Monday 23 October 2017

James Milner explains why Jurgen Klopp is one of the best managers in the business

James Milner slots home the late penalty to give Liverpool all three points in Swansea. Photo: Reuters / John Sibley
James Milner slots home the late penalty to give Liverpool all three points in Swansea. Photo: Reuters / John Sibley

Graham Thomas

A roll call of the men James Milner has played under reads like the guest list at a League Managers' Association dinner, but the Liverpool midfielder believes Jürgen Klopp may yet prove to be the best of the lot.

Swansea 1 Liverpool 2

In a 14-year club career, the former England midfielder has previously worked under Terry Venables, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Martin O'Neill, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Brendan Rodgers.

Swansea City's Jordi Amat and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (left) battle for the ball. Photo credit: Nigel French/PA Wire
Swansea City's Jordi Amat and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (left) battle for the ball. Photo credit: Nigel French/PA Wire

But after calmly chipping home the penalty that put his club second in the Premier League table, Milner revealed how Klopp's high emotional energy - and it was a thermal half-time team talk that inspired this victory - does not detract from the clarity of his message.

"He is a top manager and he's definitely one of the best that I have worked with," said Milner.

"His organisation sessions are different to anything that I have ever experienced. His passion can only be a good thing. Sometimes, when he is bouncing on the touchline with enthusiasm, the only thing you could say is that he is too emotional.

"That's something he could easily have been at half-time with the performance we'd put in.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo credit: Nigel French/PA Wire
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo credit: Nigel French/PA Wire

"But he held it in just enough. It's easy to fly off the handle and not be very productive. We know how emotional he is but he did a great job. He said the right things and we came out and performed how we should. He deserves a lot of credit.

"There's a long way to go and it's early stages. We're pleased with the win and we know we can beat anyone on our day."

Klopp had every cause to vent his frustrations at the interval when Liverpool were 1-0 down and lacking urgency in so many areas.

Swansea were responding to their own manager's needs with a tempo that suggested that even if the club's American owners have given up on Francesco Guidolin, the players have not. The opening early goal for Leroy Fer should have been added to by Borja Baston, the Spanish striker making his full Premier League debut.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters / John Sibley
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters / John Sibley

But after a warm but methodical blast of Germanic air had revived them, a Philippe Coutinho-guided Liverpool dominated the second half and were worthy winners thanks to Roberto Firmino's equaliser and Milner's spot-kick.

Milner has now scored three penalties in Liverpool's last two games, but it has been the versatility and ease with which he has been converted to a left-back that has really caught the eye.

The 30-year-old announced his retirement from international football in the summer and has no plans to reverse that decision now that Gareth Southgate has taken charge.

"I'm playing left-back at the moment and there are a number of very good left-backs who would be ahead of me, I'm sure," he said.

For Swansea, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski believes the time has come for pragmatism and points, rather than rigid principle.

He said: "It is not about being nice to watch. It is about winning and grinding things out, even if it means sacrificing nice football. We have been better on the ball but the results are not happening." (© Independent News Service)

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