Everton are "the worst run club" in England and "demonised" their supporters after alleging safety concerns for board members at Goodison Park, according to Jamie Carragher.

The Toffees' board of directors did not attend the January 14 home loss to Southampton upon the advice of security professionals, citing a "real and credible threat to their safety and security".

Everton released a statement before kick-off to explain the situation was caused by "malicious and unacceptable threatening correspondence received by the club".

The Toffees' struggles culminated in Monday's sacking of manager Frank Lampard, but Carragher – an Everton fan growing up – focused his ire on the club's handling of the supporters' discontent.

"There was a protest that everyone knew about, it wasn't going to be during the game it was going to be at the end of the game," former Liverpool captain Carragher told Sky Sports. 

"Everton's board put out a statement saying there had been threats, and I'm not denying that – and if it is true then that's bang out of order.

"But I think someone should have been at the game, the statement they put out as a football club was bang out of order. To me, they demonised the whole fanbase, and I'm not saying they are telling lies in terms of threats, but that is the name of the game."

When concerns over physical threats and violence were put to him, Carragher responded: "There may have been but there was nothing reported to the police, you need to say that too.

"They threw the whole fanbase under the bus, you don't do that, especially in the city we are from. In Liverpool, you back your own whether it's your family or your football club. That's what you do.

"[The supporters] were there to criticise them and get them out of the club, but those supporters kept them up last year, don't forget that.

"Supporters are protesting that they want them out of the club, [the board] felt they couldn't go to that game. On the back of putting that statement out, how do they go back to the game or to Goodison. Lampard is gone but their banners aren't going anywhere until those people have left the club. 

"Until there is serious change there, they're not going to get the fans back on side and it was them who kept them up."

Everton sit 19th in the Premier League on 15 points following a 2-0 defeat to fellow strugglers West Ham on Saturday, their eighth loss in their last nine matches in all competitions.

The Toffees' next manager will be their seventh permanent appointment since Farhad Moshiri – who was in attendance at London Stadium – invested in the club in 2016.

Carragher believes dismissing Lampard was the right decision, though his concerns remain over Moshiri's relationship with board members Bill Kenwright and Denise Barrett-Baxendale.

"It was right to change the manager, but no one knows a football club better than their own supporters," he added. "Their own supporters haven't got banners for Lampard, they've got banners for Moshiri and the board.

"I said this about six months ago, Everton are the worst run club in the country. I'm not saying that as an ex-Liverpool player, I'm saying that as an ex-Everton fan.

"When I made that comment, Everton actually got in touch with me and I thought fair enough, you're saying things in the media and sometimes things come back to you. But I didn't think I was wrong when I said it then and I don't think I'm wrong now.

"Moshiri doesn't know what he's doing but he's got a lot of money – and he's put a lot of money in. Why does every Everton manager fail? You've got to look at the top, and that's Moshiri. It's a mess.

"There's a massive divide between Moshiri, Kenwright and Denise Baxendale – what is the role of Kenwright? It's not financial and the owner is not listening to him. If they are there for expertise, they're not listening to them, why have them there?"

Liverpool are "not a Jurgen Klopp team" at the moment, according to Jamie Carragher, who was scathing of the Reds' lacklustre performance in Monday's defeat at Brentford.

A deserved 3-1 victory for Thomas Frank's Bees further compounded the woes of the Merseyside outfit, who have struggled to recapture the highs of last season this term.

Since restarting their campaign after the World Cup concluded last month, Liverpool have been knocked out of the EFL Cup and staggered to muted Premier League wins against Aston Villa and Leicester City.

Defeat to an energetic Brentford side leaves them four points adrift of the Premier League's top four, and Carragher feels they no longer possess the characteristics associated with their decorated manager.

"That has been a theme of Liverpool all season," the former Reds defender told Sky Sports. "As soon as the intensity of a game rises, they cannot cope.

