TAKING FIVE

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will have to do without Philippe Coutinho for the rest of this month.  Photo credit: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will have to do without Philippe Coutinho for the rest of this month. Photo credit: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Steven Crawford takes a look back at five talking points in the world of sport this week

CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

This was the week that saw Liverpool’s training ground resemble a scene from Casualty.

Already struggling with a number of high profile absentees Jurgen Klopp took his patched up side to the Britannia Stadium for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi final.

Within 34 minutes though the Reds had lost both influential midfield man Philippe Coutinho and defender Dejan Lovren to hamstring injuries.

A makeshift centre back pairing of Kolo Toure, who was also later struggling with a muscle strain, and Lucas Leiva helped Klopp’s men to a deserved 1-0 win.

After the game questions were asked as to why both Coutinho and Lovren had succumbed to the hamstring agony.

Some ‘experts’ blamed Klopp’s pressing game.

On December 23 fitness guru Raymond Verheijen, who has worked with Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea during his career, seem to predict the impending injury crisis at Anfield when he tweeted: ‘It will be interesting to keep an eye on Liverpool in the upcoming weeks as they are about to hit an injury crisis under new manager Klopp.’

Whether it is or whether it isn’t the new pressing style implemented by the new boss is still up for debate.

Pep Guardiola will leave his position as Bayern Munich coach at the end of the season. Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will succeed the Spaniard at the German champions on a three-year contract. Photo credit:John Walton/PA Wire.

Pep Guardiola will leave his position as Bayern Munich coach at the end of the season. Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will succeed the Spaniard at the German champions on a three-year contract. Photo credit:John Walton/PA Wire.

What is for sure is Liverpool will have to have to have another makeshift defence for Friday night’s FA Cup tie against Exeter.

Maybe those three words Jurgen said after the defeat at West Ham were ‘Get Torben Piechnik’, then again maybe not!

PEP TALK

There’s going to be another high profile arrival to the English game in the summer after Pep Guardiola confirmed he would be managing a Premier League team next season.

A delighted Christy O'Connor Junior celebrates on the 18th green after winning the British Seniors Open at Royal County Down. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

A delighted Christy O'Connor Junior celebrates on the 18th green after winning the British Seniors Open at Royal County Down. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

The 44-year-old is the game’s most sought after coach after his success with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Immediately speculation intensified as to where Guardiola will be heading .

The Catalan has said he has several offers from England, but has yet to choose between them.

Manchester City look like favourites, but their neighbours at Old Trafford are also in the hunt, and don’t rule out Chelsea, who are still looking for a long-term successor following the departure of Jose Mourinho.

There’s no doubt until the ink is dry on his new contract teams will be flaunting their wares in a bid to entice Guardiola.

With Txiki Beguiristain as Director of Football at the Etihad though, and the possibility of some of the Nou Camp’s prize assetts being lined up at arrivals the smart money is on Pep following Pellegrini.

EUROPEAN UNION

Closer to home there was cliches galore as the ‘political football’ match at Belfast City Hall finally reached a conclusion, albeit after extra time and the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

The joint civic reception for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland football teams was voted in favour of by the Council.

The double reception was first proposed by the SDLP at the end of last year, to celebrate both teams reaching the finals of the Euro 2016 competition.

On Tuesday night a lengthy and sometimes heated debate saw the motion pass.

But doubts are already being raised as to whether or not the teams will be able to find the time in their busy schedules in the build up to this summer’s tournament to attend the City Hall event.

RECORD BREAKER

Away from football and boy wonder Pranav Dhanawade smashed his way into the record books with an unbeaten innings of 1009 runs during an inter-school cricket competition.

The 15-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman had remarkably not even scored a double century prior to his marathon innings.

Batting against Arya Gurukul School in a Bhandari Cup match, Pranav reached 1000 runs in just 323 balls on Tuesday, after remaining unbeaten on 652 a day before. This included a jaw-dropping 59 sixes and 129 fours.

His team soon declared the innings at 1465/3, which is also a world record, while the opposition side were bundled out for 31 on Monday.

This a pretty comprehensive win in anyone’s book.

REMEMBERING A GREAT

There was sad news this week with the passing of golf great Christy O’Connor Jnr.

The Irishman helped Europe retain the Ryder Cup at the Belfry in 1989 when his two-iron approach at the last sealed a singles win over Fred Couples.

O’Connor won four European Tour titles including his Irish Open triumph at Woodbrook in 1975.

Irish President Michael D Higgins described O’Connor as an “iconic figure in golf”.

“Christy represented his country and its people on the international stage with distinction, dignity and great humour,” added the Irish President, who is also a Galway native.

“He will be missed by not only his sporting colleagues, but also by his community, and in particular by his friends.

“We will miss his warm personality, his generosity and his great resilience of spirit.”