grant your request, not through choice anyway,” said the Reds boss.

“As much as you want Liverpool to lose it is my job to do everything that I can to help Liverpool to win as there are millions of people around the world who want that to happen, so I really do not want to let them down.”

Speaking at a press conference today ahead of the leaders’s Premier League match against West Ham on Monday, the German added: “I cannot answer all the letters, I get a lot. But it was nice, it was cheeky. We had time that day so I read the letter and I replied. 

“It’s a private thing, I get a letter, I respond and the next day it’s in a newspaper – I don’t like that too much but it’s all fine. 

“I like working for Liverpool and I like the rivalry we have. But I love even more if we can keep that [rivalry] on the pitch. But apart from that they can be happy and we should be happy and I hope Daragh is now happy – he looked like it on the picture I saw later, so good.”

2. Henderson out for three weeks

Premier League leaders Liverpool have been dealt an injury blow after captain Jordan Henderson was ruled out for three weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in the 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. 

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said: “[Henderson] could have been worse. It was a hamstring [issue] and there have been a lot of different hamstring injuries around in the Premier League, Harry Kane for example. 

“It’s not that bad but he will be out for around three weeks or so. It is not cool but the way we see it, we were still lucky. I could [make changes for West Ham] because apart from Hendo, all the other boys are fit.”

3. This weekend’s Premier League fixtures

Ahead of Liverpool’s home game against West Ham on Monday, there’s a number of big matches in the Premier League this weekend. 

Tomorrow lunchtime Chelsea face Tottenham in a London derby at Stamford Bridge and the late game sees third-placed Leicester City host second-placed Manchester City at the King Power Stadium.  

Saturday 22 February (3pm unless stated)
  • Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur (12.30pm, live on BT Sport)  
  • Burnley vs. AFC Bournemouth  
  • Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle United  
  • Sheffield United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion  
  • Southampton vs. Aston Villa  
  • Leicester City vs. Manchester City (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 23 February
  • Manchester United vs. Watford (2pm) 
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Norwich City (2pm)   
  • Arsenal vs. Everton (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports)

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4. ECB ‘shun’ four-day Tests 

England will “shun” any attempt by the International Cricket Council to introduce mandatory four-day Test matches, The Times reports, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison declaring that he is opposed to the idea of a shortened format. 

The proposition of reducing Tests from five to four days was first mooted at the end of last year, and it was claimed that the ECB were “cautiously supportive of the move”. But in an interview with The Cricketer magazine, Harrison said that is not the case. 

“I’ve been positioned as the champion of four-day Test cricket,” he explained. “I am not… We will protect international cricket. Four-day Tests answer some questions, some of the time, but it’s not the answer to all of our problems.”

5. Fury hits the jackpot 

The Daily Mirror reports that British boxer Tyson Fury will “pocket a career-best purse of at least £31m” for his rematch with Deontay Wilder this weekend at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

The paper says that the heavyweight has “hit the jackpot” and will rake in millions from a sell-out 17,000 crowd not to mention pay-per-view sales on both sides of the pond. 

The unbeaten challenger is guaranteed around £19m with the rest coming from pay-per-view figures which are “doing better than anyone anticipated”.

Wilder vs. Fury II fight guide: preview and predictions

6. Mercedes DAS system banned in 2021

Mercedes’s innovative and controversial Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system has caused quite a stir this week at Formula 1’s pre-season testing in Barcelona. 

The BBC reports that the constructors’ champions have been cleared to use DAS in the 2020 campaign but the FIA has confirmed it would not be legal under the new regulations being introduced in 2021. 

A clause in the 2021 rules state: “The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel.”

7. Six Nations returns 

The 2020 Six Nations rugby championship is back this weekend. In tomorrow’s first match Italy host Scotland in Rome and this is followed by Wales against France in Cardiff. On Sunday England take on Ireland at Twickenham.

After two rounds of fixtures France and Ireland are the only teams who have a 100% winning record.

Six Nations round three fixtures
  • Saturday 22 February: Italy vs. Scotland (2.15pm GMT; live on ITV); Wales vs. France (4.45pm GMT; live on BBC and S4C)  
  • Sunday 23 February: England vs. Ireland (3pm GMT; live on ITV)

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8. Joseph to play on wing against Ireland

England head coach Eddie Jones has named his team to face Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday. An injury to George Furbank means that Elliot Daly moves to full-back and Jonathan Joseph starts on the wing. Ben Youngs is selected at scrum-half. 

Manu Tuilagi returns at centre, Joe Marler is at prop in place of Mako Vunipola and Courtney Lawes is on the flank. 

England team 
  • Starting XV: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonathan Joseph, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Tom Curry 
  • Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Charlie Ewels, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Willi Heinz, 23 Henry Slade 

Eddie Jones in ‘racism’ row as rugby is overshadowed once more

9. Federer out of the French Open

Roger Federer is targeting a return to tennis in the grass-court season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. 

The 20-time grand slam champion will miss the French Open in Paris in May and June as well as tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota and Miami. 

Federer, 38, underwent surgery in Switzerland on Wednesday and he said: “My right knee has been bothering me for a little while. 

“I hoped it would go away, but after an examination, and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland. After the procedure, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery.”

Federer will ‘see you on the grass’- but is this the beginning of the end?

10. Back pages: Europa League round-up

Despite Wolves’s 4-0 thumping of Espanyol and Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Olympiakos last night, the Europa League tie that gets the most coverage on the back pages is Manchester United’s lacklustre 1-1 draw at Club Bruges. 

“Blush goalie” screams The Sun, a reference to the underwhelming performance of United keeper Sergio Romero, who was exposed for the Belgian club’s goal. 

The Red Devils levelled through Anthony Martial, hence The Daily Telegraph’s “Martial law” headline, while the Daily Mirror says the French striker “spared United’s blushes”.

Today’s sport headlines

Martial spares Man Utd’s blushes in Bruges

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