"They need to play a slower type of game because as soon as it goes fast, they are not at the races, they cannot keep up with it.

"When I watch Liverpool now, and certainly in midfield, it feels like Jurgen Klopp's team is morphing into something else.

"For me, from minute one of Klopp's era, teams were sprinting all over the pitch. When I don't see Liverpool sprinting and closing down now, it is not a Jurgen Klopp team and I want to know why."

Liverpool have already sought to bolster their ranks with the signing of Cody Gakpo, but Carragher claims offensive power is not their foremost issue, calling for the arrival of a midfielder.

"I don't know what has happened to Liverpool in terms of midfield," he added. "[They] have bought one midfield player in four-and-a-half years in Thiago [Alcantara]. It is coming back to haunt them now.

"They have signed Cody Gakpo [but] if Liverpool think they can make the top four without signing a midfield player in this window, they have got no chance."

Jurgen Klopp is adamant he can offer no insight into how much money Liverpool need to spend following claims the Reds boss will have told the club £250million of investment is required.

Former Liverpool defender Carragher made those comments while working as part of Sky Sports' punditry team for their EFL Cup last-16 defeat to Manchester City.

His words came after Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) put the club up for sale last month, with FSG saying it is also open to bringing in a strategic partner.

Liverpool resume the Premier League season against Aston Villa on December 26 following the World Cup break sitting 15 points behind leaders Arsenal and seven behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

The Gunners' renaissance and Newcastle United's emergence as Champions League contenders have complicated Liverpool's pursuit of a place in the top four and leave the Reds likely facing more competition for those positions in the coming years.

"I think there's no doubt that Jurgen Klopp has said to Liverpool's owners, 'I need £250m to spend in the summer'," Carragher said, "and that sounds like an outrageous figure, but that's what Man United and Chelsea spent last summer. 

"These are the figures that the teams Liverpool are competing with are spending, and I think only once in Jurgen Klopp's tenure Liverpool have really gone for it in the transfer market, just after the Champions League final [in 2018]. They bought a lot of players, and I think it needs that now. 

"You're talking about that kind of investment, and I don't think FSG have those funds right now, that's why they're looking for investment to come in and help them."

Liverpool have been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Benfica's Enzo Fernandez, both of whom impressed at the World Cup for England and Argentina respectively.

"Ooooh, it's Christmas time, huh?" Klopp replied when asked about Carragher's remarks.

"I don't know about what amount of money you need exactly, but I am not against investment, to be honest. 

"We will see what the future brings. Nobody knows in the moment, but I'm convinced it will be good and the future is bright for us. At the moment, we have to sort the present, and that is what we are working on."

On Liverpool's prospects in the January transfer window, Klopp replied: "I am the wrong person to ask; I don't know. January in our situation is a window where we are always prepared, that's how it is. 

"It's clear what ideas we have and how the necessity is from our point of view. All the rest doesn't lie 100 per cent in our hands. We always work with what we have got, and that will not change."

England's World Cup exit came despite the Three Lions outperforming every other side at the tournament, says Jamie Carragher, who felt Gareth Southgate could have been "braver" in Saturday's defeat to France.

Harry Kane scored a penalty and missed another as England suffered more quarter-final heartache, despite outplaying the world champions for long periods at Al Bayt stadium.

Despite amassing double the number of shots (16 to eight) and expected goals (2.41 to 1.01) than France, England succumbed to their seventh World Cup quarter-final elimination – a tournament record.

Former Three Lions defender Carragher was present for one of those exits, missing a penalty in a 2006 shoot-out loss to Portugal, but he believes Southgate's men played at a higher level than past England sides.

Recounting England's previous World Cup exits in a column for The Telegraph, Carragher wrote: "The biggest compliment I can pay Southgate's side is that they do not belong with such company. 

"This England team was no underdog going toe-to-toe with the world champions. This England team leaves the tournament having played better than any side in Qatar over their five games, a genuine contender that could and arguably should have gone all the way.

