In his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp discussed a number of issues, including his long term future, the possibility of signing Joe Hart, and a chance for Joe Gomez.
Following victories against West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City, three points against Sam Allardyce’s Palace side would complete the set when it comes to games against the Premier League’s physical core.
They’re sides which set out to make things difficult for teams like Liverpool, and none are more proficient at this than a team managed Big Sam.
Klopp hopes his side will continue to rise to the challenge when Palace visit Anfield.
Klopp’s long term plans
The manager began by discussing his long term future at the club.
“I like being here but it doesn’t mean that I want to bother people when we are not successful with my presence,” he said.
“I know how it is. We have to develop, improve, and have to do a lot of positive things in the future. If that works, for me it would be an honour to stay here for a long time.
“But I know the business well enough, that it all depends on how successful we are, and how big the steps we make are.
“I’m turning 50 this year if somebody thinks I should [retire] already then tell me. If it’s a long period here then it was successful, because that’s the only possibility to stay here for the long term.”
A new goalkeeper in the summer?
“Is this about Joe Hart?” predicted Klopp as he responded to questions about the amount of competition for the number one jersey.
“Usually we don’t talk about things like this but in this case, if you want, we can.
“[Hart] is a fantastic goalkeeper. the goalkeeper of the english national team, so highest quality, but we have high quality goalkeepers so it’s not for us in this moment and not in the future, but that’s not because of Joe.
“We already have two strong goalkeepers, and [Danny] Ward is at Huddersfield playing a brilliant season, he’s our player, so bring him back next year — there is competition!”
Improvements in the Anfield atmosphere
The German was asked about his comments from last year when he said he felt “alone” having seen people leaving the stadium early.
“I can’t remember the feeling then but it was obviously because a few fans a few supporters left the game early,” he recalled.
“It’s changed a lot since then. I think the team earned more trust, more faith, more belief, and people believe we can change the game in last few minutes, and thats good.
“I feel really good with the people in this moment, and we act together as a Liverpool family.
“I enjoy all the home games, and the atmosphere changed but its good. We have to deliver. We have to start the emotion, if you want, after the very emotional start from the stands, and after the first whistle it’s our job to excite and deliver excitement and thats what we try to do. And get results.
“It feels like it could be a mistake if you leave early, and that’s what we wanted.”
As usual Klopp gave the latest updates on the club’s injury list, and gave an indication as to which players will be back when.
“Adam [Lallana] is in a good way. Back on the pitch but still with the rehab coach and should be involved next week in normal training.”
When asked if Lallana would be back for the Watford game next week Klopp revealed that, such is the list of injuries at the moment, any player has to be considered even if they’ve only recently returned to full training.
“We have to think about a player when he starts yesterday thats how it is.”
He also gave an encouraging update on Danny Ings, but commented that a few of the defenders picked up knocks and could be a doubt for this weekend’s game. Jordan Henderson remains sidelined for the foreseeable future.
“Danny Ings, after a long time in the gym is running for a few days. He looks good, he enjoys it a lot, but of course not even close to comeback.
“[There are] muscle problems with Joel Matip, a little bit with Lucas Leiva, and still a problem with Ragnar Klavan. It was a small medial ligament [problem for Klavan] but could be also not be enough time [to recover] before Palace.
“Jordan — nothing new. I don’t know. In this moment he cannot really train so we have to wait for this moment.
“He is already not patient anymore! He looks really healthy but he can’t play football, and that’s the situation.”
Win v West Brom
Klopp has spoken regularly about trying to win in different ways as opposed to a perceived Liverpool way, and the manager reckons he’s started to see signs of this even though there is still room for improvement.
“I told the boys it looked like adult football,” said Klopp of the win versus West Brom.
“At the start of the season we were this kind of exciting team, fluent, running everywhere, looked like we had no plan but having a plan. Fluid, flexible, and a danger to all defensive lines.
“But if we were not in this mood we had not the results.
“We all know it’s not easy to create 10 chances in 45-minutes against West Brom; too experienced, too well organised — it will not happen.
“Everyone knows it will be one of the most difficult games in the year to play, and thats how it felt after the game, it was a really good feeling in the dressing room, the boys were really happy about it and it was deserved.”
“Next challenge, next opportunity: Crystal Palace.
“Different team, really strong, unbelievable skill in the offensive line, [Wilfried] Zaha, [Andros] Townsend, of course Christian [Benteke], [Jason] Puncheon, really good footballers, and all the experience, size, and defensive skills in the back line. That’s how it is, its the next job to do.”
Will Palace miss Sakho, and will Benteke return to haunt Liverpool?
“Mama is a very good defender, especially when you defend deep as Crystal Palace is doing often,” said Klopp.
“He’s a very strong boy. Good tackles, good blocks. Having a player like him in the team is really good for them.
“Apart from that he’s a good football player and he’s a cool guy. They played 5, 6, 7 games or something [with him] so not having him involved is not best best for palace but thats how it is.”
Klopp compared former Liverpool man Benteke to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but warned that Allardyce’s side have other weapons apart from the Belgian striker.
“When the ball is in the air then he is a main threat, we felt it a lot of times here when we trained,” he said.
“Like always when you play Zlatan, these kind of strikers — tall, good with back to goal — you have to avoid the crosses, you have to avoid the passes [in to them]. If we let them cross 50 balls it’s likely that he will have a few dangerous headers.
“But if you only concentrate on Christian, then Zaha and Townsend are around you. That’s really one of the best offensive lines in the Premier League and we respected it.
“We know how to play against but nevertheless we have to show it.”
Learning to manage games
Expanding on his comments relating to playing a different style of football against certain teams, Klopp also discussed the importance of seeing out games, and not being too attack minded in the latter stages.
“Against Bournemouth, at 2-1 up and we still wanted to create a lot of chances with full backs high. We have to change in situations like this,
“We spoke about it and worked on it of course, but sometimes you have to have bad experiences and learn from it.
“It looked like in these two games like we did better, but in the second half we needed the goalkeeper. It’s not like they didn’t create chances, they created really big chances.
“They have one chance. If they use it we say we didn’t manage the game, if they don’t use it we did manage the game. The difference is in the details.
“You cannot improve 100% in the week or in two weeks, but they know about the issue and that’s the [important] thing.
“It’s not forbidden to create chances when you are one or two nil up, but it depends on the time. After 80 minutes you have to be more serious.
“We re not like this we are an exciting team and we like to create these moments, like to finish and all that stuff. But we know about it of course, and try to improve.”
More changes at centre back?
Finally Klopp revealed that Joe Gomez could be in with a chance of featuring on Sunday, as Matip, Klavan, and Lucas have been unable to train due to their minor injury problems.
“Joe Gomez played on Monday for under-23s. Did well again and made big steps in the last few weeks, so maybe we have to try [him], we will see.
“Of course it would help if you could play consistently the same couple, that would be nice, but if not you have to find a solution.”
Written by Anfield HQ at Melwood