Tuesday 16 January 2018

Klopp laughs off owners' demands to solve all club's problems

Jason Burt

Jurgen Klopp met Liverpool's owners, including John W Henry, the morning after the disappointing 1-1 draw at home to 10-man Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, and the message was clear.

"They only want that I solve the problems!" Klopp said, laughing, after the owners had also watched Friday's training at Melwood.

"It is always the same. The less contact we [he and the owners] have, the better I think.

"Because [it means] everything OK. That is what I want, we don't have to stay in contact all day 'What happened this day?' and so on.

"I am here, I am the manager, the sport part of this club is my responsibility and that is what I try to do all day. But we have a real good relationship, everything is OK."

Two games - two draws - into the Klopp reign and with a tricky home encounter against Southampton, with the manager highlighting the danger posed by Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle, to come today and the scale of the task is becoming clear.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp issued a warning to players who were not performing to their best standard
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp issued a warning to players who were not performing to their best standard

What expectation have Henry and the other owners - Tom Werner and Mike Gordon from the Fenway Sports Group - put on the new manager? Is the priority results, style, the imposition of a playing 'philosophy'?

"All of them," Klopp said. "We need results, of course. We need to be successful - a club like Liverpool.

"We can't speak about what is success at this moment. What they want is development, improving. And that is what I want.

"So, it was a pretty short discussion about this. I know what I have to do and they think I am the right man for this so we don't have to discuss for the next four or five months, or next year, because now I am here."

And tough enough. Most answers from Klopp are delivered with a Cheshire cat smile and a sharp flash of humour.

But there is an edge, also, as there has to be. And there was a warning for some under-performing Liverpool players - especially the older ones or the ones who have wasted previous opportunities.

"If you are full of motivation as a player, if you are full of concentration, full of readiness and passion as a player, I'm not hard. I am open arms and give you a last kick, maybe!" Klopp said.

"If you are not, of course [I am hard], but only because to work with players who don't understand the professional part of this life, it is a little bit of a waste of time. If they are very young, I can help of course, I can talk about this, give you one chance, two chance, three.

"Five [chances] if you are of another age and some other managers have tried it before, then it's a waste of time.

"I love to be something like a friend of the player, but not their best friend because a best friend understands everything. I try to understand why the players do things they do so I am interested in their life, private and so on, not because I want to know all these things, but because I think it's important I know them [professionally]."

Klopp had reviewed the Rubin game, after the draw at Tottenham Hotspur, and an immediate, obvious assessment is that Liverpool are shorn of confidence more than quality.

"That is what we need," he said. "Together to get a new confidence and new kind of spirit to stay in the race because at this moment I see a hard-working team and in many situations a team with inspiration but not over the whole 90 minutes.

"The problem is if you miss a big chance, all the lights switch off and the light on you is on."

There is, Klopp said, a lot of "talking, talking" as he attempts to get information into the players but also to remove what he described as the "stiffness in their minds".

"They listen to what I say," Klopp said. "But it is a little bit too much of listening and trying to do the right thing.

"I only try to give information to make the base a little better and not to change the base.

"That is very important and that is where we find ourselves getting better and better."

The news that Daniel Sturridge has undergone another scan - and has fluid on his swollen knee - is another blow for Klopp. With Sturridge fit, he - like his predecessor Brendan Rodgers - knows his team will be transformed.

Frustrating draws, such as against Rubin, can become wins but Klopp said it cannot be expected that "one moment" will change everything. That, he said, is what he meant by managing "expectation".

"Really, I burn for results but after the game it is over, I cannot change any more," Klopp said. "Then I can come to the analysis. That is what we have to do, then make the next training, the next meeting, the next talk with the players.

"Nobody should be worried I am not going to sleep or something like this. Now I am here, now I am fully in the race."


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