"France won on the night because of moments – a stunning goal from distance and a cross from Antoine Griezmann that would have troubled any defence in the world.

"Then England missed a penalty, knowing that had Harry Kane equalised for a second time, it would have carried positive momentum into extra time."

While praising the quality of England's displays in Qatar, Carragher said Southgate should have made better use of his squad when Saturday's game was poised at 1-1 in the second half.

"When you lose a game there's always things you look back on and think you could have done differently," he told Sky Sports.

"That's easy to say after the event, but I did feel before the game that England had to be brave from the bench. I just felt that in the period between the two goals, we could have been braver from the bench.

"With five substitutions, it's a big part of a manager's role to try to influence or change a game. I know Gareth's been criticised for that in the past, after the games against Croatia [in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals] and Italy [in the Euro 2020 final].

"Both those sides, if we're being totally honest, were better than us. I don't think France were better than us, and I felt the change should have been to try to go and win the game.

"England certainly had the strongest bench in the competition, I firmly believe that, and I just think we could have been a little bit more proactive in that period where it was 1-1 and we were playing really well."

Jamie Carragher was perplexed by Gareth Southgate's "strange" decision to leave "special talent" Phil Foden on the bench in England's goalless World Cup draw with the United States.

The Three Lions remain top of Group B and on the brink of qualifying for the round of 16 heading into a clash with Wales on Tuesday, but were fortunate to secure a point against USA at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday.

England were sluggish and were almost punished when Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar in the first half after Weston McKennie wasted a good opportunity to open the scoring.

Southgate brought on Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford in the second half, but Manchester City attacking midfielder Foden was an unused substitute.

Former England defender Carragher cannot understand why Foden has not been included in the starting line-up or at least brought off the bench earlier, stating that City boss Pep Guardiola would turn to the 22-year-old ahead of Grealish.

He wrote in his column for The Telegraph: "I was among those hoping Gareth Southgate would turn to the Manchester City youngster. It was baffling that he remained on the bench when the game was crying out for his creativity.

"If you had told me before the tournament that Foden would only feature for 19 minutes of the first two World Cup games, my initial thought would be he must be injured.

"When asked to select my starting XI for the opening fixture against Iran, Foden was in it. The more the squad was studied, the harder it was to leave him out. He is too much of a special talent.

"Speak to any football supporter watching the Premier League over the last three years and ask 'who is the most naturally gifted English footballer today?' and 80 per cent would say Foden. The other 20 per cent are not watching closely enough.

"For Southgate to turn to his substitutes and opt for his City team-mate Jack Grealish ahead of him felt strange. Would Pep Guardiola look to Grealish before Foden if seeking a winning goal? Highly unlikely."

Ex-Liverpool defender Carragher added: "Foden has had plenty of opportunities for England, so it is not as if Southgate has ignored him. But although it is very early in his career, there have been times watching Foden playing for his country when his situation has reminded me of John Barnes in his heyday.

"For those too young to remember, between 1987-91, Barnes was not only the most talented England player of his generation, he was streets ahead of the rest.

"Think of Thierry Henry during his peak years at Arsenal. That is how good Barnes was for Liverpool. Yet for England, he was a shadow of himself.  

"The question was often asked whether the problem was Barnes or England. Surely it cannot be so difficult to accommodate a rare talent?

"It is imperative history does not repeat itself with Foden. Already, it is a shame he is not one of the first picks in the starting line-up, let alone the first go-to player from the bench.

"When Foden played in the last Euros you would have thought it certain he would be established in the side by now. Instead, others have jumped ahead of him.

"I really like Bukayo Saka and have no criticism about his selection given his Arsenal form. I also understand the loyalty to Raheem Sterling who has been one of the best players in the Southgate era.

"Over the last few days we have been rightly talking about Jude Bellingham a lot. But can it just be shrugged aside what Foden has been doing in the Premier League?

