Jürgen Klopp has penned a heartfelt column in the matchday programme for Liverpool's Premier League fixture with Newcastle United.
The manager writes: “Hello wherever you are as we prepare to face Newcastle United at Anfield in the Premier League. I welcome Steve Bruce, his players, staff and officials of our visitors.
“Steve is a great guy and a superb leader of a football club. I’ve said this before in these pages, I have some very influential players in my team who have played for him. Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson speak so highly of him as a person and a manager.
“Newcastle’s recent results show us we need to be on our guard today. We need to be ready to fight for everything. We know Newcastle will. They fight for their lives. But we fight also. So much to play for. Everything to play for. So this makes it interesting.
“Clearly I cannot write this column and not address an issue which has dominated the agenda, here and across Europe in the past seven days.
“It is difficult for me in truth, because I have found some of the reaction around it difficult to take. And by this I don’t mean those who were against it or the protests. This was a great victory for football supporters – I want to make this clear from the outset. I agreed with their opposition. I made this clear to our owners.
“The part I have struggled with is seeing this club, a place I love and am now proud to call my home, trashed. And done so in a manner which suggests no redemption is possible. That I can’t take.
“It was right to take apart the concept and it was fair to criticise it, along with those who came up with it and also how it was presented. All legitimate in my view. The anger and disappointment was justified.
“But there were times when the distinction between ‘club’ and this decision (and yes, those responsible for it) were too quickly blurred into one. To do so is an insult to the supporters in my view. And the players.
“The supporters’ actions have earned them distinction. Likewise the players. And THEY are the club. They always have been and always will be.
“I am not free from blame either for letting emotion get the better of me during this. Particularly after the Leeds United game. When I found out that the flags were being removed from the Kop in protest it hurt me and I reacted in a way I wish I hadn’t.
“Of all the things that we have achieved at Liverpool I would argue that the bond between this team and our fans is arguably the most important because without it none of the success we have enjoyed would have been possible.
“So seeing a division appear was very difficult for me to accept. I now better understand the reasons why the supporters groups felt it necessary and I respect them but I would hope that we are never in this kind of situation again. They are always the solution and never the problem.
“It is always up to you to decide the ways in which you do or don’t support us, but I also hope you see it as a compliment that even in an empty stadium the flags and banners – that you bring – mean so much to us. This is why I am so happy that they will be there again today. Thank you and sorry if my clumsy words caused you hurt.
“Apologies are important and the one from our owners was necessary. I have great respect and affection for these guys and that hasn’t changed during this.
“I know I am lucky that I know them personally, so I don’t expect these words to change hearts and minds in the short or medium term for those who are angry. But I’m not going to say something I don’t believe just because it will get me applause.
“They are good people and they have been good for Liverpool Football Club. This is my opinion.
“This was a mistake. A big mistake. And it’s right they take responsibility for it.
“But, returning to my earlier point, it doesn’t mean ‘the club’ should feel ashamed. The hundreds of employees who work here on Merseyside, be it Anfield, the AXA Training Centre, the Academy, Chapel Street, the stores and the countless other venues have earned the right to feel proud for how they serve this organisation.
“During the pandemic some of the most important work done in the name of LFC to help our community has come from our employees.
“I have so much respect for Billy Hogan and his team and they are the people who will restore and rebuild trust on the other end of this. They will have mine and the team’s full support and we will do it together. We owe it to the club and our supporters.
“I want us to come through this and emerge as a club that is closer together. It’s unrealistic to expect this for our owners in the immediate future – understandably that will take time – but for the players and supporters and our brilliant staff we can do this.
“Because without each other we have nothing. Without enjoying this together what was the point of fighting for something in the first place? It’s to preserve this amazing feeling we share in our best moments and our lowest. It’s about our love for Liverpool Football Club that brings us together as a community.
“We have had a rough time for many reasons recently. But this particular episode is over now. And we must heal. Let’s start that today by enjoying this game.
“As a team we will give all we have for the supporters. It’s all we can ever do.
“Until we see each other again…”