Tuesday 19 September 2017

Klopp to stabilise rebuilding job after Reds foundations rocked

Jurgen Klopp will field a full strength Liverpool team against Wolves. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Jurgen Klopp will field a full strength Liverpool team against Wolves. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Mike Whalley

Jurgen Klopp has promised to finish "building the house" to bring long-term success to Liverpool, despite a recent run of form that has threatened to ruin their season.

Klopp's team have won just one of the seven league and cup matches they have played in January, a slump that has significantly damaged their hopes of winning a trophy.

Two home defeats in the last week have proved particularly costly, with Swansea's surprising victory at Anfield last Saturday leaving Liverpool 10 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, before hopes of winning the League Cup were ended by Southampton on Wednesday.

Klopp has acknowledged that the confidence of his players has been affected, but feels that he remains on course to succeed at Anfield.

"It's a little bit like building a house," he said. "You start building and you're full of enthusiasm. And you think 'in half a year or one year, I will live in this house'. You start in summer and the weather's good.

"Then November comes and it's still not finished, the weather is not so good. Do you stop building then? It makes not too much sense.

"You have to wait sometimes while the rain stops. But at the end, you will live in the house. That's how I understand it. The weather changed a little bit but we are still building.

"How could the confidence be exactly the same after these results as after winning 10 games? That would be really strange. Of course it changes, and of course it has an influence.

"We do everything in public. If we suffer a little bit, it looks like we suffer a lot, but it's not like this."

Klopp has indicated that he will field a strong side against Wolves, in contrast to the team he put out at home to Plymouth in the last round, which was the youngest in the club's history.

Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are both in contention to play, while Adam Lallana could feature despite needing stitches in a facial injury picked up against Southampton, and Nathaniel Clyne is in line for a return at right-back after recovering from a rib injury.

"It's wrong to say that if were still in the EFL Cup, we would not want to play in the FA Cup," Klopp said.

"But it's the next game, and we lost the last two, so that changes a little bit of the view on the third game."

Klopp, meanwhile, has rejected a suggestion by former Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher that Daniel Sturridge is in the midst of a physical decline.

Carragher, who was briefly a team-mate of Sturridge before retiring in 2013, argued on Wednesday that the England forward's "legs might have gone".

He also said that if Sturridge was on the field and not scoring, "you're basically playing with 10 men because he doesn't offer anything else".

Sturridge missed two excellent second-half chances against Southampton, and statistics produced afterwards showed that his average top speed during Premier League matches has declined in each of the last three seasons.

The forward has been hampered by a series of injury problems since 2014, but Klopp is of the view that this is not the sign of a permanent decline for the 27-year-old.

He said: "I don't know about the level of 2013-14, because I wasn't here. But that's not too important.

"I thought the Southampton match was a really good physical game from Daniel Sturridge. He was really involved from the first to the last second. There was not a lot of difference between the first half and the second half.

"Usually, Daniel Sturridge scores twice in this game with the chances he had. But he's a human being, so he misses the chances, that's all.

Suffering

"Of course, suffering longer injuries and more injuries can be a factor that causes you to lose 100pc trust in your body. Ask a sprinter, That's high intensity, that's everything. If you have a few injuries, then maybe it takes a little time. But it's not lost forever.

"I don't know when they measure exactly in the season. There were a few injuries for Daniel last season. Coming back after injuries, playing a little bit, that was the story for him. That's not a real problem at the moment.

"Daniel is at the best age for a football player, so if he can stay fit, he will be fine."

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