"To me, he eclipses those chosen ahead of him. I truly believe if he was Spanish he would be in their first XI."

Jamie Carragher feels Liverpool's upheaval is "a worry" after two backroom departures were reported on Thursday.

Sporting director Julian Ward is widely reported to have decided to leave his role following the conclusion of the current season, just a year after taking over the position from Michael Edwards.

That was followed by The Athletic's report that Liverpool's director of research, Ian Graham, has also issued his resignation and is serving his notice until May.

It leaves Jurgen Klopp's side with important roles in the club hierarchy to fill in a period where the ownership could also change, with FSG looking to attract new investors by selling a minority stake and potentially willing to discuss a full sale.

Those changes are of concern to Carragher, who identified the important part those figures play in the club's recruitment of new players.

"It's not ideal as when you are talking about recruiting players a person in that role is heavily involved not just for the January window but in the summer too," he told Sky Sports.

"It does feel like a shock. It is a little bit of a worry for Liverpool.

"There seems to be upheaval behind the scenes in terms of the ownership.

"Michael Edwards moved on and Ward came in to replace him and now he's gone.

"It won't be easy to get someone straight away as Liverpool won't be prepared for this. Hopefully, someone fills the role and has as much success as they've had in the past."

Liverpool are in need of a response following the World Cup after a disappointing start to the season, sitting sixth in the Premier League, seven points behind the top four and already 15 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.

Gareth Southgate should leave his role as England manager "with his head held high" after the World Cup, according to Jamie Carragher, who says the Three Lions have overachieved during his reign.

Southgate has led England to at least the semi-finals in consecutive major tournaments, becoming the only boss to do so since Alf Ramsey (World Cup winners in 1966, Euro 1968 semi-finalists). 

However, he has faced heavy criticism since he oversaw England's relegation from the top tier of the Nations League in September, and was jeered by supporters following a defeat in Italy.  

While Southgate signed a contract extension to run until the end of Euro 2024 last year, Carragher believes he should call time on his tenure after the trip to Qatar, but says he has earnt the right to make his own decision.

"If I was Gareth Southgate, I would make the Qatar World Cup my swansong as England manager," Carragher wrote in the Telegraph. "Hopefully England will produce to a strong enough level to ensure that is Southgate's call.

"After his excellence in the job to this point, the least he deserves is to leave on his own terms when he feels the time is right. 

"The natural cycle should be for a rethink every four years, so a coach builds towards the next World Cup. Unless Southgate has the energy for that, it is wiser to step away.

"Southgate may win over the doubters for a third time over the next few weeks. My hope for Qatar is for England to again retain interest in the competition until the final week, to give Southgate the option of leaving the job through the front door with his head held high."

Southgate has been charged with adopting a negative approach in several big games during his reign – notably 2018's World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia and the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

However, Carragher described criticism of his tactics as a "joke" as he insisted England had not underperformed in recent years.

"He is intelligent enough to have sensed a mood shift over the last few months, even if some of the negativity surrounding him during the build-up to the tournament is a joke," Carragher added.

"It is unreasonable to suggest he should change course from the formula that took England so far in their last two competitions.

"He has not failed to get the most of a talented squad, as some argue. He has over performed with a very good bunch.

"Go through the current England team and there are three players who would be a regular first choice in any club side in the world – Harry Kane, Phil Foden and, in the future, Jude Bellingham.

"The suggestion that this is the greatest England team since 1966 is a myth, but the more it gains traction, the more Southgate must deal with unrealistic demands."

Jamie Carragher is backing Liverpool to spend "up to £200million" to rejuvenate their midfield at the end of the season and believes Jude Bellingham is the "perfect fit".

The 19-year-old England international has excelled with Borussia Dortmund since joining the Bundesliga side in 2019 from Birmingham City and has been touted for a lucrative return to the Premier League.

Liverpool have long been seen as contenders for his services, though recent reports indicate Manchester City are leading the chase. Real Madrid are also said to hold a firm interest.

