Sunday 25 February 2018

Jurgen Klopp defends Leicester players after Claudio Ranieri axe: 'Players don't sack managers, the board does'

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, says the idea of ‘player power’ is exaggerated and claims only the Leicester City board, not the dressing room, should be held responsible for Claudio Ranieri’s sacking last week.

The debate regarding the circumstances of Ranieri’s dismissal continues, but Klopp – who takes his side to the King Power Stadium tonight – rejected the accusation players force owners to act.

“Players are not more powerful. We were much more powerful in the past,” said Klopp. “It depends always on the board. As long as the players talk together there is no problem. If they start talking [to the board] about you, for this you need an ear on the other side.

“It is not about how powerful [the players are]. The players need to be powerful but not in sacking managers. It’s not like the Leicester players did it. It is if someone asked, they gave an answer.

“If there is a direct way to the board the owners sit with the players and ask ‘how are you?’ and they say ‘not too good because of the manager’. I have never had this situation. There was never a direct line to the owner. But I know it has happened.”

In contrast to events elsewhere, the warmth between Klopp and his players is evident, his on-field hugs noticeable following every encouraging performance. Prior to Liverpool’s last Premier League victory – a 2-0 win over Spurs – his players held a meeting to demand more from each other and Klopp acknowledges mutual respect is essential.

“As a player I had more meetings without the manager in these sorts of times than with the manager,” said Klopp. “It is never a problem. I told the boys do it even when the public are aware of it being without the manager. I don’t have a second of doubt about my relationship with the team. I don’t have to be part of different things.

“That is good. On the sidelines of the pitch it is important the boys come together and sort things for themselves because I can only give advice, hopefully say the right things and make the right sessions, but they have to take it. They have to use it and deliver on the pitch and be a real group and a real group can meet, talk about it and work on solutions.

“To maintain the relationship, it’s not like we come together every day and hug each other. We enjoy the work. I know what they want, they know what I want. We’ve had some nice moments already and hard moments already and in the hard moments nothing came between us, not in the whole of January. Absolutely nothing.

“I did not say how can I win if they don’t deliver because I didn’t think it. And they didn’t say they could win if I said the right things, because they didn’t think it.

“Nobody expects perfection. I don’t expect it from them and they don’t from me. It is all full of respect. As long as they work really hard I am a really nice person. If they start not working – and that does not mean running it means concentrating on what you need to play football, listening – then I am not a nice guy, but none of the players expect me to let them do what they want. They know someone has to make the rules and it is long ago I made them, and now we have to respect them.”

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