Friday 23 March 2018

Coutinho gives Klopp boost as Liverpool boss gets to work

Jurgen Klopp is the new manager of Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp is the new manager of Liverpool
Juergen Klopp is happy to give current players their chance to impress

Jamie Holland

There was some good news for Juergen Klopp yesterday as he held his first training session as Liverpool manager.

International duty meant that just nine first-team players, supplemented by three youth team goalkeepers, were present at Melwood when the former Borussia Dortmund boss got down to work.

But one of those was Philippe Coutinho, who a week ago pulled out of Brazil's squad for World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela with a minor groin injury.

Early indications are that the 23-year-old will be available for Klopp's first match in charge of Liverpool - against Tottenham on Saturday.

Other first-teamers present for the session, which lasted just over an hour, were James Milner, Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Lucas Leiva, Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren and Joao Carlos Teixeira.

With the first six of those plus Coutinho all realistically in with a good chance of starting at White Hart Lane, Klopp at least had a decent base on which to begin his planning for the game.

The remainder of Liverpool's internationals are expected to return to Melwood tomorrow, giving the German only three days to work with his full squad - minus Jordan Henderson, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino, who are all still out injured.

Klopp spoke to the assembled players in a huddle for five minutes before training began under him, Peter Krawietz, Klopp's analyst and scout at Borussia Dortmund, and first-team coach Pep Lijnders - both of whom were at the club's academy with the German last Saturday to watch Liverpool's U-18s beat Stoke.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers with Philippe Coutinho after he was sent off
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers with Philippe Coutinho after he was sent off

Zeljko Buvac, Klopp's long-time assistant, is yet to arrive on Merseyside.

Klopp insisted that he has no plans to lure any of his former players from Borussia Dortmund as he reiterated his desire to work with the squad he has inherited from Brendan Rodgers.

Unsurprisingly the 48-year-old has been linked with many of the stars who were part of his success at Dortmund but played down the chances of making moves for the likes of Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus.

Asked about raiding his previous club he told German newspaper Bild: "That's not my intention at all. I'm not interested in that.

"It's already October and I don't even know how many matches there are until winter. But there are a few and so we'll be looking at our own players first."

Klopp has cautioned against expecting any noticeable dramatic improvement in his first match in charge - mainly because of the limited time he has to work with the players beforehand.

However, that has not prevented expectation among fans going through the roof since he was confirmed as manager.

Klopp insists no targets have been imposed for him apart from to rediscover what was lost in the last 18 months under Rodgers.

"I had a long conversation with the owner (John Henry) and the aim is simply to play football with an identity," he said.

"I have no idea why the hype is so big. Lots of German coaches have been successful but not many come here. This is a big challenge for me and my coaching team.

"Liverpool have had a period without success and changed managers a lot. Now the hope is for miracles but progress takes time."

Klopp charmed and entertained in his press conference last Friday, declaring himself 'the Normal One' after he was asked about Jose Mourinho's quip about being 'a Special One' when he first arrived in England.

The German refused to say whether the Chelsea manager had been in touch but insisted his remark was far from pre-planned.

"No, but I haven't given any thought to such things," said Klopp, who revealed despite his good grasp of English he was taking further lessons to ensure he can get his message across to the players.

"I was asked about it and it took me off-guard. Sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut, but in a press conference it's pretty difficult."

Irish Independent

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