Landing Bellingham will take a substantial fee, likely one that would exceed Liverpool's club-record of £75m spent on Virgil van Dijk in 2018, but Carragher believes that figure will be a "bargain" after he continues to develop.

"The issue is that the players don't have the energy to play a full game at the intensity they've played at in previous seasons. Teams are now matching their energy, but this isn't something that Liverpool has adapted," he said on Sky Sports' The Overlap.

"The Arsenal game was a fine example of this – when they played Liverpool off the pitch in the second half – and that is why I can see Liverpool spending up to £200m on their midfield in the summer.

"Jude Bellingham would be the perfect fit, but he would be a lot of money.

"When Liverpool have spent big money in the past, it's been on the goalkeeper [Alisson Becker] and Virgil van Dijk, who were bought in at great age profiles.

"Signing Jude Bellingham would be for a lot of money, but it would get to two years down the line and people would see it as a bargain.

"At his age, you'd have him for at least five seasons before he’d move on, which is a great investment for the club."

Liverpool sit eighth in the Premier League, 15 points adrift of leaders Arsenal and seven short of Tottenham in fourth.

Jamie Carragher was "surprised" by Fenway Sports Group's (FSG) announcement it "would consider" new investment at Liverpool, but Gary Neville believes a "sale makes sense".

The Athletic reported on Monday that FSG is "inviting offers" for potential new owners of the Reds, although the Boston-based company later said it was "fully committed" to the club.

The developments came as a shock to Liverpool great Carragher, even if he understands why FSG could be willing to listen to offers.

"I am surprised," Carragher said on the latest episode of Sky Sports' The Overlap. "How strong it is in terms of selling fully or trying to bring money into the club, I'm not sure.

"I just thought that with so many American owners coming into the league, I thought there was a power play in some ways where they could see something in the future given what we've seen in American sports, so I thought the owners would be here for a while.

"Maybe they woke up on Monday morning and read about how much Manchester City have made commercially and thought, 'you can't stop it, can you?!'"

FSG has come under increasing pressure in recent years, despite Liverpool's achievements since Jurgen Klopp's appointment in 2015, during which time they have won the Champions League and the club's first league title in 30 years.

John W. Henry, FSG's principal owner, was heavily criticised for his role in the club's attempts to join the failed European Super League, while a perceived unwillingness to invest in the playing squad has been blamed by some for their poor start to this season.

But Carragher believes FSG's tenure has been a success, adding: "I think FSG have done a great job at the club, and I don't think they've ever proclaimed to have the funds of Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City.

"They were the owners who brought the title back, the owners who brought Jurgen Klopp, the stadium has been transformed, the training ground has been transformed. They've almost been a model for clubs like Arsenal.

"Will the club ever be valued as highly as it is right now again? With Klopp as the manager and the team having been so successful over the last few years? Maybe there's something in that."

Neville thinks now might be the right time for FSG to sell up, explaining: "I think the Liverpool sale makes sense.

"FSG haven't got the money to compete with the other top teams in the league, they've already developed the stadium, they've got Jurgen Klopp, and it's now a case of for how long is he going to be around for? Two or three years?

"They certainly can't compete financially with some of the other clubs in the league, so I don't think it's as big a surprise when you look at some of the evidence."

Jamie Carragher has accused FIFA of putting players in a "disgusting" position by planting the Qatar World Cup slap bang in the middle of the club season.

For most players involved, the tournament will be taking place while their domestic leagues are put on hold, after it was decided Qatar would not be able to host in the usual June-July time slot, due to its climate.

It means the leading lights of the game are playing important club games just days before the opening matches of the World Cup, knowing an injury, even at a minor level, could scupper hopes of being involved.

Former Liverpool and England defender Carragher said a World Cup in November and December is "absurd" and "has succeeded in compromising every major football competition this season, including their own showpiece event".

