The £100m reason why Liverpool will be rooting firmly against Newcastle United this season
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Liverpool and Newcastle United’s relationship has become strained in recent times. There was, not so long ago, a mutual respect between the two clubs. Geordies and Scousers share a lot in common, with their patois and repartee renowned to ears across the country. Folk from the big smoke are usually bamboozled when they come across a Tyneside or Merseyside tongue.
Then there are the two clubs themselves, who held a bitter feud with Manchester United at different stages of the Premier League era. Not to mention those thrilling 4-3 wins for Liverpool in the 1990s - regularly placed on a mantle by Sky Sports for showcasing the top flight at its best.
The likes of Peter Beardsley, Kenny Dalglish, Michael Owen, Andy Carroll, James Milner and so many more represented both clubs to further cement that connection. However, tensions have risen, especially following Newcastle’s Saudi-backed takeover.
Liverpool, as has been the case since Liverpool’s first FA Cup win in 1965, have proven to be the Magpies' dreaded bogey team. A 15-game unbeaten run stretches back to December 2015 when, ironically, a future Red, Georginio Winaldum, took them apart at St. James’ Park.
But the relationship was always indifferent - until now. Drama-filled encounters have resulted in Eddie Howe and Jurgen Klopp almost coming to blows on the touchline. In August 2022, Newcastle felt hard done by when they conceded a 98th-minute winner at Anfield. Earlier in the game, Alexander Isak was denied a stunning brace - which would have put the Magpies 2-0 up - by the most fractional of offside calls. Newcastle’s gamesmanship frustrated Liverpool but ultimately proved their downfall as stoppage time well exceeded the scheduled eight minutes.
A year on, the Reds pierced another dagger through black and white hearts when Darwin Nunez’s brace inspired a 10-man turnaround on Tyneside. A telling fact is how Liverpool remain the only Premier League club Newcastle have failed to beat who were in the top flight on October 7, 2021 - the day the Saudi takeover was completed.
While their priorities are different, with Liverpool competing for the league, the Reds have a tangible reason for rooting against Newcastle: Bruno Guimaraes. The Brazilian is Howe’s most indispensable player and was at his brilliant best to put Nottingham Forest to the sword on Saturday. Given the licence to get further forward, he bagged a brace to inspire a 3-2 win and get the Magpies’ season back on track.
Speaking post-match, Guimaraes insisted he is happy at St. James’ Park - but dangled a carrot for potential suitors when outlining Newcastle’s aims for 2023-24. He said after his weekend masterclass: "Sometimes the people speak a lot about me. I just speak a lot about football. I'm very happy here and I like how the fans think of me here. Let the people speak.
"We have to get Europe again. Try for Champions League, I know it's difficult but definitely for Europa League. We have been better away from home. We have a big game at home next week and, hopefully, we can get the three points. I enjoy my time here. The fans have been unbelievable for me and my family. I hope this can keep going for a long time."
Should Newcastle fail, that could open the door for a £100million move to Liverpool this summer. The Reds and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain are the two clubs linked closely with a move for the Brazilian. His contract extension in October included the release clause and, on Saturday’s evidence, he would be worth every penny. Should they maintain their current position of seventh, the Magpies would qualify for the Europa Conference League unless Liverpool lose the Carabao Cup final to Chelsea.
As it stands, Guimaraes is idolised by the Toon faithful, heralded as a god among men in their engine room. He appears happy given the constant adulation but an end-of-season blip could change everything - and Liverpool fans need to be backing exactly that.