He said there would "almost be a perverse sense of justice" if stars of the game suffer minor injury blows in the coming weeks that rule them out of the World Cup, due to the tournament's "indecent timing".

But Carragher suspects those that pushed for Qatar to host would not feel responsible, saying: "To them, elite footballers are like cattle. They get well paid and should get on with it, regardless of the psychological and physical consequences."

Carragher pointed to the example of Raphael Varane coming off in tears for Manchester United against Chelsea last month, putting his France prospects in doubt.

He wrote in the Telegraph: "It is disgusting that players are being put in such a position, and they are at their most vulnerable right now as they are expected to go full throttle in the final weeks before joining their national team.

"In normal circumstances, the squads would already be at the pre-tournament training camp, the fine-tuning under way before the opening ceremony."

Carragher added: "The decisions at the top have materially enhanced the risk of injuries. That was inevitable when the World Cup was arranged in mid-season. Everyone with even the slightest understanding of the demands upon a top-level footballer knew that."

The 44-year-old Carragher spent a decade in and around the England squad, at a time when John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were usually ahead of him in the pecking order.

He still won 38 caps and went to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and believes the upcoming tournament taking place in Qatar casts shame on the game.

Carragher argues football's authorities made a major error by voting to give the World Cup to a country with a widely criticised human rights record. Critics have pointed to Qatar's treatment of LGBTQ+ people, and the death of many migrant workers on construction sites ahead of the tournament.

"Qatar must be the tipping point," Carragher added. "This can never happen again and there are already signs of professional players mobilising to ensure it never will. FIFA and other national bodies must be forced to act as well as listen.

"The 2022 World Cup symbolises FIFA's ultimate power. They pushed ahead, ripping up the football calendar knowing nothing could stop them."

Darwin Nunez can be a "scary" presence for Liverpool but still needs to grow his overall game, says Reds great Jamie Carragher.

The Uruguay international got on the scoresheet in the Premier League side's 2-0 win over Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday, for his sixth goal of the season across all competitions.

Nunez had a tough start to life at Anfield with a red card against Crystal Palace seeing him serve an early season ban, but is starting to show his potential on Merseyside.

With more attempts on a per-90-minute basis (6.7) in the English top-flight this term than anyone else, Carragher suggests the stats back the influence the 23-year-old can have on matches.

"It's really interesting watching Nunez," he told CBS. "He comes on and he makes a huge impact. He hasn't set the world alight, he hasn't done what [Erling] Haaland's done and people would've expected more for the price-tag. 

"But when you look at his minutes on the pitch and how many goals he's scored per minute, his numbers are scary. He's actually made a huge impact."

Carragher feels that Nunez is yet to fully master his all-around game though, adding: "But there's still something not quite there, where Jurgen Klopp is going to play him every single game.

"I think he's got [similarities to] Fernando Torres. He's got that power, physically, to knock defenders off, that blistering pace. But at times, maybe technically, [he is] not the best in terms of general play."

Nunez has posted a 0.6 goal yield every 90 minutes in the Premier League this term, a ratio bettered by just seven players, while only Manchester City's Erling Haaland has a superior non-penalty xG than his 0.76.

Liverpool are not battling through "a blip" but a "serious problem", according to club great Jamie Carragher.

Jurgen Klopp's side sit ninth in the Premier League, 13 points off the top ahead of Arsenal's meeting with Nottingham Forest on Sunday, after falling to defeat against Leeds United on Saturday.

Crysencio Summerville's late strike snatched an unlikely victory for strugglers Leeds as Liverpool suffered their first Premier League defeat at Anfield since March 2021, ending a 29-match home unbeaten run in the competition.

Despite Mohamed Salah cancelling out Rodrigo Moreno's early opener, Illan Meslier made a series of impressive stops to help pave the way for Summerville's winner, and Carragher feels his former side face a worrying situation.

"It's a huge result for Leeds but Liverpool have got massive problems," Carragher said in his role as a pundit on Sky Sports.

"Leeds' fans know how big a result this is. It's so long since anyone's won at Anfield. They're going to milk it and rightly so. It will do wonders for them, in terms of the league table.

"This isn't a blip for Liverpool, this is a serious problem. There's no doubt that the goalkeeper in the last 10-15 minutes has kept Leeds in it but if you look at the whole game you can't say Leeds haven't deserved to get something from it. They were fantastic.

"Klopp must be thinking, what else can I try now? Different permutations, formations, personnel."

Klopp again bemoaned a lack of consistency, lamenting the injury issues Liverpool face, though Graeme Souness offered a scathing assessment of his former side's capabilities.

"Liverpool are a country mile from where they were over the last few years," Souness added. "In many instances, Leeds were more than a match for Liverpool and they did to Liverpool what they had been doing to teams for years.

"Liverpool basically bullied teams before, their midfield bullied teams. And now they're being bullied. That's making them vulnerable at the back, and they're not creating the same chances up front. Liverpool are a shadow [of the team they used to be].

"Liverpool still had enough chances to win the game, but they are not like the Liverpool we've seen for the last five years. They don't play with the same intensity and just don't have it in their legs anymore."

Souness pinpointed Liverpool's midfield as a primary reason for their struggles.

"If correct [Leeds ran 11 kilometres more than Liverpool], then to a man they ran a kilometre more than Liverpool. That's a big difference," he continued.

"And if you look at a midfield of Thiago [Alcantara], 31, [Jordan] Henderson, 31, Fabinho, 29, then after that you have [Naby] Keita and [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones who is 21, and Harvey Elliot who's 19.

"If you go back to the start of the season, Jurgen [Klopp] must have looked at his midfield and thought: 'We're vulnerable here'. I feel their midfield is no longer a midfield that is going to get them back and win the big trophies."

Jamie Carragher believes Aston Villa may have sacked Steven Gerrard because they feared the atmosphere at future games would become "toxic".

Villa acted shortly after Thursday's 3-0 Premier League loss to Fulham, a sixth defeat in 11 games for a Villa side who have won just twice in the top flight this season.

Carragher and Gerrard were long-standing Liverpool team-mates and remain close, to the point they had been discussing Villa's upcoming games just days ago.

However, Carragher was not surprised Villa opted for a change of head coach.

Speaking on Sky Sports News, Carragher said: "I don't think it was too much of a shock that the news came out. It was just whether the Aston Villa board would let Stevie take the [next] game because it's so close around the corner on Sunday against Brentford.

"But the reaction of the Villa fans, maybe they felt the crowd would be a little bit toxic on Sunday and better for all parties to part ways."

Carragher is intrigued to see whether Gerrard jumps back into a coaching role in the coming months, or whether he keeps his distance for a while.

Gerrard enjoyed considerable trophy success at Rangers but could not replicate that with Villa, departing after just under 12 months at the helm.

"I'm really not sure whether Stevie would go back in or wait 12 months," said Carragher. "I spoke to him a few days ago about the upcoming games for Aston Villa, and he's not daft, he knows the situation.

"It will be really interesting, that's not something I've spoken to him about, whether he's the type of guy who wants to be manager for the next 20 years or he's maybe picked certain jobs that really appeal to him. I think that's what he's done in the first few jobs that he's picked.

"Whether Stevie would drop down to the Championship, I'm really not sure."

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe said the sacking was a reminder of the "volatile" nature of being a Premier League boss, and he expects Gerrard to find another club before long.

"I'm disappointed for Steve. I think he's a very good manager," Howe said at Newcastle's press conference ahead of Sunday's meeting with Tottenham. 

"It just goes to show the short-term nature of everyone's thinking. I've got no doubt on his quality and I'm sure he'll be back very soon."

Villa on Friday announced the departure of five of Gerrard's staff, including former Scotland captain Gary McAllister. He has left the club, along with Neil Critchley, Tom Culshaw, Jordan Milsom and Scott Mason

They have put first-team coach Aaron Danks in temporary charge, meaning he will lead the side for the Brentford game.

Chief executive Christian Purslow said Villa's target "of continuous improvement" had not been achieved under Gerrard, adding: "The process of appointing a new head coach is under way and we will update supporters as soon as possible."

Ivan Toney is a "perfect fit" for England, so says Thomas Frank, as the Brentford striker backed up his claim for a World Cup call.

Toney has been in superb form for Brentford this season and moved onto eight league goals for the season with a double in Friday's 2-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion.

Having marked his 100th Premier League appearance for Brentford with a deft backheel to put them ahead in the first half, Toney coolly converted a spot-kick after the break to seal the points.

Toney has scored all 20 of his penalties for Brentford (excluding shoot-outs), including eight in the Premier League, putting him behind only Dimitar Berbatov (9/9) and Yaya Toure (11/11) when it comes to players with a 100 per cent record from the spot in the competition.

The 26-year-old, who also netted from 12 yards in last week's defeat to Newcastle United and last month's thrashing of Leeds United, received his maiden England call-up for the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany in September.

While he did not make his international debut, only Erling Haaland (15) has scored more goals than Toney in the Premier League this season, and Frank thinks Toney – who he reiterated is the finest penalty taker in the game – must be part of Gareth Southgate's squad.

"I know I say it every time and he’s starting to back me up a bit – the best penalty taker in the world. It’s not only because of his coolness, his technique, strategy and he practices," Frank told Sky Sports.

"We spoke about when he got the call, if he could get the first cap that would be amazing. It would be the first time in, I don't know, 80 years [that a Brentford player played for England] and we keep breaking records these days.

"But for Ivan it would be amazing and I think – I respect Gareth so much, he knows the bigger picture more than me – but I think he's a perfect fit for the squad if you want that flexibility in strikers."

Frank's sentiment was echoed by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, who said: "I think he has to go. We know Harry Kane is our number one but after that it feels as though a lot of the strikers are in the same sort of category in terms of quality. Ivan Toney, right now, is at the top of that list and I don't see how he doesn't go."

Fellow pundit Gary Neville says Toney – who joked he "thinks of being on the beach with a cocktail" when he takes his penalties, could prove a difference maker in a penalty shoot-out.

England have won only one of their last eight shoot-outs at major tournaments – against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup. Indeed, they lost last year's Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties.

Neville said: "I went to eight tournaments, five of those got knocked out on penalties. The fact is it's about having confident players who do it regularly – and England have got a lot of those in the squad.

"Those big moments will be determined by penalties and free-kicks, to not have him there would be a big risk."

For his part, Toney said of his England experience: "I didn't feel out of place. I felt like I was ready for that step.

"I'm ready to take my opportunity. I always see myself as the best player on the pitch and you've always got to have that mentality, no matter who you come up against."

Jamie Carragher has told Liverpool to focus on stopping Kevin De Bruyne in Sunday's clash against Manchester City, which he believes would cut the supply to Erling Haaland.

Jurgen Klopp's side welcome City to Anfield after a disappointing start to their Premier League campaign, sitting 13 points behind their opponents following a defeat to Arsenal last week.

Stopping City from extending that gap will be tough, particularly with Haaland in such incredible goalscoring form. The former Borussia Dortmund has already scored 15 league goals, only eight fewer than the 23 managed by Golden Boot winners Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah last season.

While that may encourage Liverpool to pay special attention to the 22-year-old, former Reds defender Carragher believes the key factor will be limiting De Bruyne's influence on the game.

"I'd almost be more focused on De Bruyne rather than Haaland in this game," he told Sky Sports' Essential Football podcast.

"If you stop De Bruyne, you take 50 per cent away from Haaland as well as the connection the two have got is there already. And for me, De Bruyne is the best midfielder in the world.

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